Few people will buy a B-Class for what we might refer to as emotional reasons. The A-Class with which it shares so many components is the better steer and more conventionally attractive, while you can hardly claim there exists a yawning chasm between the two cars in terms of practicality and raw ergonomics.
But what differences there are add up to alter the proposition significantly and, as highbrow family transport, the B-Class is more serene not only than the A-Class but also its chief rivals – the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and Volkswagen’s Golf SV. It hits its brief, in other words, and the spacious interior is a rare treat for passengers, with a generous glasshouse, luxurious finishing and a digital array almost as intuitive to operate as it is eye-catching.
Mercedes might have done more to provide greater luggage space, and a sliding rear bench is still a work in progress, but elsewhere the B-Class is mostly impressive.
The driving experience leaves something to be desired – this downsized engine is insipid and, at times, the steering feels desperately indirect – but working within its laid-back, refined comfort zone, the B-Class does enough to outshine almost every rival.