Given the alterations underneath, it ought not to come as any surprise that you sit lower in the second generation Mercedes B-Class than in the old.

The comfortable seat squabs are 86mm closer to the road than before, and the new configuration is dramatic enough to contrast quite starkly with the pulpit-like perspective of a medium-size MPV. However, the driving position is also more upright than that of the previous car and of most ordinary five-door hatchbacks.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Editor-at-large
We'll trade the previous car's quirky seating recline for the new setting and superior legroom

Space inside the car is generous – like the driving position, something of a middle ground between hatchback and MPV norms. There’s ample room for heads and knees wherever you’re sitting, and particularly good provision for feet in the second row.

Mercedes claims rear legroom exceeds that of an S-Class. Our tape measure gives the lie to that; the 990mm maximum rear legroom we measured in the B 200 d is 50mm shy of what you’ll find in a long-wheelbase S-Class, but 50mm more than in a Volkswagen Golf – the more relevant benchmark.

However, larger families might bemoan the lack of comfort for a fifth passenger sitting in the middle of the second row, for whom the seat is thin and narrow.

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Mercedes’ materials quality for the B-Class is sufficient to deserve a double-take. Regardless of whether you go for cloth trim or the optional leather, you'll find the trim flanked by substantial, soft-touch interior plastics that look and feel effortlessly superior to the class standard.

Aluminium details on the apple-sized air vents and door handles are tactile highlights. There are three trim levels to choose from, with the entry-level SE model comes fitted with 16in alloy wheels, comfort suspension, cruise control and a reversing camera, while inside users will find an infotainment system equipped with a 7.0in screen, USB ports and smartphone integration, air conditioning and an adjustable boot floor.

Upgrade to the Sport trim and expect to find 17in alloy wheels, auto windscreen wipers, a bigger infotainment screen and the addition of climate control, while the range-topping AMG Line models get an aggressive bodykit, brake discs at the front and rear, lowered suspension and a leather upholstery. For those more eco-conscious, there is a electric motor driven B-Class, which comes with more enviromentally friendly equipment.

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