All Mercedes-Benz B-Class models come powered by one of several four-cylinder engines. Buyers can opt for either a 1.6-litre petrol engine, a 1.5-litre diesel engine, a 1.8-litre diesel engine offered in two outputs depending on transmission choice, or a 2.2-litre diesel engine. These engines are badged B 180, B 180 d, B 180 d Automatic, B 200 d and B 220 d respectively.
Turbocharged in all cases, the engines produce between 107bhp and 168bhp, delivered exclusively to the front wheels. Most come with a six-speed manual gearbox, but Mercedes' seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic is optional on many models.
A drive of the B 180 revealed it to be far from the poor relation you might expect of an entry-level model. While 120bhp from a 1.6-litre engine may appear average, being turbocharged means it produces good torque, with 148lb ft on offer from 1250 to 4000rpm. This wide availability of torque, combined with the slick-shifting six-speed gearbox, allows for brisk progress to be made in the B 180.
The lower-powered diesel option, the B 180 d, appears to suit the more laid-back demeanour of the Mercedes B-Class. It pulls from low revs with decent urgency while still delivering adequate performance and an improvement in economy, with 69mpg claimed in manual form.
The B 200 d would give up nothing to many more conventional 2.0-litre diesel family hatchbacks out on the road. Mercedes has come up with a flexible and quite potent 1.8-litre powerplant for its new A-Class and B-Class that, in the main, is an entirely agreeable thing to interact with.