Mercedes’ successes with the B-Class are several. It has taken away just enough of the wanton weirdness from the old car’s design to make the new one a more coherent fit for the compact premium segment, without robbing it of the distinctiveness to tempt buyers away from the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.
This car makes more sense, as a premium-brand family five-door, than the previous B-Class ever did. It’s more convincing in that mould, too, thanks to an interior of excellent quality and generous space.
Which isn’t to suggest that the B-Class offers particularly poor value for money. Its engines are efficient, it's well finished and invitingly unconventional.
The car’s, contrived handling, slightly unsettled ride and gruff mechanical refinement suggest that it’ll be a few years before Mercedes challenges for the compact class lead in the way that it’s used to doing elsewhere, however.
Overall, the B-Class is a more complete and more accomplished car than the previous version, but it is not as versatile as several of the offerings from non-premium rivals, all of which cost notably less.
But the B-Class is a significant leap and has cut Stuttgart’s notional small-car deficit at least by half.