The first Mercedes B-Class was often characterised as a swollen A-class, but for this new model the tables have been neatly turned.

Beneath the B-Class is a front-drive chassis that replaces the old car’s costly sandwich structure with a conventional monocoque platform. It is set to underpin up to five models, including the A-Class.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
While its appearance may keep it pitched between segments, the new car is a definite improvement over the old

The advantages of the less complicated set-up (aside from a cut in manufacturing costs) are a liberation of low-level interior space, a lower driver’s hip point and a 50mm reduction in roof height. The last of these adds credibility to Mercedes’ claim that the B-Class has a more athletic look, while combined they contribute to a lower centre of gravity for the engineers to exploit.

Mercedes’ design team has endeavoured to flesh out the more sporting, 'lower to the road' aesthetic theme of the new B-Class with a number of styling flourishes intended to create visual width.

A larger grille and better-defined nose do their job, but it’s the upswept flank crease that really catches your eye, pinching the car’s previously flabby flanks into something approaching good looks. the 2015 facelift brought a raft of exterior tweaks including restyled bumpers and its LED day-running-lights integrated into the main headlight cluster.

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Engine options include a 121bhp and 154bhp 1.6-litre petrols (B 180) and (B 200), a 107bhp 1.5-litre diesel (B 180 d), a 134bhp 2.1-litre diesel (B 200 d) and a range-topping 175bhp 2.1-litre diesel (B 220 d)

A six-speed manual gearbox is offered, but a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is also available. With this transmission specified the B 180 d's displacement grows to 1.8 litres, but its output remains effectively unchanged.

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