From £20,530
If you have to have a petrol B-Class, this is the one to get. But with a £23k price tag, or £24k with the auto-, which soon becomes £26k once you have added a few optional necessities, you find yourself looking at a compromised and over-priced midi-MPV.

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Change is coming to Mercedes’ small-car range, and this new B-Class is the first taste of it.

26 December 2005

What’s New?

The range topping B 200 Turbo is finally driven on UK roads, which we test with the optional CVT autotronic transmission (£1390). Standard equipment includes 18in 5-spoke AMG wheels, a stainless steel double-exhaust tailpipe and sports suspension.

What’s it like? 

No doubt those beautiful (but large) wheels will play some part, but ‘the impressive ride quality’ we found this car to have in Germany, does not apply here. On Britain’s more broken bitumen, the ride is too firm, as passengers are jiggled and jolted around, particularly at low speed. However, with the exception of some tyre roar, the cabin is insulated well from road and wind noise at any speed, even with our test car having a panoramic sunroof.

The cabin is what you should expect both from this badge and price level, and will no doubt withstand the daily abuse of a full family. In a school-run dash, performance will leave other MPVs (bonkers Zafira VXR excepted) still in the driveway, but the engine note lacks character.

The lag-free behaviour ensures a smooth, steady power delivery with only the faintest flitter of the wastegate from lift-off, informing you of the turbo’s presence. The automatic ‘box allows smooth transitions and is so quick to react on kickdown, you rarely use the semi-automatic function. Max power arrives at 5000rpm, and the virtual gear ratios will try to keep you in this band when driving hard, despite the engine sounding boomy.

Attempt to encroach 5000rpm and the ‘box soon shifts up on your behalf. The speed sensitive power steering works well in town, but the permanently numb feeling makes it difficult to accurately position the front wheels into corners, denting the ‘compact sports tourer’ credentials Mercedes suggest. S

hould I buy one?

If you have to have a petrol B-Class, this is the one to get. If an automatic ‘box is essential, then the B-Class’ is progressive, otherwise the standard six-speed manual box is excellent. But with a £23k price tag, or £24k with the auto-, which soon becomes £26k once you have added a few optional necessities, you find yourself in an incredibly competitive price bracket, regardless of car segment. And with that in mind, you find yourself looking at a compromised and over-priced midi-MPV, badge or no badge.

Jon Quirk

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