From £20,530
Very spacious for five. It's a shame other MPVs offer a lot more for a lot less.

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.

20 July 2005
After the puffery of a new car launch has blown away it's good to take stock. And, now it’s arriving in Britain, we think that plenty of stock needs to be taken with the Mercedes B-class. Does it have a place, or is it just a slightly swollen A-class, with a more than slightly swollen price tag?
We'll keep the hatchet sheathed for a while because the B-class isn't entirely lacking in merit. First up, with a longer wheelbase than the A-class it’s usefully bigger in every dimension even if doesn’t look like it. That means more of a chance to get three abreast in the back and much more head and leg clearance. Those extra millimetres also mean more boot space, 110 extra litres in fact. More usefully the split-fold rear bench folds flat and so does the front passenger seat.
But flat-pack furniture fans aren’t going to be so fond of the price. Our B200 SE test car is more towards the top of the range, granted, but it costs £20,445 even before metallic paint is added. So in reality you’re looking at around £22k for what is essentially a Focus C-Max rival. Yes you can pay similar amounts for a VW Touran or new Vauxhall Zafira, but then you’d be getting seven seats and top drawer spec. And similar logic can be applied to the entry-level £16,995 B150.
It was a shame that one of the first B-classes off the boat was that B200 model. Because it’s nothing special to drive either. Not so much of a problem with the chassis which shares the A-class’s cushy, refined ride and tidy, if not entertaining handling. More of a problem is the 136bhp 2.0-litre engine, Even Mercedes engineers have whispered to us that they think there’s a problem with this model’s refinement and we’d have to agree. It’s harsh and strained on anything other than light loads, unfortunately you regularly need to explore the end of the rev range to get the best it. Doubtless the diesels are the way to go.
But are any of them the way to go? Probably not. It’s not exactly pointless but lacks the charm of the A-class and is way overpriced.
Chas Hallett

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