From £20,530
Merc B is spacious, not sporty.
10 May 2005

Mercedes is trying to position the B-class as what it calls a ‘sports tourer’ and not, as most will see it, as a midi-MPV. Which is a shame, because the B-class would make a good MPV; despite having only five seats it offers good versatility.The B looks different from the A-class on which it is based – the squat front wings and longer wheelbase giving it a more planted stance. Interior space is impressive, particularly for rear passengers, and the materials are high-quality.The diesel engine is powerful, yet not as refined as you would expect, emitting a constant drone at motorway speeds. The 2.0-litre unit pumps out a respectable 138bhp, although the torque figure of 221lb ft trails rivals from Honda, VW and Peugeot. Mercedes claims a brisk 9.6sec to 60mph, but performance can feel tame, especially with the optional CVT ’box.Find a twisting road and the B is surprisingly agile, benefiting from a low centre of gravity. But there is a remoteness in the controls, particularly the steering, that doesn’t encourage drivers to press on.Measured as a ‘sports tourer’, the B-class delivers a mixed performance. It has good space, but insufficient refinement to be a great tourer; it is quick, but not involving enough to be called sporty. However, it works as an MPV But the real question is whether the badge and quality interior justify the price.Jamie Corstorphine


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