From £20,530
A decent compact MPV, but still too expensive

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.

12 August 2008

What is it?

A mild mid-life makeover for Mercedes compact MPV, bringing some aesthetic revisions and spec tweaks – and a good chance to re-acquainted with the A-Class’s bigger brother.

Of most relevance will be fuel economy improvements across the range, with the smaller petrol enignes getting the option of Merc’s ECO stop-start system and the diesel versions getting revised engine tuning.

Both 180 CDI and 200 CDI versions of the B-Class use the same 2.0-litre common rail diesel engine, but in different states of tune – with the 108bhp ‘180’ being the most popular – and sensible – choice.

What’s it like?

As you’d expect from such minor tweakery, pretty much identical to the original. The revised styling is almost unnoticeable, but inside the cabin a revised audio system looks and sounds better than the previous offering.

It’s no more useful than before. The cabin is airy and roomy, but despite being over a foot longer than the A-Class it’s based on, the B-Class feels barely any more spacious for front or rear seat occupants.

It’s can’t match cheaper mainstream rivals for utility, not least because it only comes with five seats.

Dynamically the B-Class doesn’t deliver any thrills, but it’s a solid-feeling motorway performer.

Our test car came with the optional CVT automatic transmission, which copes well in town but really saps open road performance, and delivers acceleration at the expense of exposure to its very industrial top-end soundtrack.

A shame, because the standard six-speed manual ‘box is a sweet-shifting unit.

So, should I buy one?

Despite competing against compact MPV rivals, Mercedes persists in pricing the B-Class far above them – and to be honest it still doesn’t feel special enough to justify the sizeable supplement it commands.

Anybody considering an automatic diesel version would also be well-advised to specify it with the more powerful ‘200 CDI’ engine.

On the plus side, sharp depreciation means that the B-Class is a great secondhand buy – and we reckon that purchasing a nearly-new example is still the best way to contemplate ownership.

Mike Duff

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Comments
4

14 August 2008

I rented one of these recently, and I really could not recommend it - even if it were less expensive. The engine was noisy and a lousy puller, and the car slowed significantly when it encountered hills (despite being a diesel). Fuel consumption was disappointing. Controls are not at all intuitive. Nothing seems particularly "high quality" in the interior - a Golf is better put together and feels more solid.

Last week I rented a Fiat Croma (1.9 Diesel, 150 PSI) and I would consider it a much better proposal (although I personally won't be rushing out to buy one) - great engine, quiet on the move, economical, loads of room, well equipped and a super autobahn kilometer eater.

Proof of the absurdity of "buying for the badge."

...the band was playing Dixie: double-four time...

14 August 2008

Always looks like an answer to a question nobody ever asked, an A-Class with a bonnet and a bigger boot, total opposite to the old LWB A-Class which seems more popular now then when they actually built them.

14 August 2008

I agree its an unremarkable and expensive car - always reminds me of the Austin Maxi.

Do you ever ride in the back of road test cars ? We had a ride in the back of a B Class in the US and it felt like you were sitting on a back axle (I'm sure it doesn't have one). My relative took it back and swapped it for something else from his company's fleet.

15 August 2008

I have found most mercs are over priced under engineered cars. Why people keep buying them for the badge I will never know. If people looked properly at a like for like comparison I am sure no one would ever buy a merc.

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