Mercedes’ all-new B–Class will be packed with innovative technology and come with a range of different power sources.
The B-Class will be launched in late 2011 across Europe, and will go on sale in the UK in spring 2012. It’s the first in a range of new compact Mercedes models - that share the same platform and technology – which will go on sale over the next few years.
What is it?
Compared with the current car, the new B-Class is lower, longer and wider. The overall shape – judging from the disguised models we’ve seen – is similar to today’s car, but the new model’s front end is expected to be a toned-down version of the Concept A-Class model that was unveiled at the Shanghai motor show earlier this year.
Mercedes is keen to point out that the B-Class is more aerodynamic than its predecessor, which helps to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The drag coefficient has been cut from 0.30 to 0.26, thanks to a range of features that channel airflow over the car. An Eco Technology package – that includes lowered suspension and additional aerodynamic aids – will drop the figure to 0.24. It’ll be available as an option later in 2012.
Range of powertrains
Underneath, the B-Class doesn’t use the ‘sandwich floor’ concept that the current A-Class and B-Class use, where the engine is mounted at an angle and slides under the passenger compartment floor in a front-end collision. Instead, the new model has a lower floor and a longer front end, with particular attention paid to energy-absorbing members that keep the passenger compartment intact.
The new floorplan has been developed to accommodate various powertrains; eventually there’s likely to be an all-electric version, an electric range-extender model and a version powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
At launch, however, there’ll be a choice of four all-new conventional engines. There are 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol units with 121- or 154bhp, both of which have been engineered to provide high torque at low engine revs. Mercedes aims to reduce the gap between the official fuel consumption figures and real world-use by making the engines as flexible and efficient as possible.
There’ll be 1.8-litre diesel engines with 107- or 134bhp. The new units are based on the 2.1-litre diesel engines used in Mercedes’ larger cars. Six-speed manual gearboxes and a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will be available.
Advanced safety kit
A huge range of active and passive safety features will be fitted as standard or available as options for the B-Class. Collision Prevention Assist – which uses radar technology to monitor the road in front and warn the driver if a collision is imminent – will be fitted as standard. Every B-Class will also come with Attention Assist and front-, side-, curtain- and driver’s knee airbags. Rear side airbags will be available as an option.
The next A-Class – which will share much with the B-Class under the skin – is due to arrive later in 2012. It’ll be different to the current car, with a much lower, sporty body. This time around it’ll be a more natural rival for cars such as the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and VW Golf. A five-door version is likely to arrive first, but a sportier three-door coupe version – that should closely resemble the Concept A-Class – will follow.
A compact SUV to rival the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque is also likely. Both front- and four-wheel drive versions are expected.
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