Mercedes-Benz B-Class review - What's it like to drive?
Even on the standard suspension, it has a firm ride that's jittery over scruffy surfaces, whether you're trundling through town or cruising on the motorway.
Sport models, with their bigger wheels and lowered suspension, are even more unforgiving.
There is a pay-off, though, and that's the B-Class's tight body control in corners. There's also strong grip that lets you carry a surprising amount of speed through bends. However, you're always aware that this car is taller than your average small family hatchback, and the steering, which weights up inconsistently and is devoid of feel, deprives you of fun.
Refinement could also be better. There's plenty of wind noise to be heard at the national limit, and cars on bigger wheels generate a fair amount of road noise.
That said, the engines are pretty refined. Each one is a newly developed four-cylinder unit with a turbocharger and direct-injection.
There are two 1.6-litre petrols with either 120bhp or 154bhp, and two 1.8-litre diesels with 107bhp or 134bhp.
The entry-level diesel isn't quick, but it's flexible enough to make life easy, and stays impressively smooth and quiet. The higher-powered diesel is a little more clattery, but it's still pretty refined by class standards, and brings some useful extra pace.
We've also tried the entry-level petrol, which feels impressively perky thanks to its maximum torque being delivered at a lowly 1250rpm. It has a decent turn of pace when you work it hard, too.
All the engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox, which is slicker than we've come to expect from Merc's manuals.
Alternatively, each can be specified with an all-new seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox, which costs £1450. However, we'd save the cash – the automatic changes aren't the smoothest, and in manual mode, the gearbox doesn't always respond to the instructions you give via the steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters.
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