What Car? says...
The Mercedes B-Class should appeal to those who like the idea of a Mercedes A-Class with a bit more space for people and luggage thrown in. It shares its smaller sibling’s impressive interior and feature-packed infotainment system, yet offers appreciably more head and leg room in the back and a much bigger boot.
On paper at least, it all looks pretty convincing. The safety technology it has in common with the Mercedes S-Class luxury saloon should enhance its appeal with families, while its tall, full-figured body offers better accessibility to the interior than you’d get from a conventional low-riding hatchback. In other words, it's ideal for fitting in child seats and loading luggage.
Mercedes has made the B-Class engine lineup straightforward, offering the 1.3-litre petrol B200 and the 2.0-litre diesel B200d also found in the A-Class hatchback.
If you need a seven-seater you won’t find it here – we'd suggest looking at the VW Touran or the Dacia Jogger instead. However, assuming five seats will do you just fine, the B-Class's key MPV rival is the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.
So, should you buy a B-Class, a 2 Series Active Tourer or something else? That's what we'll help you decide over the next few pages of this review. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the model's performance and handling, practicality, running costs and more. We'll also tell you which engine and trim makes the most sense.
And if, after reading our review, you decide you want to buy a Mercedes B-Class or indeed any other car, there’s a good chance we can help you get a very handsome discount off the brochure price if you check our free What Car? New Car Deals pages. They feature lots of new MPV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
We reckon the 1.3-litre petrol (badged B200) is the pick of the Mercedes B-Class engine range. There’s plenty of performance on offer, even with bums on all five seats and a bootful of baggage. There’s enough oomph to get up hills without needing to rev the engine too hard – and that’s a good thing because it doesn’t sound particularly pleasant when you do.
We’ve also tried the 2.0-litre diesel (badged B200d), which has 148bhp and is genuinely impressive. It produces its maximum pulling power low down in the rev range, so it feels punchy around town and, unlike some diesels, delivers its power progressively rather than in one big rush when the turbocharger kicks in. However, unless you want a more effortless tow car or frequently carry a car packed full with occupants, the petrol should suffice.
Mercedes has, quite rightly, prioritised ride comfort over agile cornering. Even though all trim levels come with lowered suspension, the B-Class is impressively supple over patchy surfaces and rides really smoothly on fast A-roads and motorways.
Sharp-edged potholes can send the odd shudder through the body, but this is merely noticeable rather than irritating. Overall, the B-Class is more comfortable than the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and roughly on a par with the VW Touran.
So, what about the handling? Well, despite being relatively soft and supple, the B-Class does a fine job of controlling its top-heavy mass through tight twists and turns. Paired with light but accurate steering and plenty of grip, it’s a surprisingly willing companion when the road gets twisty. In fact, it's not far behind the lower-riding Mercedes A-Class for cornering ability.
Wind noise is well contained on a motorway, and while road noise is noticeable, it’s far less harsh than in the rival 2 Series Active Tourer with larger wheels.
Every B-Class has an automatic gearbox with seven gears for the petrol engine and eight with the diesel. Both versions generally shift smoothly on the move, but there can be some jerkiness at low speeds. The 2 Series Active Tourer has smoother auto gearboxes, and in petrol form benefits from mild-hybrid technology which comes with a smoother stop-start system.
The interior layout, fit and finish
You wouldn’t necessarily expect an MPV to wow you with its interior, but that’s exactly what the Mercedes B-Class does. In fact, its dashboard is more in line with what you’d expect to find in an executive saloon. There are loads of tactile, soft-feel materials, piano-black plastics and metal touches in all the places you’re most likely to touch, while details such as the turbine-style air vents make you feel like you’re driving something genuinely special.
Indeed, our only criticism of the B-Class’s interior is that, despite beating the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer for outright pizazz, it doesn’t feel quite as solidly bolted together. For example, the climate control panel feels a bit flimsy, while some of the plastics that line the door handles and glovebox feel a little cheap. This isn’t enough to ruin the overall impression, though.
All versions of the B-Class come with a 10.3in digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a 10.3in touchscreen infotainment system positioned beside it to look like one giant widescreen that stretches across more than half of the dashboard.
The infotainment screen can be controlled by touch or using a smaller touchpad (which takes getting used to) on the steering wheel. Some of the icons could be bigger, but the menu system makes it far less daunting to use than you might expect and is packed with clever tech.
Indeed, even the cheapest models come with a Siri-style personal assistant as standard that you wake up by saying "Hey Mercedes" and then, in theory, you can use natural speech to control various aspects of the car, from sat-nav to interior temperature. It’s sometimes very useful, but like many voice recognition tools, it can occasionally misunderstand what you’re saying or simply not recognise it at all, and that can be rather frustrating.
More successful is the Mercedes augmented reality navigation fitted on higher spec AMG Line Premium models. This overlays a live camera feed of the road ahead with house numbers, road names, direction arrows and other useful bits of information to help you work out where you need to turn. It’s more helpful at low speeds when you have time to glance at the screen while trying to figure out where you are going.
You’re unlikely to have much difficulty getting comfortable behind the wheel of the B-Class. The driver’s seat – which adjusts manually on all trim levels (electric seats are available on AMG Line Premium Plus) – supports you in all the right places, and there’s plenty of steering column movement.
The B-Class is also relatively easy to see out of in all directions, partly because you sit higher up than you do in a conventional hatchback (and noticeably higher than you do in an A-Class) and there are plenty of windows. What's more, all models come with front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera as standard, although AMG Line Premium Line Plus adds a 360-degree camera system.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Despite having a high-set, SUV-like driving position, there’s plenty of room in the front of the Mercedes B-Class. Even very tall people are well accommodated in the broad, high-roofed interior. Space is equally impressive in the rear seats, with plenty of head and leg room for two six-footers – or even three to sit side-by-side.
That said, adult middle rear seat passengers probably won’t fancy a long trip; the firm, raised seat cushion isn't ideal. The rear seatbacks can be reclined for a more laid back seating position, or set to a more upright position to free up a bit more boot space. You need to spec AMG Line Executive and up to get the more versatile 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats as standard for those occasions you need to carry more clobber.
Even without those, though, the B-Class has a decent boot. Indeed, you’ll fit more in it than you would in that of a petrol-powered BMW Series Active Tourer and it benefits from a low load lip and broad aperture, which is a boon when you’re loading pushchairs and other bulky items. If you need an even bigger boot, consider the Touran or the Ford S-Max.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Mercedes B-Class is priced in line with its key rival, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer when it comes to equipment. That means it’ll cost you more to buy than the VW Touran both before and after discounts. On the other hand, it’s expected to hold on to its value better than its key rivals, although still nowhere near as well as an equivalent family SUV such as the Volvo XC40.
Company car users keeping an eye on benefit-in-kind tax will find either engine will command a similar rate. A 2 Series Active Tourer with its plug-in hybrid (PHEV) option will be cheaper to run, despite its higher P11D price.
Four trim levels are offered: Sport Executive, AMG Line Executive, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus.
Entry-level Sport Executive gets you climate control, LED headlights, cruise control, faux-leather seats and 17in alloy wheels.
AMG Line Executive adds a sportier look, including larger alloy wheels, sportier bumpers and sports front seats.
AMG Line Premium adds dual-zone climate control, illuminated door sills, keyless entry, blind-spot monitoring and an upgraded sound system.
AMG Line Premium Plus gets upgraded LED headlights, a panoramic glass roof and electrically adjustable front seats.
In the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey the B-Class finished top in the MPV class, above the VW Touran. However, in the brand rankings, Mercedes finished a relatively disappointing 23rd out of 32 manufacturers in the same survey, behind key rivals Audi and BMW.
The safety experts at Euro NCAP awarded the B-Class a five-star rating in 2019. The 2 Series Active Tourer also achieved the full five star rating in 2022, although under a more stringent testing regime.
Even entry-level Sport Executive trim comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance and a system that monitors the driver alertness.
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No. In fact, Mercedes has given the B-Class a mild update for 2023, with tweaks to the interior and trim levels.
Yes. The MPV class might be diminishing but it's hard to argue the level of practicality the B-Class offers in a relatively compact size. The smart interior and tidy handling also makes it an appealing choice.
No. There are AMG Line trim levels that come with a sportier look (the quickest version is the B200 petrol).
|RRP price range
|£35,125 - £43,785
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|MPG range across all versions
|42.8 - 55.4
|Available doors options
|3 years / No mileage cap
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£2,227 / £2,882
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£4,455 / £5,763