What's the used Mercedes B-Class hatchback like?
It might surprise many to discover that this is the third generation of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, a mid-size MPV that has often been overlooked in the German firm’s extensive range. The first was a bit plain-jane, and was perhaps no more than an enlarged version of the old A-Class; the second then shifted emphasis slightly to become a more straightforward MPV, with an improved exterior design and more versatility, and here’s the third, which at first glance seems to continue and expand on the themes of the second.
It hopes to improve on the earlier cars’ refinement and road manners, both of which were down on what most of their rivals were offering. A gentle redesign has certainly made it better looking, and underneath it shares much with the latest A-Class, which has already proved itself a highly competent performer on the road.
Mercedes offers four petrols and three diesels in this B-Class, all turbocharged and with a capacity no larger than 1950cc. All B-Class variants are front-wheel drive, but petrol and diesel models employ different gearboxes to direct their power to the road. With the exception of the entry-level B180d, those fuelled from the black pump feature an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox; petrols and the bottom-rung diesel have a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
Two trim levels are offered – Sport and AMG Line – with the list of standard equipment including climate control, LED headlights, cruise control, faux-leather seats and 17in alloys. AMG Line trim adds mainly styling fripperies, with the real goodies being added in a number of optional packs. There’s an Executive pack, which brings front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, power-folding door mirrors and a large 10.3in touchscreen. The Premium pack is also worth looking out for. This adds keyless entry, ambient interior lighting, larger 10.3in digital instrument dials and an upgraded sound system.
On the road, the entry-level 1.3-litre petrol (badged B180) has performance that’s adequate rather than scintillating, but even with bums on all five seats and a bootful of baggage, there’s enough oomph to get up hills without thrashing the engine. That’s a good thing because, when you do rev the engine harder, it doesn’t sound particularly pleasant. The B200 adds more oomph, the B220 adds even more so and the B250 is a real flyer. The 180d gets along well enough, although it can be noisy at high revs. Of the 2.0-litre diesels (badged B200d and B220d), both are genuinely impressive. Even the B200d produces its maximum pulling power low down in the rev range, so it feels punchy enough around town and, unlike some diesels, delivers its power progressively rather than in one big rush when the turbocharger kicks in. The B220d ultimately feels quite a bit nippier and is capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in a hot hatch-baiting 7.2sec.
It would be fair to say that Mercedes has, quite rightly, prioritised ride comfort over handling. The B-Class is impressively supple over patchy surfaces and rides really smoothly on fast A-roads and motorways. And, while sharp-edged potholes can send the odd shudder through the body, this is merely noticeable rather than irritating. 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.
Inside, although there’s only about an inch more head room for passengers in the front and rear seats than the A-Class, things are genuinely pleasant, and the B-Class has an airy ambience unmatched among its rivals. There’s plenty of space both front and rear, and the B-Class succeeds as a luxury proposition because the interior design and materials used are opulent.
The dashboard is modern and stylish and fairly intuitive to use, too. It also uses Mercedes’ MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) touchscreen infotainment system. As standard, this incorporates two 7.0in screens: one for features such as the sat-nav and radio, the other replacing the traditional analogue instrument binnacle.
The B-Class has one of the largest boots in the class. Indeed, you’ll fit more in it than you would a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer or VW Golf SV, and it benefits from a low load lip and a broad aperture. All of this is a boon when you’re loading pushchairs and other bulky items.
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