B-Class: Mercedes get it right with a total re-vamp
What a difference the passing years make in the evolution of car design, I recall test-driving the original Mercedes B-Class when it was launched onto the UK market. I found it singularly uninspiring. Bland, stodgy and with no clear niche, t didn’t have a clue what the word ‘excitement’ means.
Roll on the calendar. The new B-Class is a whole different story. It has undergone a complete makeover from the previous model. Indeed, the only thing it shares with its predecessor is the name,
Powered by new four-cylinder direct-injection BlueEFFICIENCY engines that are up to 26 per cent more efficient than the outgoing models, the 2012 model year B-Class is based on all-new architecture.
A new multi-link rear suspension set-up provides greatly enhanced agility while the new lower and more aerodynamic body shape provides class-leading drag coefficient figures, which can be reduced even further with the optional ECO package.
Prototypes and final models spent more than 1,100 hours in the wind tunnel while 275,000 computer hours were invested in digital airflow simulation,
Among the clever aerodynamic tricks are the patented advanced front wheel arches, which channel airflow over the front wheels to considerably reduce flow losses.
The cabin is now roomier and uses much improved materials and trim quality while providing peerless safety and connectivity features,
There’s a 14 version line-up on offer, based on the choice between four engines, two transmissions and two trim levels, with prices kicking in at £21,295 for the B 180 SE manual, rising to £26,160 for the B 200 CDi S port with the new Mercedes-Benz seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
SE and Sport versions can be further upgraded with an optional Exclusive package,
Though compact in style, the B-Class is commendably roomy, with best in class rear seat legroom, generous luggage space and lots of cubbyholes.
The hue B-Class is loaded with occupant protection features and is the first car in the world to come with a radar-based collision warning system,
Speed limit assist, lane keeping assist and blind sport assist all come as part of an add-on safety package.
This is a thoroughly practical car, ideal for growing families yet still delivering a quotient of driving please for enthusiastic drivers,
Unlike the original, this latest iteration left a thoroughly favourable impression with me. In fact, I’d rate it as one of my favourite cars of the year.