Mercedes-Benz’s compact people carrier has had a pained evolution from the oddball Vaneo through the practical first-generation B-Class to the sophisticated second-generation model now available.
While it might look a little pricey alongside mainstream rivals, the premium-badge B-Class illustrates the benefit of looking beyond the initial purchase price to work out the most cost-effective model.
Based on P11D value, the B180 CDI is almost £1,400 more expensive than the Ford C-Max 1.6 TDCi Titanium. However, when it comes to residual values over four years/80,000 miles, the B-Class has an RV of £7,150 while the C-Max is valued at £4,925. In this instance, fleet operators could save money by opting for the dearer car over the volume brand.
The model we tested was a manual. It costs another £1,450 to have the dual-clutch seven-speed automatic.
The B-Class marks the start of a range of next-generation cars. Mercedes has developed new engines, transmissions and a new platform to be shared with future models.
The new A-Class due on sale later this year, rivalling the 1 Series and Audi A3, is built from the same components set.
The B-Class features a raft of safety innovations. Standard equipment includes ‘attention assist’ which detects driver fatigue by steering behaviour, ‘collision prevention assist’ which warns if the car is getting too close to the vehicle in front and ESP with acceleration skid control.
A lane tracking package option costing £785 includes blind spot assist and lane-keeping assist (alerts via vibration through the steering wheel).
While I was impressed with this safety technology, particularly the collision prevention assist which reminded me that I am sometimes guilty of not leaving an adequate gap, I wasn’t too keen on the audible ‘please observe the speed limit’ blasting from the sat-nav.
Nothing wrong with reminding drivers not to speed, of course, but it became irritating when it chimed up based on old data on a new stretch of road at 50mph in a 70mph speed limit. Hopefully, a simple update would solve this.
From the outside, the B-Class is nothing special to look at, but inside it offers the kind of luxury you would expect from Mercedes. The model we tested was fitted with the Exclusive package (at £1,535), which includes leather upholstery, heated front seat with four-way lumbar support, black roof lining, a choice of trim and velour floor mats. The media system also impressed.
The B180 CDI has an official combined figure of 64.2mpg and I achieved close to 60mpg during the test.
The 109bhp diesel engine provides adequate performance, and while the B-Class doesn’t feel as responsive as Ford’s C-Max, it’s neat and safe handling will appeal to many.