In The UK
Mercedes-Benz entered a new era of compact cars with the launch of the B-Class. The first in a series of inter-related compact cars to come from Mercedes-Benz, it has undergone a complete change from its predecessor. The only thing the B-Class shares with its predecessor is its name.
Based on all-new architecture, the B-CLass is powered by four-cylinder direct-injection BlueEFFICIENCY petrol and diesel engines which are up to 26 per cent more efficient that those in the outgoing model, while a revised multi-link rear suspension contributes towards greater levels of agility.
Its lower and more aerodynamic styling, with a best-in-class Cd of 0.26 and an optional ECO package to come which will reduce this to an incredible 0.24, masks an even roomier cabin with much-improved materials and trim quality, and it is offered with peerless safety and connectivity features.
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class launches with a 15-strong model line-up based on four engines, two transmissions and two trim levels. Prices start at £21,665 for the B 180 SE manual, rising to £27,880 for the B 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Sport with the Mercedes-Benz seven-speed 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission. Buyers can upgrade with the optional Exclusive Package (£1,535 for the SE and £1,055 for the Sport).
Leading the way for fuel savings is the B 200 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Sport, powered by a new 1.8-litre version of the OM651 third-generation common-rail turbodiesel engine. This is the first time it has been used in a transverse installation. When mated to the 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission, the B 200 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY returns 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions are only 112 g/km. The same engine in a milder state of tune is also used in the B 180 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, where combined economy and emissions figures are the same 67.3mpg and 112 g/km.
Petrol versions of the B-Class – the B180 BlueEFFICIENCY and B 200 BlueEFFICIENCY – benefit from an all-new 1.6-litre direct-injection engine, designated M270, which takes advantage of the combustion processes developed for the Mercedes-Benz BlueDIRECT V6 and V8 units. They bring improvements in fuel economy and CO2 emissions of up to 12 per cent compared with those in the previous model. All four engines are fitted with ECO start/stop as standard and can be ordered with 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission costing £1,450.
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is almost five centimetres lower than the car it replaces, giving it a more dynamic appearance and responses without impacting on the space within. The lower centre of gravity, new four-link rear suspension and energy-saving electro-mechanical power steering result in more precise handling while ensuring that it is light and manoeuvrable in the confines of narrow streets. Sport models have 15mm lower sports suspension with firmer springs and dampers and faster-acting Direct Steer power steering. All versions have an electronic parking brake as standard.
The reduction in overall height places the seats 34 mm lower than in the previous model, while the driving position is now more upright in response to customer requests. Yet despite this headroom has been increased and the B-Class now offers class-best rear legroom. With all seats in place the B-Class has 486 litres of cargo space, with the option of a height-adjustable load compartment floor.
The 60:40 split rear seats fold almost flat to enlarge the luggage area to a maximum of 1,545 litres. The B-Class can also be ordered with Easy-Vario Plus (£515) sliding and tilting rear seats complete with a folding centre armrest featuring twin cupholders. It also includes a height-adjustable luggage floor.
The interior space, and particularly the width of the cabin, is emphasised by the exterior design. This is characterised by a broad and prominent grille and headlamps which spread to the sides of the car. At the rear there is a wide rear window mounted in a large tailgate with a low loading sill. The impressively low co-efficient of drag is especially noticeable from the side in the way the bonnet flows into the A-pillar and roofline. Pronounced wheel arches house 16- or 18-inch standard alloys, while the lower part of the bodywork features dynamic side skirts.
The world-best aerodynamics of the B-Class were honed with the help of complex computer calculations and flow simulations. Models and prototypes spent around 1,100 hours in the wind tunnel, and more than 275,000 computer hours were invested in digital airflow simulation.
One aerodynamic trick is worthy of special mention: the patented advanced front wheel arches which channel air over the front wheels. These innovative serrated spoilers combine with slots in the wheel arches and aerodynamically optimised hubcaps to considerably reduce flow losses. Equally comprehensive measures ensure a smooth airflow along the underbody. The floor features extensive cladding up to the rear wheel arches, followed by additional cladding around the rear axle. Even the rear silencer has undergone aerodynamic tuning. The ECO Technology package which will be an option on all versions of the B-Class lowers the ride height, seals the rear window joints and adds cladding to the rear chassis components.
High-quality materials and finely structured surfaces define the interior of the B-Class. The beautifully crafted interior is the result of studies conducted by Daimler’s Customer Research Centres (CRCs) and the unstinting work of the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Como, Italy. The Advanced Design Studio is housed at the Villa Salazar which dates back to the 1750s and was once used by the Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace to produce ties and cravats before Mercedes-Benz took it over in February 1998. The designers can give free rein to their ideas without having to immediately consider series production. The designers use an “appreciation model” to bring their ideas to life and then look for a way to take them through to series production.
At the Daimler Customer Research Centres, there are no predetermined criteria that interviewees must stick to, as with a traditional survey. What these CRCs have found is that the ideal vehicle interior has a good balance between the familiar and the progressive. The ideal is to do justice to as many different ideals as possible. In cases where they cannot be reconciled, personalisation is key.
With the B-Class, for example, Mercedes-Benz makes personalisation easy using three interior packages, as well as providing a broad range of different trim materials and colour choices.
SE versions are enhanced with silver chrome detailing and are fitted as standard with the Sight and Light package of rain-sensing wipers, Headlamp Assist, a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, air conditioning, an electronic parking brake, ambient lighting, Active Park Assist and an Audio 20 CD/radio player with Bluetooth® and USB interfaces. Unique interior features on Sport models include, among others, Silver Honeycomb trim, heat-insulating dark tinted glass, a reversing camera, Headlamp Assist, brushed stainless steel sports pedals with rubber studs and Artico artificial leather upholstery.
In keeping with other recent Mercedes-Benz model introductions, the B-Class is fitted with an array of advanced occupant protection features. It is the first car in the world with a radar-based collision warning system, Collision Prevention Assist featuring adaptive Brake Assist. All versions are also fitted with Attention Assist, while optional safety features include Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Spot Assist as part of the £785 Lane-Tracking Package Speed Limit Assist, Intelligent Light System (£1,460 on SE, £580 on Sport models) and Pre-Safe® (£345).
The list of Mercedes-Benz luxury comfort and convenience features which has cascaded down to the compact car model is no less impressive, and includes as options COMAND Online (£2,100), a Harmon Kardon Logic7® surround-sound system (£690) and Distronic Plus (£900).
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