• Drives well; petrol and diesel engines all good; extensive standard equipment list; load space; comfortable
  • Petrol engines good rather than great; ride suffers on bigger wheels and sports suspension; styling improved but still won\'t appeal to all

8 / 10

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review

The second-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class may look like an evolution of its predecessor, but it’s the first of a new breed of compact models aiming to significantly bolster the company’s coffers in a tough global market.

Mercedes-Benz is setting out to attract a new generation of buyers to the three-pointed-star badge, as it aims to capitalise on projections that the broader compact segment will grow from the current 19 million vehicles built annually to about 34 million units rolling off the line by 2020.

The platform beneath the new B-Class will spawn at least five new models, with the next-generation A-Class due here in early 2013 as the next in line.

The other three models to be based off the same compact platform include a compact SUV, a four-door coupe and possibly a three-door A-Class hatch. Expect to see the new four-door coupe, which is being touted as either the CLA or CLC, unveiled at the upcoming 2012 Beijing motor show.

Mercedes-Benz is keen to point to the success of the outgoing B-Class, citing sales of 2200 units in 2011 that placed the model in the top spot for the ‘Compact segment over $40,000’ in Australia.

The B-Class performed better once Mercedes-Benz Australia took the decision to drop the A-Class, blaming styling similarities between the two for affecting sales of both models.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review

This time, however, the B-Class isn’t just what was essentially a longer-wheelbase version of the A-Class. While the A-Class transforms into a conventional hatchback for second-generation form, the B-Class retains its MPV-like design – albeit with the sharper lines and prominent grille that are common cues among today’s Mercs.

There are greater changes inside as well as under the skin, though, for what Mercedes says is the most substantial model change in the company’s history.

Based on Mercedes-Benz’s new compact platform, the new B-Class is larger than the previous model – longer by 86mm and wider by 9mm.

Mercedes prefers to bill the B-Class as a sports tourer rather than an MPV, and to help the sporty bit the new model sits almost five centimetres lower on the road than its predecessor. Apart from the obvious styling benefits, aerodynamic performance has been significantly enhanced to a level close to that of the E-Class sedan.

Another aspect pointing to sporty intent is the reduced seat height – by 71 millimetres, but without affecting forward visibility that has long been one of the appeals of the B-Class. This is helped by the fact the B-Class sits on a higher-floor version of the small-car platform.

The B-Class may not be easy to pigeonhole in terms of vehicle type, but it certainly offers spaciousness and practicality. Rear legroom, for example, is just 12mm short of the current, regular-wheelbase S-Class limo.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review

There are three trim flavours: B180, B200 and B200 CDI, each powered by newly developed powerplants – two petrol and one diesel. All three offer more power and torque than the previous B-class variants they have replaced and with greater fuel efficiency.

The B180 and B200 share the same 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that features direct injection and turbo charging.

The entry-level Mercedes-Benz B180 develops 90kW and 200Nm, while the more powerful Mercedes-Benz B200 puts out 115kW and 250Nm.

According to Mercedes-Benz, both petrol models will consume 6.1L/100km on a combined cycle – a reduction over the previous models of 1.5L/100km and 1.9L/100km respectively.

On the other hand, the 1.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engine in the B200 CDI generates 100kW and 300Nm of torque, while consuming just 4.7L/100km, or a fall of 0.9L/100km over the previous B200 CDI.

We got the chance to try out all three models, starting with the B200 that costs $43,950 before on-road costs are added.

Oddly enough, there’s no push button start across the B-Class range – you need to insert the remote fob – and twist. It’s not a big deal (almost satisfying, to be honest), but it’s largely unexpected today, with the proliferation of start/stop buttons – even in less expensive models.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review

On an earlier inspection of the car, we also noticed the absence of any soundproofing material on the inside of the bonnet – something else that is commonplace today in order to insulate the cabin from engine noise.

But any fears we might have about the new B-Class being in some way irritably noisy can be laid to rest. Whether you’re overtaking at 110km/h on a country road, or accelerating hard from a standstill, the B-Class is noticeably refined and quiet.

However, while progress under load feels more than adequate, it’s not quite as swift as we expected from the top of the range petrol model.

On the other hand, mid-range pull is much stronger, assisted by the engine’s wide torque band, stretching from 1250rpm through to 4000rpm.

Hopping into the $38,950 entry-level B180 might have been cause for alarm, with less power and torque on tap. Not so. There’s less power, but it peaks slightly earlier and the torque curve is exactly the same as the B200, so the performance gap between the two models is a lot less than you might imagine.

The B200 and B200 CDI are very evenly matched in so many ways, making the choice between the two difficult. For starters, they share the same starting price and same equipment specification.

From a performance perspective, what little power the diesel concedes to its petrol sibling is more than made up for with an additional 50Nm of torque at its disposal. So there’s plenty of go on tap from as low as 1600rpm.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review

So called ‘turbo-lag’ is another unwanted feature of small diesels, but thankfully, it has largely been engineered out of the new B-Class.

Turbo lag is minimal, and the diesel is quiet and refined. There’s very little of that annoying clatter, even at idle – a common trait that seems to plague many of the smaller diesels these days.

Equally polished is the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that drives the front wheels and is standard on all models.

It’s not the quickest-shifting dual-clutch system on the market, but the gearchanges are smooth and effortless. More driver engagement can be had from using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters – also standard equipment on B-Class.

The B-Class employs electro-mechanical power steering that provides good weighting from the straight-ahead position and provides a decent level of communication for the driver without being too sensitive for the type of vehicle that the B-Class is.

Through corners, the B-Class feels well composed with only a fraction of body roll.

The B-Class also has the ability to iron out the worst of our roads surfaces, though equip your B-Class with the optional lowered sports suspension and 18-inch-wheel combination and the ride becomes harsher.

Inside, interior presentation and quality is vastly improved on the previous B-Class. The list of standard features is also extensive, with overall value improved on the last-generation model.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review

Highlights include active parking assist, front and rear parking sensors, electric parking brake, audio with 14.7cm TFT colour display with six-disc CD changer with six-speakers, Bluetooth connectivity and steaming, three-spoke multifunction leather steering wheel with chrome insert, climate control air-conditioning auto sensing wipers and headlamps.

There are also six option packages to choose from. Select the Comand Package, for example, and apart from the 17.8cm colour display, HDD navigation and Harman Kardon sound system with 12 speakers and a host of other kit, you also get Internet connectivity and integration with Google Maps.

The front seats are well designed to accommodate a variety of body shapes and provide high levels of comfort and support, and that’s regardless of whether you choose the man-made leather or fabric upholstery. If we had to make a call, we’d say the fabric seats on the entry-level B180 are the most comfortable.

The sports leather steering wheel is superb to hold, and it doesn’t  feel that much different to those found in more expensive Benzes.

Active and passive safety kit  includes ‘collision prevention assist’ system, a radar-based system that monitors the distance between you and the vehicle in front. If the system senses an impending crash, an audible and visual alarm warns the driver and prepares the brakes to assist.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review

There are also nine airbags throughout the B-Class – front, pelvis, side and window bags for driver and front passenger, side airbags for rear seat passengers and driver’s knee bag.

The 2013 A-Class will attract a higher volume of customers, but for buyers looking for a keenly priced, practical compact luxury car with elevated seating height, good vision, refinement, and plenty of features and technology, the new B-Class is a stronger proposition than ever before.

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Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review
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  • Nmonteith

    I’m not a fan of the styling at all. Looks like an awkward people mover, not an attractive hatch.

    • Guest

       Yes, this is the family car. The A-class (built on the same underpinnings) is the attractive hatch.

    • coolbeans

      It’s meant to be a people mover, not a hatch. You’ve got the A Class for that.

  • Guest

    Just sold my C250 CDI couple after only 6 months – never again another MB!

    • Mark

      For what reasons did you sell your C250 CDI so soon? The car must have a major defect?

      • F1MotoGP

         Yes, I would like to know too.

      • F1MotoGP

         Guest still did not reply! Maybe he never had a Mercedes or making up stories!?

    • theillestlife

       yes tell me please, i am signing the paper for a c250 cdi tomorrow :S

    • Mapleleaf


  • Henry Toussaint

    I reckon that a full body kit (Front, Side and Rear Skirts) would improve it a little. But it’s still not the best car too look at, I don’t mind the interior though.

  • gt86.com.au

    First real forey for MB in this segment. Pretty decent!

  • Tomh

    The red one looks hot! Very sporty.

    Is this the sports pack?

    • Desmo

      No the red one has the night package, it looks good but does not work well. Its sort of the sport pack+, the sports pack has 17″ wheels the night 18″. Unfortunately the combination of the sports suspension and 18″ wrecks the ride. I test drove both, and the std b200 rode much better and still handled well.

  • Mapleleaf

    this car will sell well. Merc diesels are great with good fuel economy. The old car was under-rated. It was really roomy and easy to drive.

  • Mannmanly

    Why is the rear wiper so tiny?

  • Martin

    Looks like Merc has copied the old Suzuki Liana hatch.

  • Manly

    Does it have rear air vents?

    • Don

      Yes, it has.

    • Spook

      No rear air vent as standard, but should be available if you opt for the Exclusive package.

  • Kale

    Couple of years ago we did an extended tour of Western Europe, some 6000 km. Hired B150 (petrol), 5 speed manual. I was underwhelmed at the beginning of the trip, but the damn thing grew on me. I used 98 octane fuel and that improved things quite a lot. A very underrated car. It went well, great tourer (given what it is) that run very well. My cars here at home are BMW 135 Sports and at that time we also had an A3 Sportsback, 2 litre turbo. It seems that the new B is great improvement and I think it will sell quite well.

  • al

    Bah, it’s expensive. For that amount of coin you can get more car. Mercedes = huge depreciation, expensive parts + service. 4 years later this car will be worth a quarter of the price max. 

    • Kale

      Think of depth of engineering and research that goes into these things. The Koreans are just not even on the landscape pal.

      • Goranturner

        Also, I agree – buy cheap there is not much de
        Recitation I. $$$$’s.

        • GoranttirnerKale


  • Aus_poppa

    I know it has paddle shifters, but where is the primary gear selector.

    By the way, whilst many are critical of the B class, after people drive in it the attraction of 5 people fitting in comfortably in a smallish footprint car that regularly – in diesel form of course – gets 5l/100km starts to make an impression. Two of our friends have followed us into a B class.

    • Djw

      Gear selector is the lever on the RHS of the steering column.  Flick upwards for reverse or down for drive.  Park and neutral are obtained by pushing the chrome button on the end of the lever.  Manual is engaged from the rocker switch on the centre panel with a three section wheel logo on the front; sport, manual and economy modes, and the gears are changed with the paddles.

      Took a B250 CDI on a test drive today.  On some roads around the city it was smoother and quieter than my Mk 6 Golf 2.0 TDI but the tyre noise from the run flat tyres was much louder at 100 kph than the Golf.  Why MB has gone to run flats in this country beats me.  I do several trips to Canberra a year from Adelaide and don’t want to spent several night in the middle of the Hay Plain waiting for replacement tyres from Sydney.

      That said the build quality is good and it has many good things going for it.  Will most probably buy one. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JEN7DJCHYPT232XGNNG4RDTMQM Yung Ching

    honestly…this car is mainly for Asian market… u know what i mean.

  • Redison

    Bot a 2006 B 200 turbo w CVT to replace wife’s prev 99 A class. B is a vast improvement. Access, ride, driveability, acceleration, much quieter, and better finish details. Yes it’s a mini people mover – without looking like a commercial van. Exel stereo. My only complaints are the electric steering is really numb, the electronic dash details are a pain, and the instruction book is over the top. I always buy used Mercs because some of them really have been driven by little old ladies and most owners have the dosh to maintain them to a high standard. ust be picky. One key to happy ownership is to have an excellent Merc specialist shop to keep them in top order without breaking the bank. I have an SEC 560 and a crotch rocket if I want excitement.  

  • http://5reasonreviews.com/

    Same as my comment in a previous forum – probably a good idea to wait until the new Merc compact SUV is released

Mercedes-Benz B200 Specs

Car Details
245 MY11
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$29,480 - $33,500
Dealer Retail
$29,880 - $35,530
Dealer Trade
$22,900 - $26,800
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
280Nm @  1800rpm
Max. Power
142kW @  5000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8.1L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1500  Unbrake:400
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
215/40 R18
Rear Tyres
215/40 R18
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Wishbones, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Beam axle, Coil Spring, Gas damper
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer, Voice Recognition System
Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Optional Features
Auto Climate Control with Dual Temp Zones, Power front seats, Power Sunroof, Sunroof
Premium Sound System
Xenon Headlights
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft
Service Interval
12 months /  25,000 kms
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Pass Side Eng Scuttle
Country of Origin