The new B-Class is a critically important model for the luxury German carmaker as it is based on the next A-Class platform, which, along with B-Class, will provide the basis for another three new models for Mercedes-Benz, including a compact SUV and a four-door coupe, which could be known as the CLA.
The new B-Class is being billed by Mercedes-Benz as a compact sports tourer with a lower height, vastly improved ride and handling, and a more upright seat position.
Mercedes-Benz is saying the improved dynamic performance of the new B-Class is due to several factors including a lower centre of gravity, a new four-link rear axle, and an upgraded electronic stability program. There’s also an optional sports suspension available, which lowers the car by another 20mm and includes sports dampers, and a direct steer system.
The latest B-Class also has a redesigned electro-mechanical steering system, which mounts the motor for the servo-assistance directly onto the steering gear for improved efficiency.
Both the B180 and B200 will share the same all-new 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with direct injection, but with different engine tunes.
The B180 has 90kW of power and 200Nm of torque at its disposal, and will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 10.2 seconds, while the more powerful B200 gets 115kW and 250Nm and needs just 8.4 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint.
The only diesel in the B-Class line-up, at least for now, is the B200 CDI with an all-new 1.8-litre direct-injection turbocharged engine developing 100kW and 300Nm. It accelerates from 0-100km/h in 9.3 seconds.
All B-Class variants come standard with Eco engine start/stop function and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the front wheels.
Key highlights of the entry-level B180 include 16-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, active parking assist, audio system comprising 5.8-inch colour display, CD player, integrated Bluetooth connectivity and media interface for iPod and six speakers.
The B200 and B200 CDI adds 17-inch twin-spoke-style alloy wheels, Artico (man-made leather) upholstery, black ash wood trip, chrome styling and electrically folding side mirrors.
Combined fuel consumption for the both B-Class petrol variants is listed as 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres with emissions of 141g/km, while the diesel-powered B200 CDI is lower at 4.7L/100km with 122g/km. That equates to an improvement of 21 per cent over the previous-generation B-Class.
The new B-Class features a raft of innovative safety features such as a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive brake assist as standard. Collision prevention assist is another crash avoidance system that provides both a visual and audible warning to obstacles that the driver may not have seen, while simultaneously preparing the brake assist feature.
Additional standard safety systems for Mercedes-Benz B-Class include:
• Attention assist
• Active parking assist
• Brake hold function
• Hill Hold function
While the new B-Class offers an extensive array of standard features across all three-model variants, there is also an equally extensive range of six option packages to choose from.
The Vision package includes; a panoramic electric sunroof with an electric sunblind, bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights and black roof liner.
The Comand package includes Comand APS with 17.8cm TFT colour display, HDD navigation with RDS-TMC, 10GB music register, single disc CD/DVD player with MP3/WMA/AAC compatibility, and internet connectivity.
The Exclusive package includes full-leather upholstery with top stitching, electrically operated front seats with memory function, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, convenience opening/closing, floor mats with edging in appointments colour.
The Driving package includes blind spot assist, lane keeping assist and leather-covered steering wheel (B180 only).
The Sports package consists of 17-inch five-spoke light-alloy wheels, lowered sports suspension, direct-steer system with variable servo assistance and variable steering ratio, two-louvre radiator grille in high-gloss black with chrome highlights, sports pedals in stainless steel-look with rubber studs, brake calipers with Mercedes-Benz lettering, perforated front brake discs, and black roof liner.
The Night package includes 18-inch alloy wheels painted in black, lowered sports suspension, direct-steer system with variable servo assistance and variable steering ratio, a two-louvre radiator grille in high-gloss black with chrome highlights, sports pedals in stainless steel-look with rubber studs, brake calipers with Mercedes-Benz lettering, perforated front brake discs, black roof liner, dark-tinted privacy glass from B-pillar to rear, bumper without chrome highlights and roof trim strip in high-gloss black.
The B-Class also offers the Mercedes-Benz Comand online multimedia system with internet access, which allows web surfing while the car is stationary, or fast page loads from Google local search and weather via a Mercedes-Benz app. There’s also a facility for downloading a previously configured route from a computer.
New Mercedes-Benz B-Class pricing - Manufacturer’s List Price; including GST, any LCT, but excluding on-road costs.
• B180 BlueEFFICIENCY - $38,950
• B200 BlueEFFICIENCY - $43,950
• B200 CDI BlueEFFIENCY - $43,950
The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class is on sale from April 2012 and the first three months of the Australian allotment are already accounted for.
CarAdvice will soon publish a full review of the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class.