After more than four months living with a Mercedes-Benz B-Class, it’s time to return our bright red 2.0-litre turbo petrol B250. So what have we learnt during this extended review period? Most importantly, if it were our money, would we pay the $49,500 asking price?
There are two ways to approach the B-Class. One is to think it’s an expensive oversized hatchback with a Mercedes-Benz badge, which is there to help justify its price. The other – which we came to find – is to see it as an ultra-modern, highly practical family car that mixes the latest safety and technology with great performance and efficiency.
The B-Class is the most underrated car in the Mercedes-Benz stable. For our family of four it has proven ideal. We’ve crammed it with everything we’ve needed, using it for trips to Ikea and loading with suitcases for the airport run. We’ve driven it to the country and back, but mostly have slogged around the suburbs.
It’s there we’ve become accustomed to its self-parking ability, which is one of the best in any car we’ve tested to date. Although the B250 has a very clear and high resolution reversing camera, as well as front and rear parking sensors, more often than not our car has casually negotiated itself into a park with only accelerator and brake input from its driver. Much to the amusement of people passing by who watch the steering wheel turn by itself, we might add.
We’ve come to love its easily accessible ISOFIX child seat points that have allowed us to fit and remove our 19-month-old’s baby seat in seconds. The rear tray tables (which can be customized) have also been useful to serve finger food.
On numerous occasions the blind spot detection system has warned us of a motorbike casually cruising in the no-go zone and on one occasion the audible warning from the Benz’s front-collision detection system saved us from a potential minor rear-ending. Which if you think about it, paid for itself instantly.
During our test period we had an inattentive driver hit the back of the B250 while it was stationary at a red light. The Mercedes-Benz looked like someone might have hit it with a trolley while the offending car had extensive damage.
Speaking of safety, the B250’s lane departure monitoring system is also one of the best in the business and if you have a habit of being distracted by audio systems, it’s a lifesaver for making sure you’re aware of your lane position, unobtrusively, before it’s too late.
While it’s been a very practical and safe companion to our family, its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine has also been a source of constant joy. At any moment, especially when the kids and wife are no longer onboard, this family-friendly over-grown hatch turns into a nimble hot hatch willing you on to tackle the next bend at speed.
There are some compromises, of course. Its performance credentials make it a harder ride than it probably could be (not helped by the low-profile tyres) and it’s certainly less suited to poorly-surfaced country roads, where it jiggles about too much.
On the plus side it’s not floaty. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is quick in Sport mode and focused on efficiency in economy mode. We averaged around 7-8L/100km and could get it down to 6.1L/100km if saving fuel was a priority.
The front seats are spacious and confortable with plenty of storage for water bottles and other items. The rear can accommodate three adults if need be but is best suited for two. There is plenty of headroom, and lots of rear legroom. The position of the gear-selector on the steering column seems odd at first but once you get use to it, and the space you gained in the middle, you can't go back to a traditional gear stick.
On the infotainment front, the Merc’s COMAND system is one of the best in the business. Unfortunately the company has a tie up with Blackberry for its internet tethering system (Blackberry also sponsors the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 team), so you can’t use an iPhone or most Android phones to enable your car to access the web or download applications. This is something that will likely change with the next iteration.
If you’re one of the few people still left with a Blackberry, the COMAND system can do some really cool things. You can plan your road trip on Google maps and send it to your car’s navigation system over the internet. You can download apps from Mercedes-Benz app store, you can browse the web (not sure why you’d want to) and all sorts of other random things. It’s pretty advanced for a $50,000 car.
Overall it’s hard to really fault the Mercedes-Benz B250 as a family car. It’s very safe, exceptionally practical and good to drive. It’s rare that all these characteristics can come together in a package this attractive. More significantly, they rarely come together in most similarly-priced SUV models…
Date acquired: February 2013
Odometer reading: 6,895km
Travel this month: 936km
Consumption this month: 7.5L/100km
Read our previous Mercedes-Benz B250 Reviews.