Mercedes B-Class mini MPV
Price: £22,015 - £28,225
- Good fuel economy
- High build quality
- Versatile seating
- Expensive to buy
- Uncomfortable Sport models
- Options aren’t cheap
"The Mercedes B-Class offers plenty of space, impressive build quality and superb levels of comfort."
The Mercedes B-Class is a compact MPV with a difference – it has a premium badge on the bonnet. In theory it's up against models like the Volkswagen Golf Plus, Ford C-MAX and Toyota Verso, but it's considerably more expensive, more luxurious and higher quality than all of those.
The B-Class has been around since 2005, but the current version was launched in 2011, and it's a lot better than the original car, with sportier looks, more space and improved practicality. It also has an efficient engine range, a host of hi-tech equipment and a plush interior. There's a choice of two specification levels – SE and Sport – while the engine range consists of two petrol engines and three diesel engines. A seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox is also available on all models. In short, the B-Class is one of the best compact MPVs on the market – if you can afford it.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Diesel engines offer excellent fuel economy
The B-Class really does offer impressive fuel economy. The most efficient model is the B180 CDI ECO, which will do 74.3mpg and emits just 98g/km CO2, making it exempt from road tax and easily one of the most fuel-efficient cars in the compact MPV class. The figures are upped in the standard B180 to 68.9mpg and 108g/km CO2, which is still very impressive. Even the range-topping diesel – the B220 CDI – will do 61.4mpg and just 120g/km CO2. Petrol versions are much thirstier, but the B180 SE will still do a relatively impressive 48.7mpg and 135g/km CO2.
Interior & comfort
Interior is spacious and very comfortable
Comfort levels are superb on entry-level SE models, but not so good on Sport spec cars. That's because they get lowered suspension and 18-inch alloys (rather than the standard 16-inch alloys) which combine to create a much firmer ride that will send a jolt through the cabin when the car goes over bumps. The seats on all models are really comfortable and supportive, though, and there is plenty of space for passengers. In fact, legroom in the back is on a par with the Mercedes S-Class luxury limo, and there's loads of headroom as well, so you really are spoilt when it comes to space in the B-Class. Road, wind and tyre noise are kept to a minimum, too, thanks to a well-insulated cabin.
Practicality & boot space
Interior and boot are both spacious and versatile
The boot on the B-Class is pretty generous. With the rear seats up there is 486 litres of space, which is more than you get in the Ford C-MAX. Fold down the rear seats and capacity expands to 1,545 litres – which is excellent but quite a bit smaller than the 1,723 litres of space you get in the C-MAX with the rear seats folded. You can opt for the £600 Easy Vario Package extra to give the interior a bit more versatility - as well as giving you 60:40 split-folding rear seats it allows you to slide the bench backwards and forwards to either boost boot space up to 666 litres or create even more legroom, depending on your needs. You also get a centre rear armrest, ski hatch and false boot floor that can be lifted up to create a completely flat loading area.
Reliability & safety
Should live up to Mercedes’ reputation for flawless reliability
The material and build quality of the B-Class is first rate and we expect it to be a very reliable car. There have been no major faults reported on it to date – although it's still relatively new – and it comes with a three year warranty, so if any issues do crop up in the first few years of ownership, you can be sure they get sorted. Mercedes have performed impressively in recent customer satisfaction surveys. It came fifth out of 32 in the 2013 Driver Power manufacturer chart – ahead of Audi and BMW but still not quite a match for Jaguar.
The B-Class scored the full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests and every model comes with a range of safety tech, including airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, ISOFIX points for child seats and ABS. To add to that, Collision Prevention Assist, a system that automatically brakes the car if it senses an imminent collision, comes as standard, and there's a range of optional safety equipment available too, such as lane keep assist and blind-spot detection.
Engines, drive & performance
Automatic gearbox and smooth diesels are excellent
There are two petrol engines and three diesel engines available on the B-Class, but we’d recommend the diesel engines unless you’re a low mileage driver, as they offer a better mix of performance and economy. Our favourites are the 107bhp B180 CDI and 134bhp B200 CDI – both of which are really smooth, responsive and efficient.
If you do less than 10,000 to 12,000 miles per year then you’re better off going for a petrol model, because without regular use the diesel particulate filter in a diesel car can get clogged and they’re expensive to replace. We’d recommend the 122bhp B180 SE – it's more powerful and quieter than the diesel engines but it's quite a bit less efficient. The seven-speed gearbox is an expensive optional extra but we’d recommend it because it's superb and improves fuel efficiency. Higher-spec Sport models get stiffer suspension, bigger wheels and more responsive steering, but the trade-off is greatly reduced comfort, so we’d stick with a standard SE car unless sporty driving dynamics are really important to you.
Price, value for money & options
It’ll cost you more than rivals but you get a lot for your money and resale values are strong
The B-Class is the only premium-badged model in the compact MPV market, so it's not too surprising that it costs a good £4,000 or so more than rival models. Many would argue that you’re only paying the extra money for an expensive badge, but that's not quite true. The C-MAX may be just as practical, just as good to drive and almost as economical, but the interior is nowhere near as high quality and the B-Class comes with a very impressive list of equipment. Even entry-level cars get 16-inch alloys, air-con, and an automatic parking system – which parks the car for you. Resale values are much stronger for the B-Class than they are for its more mainstream rivals, too. The only thing to watch out for is that servicing and insurance costs will be higher, too.
What the others say
It's very quiet, and 300Nm of torque from 1,600rpm means it's responsive too, with 0-60mph taking around nine seconds. It works well with the seven-speed automatic, which comes with fast and smooth paddleshifters mounted on the steering wheel. Stop-start helps boost economy to 64mpg and lower emissions to 115g/km, so it should be cheap to run, too.
Externally the new B-Class is bold, with prominent lines along the sides, a large grille and a low-down stance. The design is exceptionally aerodynamic, which helps to improve the all important fuel economy figure, which is yet to be announced.
As you can see, it gets Merc's new corporate face, replete with those tasty new lights and shouty grille, pronounced wheel arches, new side skirts and even a roof spoiler. And despite being nearly 5cm lower than its predecessor, Merc claims there's better headroom and, after listening to customers, has installed a more upright seating position.
Last updated: 24 Feb 2014