Mercedes B-Class MPV review
"It's not a true MPV, but the B-Class excels as a spacious, classy hatchback"
- Desirable looks
- Classy interior
- Only five seats
- Not a true MPV
Verdict - Is the Mercedes B-Class a good car?
The Mercedes B-Class is a taller, more practical version of the A-Class hatchback. While it still offers five seats, there’s more space to stretch out and a bigger boot. This makes it a rather niche quasi-MPV, but one that hold’s appeal if you just want a roomy feeling car without jumping into an SUV.
Mercedes B-Class models, specs and alternatives
The Mercedes B-Class is a small MPV that’s based on the current Mercedes A-Class hatchback. Taller, wider and longer, the B-Class aims to blend the quality, refinement and hi-tech interior of the A-Class with greater space and practicality.
The B-Class closely competes against cars like the Volkswagen Touran and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, but has fewer direct rivals than ever as MPVs are increasingly overshadowed by SUVs. Unlike the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, the Mercedes offers no seven-seat alternative, unless you look at the Mercedes GLB SUV. Other models like the Volkswagen Golf SV and Toyota Prius+ are no longer available; so many buyers have flocked to crossovers in recent years that many MPVs have been withdrawn from the market. At the end of this generation, the B-Class will be added to the list, as Mercedes has no plans to replace it.
That hasn’t stopped Mercedes giving it a facelift for 2023, though, to ensure it keeps up with the smaller A-Class and other models in its range until it goes out of production. Styling changes are subtle, but upgrades like standard adaptive LED headlights keep the B-Class looking suitably upmarket.
You could argue that the B-Class doesn’t quite meet the MPV tag. There aren’t many clever storage features, the seats don’t slide backwards and forwards, and rivals offer more boot space. But the B-Class will appeal if you think an A-Class is too cramped for family duties or too low to the ground to get in and out comfortably. The B-Class is also slightly cheaper to buy than the Mercedes GLA and GLB SUVs.
Part of the reason small MPVs fell out of fashion was because of their dowdy looks, but the B-Class looks every inch a taller A-Class – a description that perfectly describes how it shapes up as a package. Swing a wide-opening door open and you're greeted by an interior that shares the same classy style and attractive detailing as the A-Class hatchback that won it much praise when it was launched in 2019, although you’ll need to upgrade to a higher trim level for the full effect.
Some of that praise was directed at the MBUX infotainment system, which has become a feature across the entire Mercedes range, and it’s as easy to use as it is good to look at. All the must-have connectivity options are available, either as standard equipment or via the options list.
Over its life, the B-Class has been offered with a range of diesel engines including the 114bhp B 180 d, 148bhp B 200 d and the 188bhp B 220 d diesels, along with two petrol models particularly suited to buyers who cover a low to medium annual mileage. There’s also a plug-in hybrid B 250 e, which has the potential to slash your fuel bills with a 43-mile pure-electric range possible from a full charge.
For the 2023 facelift only two engines remain: a 148bhp diesel in the B 220 d and a 161bhp mild-hybrid petrol in the B 200, which return up to 55.4mpg and 46.3mpg respectively.
If you fear that the extra practicality the B-Class offers over the A-Class will come at the expense of driving pleasure, you needn't worry. From behind the wheel, the B-Class feels just like a taller hatchback, and one with a clearer view of the road ahead. Although the suspension design is dependent on which model you buy, the B 200 we drove disguised its bulk very well, with plenty of grip and little tendency to lean in corners, even if steering feel is in short supply. In AMG Line trim, the ride is also slightly stiffer, especially at lower speeds in town, where the BMW feels a bit more composed.
Rather more generous is the interior space on offer in the B-Class, which combines with the high-set seating and four wide-opening doors to be one of the car’s main selling points. The boot is big, too, and a van-like load bay is available if you fold the rear seats down. However – none of these qualities are in short supply; there are family estate cars out there which will beat the B-Class for boot space and practicality.
However, think of the B-Class as the taller, more spacious A-Class it really is, and it makes more sense. It's not a true MPV but for those who want an interior that's spacious and easy to use in a car with a premium badge, the B-Class makes a classy choice.