Mercedes B-Class MPV - Engines, drive & performance
No sports car, but the B-Class MPV feels as nimble as the A-Class
Considering its extra mass, it's to the B-Class' credit that it feels very much like the Mercedes A-Class from behind the wheel. Though both cars share underpinnings, the B-Class is a much bulkier machine, so you could excuse it for being rather more wayward on a twisty road. Yet this isn’t the case.
As with the A-Class, the suspension design varies between models, with the least powerful models getting a simple 'twist beam' rear suspension design, while a more sophisticated multi-link configuration is included as part of the AMG Line trim level and is standard when you choose the most powerful B220 d diesel engine. For most people most of the time the differences will be hard to detect, but corner really hard in a car equipped with the multi-link arrangement and you’ll discover its extra composure and less unsettled ride over mid-corner bumps.
On all B-Class models there’s not a huge amount of feel through the steering wheel, but the power-assistance is well judged to be neither too light nor too heavy, and there's a lot of bite from the front tyres when you push hard into a corner. The trade-off is a somewhat bouncy ride on British roads. This situation is improved on softer non-AMG Line versions, but overall the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer feels better able to soak up bumps - and both have to give best to the supple Citroen.
Mercedes B-Class diesel engines
B-Class buyers have three diesel engines to choose from. The B 180 d shares its 1.5-litre, 114bhp engine with the Renault Kadjar, while the B 200 d and B 220 d use a 2.0-litre diesel that debuted in the latest Mercedes E-Class executive saloon. For the B-Class, the 2.0-litre diesel comes with 148 or 187bhp.
The B 180 d comes as standard with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, while the B 200 d and B 220 d both use an eight-speed version. Four-wheel drive will be offered with certain engines later on.
We found the B 200 d impressively punchy and responsive, feeling just as fast as its 8.3-second 0-62mph sprint suggests and accelerating briskly without too much noise. This compares well with the 10.7 seconds it takes the B 180 d to hit 62mph, and it’s not far off the B 220 d’s 7.2-second time.
The B-Class only offers two petrol engines - a 1.3-litre and a 2.0-litre, both with four cylinders. The former delivers 134bhp in the B180 and 161bhp in the B200, while the latter offers 221bhp in the B250. All petrol engines come with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
When we drove the B 200, it seemed to offer more than enough power for the family buyers that the B-Class aims to attract and could manage 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds. The gearbox could respond more immediately when you ask for full acceleration, and is sometimes caught out at roundabouts and junctions where it is slow to select the right gear, but gearchanges are smooth, which makes for relaxing motoring.
We’ve not driven the larger engined models yet, but experience of them in the similar A-Class they proved punchy, reasonably quiet and a better match for the seven-speed DCT. However, they do sound a little strained when worked hard. Zero to 62mph takes a respectable nine seconds in the B 180, and 8.2 seconds in the B 200.
The B 250 e combines the 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine with an electric motor, resulting in a combined total of 215bhp. So, not only is it the cleanest B-Class but the plug-in is also the fastest, getting from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds. Don't mistake speed for excitement, though, because in 'Comfort' mode the A 250 e will favour electric power when possible.
When the petrol engine does kick in, it can seem rather coarse, particularly after the near-silent electric motor. The Mercedes does a good job of switching between power sources, however, and it's pleasant to drive smoothly. Body lean is slightly more pronounced owing to the plug-in powertrain's extra weight.