Mercedes B-Class MPV - Practicality & boot space
Loads of interior and boot space but B-Class not as versatile as other MPVs
In its initial form, the latest B-Class doesn't quite live up to its MPV or 'people carrier' billing. Think of it as a taller, more spacious hatchback like the Volkswagen Golf SV and you won't be far wrong. As a result, it feels geared towards those drivers who find conventional hatchbacks too low-slung to be easily accessible, rather than as a car designed for an active family lifestyle.
However, this is set to change when later versions arrive, with a sliding second seating row that should usefully increase versatility.
Mercedes B-Class interior space & storage
For all its visual similarities with the A-Class, it's still immediately apparent how much higher up you sit in the B-Class - around 10cm in fact. Though it can't match the elevated driving position of a compact SUV, it certainly affords a better view out than you'll find in any average hatchback – including the A-Class.
Being a little higher up also makes it easy to get in and out of the B-Class, whether you choose a seat in the first or second row. Once seated, you'll appreciate the expansive glass area that floods the B-Class' interior with natural light.
Compared to its predecessor, the latest B-Class is both wider and longer, with 50mm more between the front and rear axles. Much of that extra length is given to the passenger compartment, resulting in very generous front and rear legroom. In fact, occupants in the back of a B-Class have the kind of stretching out space once reserved for the brand's luxury saloons.
Though there's a lot of space inside, it's a shame that Mercedes hasn't paid the same attention as some rivals to in-car storage. While there's a good size glove box and door bins front and rear, passengers may still struggle to find a place to hold items that might be required on a journey.
The first examples of the latest-generation B-Class to hit the UK are fitted with a fixed rear seat that splits and folds in three sections to a 40:20:40 ratio. With the rear seats in use, there are 455 litres of luggage capacity, while folding all three seats flat unlocks a total of 1,540 litres. That's a close match for the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer – arguably the car’s most direct rival. Boot volume drops to 405 litres for the B 250 e but that's still a good space and there are no awkward steps in the boot floor. However, there's no dedicated space for the charging cables when not in use.
Neither the Mercedes nor BMW can rival a traditional estate car, with cheaper rivals such as the Skoda Superb offering 660 litres of capacity with the rear seats in place and a vast 1,950 litres with them folded flat.
The B-Class isn't offered in longer-wheelbase, seven-seat form – the stretched 2 Series Active Gran Tourer offers some 1,820 litres with all five rear seats folded down. When the sliding rear bench arrives, B-Class owners will be able to choose between maximising space for passengers or luggage according to daily needs.