REVIEW DATE: 11 May 2006
The Mercedes B-Class B200 Turbo Is Designed To Appeal To The Young Executive Types. Steve Ghosley Finds Out If It Does…
Mercedes' B Class is being sold as a 'compact sports tourer' by the Germans, rather than a Zafira or Scenic-like mini-MPV. It's a slice of marketing-speak much easier to swallow in the case of the derivative featured here, the desirable B200 Turbo petrol model. Here's a people carrier that better-heeled families will doubtless aspire to own but more importantly, it's also a car that young thirty-something's without kids who lead an active lifestyle might see themselves driving. Name another MPV you could say that about?
Priced at £23,060, the B200 Turbo is never going to be a cheap option and family buyers at this level have a vast Range of different products within their reach that could perform a similar role. An extremely well-specified Renault Grand Scenic 2.0-litre turbo would be an option, a BMW 320i Touring wouldn't be too far out of reach or how about a 2.0-litre FSi Volkswagen Touran Sport along with some money left in your pocket? The B200 Turbo goes up against some accomplished and very different vehicles but aims to carve a niche out for itself with its own particular set of qualities.
The engine is an all-new 2.0-litre 4-cylinder 16-valve turbo-charged and intercooled unit mated with a 6-speed manual gearbox. A newly developed, continuously variable Autotronic automatic option is also available. Performance, one of the strong selling points of this car, is impressive. The 0-62mph sprint is achieved in only 7.6s and this amply-proportioned B Class can top 140mph where traffic conditions allow. Mercedes-Benz claim an average economy of 34.9mpg, which isn't bad for such a high-performance car, and the CO2 emissions figure of 195g/km is in the lower Range of comparable 2.0-litre models.
This B-Class handles neatly enough, with less body roll than you may expect for such a high-sided vehicle, although the ride is on the firm side. The electro-mechanical power steering feels a little odd at first, but trust it and it'll direct the car's nose accurately. The engine in the B200 Turbo is refined and delivers its power smoothly through the rev Range, helped by the turbocharger. The ESP stability control system can feel a little over-zealous for real press-on driving but otherwise it's fairly vice free. With a little more weight to carry around than the equivalent A-Class, the B-Class enjoys better front end traction and the B200 Turbo has little trouble getting its full quota of grunt down onto the tarmac.
"The B200 Turbo offers a luxury family package with a serious amount of performance"
Sit in the back of the B200 Turbo, stretch your legs out and you'll appreciate that it's comparable with the amount of room in the back of an S-Class limousine. Only those at the extreme end of the ergonomic scale will have any problems with head or legroom and there's ample room for three abreast. Despite this, the B-Class is only 4,270mm long. To put that figure into perspective, a Ford Focus measures 4,342mm from bumper to bumper, making this Mercedes something of a packaging marvel.
The rear seats all fold flat into the floor and the boot floor can even be raised to offer a flat loading surface. Other clever touches include a front passenger seat that folds forward to permit long loads and slots next to the rear doors to allow seat belts to be stowed safely out of the way when loading and unloading. The centre rear seat back can also pop forward, offering an armrest with a neat pair of cupholders when travelling four-up. The driving position is undeniably sporty. The wheel sits almost vertical and your legs stretch forward into a deep footwell. It almost feels like sitting in a jacked-up Lotus Elise but for the interior quality.
In order to best appreciate the great strides Mercedes have made with the B-Class, acquaint yourself with, say, an old A-Class or an early M-Class model. Open the glove box and observe how the hinges look only marginally more expensive than a CD case. Pull at the floppy plastics of the lower dash. Marvel at how Mercedes had the chutzpah to put a plastic gearchange selector in the M-Class that wouldn't pass muster in a Kia. The B-Class isn't quite back to the over-engineered Benzes of the Seventies, but it's as good as anything else out there in terms of perceived quality. Not only that, but the interior aesthetics are, to this eye at least, a lot happier than those in the latest BMW and Audi offerings.
The dashboard is cleanly designed with a neat mix of contrasting colours and metallic detailing. Standard specification across the Range includes air-conditioning, a four-spoke steering wheel with multifunction buttons, an armrest between the front seats, electric windows and tinted glass, Plus brushed aluminium trim on the fascia, transmission tunnel and door panels. This top of the Range Turbo also features 18-inch AMG five-spoke alloy wheels, stainless steel double exhaust pipes, sports suspension and fog lamps with chrome surrounds.
As with all B-Class models, this car's greatest strengths are its interior packaging and the Mercedes-Benz build quality. Mercedes have taken some flak over recent years regarding the finish and quality of their vehicles, but the B-Class shows that they have started to return to the levels for which they were once famed. The B200 Turbo offers a luxury family package with a serious amount of performance. As with all things Mercedes, nothing comes cheap. Whether they have judged their target market correctly, only time will tell.
The results below show the top B CLASS deals on buyacar
|Mercedes Benz B Class B180 CDI SE 5dr Auto diesel hatchback|
|Price £23,312||Save £568|
|Mercedes Benz B Class B180 Sport 5dr Auto hatchback|
|Price £23,830||Save £585|
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|Mercedes Benz B Class B200 CDI Sport 5dr Auto diesel hatchback|
|Price £25,856||Save £674|
|Mercedes Benz B Class B200 CDI Sport 5dr diesel hatchback|
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|For B-CLASS B200 TURBO|
|OVERALL||7.1 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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