Mercedes B-Class (2018-present)

A premium people carrier that packs plenty of technology, but costs more than other family cars

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Good-quality and spacious interior
Lots of tech
Comfortable ride quality

Weaknesses 

Expensive diesel models
No hybrid version
Many of the safety features are optional
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Mercedes-Benz B Class Diesel Hatchback b220d amg line premium plus 5dr auto

Total RRP £36,214

Your quote £30,528

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You can understand why people carriers have become so unpopular. Even the descriptive term, people carrier, sounds boring, whereas a Sports Utility Vehicle, or SUV, has a ring of rugged outdoor activity about it. And then there’s the way many of them look: who wants to be seen in something that appears to be little more than a van with windows?

So the new Mercedes B-Class, which went on sale in December 2018, is swimming against the tide. It joins the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, Ford C-Max, Renault Scenic and Volkswagen Touran, practical cars that attempt to be just what busy families need in their lives.

It is based on the latest generation Mercedes A-Class, which means it’s not based on a van, but a jolly good hatchback – one that’s packed with clever tech - and the car’s mechanical platform has been stretched to provide more interior space than the regular hatchback.

It costs from more than £26,000 and only comes with five seats and a choice of petrol or diesel engines. Those diesels are expensive, starting from around £29,500, and unlike BMW, Renault and Toyota, there’s no hybrid  in the range, and no electric version either.

The German brand’s marketing refers to the B-Class as a ‘Sports Tourer’ but is there much that’s actually sporty about it? The exterior design doesn’t give the impression of sportiness: it has smooth surfaces and unfussy lines – which we like – but it's not what you’d describe as sleek or stylish.

But if we focus on what the B-Class actually is, the interior makes a compelling case as to why any people carrier deserves attention from family car buyers. It’s spacious and comfortable, with lots of head and legroom in the rear, supportive seats and a 445-litre boot.

The materials used are also what you’d expect to find in a premium car and are on a par with the B-Class’s closest rival, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer – with both feeling a cut above the more mainstream offerings of the Renault Scenic and Ford C-Max.

The interior can also be specced up to include a pair of 10-inch widescreen displays, which are not only very practical, but also highlight the range of entertainment technology in the B-Class, including a feature that is the in-car equivalent of Alexa or Siri voice-operated control, called Hey Mercedes, plus an augmented reality satellite navigation system that combines images from a forward-facing camera with navigational instructions.

There is also a multitude of safety technology on the B-Class, including Active Brake Assist, which can mitigate the consequences of rear-end collisions; Active Distance and Steering Assist; Active Lane Change Assist, which uses sensors to ensure there are no cars around the vehicle before a lane-change manoeuvre; and Evasive Steering Assist, which helps the driver avoid a pedestrian detected by the radar sensors and camera.

The B-Class is neat and tidy in its on-road handling. It steers accurately and it feels grippy enough, but it does tend to wallow when cornering at pace: admittedly, the B-Class is unlikely to be driven that enthusiastically by most owners, but it could lead to some occupants feeling travel sick. It certainly isn’t a match for the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, which feels better controlled. However, Mercedes-Benz says that it focuses on comfort and we found that to be true, in terms of its ride quality, with the B-Class coping well with poor road surfaces.

There is also what Mercedes calls Dynamic Select, a system that offers five different driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual – that adjust the weight of the steering and accelerator (and suspension, if the active damping control option is selected) according to the driver’s requirements and road conditions.

The B-Class also comes with a five-strong range of engines – two petrol and three diesel – that perform well but aren’t the most efficient in the class.

The new B-Class is a good option for those in the market for a compact MPV with a classy badge on the bonnet, especially if the kind of features found on premium cars are important. While it’s not as satisfying to drive as the BMW 2 Series, it is comfortable and does boast a higher level of technology, both in terms of entertainment and also driver assistance features – although much of it will be available as extra-cost options.

However, if you view a family car like this as something that’s simply going to face a lifetime of abuse and would prefer the most cost-effective option possible, models like the Citroen C4 SpaceTourer and Renault Scenic are more affordable.

Last Updated 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 13:00

Key facts 

Warranty: 
Three years/unlimited mileage
Boot size: 
445/1,530 litres
Width: 
1,796mm
Length: 
4,419mm
Height: 
1,562mm
Tax: 
£165 in first year and £140 thereafter

Best Mercedes-Benz B Class for... 

Mercedes-Benz B 180d
The base diesel is the economy champion, returning up to 64mpg and emitting just 115g/km of CO2.
Mercedes-Benz B 200
The more powerful of the two petrol-engined-cars offers a good blend of fuel economy (51mpg) and performance (0-62mph in 8.2 seconds).
Mercedes-Benz B 220 d
The most powerful diesel has the best performance figures – 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds – while also managing to be economical.

Mercedes-Benz B Class History 

October 2018 The B-Class is unveiled at the Paris Motor Show.
December 2018 Orders open in the UK
March 2019 First deliveries of the B-Class.

Understanding Mercedes-Benz B Class car names 

  • B Class
  • Engine
    B200
  • Trim
    AMG Line
  • Gearbox
    Automatic
  • Engine
    There are four engine options, two petrol variants and two diesels. The petrol cars are the B180 and B200, while the naming convention for the diesels adds a ‘d’ after the number, so they’re the B200d and B220d.
  • Trim
    There are just two trim levels to choose between; Sport and AMG Line, and these can be supplemented by one of three equipment packs – Executive, Premium or Premium Plus.
  • Gearbox
    All B-Class models are fitted with dual-clutch automatic gearboxes. The B180, B200 and B180d have seven-speed versions, while the B200d and B220d have eight-speed transmissions.

Mercedes-Benz B Class Engines 

B180, B200, B200d, B220d

The B-Class launches with a choice of five engines.

The pair of 1.3-litre petrol units kicks off with the base B180, which has an 136hp output that takes it from 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds so, while not exactly quick, it will be nippy enough for most buyers. Official fuel economy of 51mpg is certainly pretty decent, on paper, while CO2 emissions of 125g/km are equally respectable for a petrol-powered family car.

The B200 is slightly more powerful, producing 163hp that enables a marginally quicker 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds. At low speeds, the petrol engine does seem to hold on to the revs for longer than seems necessary before the standard-fit, seven-speed automatic gearbox changes up, making it slightly more noisy than it needs to be: however, once you get up to a main road cruising speed it’s smoother and considerably less intrusive. Fuel economy and emissions are unaffected by the increase in power, so they’re the same as the B180 – 51mpg and 125g/km.

In terms of diesel power, the B-Class has a the new 2.0-litre engine, which is notable because it complies with new RDE 2 emissions legislation that comes into force in January 2020 (significant for company car drivers, as it means paying 4% less in benefit-in-kind tax). The less powerful of the two, the B200d, has an 150hp output and manages the 0-62mph sprint in 8.3 seconds, while fuel consumption is 64mpg and it emits 115g/km of CO2. It’s an impressive engine, feeling refined and not as rough-sounding as diesels used to be.

The B220d is of the same order, but with 190hp is reasonably swift, with 0-62mph taking 7.2-seconds. Yet it can also return 64mpg and emits 116g/km. Both of these new engines come with a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which is quick-shifting and smooth.

Fuel

Fuel economy

Power

Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

B180

petrol

51.4mpg

136hp

9.0s

132mph

B200

petrol

51.4mpg

163hp

8.2s

139mph

B200d

diesel

64.2mpg

150hp

8.3s

136mph

B220d

diesel

64.2mpg

190hp

7.2s

145mph

Mercedes-Benz B Class Trims 

Sport, AMG Line

The B-Class is available in Sport or AMG Line ranges. Buyers can then supplement these with one of three options packs.

It’s worth pointing out that Mercedes is maintaining its commitment to build safe cars. All models come with an active emergency braking system, another system that steers the car to keep it in its lane and, significantly, a another that detects when a driver is becoming drowsy.

Sport trim comes with 17 inch alloy wheels, a program to change the car’s driving behaviour (Dynamic Assist), LED headlights, a seven-inch digital instrument display and seven-inch touchscreen, sat nav, a smart key, a multimedia system with smartphone integration, dual zone climate control and USB ports.

If you opt for the more expensive AMG Line, then a host of cosmetic changes are applied to give the B-Class a more sporty look, including 18-inch alloy wheels, a bodykit, sports seats and a different steering wheel and pedals.

The Executive equipment line is an option that costs around £1400 and added electric and automatically dimming and folding door mirrors, an active parking system with front and rear sensors, plus the larger 10-inch media display and heated front seats.

Pick Premium equipment line, and in addition to Executive there is a 10-inch display for the driver’s instruments, adjustable ambient lighting for the interior, illuminated door sills and a superior sound system. It’s nearly an extra £2300.

If you really want to splash out, try Premium Plus. This adds to all the features of Executive and Premium with electric front seats, adaptive front headlights and a panoramic glass sunroof that opens – all for the best part of £3500.

Mercedes-Benz B Class Reliability and warranty 

At time of writing, the B-Class had only just gone on sale, so it's too early to see feedback from owners on reliability – and the previous generation car doesn’t appear in the Auto Express Driver Power survey.

What we do know, though, is that Mercedes-Benz doesn’t perform particularly well in the Driver Power league of most reliable manufacturers: 20th out of 26 isn’t a great result.

New B-Class buyers are covered by a three-year warranty with unlimited mileage, which is better than the typical three-year 60,000 mile deal.

Used Mercedes-Benz B Class 

The B-Class isn’t being delivered to customers until the spring of 2019, so as we write this there are no new cars available, let alone used examples.

However, when used cars start filtering on to the market in late 2019/early 2020, they might well be bargains. This is not a hugely popular car (Mercedes-Benz sold just 45,000 units of the previous generation over eight years in the UK) so there’s unlikely to be huge demand for it. We expect that after three years, the B-Class will lose more than half of its value, so they might be worth keeping an eye on.

You can read our review of the previous-generation Mercedes B-Class, here

    

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