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B FOR BETTER (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The B-Class is the Mercedes of mid-sized MPVs. But can this third generation version make more of an impact? Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 80
This MK3 model Mercedes B-Class represents the brand's third stab at what it calls its 'Sports Tourer'. As for what exactly one of those might be, you can get a feel for the answer at first glance. Here's a car that's clearly more practical and versatile than a Golf or Focus-sized family hatch. But not as frumpy and high-set as a five-seater C-MAX or Scenic-like mid-sized MPV. It's the Mercedes take on compact, upwardly-mobile motoring for a compact, upwardly-mobile family.
Backgroundword count: 150
Mercedes has always struggled to build compact, affordable cars that feel like, well..... a Mercedes. Not so long ago, you tried an original A or B-Class and thought it nicely built but not quite special enough, ultimately a very expensive way to buy a very expensive badge. And that was a problem. Executives, you see, rarely question the Three-Pointed Star price premium in their large, smart saloons and SUVs, its necessity obvious every time they ease behind the wheel. Without that extra class, choosing one of this brand's smaller models can sometimes seem like a colossally costly way of buying what in essence was a fairly ordinary family hatchback. The suits from Stuttgart knew it and in response have in recent times invested more than ever before in new, more Merc-like generation of compact models. This is one of them, the third generation B-Class which arrived here in late 2018.
Driving Experienceword count: 308
This time round, Mercedes is promising what it calls 'more sports for the Tourer' which, if true, would be nice because the previous generation version of this car wasn't especially interesting to drive. This one's not going to float any enthusiast's boat either but it'll probably be ideal for its likely family-orientated clientele. Any of these people wanting to get more of a move on when returning from the school run can this time round dial up a little more engineering response by switching between the modes of the provided 'Dynamic Select' driving modes system. Active adaptive damping can be specified to work with this set-up. Let's talk engines. The B 180 and B 200 petrol variants both use a 1.3-litre petrol unit mated to 7G-DCT 7-Speed automatic transmission. This offers 136hp in the B 180 and 163hp in the B 200. There's also a plug-in hybrid petrol variant, the B 250e, which mates a 1.33-litre petrol engine and 75kW electric motor to produce a sprightly 215hp total output. Alternatively, there's a base B 180d diesel, which uses a 1.5-litre unit with 116hp. Then there are the 2.0-litre powerplants. The 224hp B 250 petrol model will be a rare sight. More will want the B 200d and B 220d diesel variants which feature the brand's 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to 8G-DCT 8-Speed automatic transmission. In the B 200d, there's an output of 150hp and 320Nm of torque, while in the B 220d, you get 190hp and 400Nm. For the first time in this generation, the B-Class is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. That's assuming you specify the optional 'Driving Assistance package' with its 'Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC' feature which uses camera and radar systems to anticipate the traffic up to 500 metres ahead, while predictively and conveniently adjusting the speed when approaching bends, junctions or roundabouts.
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Category: MPV People Carriers
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