Split into two model lines – Sport and Electric Art – the B-Class Electric Drive is capable of travelling up to 142 miles on a single charge and can accelerate from rest to 62 mph in 7.9 seconds thanks to its 180 hp and 340 NM of torque generated by an electric motor. Yet it retains all the versatility of the B-Class on which it’s based, including the ability to carry five adults and a 501-litre boot – rising to 1,456-litres if you fold the seats down.
In fact, the B-Class Electric Drive boasts greater versatility and luggage capacity – with the seats both up and down – than any of its direct rivals. It doesn’t just win the space race – it’s got the pace to match. Thanks to Tesla-developed technology, the B-Class Electric Drive is the fastest accelerating five-seat electric car in its class as well as the most powerful and has the greatest theoretical range on a single charge.
Prices for the B-Class Electric Drive start at £31,950 for the Sport model. Subject to approval, an OLEV grant (£5,000) can be applied, bringing the on-the-road price to £26,950. The Electric Art is priced at £32,245 – reduced to £27,245 should the OLEV grant be applied.
The Sport model features a substantial list of standard equipment, including a unique design for the front and rear bumpers, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a seven-inch central display, Artico trim, automatic climate control, a reversing camera and cruise control. The Sport model is available in a choice of eight paint colours.
The Electric Art model – available in either Cirrus White or South Seas Blue – features contrasting mirrors and radiator grille elements, 18-inch dual colour alloy wheels, automatic climate control, contrast blue stitching for the seats and aluminium trim.
The lithium-ion batteries that power the B-Class Electric Drive are tightly packaged under the floor of the car, meaning the car retains its benchmark cabin room and boot space. Charging via a wall box or public charging station is made easier through a fast charging cable supplied with the car, which takes between three and four hours and brings the battery from a completely empty state to fully charged. A conventional home supply raises the charge time to around nine hours.
Making the very most of the capabilities of the B-Class Electric Drive is the optional Energy Assist Package (£945). The package features adaptive energy recuperation systems to sense – via the forward facing radar – road conditions. When traffic is identified, increased recuperation is employed to make the most of any deceleration. Likewise, it can use signals from the COMAND system (when specified) to read the topography of the road ahead and adapt accordingly. The driver can override the regenerative cycle via the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel to alter the level of retardation – reducing the likelihood of any energy being wasted.
Further measures fitted as part of the Energy Assist Package include privacy glass and a heated windscreen to reduce loading on the air conditioning system, increased insulation around the doors and windows and the addition of a ‘Range Plus’ button for occasional use, adding extra range to the battery capacity than would normally be feasible. Finally, the car will emit a subtle but audible signal at speeds of up to 18 mph to warn pedestrians of the presence of the car.
The B-Class Electric Drive builds on the success of the petrol and diesel models. Since its launch, over 350,000 examples of the B-Class have been sold worldwide and it remains a sustained favourite in the UK.