Since it was introduced in 2005, the B-class has found its own audience; 62% male with an average age of over 56. Perhaps these demographics have had a bearing for Mercedes to simplify their trimlevels. There are just two now; the SE and Sport, which offer a much improved list of standard equipment. The SE gets a fixed panoramic roof, which used to cost £460 extra, whilst the Sport is an amalgamation of the old ‘Sports Package’ (which was previously £460 extra). Bluetooth connectivity is also standard. Prices have marginally increased by about £150 across both models, but are still lower than if all the additional standard equipment was previously bought separately. Cost is the same for both, with prices starting at £20,850 for the B180 CDI. And because all these modifications are purely there to enhance driver and passenger comfort, it means that none of the B-Class’s interior dimensions have altered. So, it can still serve up enough space to easily accommodate five adults whilst retaining ample boot space. Fold the rear seats down completely flat and the cargo area opens up to swallow the contents of a SAGA jumble sale.
Additional safety features have also been added. To compliment the B-Class’s newfront-end, the rear light cluster has been fitted with adaptive brake lights which flash when an emergency brake manoeuvre has taken place. Crash-responsive interior lighting is also another new feature. God forbid if involved in an accident, the lights illuminate the cabin, automatically, to help improve the occupants’ evacuation.
As with the recently revamped A-Class, hill start assist becomes part of the package and the option to have active park assist fitted for an extra £550 is also available. Given the average age of a B-class owner, this piece of automobile black magic is bound to be a popular choice. At speeds below 22mph, ultrasonic sensors on the side of the car scan zones large enough to park in. It then flashes a message, asks for reverse gear, and then backs the B-Class into the space. Apart from braking, all the driver has to do is sit there and watch in bewilderment as the B-Class steers itself perfectly between two cars. Both the engines – 180 CDI and 200 CDI – are as before, with the standard 6-speed manual or the optional CVT automatic transmission.
RIVALS: MAZDA5, RENAULT SCENIC, VOLKSWAGEN TOURAN
- Engine: 1992cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 109bhp at 4,200 rpm
- Max Torque: 184lb ft at 1,600 – 2,600rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,000kg
- Combined Consumption: 54.3mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 137g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: 11.3secs
- Max speed: 114mph
- Insurance Group: 8