Mercedes-Benz B200 Sport Automatic
Sector: MPV Price: £25,395 Fuel: 45.6mpg CO2: 145g/km
When the first A-Class came out in 1998, there was a lot of talk of using that sandwich floor design to accommodate batteries, fuel cells, and all sorts of future technology.
But it never materialised, and after two generations of sandwich-floored A and B-Class models, the concept has been ditched just as everyone else started getting into battery-electric vehicles. In other words, just as it could’ve become really useful.
At least there’s now some clarity to the range, though. With two van-like small cars on offer, the B-Class struggled to stand out against the better-packaged, more compact A-Class. A real shame because, of the two, the B-Class was
better to drive and had more stable, Mercedes-Benz-like motorway manners.
This time, the B-Class gets to lead the way. With its near-flat bonnet and upright grille, there’s a family resemblance to the forthcoming A-Class hatch, but with a raised roofline. Despite the unusual creases up its flanks, it’s a decent looking small MPV in Sport guise.
The interior is brilliant too, with a stylish swooping dashboard and silver-emblazoned switchgear. There’s stacks of headroom, the boot is cavernous and the new car’s lower driving position makes it feel more like a car than a raised people-carrier.
Most welcome, though, is its on-road refinement. It’s firm, but not jarring with the sport suspension, handles well and with the new turbocharged engines it easily, quietly wafts up to high speeds where it becomes a very relaxed motorway cruiser.
This is a proper Mercedes-Benz, despite what three-box saloon fans might tell you.
The only real nitpick is from the new dual-clutch gearbox. It’s smooth and quick to use on the move, but hesitant off the mark which can make roundabouts tricky. A small blot.
The new B-Class has matured into a good small people carrier, but lacks the interior flexibility of rivals. Unfortunately this leaves it in a niche of its own, more practical than the C-segment, but less so than an MPV, which could leave it in the shadow of the A-Class once again.