The B-Class is one of those uncommon vehicle configurations – a luxury subcompact – and is one of the most affordable ways to join the Mercedes-Benz family of cars, SUV’s and crossovers.
Introduced in 2005 as a sports compact tourer, it has been quietly successful for Mercedes over the years and passed the 1-million production milestone fully five years ago. Over the years, it hasn’t changed much in appearance, probably because it was a sound, even brilliant, design right from the start. It’s a front-wheel drive car that’s a little taller than some of its rivals, which makes for a surprisingly generous amount of cargo space. There was a facelift in 2011 with various upgrades and some minor bodywork changes, but to most observers, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a 2006 and a 2018.
There have been many power units offered for the car in different markets around the world, but Canada gets what is probably the best of them all – a two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder developing a useful 208-horsepower. It’s a willing, peppy engine and more than adequate for the lightweight B-Class. It’s sporty and highly responsive and at the same time, very fuel-efficient. The model now bears B250 badges and top variants have Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive. 100 km/h can be reached in less than 7-seconds with both 2WD and 4WD models.
The new model year sees a number of changes, but as emphasized earlier, it has thoughtfully evolved, rather than be subject to wide-ranging and dramatic styling fads every now and again. All models now have a rear view camera, a feature many buyers consider essential in our crowded urban areas. All versions get an Avantgarde Edition Package, which translates into some added convenience and appearance upgrades. Active Parking Assist is also a feature added to all models for 2018.
The interior is a wonderful surprise for anyone getting in for the first time and probably expecting something a little less opulent than other models up the range. If fact, the cabin looks like most other Mercedes-Benz cars, even those priced at twice the B’s sticker. The fit and finish and quality of materials are superb with soft-touch vinyls and leathers all around. The seats are particularly comfortable and rear seating space is more than you’d expect in a car as compact as this one.
Best of all is the huge cargo space created by folding the rear seating. The seats flip fully forward so the backs fold flat and the resulting load floor would do justice to a full-size SUV. It’s capable of swallowing very large and boxy items when the need arises and will easily take a couple of bicycles along with touring gear. The rear cargo area is beautifully trimmed and carpeted and there is underfloor storage and the traditional Mercedes-Benz first-aid kit in a cubbyhole at the side.
I’ve been able to make a better than usual assessment of this car because I have owned one for some time. Although mine has a few seasons on it, it still looks new inside and out, testimony to the high quality of Mercedes-Benz products. The only modification I’ve made was to fit a set of Yokohama Avid ENVigor premium 3-season tires and they’re a perfect match for the B-Class. The ride is surprisingly quiet, giving the car an even more refined feel on the highway. Very wide grooves in the tread pattern are designed to displace the maximum amount of rainwater, so the car feels very stable even when it’s pouring down.
It’s been around a while, but the B-Class is still a model to be reckoned with in the luxury compact class. It has trim dimensions and is thus easy to park yet offers impressive luggage space. For many buyers, it’s all the Mercedes-Benz they really need, especially if the lengthy options list is taken advantage of.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four-door hatchback
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo
TRANSMISSION: 7G-DCT automatic
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 6.8-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 6.8-litres/100 km combined
PRICE: $35,900 MSRP, base model