Carzone drives the third generation B-Class on Irish roads
Pros: Comfortable, new tech, roomy for taller passengers
Cons: Unexciting to drive, high asking price with options, no hybrid
The B-Class is one of the lesser-known models in Mercedes' range, nestling between the A-Class and C-Class in terms of size, style and price. Despite this, the B-Class has sold strongly since its initial launch in 2005, with over 1.5 million sales worldwide. For 2019, Mercedes-Benz has released a new third generation model which inherits lots of new tech from other models in the range, sharpened styling and various comfort upgrades to compete with other premium MPVs like the BMW 2 Series and Volkswagen's Golf SV. We spent a week with the new B-Class on Irish roads recently to see what it’s like to live with and how it has changed for 2019.
What is it like?
The easiest way to describe the new B-Class in terms of looks is ‘tall-hatchback’, and it borrows lots of styling cues from the recently-updated Mercedes A-Class. The new B-Class stands apart from its predecessor with a new defined front grille and slimline LED daytime running lights, while the side-lines and rear have also been subtly reshaped. Our ‘AMG Line’ specification test car is well equipped with features such as 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, AMG body styling, sporty air vents and it’s finished in an optional metallic Iridium Silver paint scheme.
The new Mercedes B-Class offers all of the interior style of the new Mercedes A-Class, but with added space and practicality for family buyers. Thanks to a taller ride height than most hatchback cars, it’s easy to sit into with wide-opening doors and lots of resulting head and leg room. In typical Mercedes-style, the B-Class cabin is suitably plush with a new digital driver’s display and two seven-inch colour screens powering the driver’s display and MBUX multimedia system. It’s a very vibrant-looking and user-friendly system with most of the functions delivered through steering wheel controls, or there’s also a LINGUATRONIC voice control function which takes getting used to. Fans of customisation can also adjust the ambient lighting inside and choose from 64 colour combinations.
It’s easy to get comfortable in the driver’s seat with a wide range of adjustment available through the seat and steering wheel with a supportive arm rest. The B-Class’ cabin is roomy and offers enough space to accommodate five tall people comfortably, with plenty of storage areas throughout the cabin and 445 litres of luggage space in the boot. Drop the B-Class's rear seats and this grows to 1,530 litres, however it isn’t as cavernous as some of its rivals for lugging larger loads, such as the Renault Scenic.
Engine choices include a 1.3-litre petrol unit (B180 and B200), a 1.4-litre diesel unit (B180d) and a 2.0-litre diesel (B220d). We drove what is likely to be the popular choice with Irish buyers, the 136 horsepower 1.3-litre petrol with an automatic transmission. It offers reasonable performance out on the road, with smooth shifts from the automatic transmission and low noise. It’s peppy enough for city-based driving too, with 0-100km/h taking nine seconds. In terms of running costs, the B180 has a €270 annual motor tax bill and approximate fuel economy returns of 6l/100km. The range-topping diesel offers the lowest running costs; though there’s no hybrid option at the time of writing.
Out on the road, the B-Class is refined and relaxing to drive, with a commanding view of the road. It isn’t as engaging to drive as most of the other Mercedes models however and emphasises on comfort over outright driving dynamics. It’s easy to park, with light steering and a standard reversing camera, while the automatic transmission is smooth and well-suited to urban driving. The B-Class is equipped with all sorts of safety tech as standard , including Active Braking Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and a Driving Assistance Package which includes systems to identify dangers and initiate braking in emergencies.
Prices for the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class start from €382 per month on finance, or €32,745 for the entry B180 Style model. There are various levels of specification to choose from, including Style, Progressive and AMG Line. The entry Style is well-equipped with heated front seats finished in half leather upholstery, 16-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera, Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system and associated digital displays, a Light and Sight package and more.
The mid-range Progressive adds 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, chrome interior detailing and velour floor mats amongst many other extras. The range-topping AMG Line model that we tested includes full leather upholstery, sports seats, 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, AMG body styling and lowered suspension. Our test car also includes an optional panoramic sliding sunroof, a smartphone connectivity package and upgraded interior trim which explains the premium price tag (€42,646).
Carzone verdict: 3/5
The new Mercedes B-Class is more comfortable, refined and safety-concious than before, which will raise its appeal with family buyers. Although its spacious for passengers inside, ithe B-Class isn’t as practical as certain other MPVs on the market, and it demands a premium price tag. That said, the new technology updates and styling tweaks bring the B-Class right in line with the rest of the Mercedes’ range, and it offers one of the highest quality cabins in the class. Our pick of the range would be the B180 in mid-specification Progressive trim.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Mercedes-Benz B180 AMG Line
Prices from: €32,745
Price as tested: €42,646
Annual Motor Tax: €270
Engine: 1332cc four-cylinder petrol
0-100km/h: 9.0 seconds
Body style: MPV
Boot Space: 445 litres
BMW 2 Series
Volkswagen Golf SV