Power and practicality drive new Mercedes-Benz B 200
Manufacturers globally are turning their attention to compact MPVs, also known as compact sports tourers – one of the fastest-growing and most interesting segments of the market.
The latest entry in the hotly-contested premium end comes from Mercedes-Benz – who kicked off the premium battle with the original B-Class back in 2005; the new B 200 builds on that successful platform as the latest, and arguably strongest, entry in the class.
Whether driving across town to the next meeting or picking up the kids from school, the B 200 manages it in style. It’s a car the whole family can fall in love with.
The B 200 not only offers unparalleled safety (with nine airbags, a reversing camera and blind spot assist mirrors — which beep a warning if something’s a little too close for comfort) but also possesses surprising power (0-100km/h in just 8.6 seconds). And all this comes with the kind of up-to-the-minute styling you’d expect from a premium brand.
Perhaps its most endearing quality is practicality. This car knows how families use their vehicles — so there’s more leg room, front and back. Pack gym gear, shopping, golf clubs, schoolbags, netballs and skateboards in the boot, because there’s plenty of it.
There’s additional passenger storage in the door side-pockets and extra space in the various compartments between the front seats — perfect for sunglasses, coffee cups and tablets. The back seats fold down for bikes and big loads; and kids will love the pull-down tables.
Compact MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) come with a few different labels. Some describe them as compact sports tourers to get across the sense of performance allied with practicality but they are depicted best as “lifestyle” vehicles.
The B 200 is perhaps the most hi-spec compact MPV available.While there is room for a large and growing upwardly-mobile family, the multi-purpose aspect also allows owners to throw in their surfboard, bicycles and dogs – at a price that can be considered by some who think a Mercedes is out of reach.
It’s a boom segment, popular with lifestylers and active families who want a practical (and fuel-efficient) car. Last year’s Paris Motor Show saw high interest in the compacts and the launch of BMW’s 2-Series Active Tourer. Audi’s in the game with the Q3 and last month Mercedes-Benz New Zealand launched the much-anticipated B 200.
The second generation B-Class is a five-seater hatchback and features a raft of technical enhancements. Buyers here can choose from the smaller-engined B 180, the B 200 (pictured), a diesel model, and the pricier four-wheel drive B 250 4MATIC.
Enhancements include a raft of safety features and efficiency gains over earlier B-class models. There are nine airbags, a reversing camera and blind spot assist mirrors — which beep a warning if something’s a little too close for comfort. Essentially the B 200 has on-board radars that sense potential dangers. The new collision assist plus mechanism minimises the chances of a rear end collision and if, for some reason, you ignore the various alarms in the car as you head to impact, the B 200 will brake for you.It’s among the safest vehicles in the entire Mercedes-Benz stable.
The attention to detail continues inside — heated leather seats adjust to and memorise your preferred settings while six Mercedes-style metal air vents give the dashboard a high-end sheen. Seat comfort is excellent, with plenty of head room front and rear.
All the accessories modern drivers expect — lights that switch on automatically once you flick open the vanity mirrors, side mirrors which fold in as you lock and walk away – are there.
Infotainment options are easily viewed on a large colour display above the centre console, there are two USB ports to charge devices, Bluetooth audio, a nine-speaker stereo, a simple-to-use navigation system along with automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. A nifty dial in the center-well accesses the various media options, although most functions (radio, telephone, music) can also be controlled on the steering wheel. Keep your keys in your pocket because the B200 has a no-fuss push button start. Sit back, feel the seatbelts tighten automatically across your chest, and drive.
The B 200’s low centre of gravity makes cornering a breeze and tight parking spaces are no problem, thanks to the electronically assisted steering and reversing camera.
But it’s when you head out of the city that the car demonstrates its versatility. Put it into sports driving mode (two other driving modes are economy and manual options, all available on the dash) and the B 200 responds immediately, possessing the handling agility of a much smaller car.
Efficiency-wise, it belies its size too. The B 200 will travel 100k for every 5.5 litres but perhaps its most endearing quality is practicality. This car knows how families use their vehicles.
The style refresh includes LED high performance headlamps with daytime running lamps, the redesigned front and rear bumper and 18-inch 5 spoke alloy wheels — and no-one’s going to miss that big Mercedes-Benz logo on the front grille as you pull into the school gates.
Mercedes-Benz B Class models start with the entry-level B 180, with a manufacturers recommended retail price of $53,200. The as tested price of the B 200 is $67,270.
The B 200 combines luxury with a real-world understanding of lifestyle and modern families; whether it’s picking up the kids from school, shopping or driving out to the beach, the B 200 does it with reassuring style.
2015 Mercedes-Benz B 200
- As-tested price (excluding on road costs) $67 270
- Engine 1595 cc, 4 cylinder, direct-injection, turbocharged
- Power 115kW
- Torque 250Nm
- Front Wheel Drive, ECO start/stop
- Transmission 7G-DCT &-speed automatic
- 18-inch 5 twin-spoke alloy wheels in bi-colour high gloss black
Click here to find out more about the Mercedes-Benz B Class models.