Mercedes B-Class review
The Mercedes B-Class is a tall, spacious family car that’s easy to drive and a good alternative to many modern SUVs. You’ll have to pay extra for lots of key features, though
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If you like the idea of a car with a high seating position and a flashy interior but don’t want an SUV, then the Mercedes B-Class will be right up your street. Its smooth design is a refreshing alternative to the usual crop of off-road styled SUVs and it even looks pretty sporty in AMG-Line trim with lowered suspension.
The Mercedes B-Class has a taller body than most small hatchbacks, but its neat curvy styling makes sure it still looks pretty sleek – it’s certainly not something you’d be embarrassed to park on your driveway in a neighbourhood full of posh compact SUVs.
It’s a similar story in the Mercedes B-Class’ cabin, where a set of neat metal air vents and dual infotainment displays – that come as standard by the way – make it feel a bit more sci-fi blockbuster than the B-movie interior you’ll find in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Especially if you pay extra to have the standard 7.0-inch screens replaced by a pair of huge 10-inch items.
Also adding to the Mercedes’ futuristic-feeling cabin is 64-colour mood lighting – perfect for bathing its cabin in a particularly lurid shade of orange – and some great big slabs of brushed metal-effect plastic on the dashboard.
It doesn’t look that exciting on the outside, but that interior puts the B-Class head-and-shoulders above its competition
It’s not just a pretty face, though – the Mercedes B-Class’ cabin is very easy to live with. There’s absolutely loads of room for you to stretch out in the front if you’re tall – even if the seats are a little flat and unsupportive – and there’s still space left over in the back for a couple of six-footers to get comfy.
The boot’s a decent size too, and you’ll soon be able to get the Mercedes B-Class with some clever sliding rear seats that’ll let you trade some passenger knee room for a bit of extra boot space.
Also helping make the B-Class easy to live with is the standard automatic gearbox that’ll take heavy traffic in its stride. It’s also reasonably comfortable to drive around town and dead easy to see out of. Sure, it isn’t as nimble as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer but it’s more relaxing to drive and the diesel engine in B200 d models is a real gem – it’s quiet, punchy and still pretty cheap to run so there isn’t any need to pay extra for the more powerful B220 d model.
A couple of options are worth considering, though. These include some advanced driver assistance systems that’ll change lanes for you automatically and even adjust the cruise control settings to slow you down as you approach junctions and tight corners.
Of course, these options don’t come cheap. You can always save yourself some money by comparing offers on our Mercedes B-Class deals page, though. If you want more in-depth info, read our following interior, practicality, driving and specifications review sections.
The Mercedes B-Class has ample space inside for tall adults to get comfy in the back seats but three adults will struggle for shoulder room on long drives
The upcoming sliding-rear-seat option promises to make the B-Class one of the most practical small MPVs on sale when it arrives in mid-2019
The Mercedes B-Class doesn’t look like a particularly large car on the outside but its cabin feels significantly roomier than the otherwise very similar A-Class. For a start, you sit much more upright on flatter seats and look out through a larger windscreen and bigger windows. This makes it feel impressively airy inside and gives you an excellent view out over the road ahead.
The seats come with a good amount of adjustment to help shorter driver’s see over the steering wheel, too. You may find the lowest seating position a little too high if you’re over six-foot tall, but the steering wheel comes with enough adjustment to make sure you have a clear view of the screens – however you prefer to sit.
The B-Class’ back seats are also very roomy for such a compact car. There’s enough knee room for six-foot passengers to get comfy behind an equally tall driver and there’s space for even taller adults to stretch out without their head touching the roof.
The centre seat is firmer and a little higher than the outer two though, and there’s a very large raised section in the rear floor that gets in the way of your middle passenger’s feet. There isn’t quite enough space for three adults to fit without rubbing shoulders either, but three kids can get comfortable with room to spare.
Speaking of kids, you’ll have no trouble fitting a child seat in the back of the Mercedes B-Class. The rear doors open nice and wide and the Isofix anchor points are clearly visible and do without any annoying removable covers or flaps.
The Mercedes B-Class’ front door bins are wide and deep enough to comfortably hold two 1.0-litre bottles each. You also get a netted cubby in the passenger footwell for a few smaller items and there’s enough space under the front central armrest to store a few phones safely out of sight.
In front of this storage bin is a pair of cupholders and tucked under the dashboard is a storage tray which you can get with wireless charging for your phone.
The rear door bins are big enough to hold a 1.0-litre bottle each and your passengers also get a folding rear armrest with two built-in cupholders.
The Mercedes B-Class’ 455-litre boot is only very slightly smaller than the load bay you get in a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, but a VW Golf SV has around 30% more space to play with. There’s still enough room in the B-Class for a few large suitcases or a very bulky baby buggy.
If you need to carry longer luggage in the boot and a few shorter passengers in the back, you’ll soon be able to order the B-Class with sliding rear seats that can boost its load capacity to 705 litres. That’s comfortably more than you get in the VW Golf SV and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.
The boot opening is wide and – with the adjustable floor in its raised position – there’s no annoying load lip so you can slide heavy items in easily. There’s a netted cubby on each side of the boot and an elasticated strap to help hold smaller items securely. You also get a pair of shopping hooks to stop your groceries rolling around.
The Mercedes B-Class’ back seats fold down in a three-way split so you can carry two passengers in the back and some very long items poking through from the boot. With all three rear seats folded away (which you do by pressing some buttons by the headrests) the Mercedes B-Class’ boot grows to 1,540 litres.
That’s a smidge more than you get in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and VW Golf SV and easily big enough to carry a bike. The boot floor is completely flat too, so you can push very heavy boxes right up behind the front seats without any hassle.
You get a fantastic view out through the B-Class’s huge windows which makes it a doddle to manoeuvre but other MPVs are faster and more nimble
Even in AMG-Line trim, the B-Class doesn’t feel all that sporty to drive. That’s no bad thing though – after all, it’s supposed to be a comfy and practical MPV, not a hardcore sportscar
You can get the Mercedes B-Class with a range of two petrol and three diesel engines, all of which drive the front wheels through an automatic gearbox as standard.
The most affordable B180 and B200 petrol models are perfectly happy pottering around town, but they drone quite loudly when you accelerate hard to join a motorway or overtake slow-moving traffic. Mercedes claims both will return 51mpg in normal driving conditions, but you can expect to see a figure in the high forties.
If you do plenty of longer journeys, you’ll be better off with one of the diesel engines. The 116hp B180d will feel pretty sluggish, but the B200d and B220d models with 150hp and 190hp respectively are more than happy to cruise along at motorway speeds. The B200d is impressively quiet for a diesel engine and feels punchy enough for when you need to pull out of a junction or merge with fast-moving traffic. It’ll return around 50mpg in normal driving conditions. The B220d is faster still, yet returns better fuel economy – Mercedes claims it’ll manage more than 60mpg – but it is more expensive to buy.
The entry-level diesel engine and both petrol units come with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, but the more powerful B200d and B220d get a newer eight-speed ‘box. The former isn’t particularly smooth or responsive but does help give your left leg a rest in heavy traffic. The eight-speed gearbox is a significant improvement, though. It blends gears together much more smoothly and changes down more quickly if you accelerate hard to overtake other cars.
The Mercedes B-Class’ raised seats and large windows give you an excellent view out which helps make it a doddle to drive around town. The steering’s nice and light too, which means squeezing into a tight parking space won’t take its toll on your arms.
The suspension absorbs most bumps around town but large potholes will still send a jolt through your seat. Head out onto a faster country road and you’ll find the B-Class doesn’t lean a great deal in corners so your passengers won’t have any reason to feel car sick on long journeys.
On dual carriageways and motorways you’ll hear a bit of wind and tyre noise, but no more so than in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and VW Golf SV. The Mercedes B-Class’ engines make very little noise when you’re cruising along too – especially in diesel form – which helps make it pretty relaxing to travel in for long periods.
You can get the B-Class with sporty lowered suspension, and even adaptive dampers that let you choose between softer and firmer setups. It’s not worth the extra cash though, and you’d be better off paying for some of the Mercedes B-Class’ driver assistance features instead.
These include the Distronic pack that’ll adjust the cruise control speed automatically when you’re approaching a bend or a junction. You don’t have to pay extra for automatic emergency braking though – this comes fitted to all Mercedes B-Class models as standard. It hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP yet, but features such as these should help make the Mercedes B-Class one of the safest small MPVs on sale.
The Mercedes B-Class’ interior is sensibly laid out and looks more futuristic than most alternatives, but you have to pay extra for those two huge infotainment screens
Mercedes B-Class colours
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