The all-new Mercedes-Benz B-Class has just been been launched on the Irish market. It may have come down in height but certainly hasn't descended from the premium quality reputation the out-going model held. In fact, I would say that has been enhanced.
Mercedes-Benz claim a quantum leap in the compact class given its billing as the first model change in their history to have so many new features introduced at one time. It arrives with a vastly improved range of standard specifications and an entry-level price that Mercedes-Benz says is 11 per cent lower than the model it replaces.
Amongst its most striking aspects are the aforementioned reduced height (which I think is great ), the lower centre of gravity, generous interior space and high standard of safety.
The redesigned electromechanical steering, new four-link rear axle and upgraded electronic stability system make it, according to Mercedes-Benz, fascinatingly agile without cost in comfort terms. Certainly, in a drive around west Dublin on Monday last, I found the new B-Class handled very well with much better driver feedback than the current model offers. It also rides the manhole covers with a smoother feel.
Very important in this class is spacious interior and again, the B-Class delivers this with the quality finish you would expect. Seats are more upright and set lower to the road with the result that headroom has been improved despite the car not being as tall. Extra interior space can be added by an optional extra feature that allows the rear seats to be adjusted forwards/backwards to facilitate the carriage of bulky items.
The lower body contributes to the outstanding aerodynamics, which in turn help to deliver lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions while a standard item on all B-Class models is an ECO start/stop function.
A word of warning at this point before getting to prices - you really must go for the optional Chrome package, because not only does it enhance the visual appeal of the new B-Class, but it will change positively the residual value of your new B-Class in the years ahead.
The model that will account for the bulk of B-Class sales is the 109 bhp entry level B180 CDI variant, which is selling at €29,330 ex works, with the lowest road tax rate of €160 per annum. A second diesel, also with four-cylinder, common rail, direct-injection, is a 2.0-litre/ 136 bhp. The price for this version wasn't available at the time of writing.
In petrol engines, the first version to go on sale is the 122 bhp B180 BlueEFFICIENCY selling at €29,890 ex works with road tax of €225 per annum. A 2.0-litre/ 156 bhp BlueEFFICIENCY version will be added to the range at a later date, the price of which will be announced at the time.
Driving the new B-Class is a completely new six-speed manual transmission notable for its extremely easy gear change and low shift forces. Also available as an option is a 7G dual clutch transmission system that combines the comfort of an automatic with the efficiency of a manual.
Described to the Advertiser by Mercedes-Benz sales manager Ciaran Allen as: “A car that ticks all the boxes, its lower price, reduced running costs, interior spaciousness and exceptional range of comfort and safety features are elements that I believe come together to give the B-Class a wide appeal amongst those seeking to match prestige to practicality.”
Safety features in the new B-Class include items carried over from larger Mercedes-Benz models and introduced for the first time in this class of vehicle.
The new B-Class is the first of three new Mercedes-Benz models due here this year. The new M-Class and SL follow in March or April. The B-Class is the larger of their two compact models, fitting into the range ahead of the well-known A-Class. We will also see an all-new A-Class within a year. But for now, the all-new B-Class has arrived with style and substance.