The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class broke cover at the Frankfurt Motor Show and first versions will arrive here in December in time for the January sales.
Mercedes call it ‘a quantum leap in the compact MPV class’, and interestingly, the carmaker says no model change in its history has ever seen so many new developments introduced in one fell swoop.
Close to the top of the list are the engines. There are two new turbo-charged four-cylinder petrol engines of 1.6 litres developing 122bhp, and a 2.0 litre with a 156bhp capacity. Both of these are equipped with direct injection systems similar to those fitted to their higher-capacity V6 and V8 engines.
In diesel, two new four-cylinder common rail direct-injection engines, a 1.8 CDI developing 109bhp and a 2.0-litre with 136bhp capacity, are a further development of those already installed in C, E and S-Class models.
There is a new 7G dual clutch transmission that combines the comfort of an automatic with the efficiency of a manual and a new six-speed manual transmission that is characterised by extremely easy gear change with low shift forces. Incorporated in the 7G system is an electric oil pump that works an eco start/stop function that is a standard feature on all B-Class models.
Other features claimed by Mercedes-Benz include low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, outstanding aerodynamics, improved driving characteristics, generous interior space, and a high standard of safety in line with its other new models.
Visually, the most striking aspect of the new B-Class is its reduced height: at 1,557 millimetres, the new model crouches almost five centimetres lower on the road than its predecessor. Seats are more upright, and seat height in relation to the road has also been reduced by 86mm. Headroom has been improved - with 1,013mm at the front (without sliding roof ) it is among the most spacious in this respect.
Inside, the B-Class boasts plenty of space. One optional item is a system that allows the interior to be reorganised so that bulky items may be carried. It provides for fore/aft adjustment of the rear seats by up to 140 millimetres and a front passenger seat backrest that can be folded forward onto the seat cushion.
Mercedes-Benz boasts the new B-Class is “fascinatingly agile” without any cost in comfort. The new model has a lowered centre of gravity, redesigned electromechanical steering, new four-link rear axle, and upgraded electronic stability programme.
Among the good safety specification - world-first in the compact segment - is the provision of a new radar-based collision prevention warning with adaptive brake assist as standard to reduce the risk of rear-end collisions.
Forward looking in its design, the new B-Class comes with an enhanced variant of the double-skin, twin floor concept to accommodate any alternative drive systems that may be developed in the future.
Mercedes-Benz says the new B-Class is far more agile and efficient than before, yet still as comfortable and spacious. More on the Irish specification and prices closer to the launch date in December.