Substantially more agile and efficient, but as comfortable and spacious as ever – the new B-Class from Mercedes-Benz takes a quantum leap.
The car is lower and the seat position is more upright, giving a first impression that hints at more dynamic traits of this – as the company calls it – “sports tourer.”
But there are more changes. “No model change in the history of Mercedes-Benz has ever seen so many new developments introduced in one fell swoop," stresses Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars. Reason enough to take a closer look at this car, which will make its debut at the upcoming Frankfurt IAA show.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
New engines and a 7 speed dual clutch transmission…
With a new four-cylinder petrol engine featuring direct injection and turbocharging, a new diesel engine, a new dual clutch transmission, a new manual transmission and new assistance systems, the front-wheel-drive car also sets in a new technological era for compact cars bearing the famous tree pointed star.
The new four-cylinder petrol engines (internal designation M270 - see the photo above) mark the launch of a completely new engine series. The combustion process is based on the third-generation Mercedes-Benz direct injection system which was introduced last year with the BlueDIRECT V6 and V8 engines.
Its use in the B-Class marks this technology's debut in the compact segment. The new four-cylinder engines have been designed for both transverse and longitudinal installation.
In the new B-Class they are initially available with a displacement of 1.6 litres, as the B 180 rated at 90 kW (122 hp) and the B 200 with an output of 115 kW (156 hp). Their maximum torque of 200 and 250 Nm respectively is available from an engine speed of 1250 rpm.
The new four-cylinder diesel engine is a further development of the well known OM651 deployed in the C- to the S-Class, a common rail direct-injection engine of the third generation.
With its displacement scaled down to 1.8 litres and numerous detail improvements, this is the first time that the compression-ignition engine has been mounted transversely in a Mercedes-Benz car. The B 180 CDI generates 80 kW (109 hp) of power, while the B 200CDI has an output of 100 kW (136 hp). The maximum torque stands at 250 Nm from 1400 rpm for the 80 kW variant and 300 Nm from 1600 rpm for the 100 kW version.
Another Mercedes-Benz premiere is the new 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission in the B-Class.
This transmission is extremely compact, features an electric oil pump for start/stop capability, shifts gear without any interruptions in tractive power and combines the comfort of an automatic with the efficiency of a manual transmission.
The new 6-speed manual transmission (see photo above) is designed along similarly com-pact lines as a three-shaft transmission is a close relative of the DCT.
The exterior design: a good combination of space and elegance
The new B-Class is, as the factory calls it, a typical Mercedes “sports tourer”, offering plenty of space combined with impressive dynamic performance as a hatchback saloon.
The new sportiness and the improved aerodynamics are particularly evident in the side line: the bonnet flows into the A-pillar and the roof line descends smoothly to the roof spoiler.
The pronounced wheel arches offset by dynamic feature lines under the beltline are a sporty interpretation of the current design line from Mercedes-Benz.
A drag coefficient of cd = 0.26 places the new B-Class in the forefront of its market segment. Apart from the aerodynamic exterior design, numerous detail improvements such as the air flow around the front wheels, the underbody design and the cooling air flow are also crucial in achieving this aerodynamic performance.
Patents are pending for innovative details such as the ser-rated wheel arch spoiler. With the optional ECO Technology package which will be available in due course, the B-Class is even on a par with the world-class aerodynamic credentials of the E-Class Coupé, attaining a drag coefficient of cd = 0.24 which is outstanding indeed for a car with a station wagon rear end.
A new vehicle concept: lower overall height and more inside space…
The new vehicle concept underscores the dynamic aspirations of the new B-Class. The most striking aspect is the 15 cm reduced height.
The seat height in relation to the road has also been reduced (minus 86 mm) in order to facilitate boarding, while maintaining a clear overview of the vehicle's contours.
In response to requests from many customers, the seating position is more upright, however. At the same time, the headroom has been further improved.
With maximum headroom of 1047 mm at the front (without sliding roof), the B-Class is among the most spacious cars in its segment in this discipline, too. The more upright seating position in combination with a lowering of the vehicle's floor at the rear leads to a segment-leading degree of legroom (976 mm) which even surpasses that of the S- and E-Class.
An adaptable interior…
The B-Class is optionally available with the so-called EASY-VARIO-PLUSsystem. This enables simple reorganisation of the interior so you can transport bulky items. Features of the EASY-VARIO-PLUSsystem include fore/aft adjustment of the rear seats by up to 140 millimetres (thereby increasing the luggage compartment volume from 488 to 666 litres) and a front passenger seat whose backrest can be folded forward onto the seat cushion.
The interior design: superior quality in a new dimension
High-quality materials and finely structured surfaces, stylish details, precision workmanship and a new spaciousness – the interior of the B-Class defines a whole new benchmark in the compact segment.
The dashboard is optionally available in ARTICO man-made leather finish and features stitching, for example.
Four equipment packages (Chrome, Sports, Exclusive and Night package) enable individualisation according to personal tastes.
In the interior, the large, three-dimensional trim covering the entire dash-board first strikes the eye. It is available in four variants, covering a broad spectrum from modern through sporty to classic.
The three large round vents in the middle and their cruciform nozzles add a sporty attribute to the interior's emotional design, and recall earlier Mercedes cars.
The display, which is available in two sizes (5.8- and 7-inch) appears to hover over the vents.
The 3-spoke steering wheel, which always incorporates a silver chrome insert in the middle spoke, the instrument cluster with four analogue round dials and suspended pointers in6 o'clockposition and the seats with contrasting stitching underscore the sporty character.
Refined sportiness and enhanced safety…
Three factors are instrumental to the substantially enhanced dynamic performance in comparison to its predecessor, which does not come at the cost of any compromises on comfort: the lowered centre of gravity, the new four-link rear axle and the upgradedESP® Electronic Stability Programme.
A sports suspension is optionally available for further enhanced agility. The centre of gravity has been lowered by a further 20 mm and the suspension additionally features sports dampers with amplitude-selective damping and a Direct-Steer system to emphasize the car's sporty character.
The electromechanical steering of the B-Class has been redesigned. The electric motor of the servo assistance system is now located directly on the steering gear as a dual pinion EPS system.
The steering ratio becomes noticeably more direct at greater steering angles, enhancing the vehicle's handling and agility substantially.
New: COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST system
As a world first in the compact segment, the B-Class features a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist as standard, which lowers the risk of rear-end collisions.
The COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST system outputs a visual and acoustic warning to alert a possibly distracted driver to identified obstacles, and prepares Brake Assist for the most precise possible braking response. This is initiated as soon as the driver emphatically operates the brake pedal.
In contrast to systems currently on the market in the compact class, the new COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST brake assist feature is not merely a system intended to minimise minor damage in urban traffic. Rather, this innovative solution is aimed at protecting motorists from typical rear-end collisions in dangerous traffic situations.
PRE-SAFE® available for the first time…
Core features ofPRE-SAFE® are reversible belt tensioning, the closing of side windows and sliding sunroof in case of critical lateral dynamics and adjustment of the fully electric front passen-ger seat with memory function to an ideal position for maximum effective-ness of the restraint systems. It is now also available in the B-Class…
COMAND Online multimedia system with internet access
Internet access, the convenient LINGUATRONIC voice control system, two navigation solutions tailored to different budgets, connection for mobile audio devices and an intuitive operating concept – the information and communication systems in the B-Class offers the level of functionality which has been the reserve of higher categories to date.
The operating concept featuring the turn/push control in front of the armrest and the control knob on the head unit is similar to other Mercedes model series.
Needless to say that we are anxious to see the car on the Frankfurtshow…
Hans Knol ten Bensel