Like many of you, I find myself perplexed with the identity of this car. This is the Mercedes-Benz B 200 BlueEFFICIENCY and it is billed by the German carmaker a sports tourer. What?
Google reveals that sports tourers are either long-distance bikes or station wagons. The B-Class is neither; what it resembles is a scaled up hatchback, a paunchier A-Class if I may. Which is not exactly news considering the new A and the new B shares the same platform. So, essentially, a sports tourer is a longer, wider and taller hatchback.
Continue reading for the full scoop on the new B200.
Let’s talk measurements. The B 200 is 4,359 mm long, 1,786 mm wide and 1,558 tall. The sheet metal that wraps around the frame is designed in a way that makes the sports tourer look wider and tauter. The wide grille and extended headlamps gives the car an aggressive face, which is enhanced by the dynamic creases under the belt line. To me, the overall package looks attractive enough.
The shape does more than just please the eye, or sore the oculars depending how you take to the design. The B-Class’ form is aerodynamic. It records a drag coefficient of 0.26 Cd, which is as wind slicing as the Nissan GT-R. Let’s end the comparison of these two cars here; both are of different sectors after all.
If the exterior is palatable, the interior isn’t. Not to say that the designers have mucked it up, the B-Class is just as stylish and luxurious as the other new-gen Mercs. The chrome bits inside are peppered appropriately and frequent touch-points are nicely packaged in leather. And dials and button have the necessary resistance that elevates the perceived value of the living space.
One more thing to point out is the dashboard trim. Mercedes-Benz is offering two versions, a high-gloss black ash wood or the matt burr walnut trim. I recommend you go for the matt wood. It is so much better to touch (you can feel the grains of the wood) and it makes the interior a cosier place to be.
What falls short is the plastic. The dashboard has that malleable-plastic feel similar to the Volkswagen Passat. The transmission tunnel, especially at the area at the COMAND dial, is hard, rough and very unMercedes-Benz. Shocking. By the way, the gearstick takes position as a steering stalk.
But I can’t fault the B-Class for not being comfortable. Because that is one thing it does well. With a wheelbase of 2,699 mm, there is a good amount of stretching space. Legs, shoulder and head have ample airspace to wiggle about. The front seats are comfortable with the driver’s ergonomics being near faultless. And while the rear bench could use more width for longer thighs, it is still good enough to catch 40 winks in the back.
In the NVH sense, the car is refined. Very little external noises intrude the interior. The wind is kept out until speeds reached in the mid hundreds. Engine noise is barely a whisper, even when you prod it to full chat.
Suspension is particularly good. The MacPherson fronts and four-link rears becomes a sponge that soaks up all but the craggiest of roads. As comfortable as it is, the suspension never feels disconnected or detached from the tarmac.
The chassis also holds the body very well through the corners and that make the B-Class more agile than it looks. Although if you get ambitious, the B 200 will remind you of its tallish roof and the subsequent lean. Other than that, the B-Class is not a very involving drive.
The electromechanical rack-and-pinion power steering registers only a faint pulse, preferring the feedback to come from the steering’s weight rather than give a clearer measure of the road. So you have to solely rely on sight to notice that the car is responding to changes in direction, which is performed quickly.
Not that it matters because, by default, the B 200 does not seem to have the legs to push itself out of corners quickly. Although the 1.6 litre lump is turbocharged, it lacks the quick pickup that usually comes with force-induced powerplants.
The inline-four produces 156 hp at 5,300 rpm and 250 NM torque between 1,250 and 4,000 rpm. The B-Class sprints to 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds and has a top speed of 220 km/h. It also comes with the ECO start/stop function that temporary kills the engine at halt. All the while consuming only 5.9 l/100km. Not too bad at all.
Completing the drivetrain is the 7G-DCT, a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Mercedes-Benz said that the transmission is tuned more for smoothness rather than sport-like performance. Proof comes from the fact that you’ll never feel the transition between gears and at times it is just as smooth as a CVT gearbox, and nearly just as slow.
Not all is lost. You can change the characteristic of the gearbox three ways with a push of a button. You get E, M and S, which really stand for economy, sport and manual.
If you haven’t guessed already, M gives you full control of the gears while S pushes the shift points deeper into the revs. So the B-Class becomes quicker but only just. I leave the gear in E and let the car go about its own devices. It is in a sedate pace that the sports tourer feel the best.
At the end of the day, the B-Class will be nothing more than a grocery-getter, a mummy’s car that is used to ferry the children from school to the tuition centre and the piano teacher’s house after dinner. Even the car’s salient safety feature, Collision Prevention Assist that aims to minimise urban collisions by becoming the driver’s third eye, is a very useful thing to have while driving in the city.
In that sense, as an everyday car, the B-Class is a top-notch machine. If you want anything else, well, there are other alphabets in the Mercedes-Benz soup for you to choose. Of course, as clearly stated in the title, this is just a preview. Once we get the car for a longer term, rest assured you’ll be getting a clearer picture of what the B-Class is truly capable of.