Strengths and weaknesses:
- Peppy turbo powerplant
- comfy high-quality interior
- functional passenger/cargo space
- Average fuel economy
- rear seat headroom
- turbo lag
B-Class has high aspirations
When I picture a Mercedes-Benz in my head, the original SLR gullwing, iconic G-wagon and classic SEL saloons usually dominate the space between.
Now, the B200 Turbo is no SLS AMG; and, for the price of a SLR McLaren, you could have at least a dozen fully-loaded versions in which to scoot around your compound.
To be completely honest though, I’ve never given the B-class much credence, let alone a second glance in its five year run in Canada. That said, the littlest Benz surprises and impresses at every turn during my week-long test.
My B200 tester has a two-litre turbocharged “four” making a respectable 197 hp and 206 lb.-ft. of torque. The non-turbo version makes 134 hp and 136 lb.-ft. with a manual transmission standard on both models.
Mine has the optional Autotronic CVT instead. Gear changes are smooth, quiet and solid with no rubberband effect. There are no sporty paddles; however, a button near the shift knob lets you put the vehicle into comfort or sport driving modes.
The latter retards the electronic stability program and remaps the ECU for quicker response, and you can tap the shifter left or right to change gears manually.
Seventeen-inch wheels and winter rubber provides good grip. It can and will torque steer off-line if you’re too hard on the throttle. Despite its small stature and short 2,778 mm wheelbase, the B200T is stable and predictable most of the time thanks to its front wheel drive layout.
At 1,395 kg plus driver, it doesn’t feel underpowered. It passes with confidence on the highway and can go from zip-to-100 in 7.6 seconds with some noticeable turbo lag in first gear.
The B-class is, in fact, the only Benz available with front-wheel drive in Canada. It’s also the smallest Mercedes sold here. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that this might very well be the most functional vehicle currently being offered by the automaker.
It has four doors, a lift-up tailgate and cargo area that increases capacity from 544 litres to a quite generous 1,530 litres. The rear seat cushions flip forward and 60/40-split seatbacks fold down to yield a totally flat floor (the rear section is height-adjustable) complete with metal tie downs, storage bins on both sides and a sliding cargo cover.
Solid chromed metal trim, high quality plastics, plush carpet and impeccably-finished gaps speak to the quality and workmanship of the interior. Adjustable thin-profile rear headrests offer an unobstructed view through the rear glass, provided there are no passengers back there. Speaking of which, leggy ones ought to be fine while headier people over six-feet could get a bit claustrophobic.
In the front, a comfortable driving position is easy to achieve thanks to the tilt-telescoping multifunction leather steering wheel. The speed-sensitive power steering is direct with good feedback. It tracks dead straight, though a smaller diameter wheel could improve response.
The passenger cabin remains cozy and quiet with just enough storage space and drink holders for most people needs. And, with an adjustable elbow rest between them, the standard front seats are good, supportive and well-bolstered enough for me, so I don’t feel a need to upgrade to 10-way power adjustable ones. Full leather is also optional.
It comes with heated seats. The dash area features soft-touch surfaces and, though it’s not the most luxurious Mercedes interior, it gets the job done with a MP3-compatible AM/FM/6CD six-disc in-dash stereo with Bluetooth hands-free phone hookup.
The B200T comes with six standard airbags and the highest five-star crash rating in the European NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme).
Though it may look like a miniature R-class crossover, the B-class doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is.
Besides being an easy-to-drive and good-looking compact crossover, the B200T is a functional, economical urban commuter that’s quick and nimble when you need it to be.