The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is a small hatchback filled with luxury and value. I have some fellow automotive journalists who absolutely love the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class. It is one of the most popular entry vehicles for Mercedes-Benz and the accolades in Europe are numerous. So, why the hell are we not driving these machines in the United States!?
Here’s what Mercedes-Benz said about their all new (regular) B-Class when it launched in Europe last year.
Fuel consumption: up to 21 percent less than its predecessor
The fuel consumption of the new B-Class undercuts its predecessor by up to 21 percent. All the engines have been developed in-house. Both diesel models (B 180 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY and B 200 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY) now run on 4.4 litres per 100 km (114 and 115 g CO2/km respectively ) – their predecessors required 5.2 litres per 100 km. The B 180 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY attains a CO2 value of 115 g/km with automatic transmission – an improvement of 21 percent on its predecessor (146 g/km). The petrol-engine variants have also made great strides: despite a substantial improvement in performance, the B 180 BlueEFFICIENCY and B 200 BlueEFFICIENCY now run on 5.9 litres per 100 km (137 and 138 g CO2/km respectively), undercutting their predecessors by up to twelve percent.
The new B-Class (length/width/height: 4359/1786/1557 millimetres) will be making its way to European dealers in November 2011.
The exterior design: perfect space in a most attractive guise
The new B-Class is a typical Mercedes sports tourer, offering plenty of space combined with impressive dynamic performance as a hatchback saloon. The characteristic lines of the exterior design indicate both of these attributes: front and rear sport a width-emphasizing design, with a wide, prominent grille and headlamps extending along the sides at the front while the rear end features a wide rear window, two-piece tail lights with horizontally offset meander and a large tailgate with low loading sill.”
The new B-Class is more than just a simple hatchback, it’s a platform for emerging technologies that are beginning to register in the consciousnesses of consumers. Electric cars are becoming more popular in Europe with tax exemptions and road fees being chief among the savings of these machines. The B-Class Electric Drive concept looks like a sound idea and a simple way for MBZ to take on Nissan, Toyota and GM’s emerging products.
According to Mercedes-Benz, “The B-Class Electric Drive concept combines comfortable driving fun with full everyday and family usability. It is driven by a 100 kW electric motor, which delivers exceptional dynamics plus a range of 200 kilometres thanks to its powerful torque of 310 Newton metres. Ensuring that the generous and variable interior space remains unaffected is the “ENERGY SPACE” in the vehicle floor in front of the rear axle. It provides a space-saving and secure location for the lithium-ion battery, while also benefitting the vehicle’s centre of gravity.
“Electric cars are a significant component of our strategy for sustainable mobility,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “In the B-Class, we have an extremely versatile compact car that is well-suited to a variety of different drives – from internal combustion engines through pure battery-electric drive to fuel cells. Thanks to the ENERGY SPACE, the B-Class is the Mercedes pioneer for alternative drives in the compact premium car segment.”
Not only has the Mercedes-Benz B-Class’ platform proved viable for electricity and hydrogen, it appears to be a smart bet for compressed natural gas (CNG).
According to Mercedes-Benz, “The B 200 Natural Gas Drive is the first B-Class model to make use of the
“ENERGY SPACE” modular body concept: a partial double floor beneath the rear seat bench creates space to accommodate one large and two smaller natural gas containers, holding a total of 125 litres of natural gas (corresponding to approx. 21 kg). Thanks to this intelligent packaging method, the five-seater model is able to retain the generously proportioned luggage compartment for which it is known.
In natural gas mode, consumption of the 115 kW (156 hp) B 200 Natural Gas Drive is just 4.2 kg/100 km – corresponding to CO2 emissions of 115 g per kilometre. As a result, emissions are around 16 percent lower than those of the B 200 BlueEFFICIENCY with petrol engine, which offers equal performance. The new model belongs to efficiency class A and meets the EURO 6 emissions standard, which is not due to come into effect for all petrol-engined vehicles until 1st September 2014. But the model not only spares the environment – it is also good on the wallet: converting the consumption of the B 200 Natural Gas Drive into the energy equivalent of petrol, the price per kilometre comes out at around 50 percent lower than the fuel costs of driving a petrol model.
With so many possibilities and so much potential, I think it’s a crime that Mercedes-Benz keeps holding off on giving the United States its slick little B-Class. Look at it this way, the Smart Car simply wont do as an entry vehicle for Mercedes-Benz, but the MBZ B-Class, sold at a reasonable and competitive price, would bring in young buyers. Add the efficient gas and diesel engines with an optional manual transmissions – – – WAMMO! Sales to grad-students and small, upper-middle class would blossom.
In the UK, prices start at £21,295 which is about $35,000.
Here’s a fun video where Roman and I match a Mercedes-Benz against a Lexus… off road!