Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - B-Class - hatch range
20 Oct 2008
MERCEDES-BENZ has introduced a mildly facelifted B-class model range to the Australian market, with prices rising by $400 and now starting at $46,200 for both petrol- and diesel-powered models.
First revealed in Germany back in March, the latest B-class small car – like its smaller A-class sibling – sports a bold new metallic-finish three-bar grille and lower bumper that is in keeping with the latest trend in Benz styling and results in a distinctly sporty, almost AMG look.
This sportier look is enhanced by making body coloured wing mirrors, door handles and side skirts body standard across the range while Mercedes says the new front end was designed to make the car look wider than before.
However, while the revised B-class shares the same general technical refinements and innovations, there are no big ticket changes like the introduction of a new (diesel) engine in the new A-class range.
As before, the B-class line-up consists of three models – the B180 CDI (with the 2.0-litre 80kW/250Nm turbo-diesel that has just been added to the A-class), B200 (2.0-litre petrol with 100kW/185Nm) and B200 Turbo (2.0-litre turbo with 142kW and 280Nm).
The first two models are both priced from $46,200 with manual gearboxes – six speeds for the B180 and a five-speed unit for the B200 – while the Turbo model remains $6600 more expensive at $52,800.
Although the engines are essentially the same, Mercedes-Benz claims that they now burn seven percent less fuel than before, with consequent improvements in exhaust emissions (now claimed to undercut the current European Union emissions standards by up to 90 per cent).
For the past two years or so the B-class has comfortably outsold the A-class in Australia, indicating that local buyers prefer the larger size, but M-B Australia expects that the smaller car will narrow the sales gap with the introduction of the diesel engine option.
Like the A-class, technical changes for the B-class include an automatic hill-start assist function (built into the standard ESC system) that stops the car from rolling backwards, plus the introduction of an optional active parking assist system.
The park assist function uses ultrasonic sensors at the sides of the car to assess potential parking spaces and then reverse parks the car without the driver having to steer. It is claimed to be so accurate that the parking space needs to be only 1.3 metres longer than the car.
Standard on the B200 Turbo, the park assist function is available on the other two models only with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) ‘auto’ in a $3200 package that also includes a 12-volt socket in the boot.
Although the interior is little changed, the steering wheel now features reach adjustment and there are some trim changes as well as new infotainment units with full iPod connectivity (including steering wheel controls).
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