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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - B-Class

Frankfurt show: New Benz B-class leaked

R that’s better: The next Mercedes-Benz B-class shares styling with its bigger R-class stablemate.

Leaked pic reveals conservative styling for bigger, more luxurious Mercedes B-class

Mercedes-Benz logo25 Aug 2011

THE latest pre-Frankfurt image leak reveals a front three-quarter view of the longer, lower and wider new Mercedes-Benz B-class that is set to make its Australian showroom debut in the second quarter of next year.

The redesigned hatch in many ways resembles the facelifted R-class AWD people-mover launched in Australia late last year – but with a distinctive feature-line on its lower flanks that kicks up and over the rear wheelarches.

The image went viral overnight and appears to be official, prompting some media outlets to speculate that Mercedes deliberately instigated the leak.

Last month Benz issued a back-lit silhouette image of the car along with technical information in which the company claimed its next B-class would incorporate a larger number of technical advancements than any model in its history.

The vehicle in the leaked image wears the same alloy wheel design as the teaser –resembling the Empi/Speedwell BRM magnesium wheels that are a popular aftermarket addition to classic air-cooled Volkswagens.

The teaser was followed by the first interior shots revealing a luxurious, high-tech ambience with finishes and features trickling down from models like the CLS four-door coupe plus an Audi-style pop-up central LCD screen.

4 center imageLeft: Official teaser shots of the new B-class.

The German luxury brand also claims improved interior packaging of the new B-class will enable it to offer more rear-seat knee room than the far larger S-class limousine, helped by a rear bench that has 140mm of adjustment to facilitate greater luggage or passenger space as needed.

The interior roominess is also attributable to a body enlarged by 90mm in length to 4359mm and 10mm wider at 1786mm.

Despite the 50mm lower roof, Mercedes claims the B-class gets more front headroom, which at 1013mm is said to better the S-class and contends with the compact Benz’s most spacious rivals.

A low drag co-efficient of 0.26Cd will be complemented by efficient new M270 1.6 and 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engines with third-generation direct-injection technology and fuel-saving idle-stop function.

A 1.8-litre diesel option will also be offered, as will a choice of brand-new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic or six-speed manual transmission sending drive to the front wheels.

The drivetrains will be offered across Basic, Exclusive, Chrome and Sports trim levels, each with its own interior theme. Optional fibre-optic ambient lighting will pipe a soft amber glow across the dashboard, footwells and door-handle recesses.

The new B-class retains its sandwich-floor architecture, modified to accept various alternative fuel drivetrains including compressed gas (LPG or CNG) and electricity stored in batteries or produced using a hydrogen fuel cell.

An optional sports chassis pack will result in a 20mm drop in ride height, amplitude-selective dampers designed to soak up small bumps and ripples like a soft setup while providing increased levels of body control and recalibrated steering for a more direct feel.

Mercedes claims the B-class will debut the standard fitment of radar-based collision warning systems in its segment. Collision Prevention Assist alerts the driver of potential obstacles and primes the brake circuit for maximum deceleration to help avoid rear-end shunts.

Attention Assist, which detects a drowsy driver, will also be standard-fit across the range.

Further safety options will be offered, including Adaptive Headlamp Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Speed Limit Assist, Distronic Plus radar cruise control and Pre-Safe collision preparation system.

The smaller A-class, which was dropped from the Australian line-up in early 2010, is also set to make a comeback, previewed at April’s Shanghai show in concept form as a sleek, coupe-like front-wheel drive hatch that will compete more closely with the BMW 1 Series, Lexus CT200h and Audi A3 than its one-box predecessor.

In the absence of the A-class, the B-class bas become the second most popular Benz in Australia, with 1430 finding homes to the end of July this year – an increase of 36.2 per cent.

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