New models - Mercedes-Benz - B-Class
Mercedes A-class spawns B-class brother
Mercedes B-class brings big-car motoring to the compact car segment
17 Oct 2005
DRIVING’S as easy as A, B and C – particularly if you’re Mercedes-Benz.
The German car-maker not only boasts an A-class and C-class in its extensive passenger car lineup but has just added the B-class hatch for those looking to balance large car desires with small car practicality.
Two 2.0-litre four cylinder models will be offered – the $44,900 B200 and top-of-the-line $48,900 B200 Turbo – both of which go on sale next month.
Despite its modest dimensions, neither offering is short of power.
The B200 develops 100kW at 5750rpm and 185Nm at 3500rpm while the turbo ups the ante to 142kW at 5000rpm and 280Nm from 1800rpm, enabling the car to reach 100km/h from rest in a claimed 7.6 seconds.
Both are mated to either a manual or automatic transmission. In the B200 that means a five-speed manual, while the B200 turbo gets a six-speed manual. The automatic is Mercedes’ continuously variable Autotronic.
The newcomer borrows the German car-maker’s innovative sandwich-build concept from the A-class, which means the engine and transmission have been arranged in a space-saving fashion, partly in front and partly angled beneath the passenger compartment.
Not only does this allow for a roomier cabin within its compact 4270mm length, but in a severe crash, the engine and transmission are designed to slide under the car, out of harm’s way rather than into the cabin.
Another advantage of the sandwich concept is that the car’s floor is flat and internal luggage space can be increased from 544 litres to a massive 2245 litres.
Suspension is courtesy of MacPherson struts up front and wishbones while the rear uses a compact parabolic axle with coil springs. Mercedes claims the setup offers stable, sporty and precise handling as well as excellent ride comfort.
Steering is via an electromechanical rack and pinion that varies assistance according to road speed.
That means maximum assistance is offered at low speeds where it’s needed, making parking manoeuvres a breeze.
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