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Mercedes-Benz B-Class is all class

The old one was a bit average. But there's no missing the big effort that Mercedes-Benz has put into its new B-Class runaround.

Who knows maybe Benz may finally acknowledge the car as a real part of the range instead of pretending it doesn't exist?

There's also going to be an off road SUV version that will reside on the same mechanical platform.

The new B-Class is going to be offered for a red hot entry price when it hits the showrooms in April - $38,950 - less than the old one. We had a quick look at the new B-Class this week.

Apart from the agressive new styling, huge strides have been made with the interior which looks more like the luxury vehicle that it is supposted to be. A big effort has been made to make the car look more sporty, which is reflected in the reduced height.

At 1557mm it sits almost five centimetres lower on the road than its predecessor. The seat height in relation to the road has also been reduced in order to facilitate ease of entry.

In response to requests the sitting position is also more upright. The dash is dominated by chunky aircraft style air vents, a la the halo SLS sportscar.

The range kicks off with the B 180 Blue Efficiency with a 90kW petrol engine, followed by the B200 Blue Efficiency with 115kW petrol engine then the range topping B 200 CDI Blue Effiency with a 100kW turbodiesel engine.

The two 1.6-litre direct injection turbocharged petrol engines are good for 6.1 litres/100km while the diesel is rated at 4.7 litres/100km. New to the range is Benz's Pre-Safe system which locks the vehicle down if a collision is imminent as well as Collision prevention assist.

The latter is a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist which lowers the risk of rear-end collisions. There's also a 7 speed dual clutch DCT transmission, Eco start/stop which shuts down the engine at traffic lights and an electric parking brake.

The car will also be available with a multimedia system that offers internet access. Customers can surf the web while the car is stationary or call up an app whose particularly fast page loading and simple operation make it suitable for use while driving.

Integrated apps include Google Local Search and Weather, and the facility for downloading a route which has previously been configured on a PC using Google Maps and transmitted to the car.

The current B-Class is a hugely practical little car, offering surprising comfort for four adults and the new one is sure to build on this base.