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Mercedes-Benz B-Class 2012 Review

The new Mercedes B-Class is lower and sleeker than before and features a rising lower style line that works beautifully.
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This is the sort of car most people should be driving. The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is immensely practical, with a spaciou interior (you need a large Mercedes S-Class to get more rear legroom, and then only just), a tall seating position to provide good visibility and variable luggage space that can be tailored in many ways. 

Yet the Benz B-Class is too often overlooked by buyers caught up in the macho craze that sees SUVs increasingly dominating the car market.

The B-Class is smaller on the outside than most compact SUVs, yet has more space inside, is easier and safer to drive and, best of all, is lighter and therefore more economical and kinder to the air we breathe.

Mercedes-Benz Australia would like to see sales climb significantly for all of the above reasons.

DESIGN

The local Benz branch will benefit from the complete redesign of the new-generation B-Class. It has more style than before - just look at that sensational sweep up of the lower style line on the doors and the way the D-pillars taper downwards to take the visual bulk out of them. 

Lowering the roof by a significant 47 millimetres hasn’t affected headroom as the floor has been dropped by more than the roof.

That’s because the original Mercedes B-Class was an extension of the A-Class and both were designed to accept a future power train using electricity produced from hydrogen by fuel cells. 

That didn’t happen - though we did take part in an experimental around the world run when the hydrogen powered vehicles visited Australia midway through 2011.

Refinement of fuel cell design in the intervening years mean that less underfloor space is now required, so what Mercedes-Benz considers to be the powerplants of the future can be installed in today’s B-Class. 

The lower position of the seats in the new B-Class hasn’t adversely affected the ease of sliding in and out of them, an important factor for the ageing baby boomers. Boomers who will love to be sitting behind the Mercedes three-pointed star, love the sensible design and, best of all, will find the B-Class even more affordable than the superseded model – because the price list begins at an impressively low $38,950 plus on-road costs. 

ENGINE AND MECHANICAL 

Power is provided by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine in two stages of tune - 90 kW of power and 200 Nm of torque; and 115 kW / 250 Nm. Strong torque at low revs is a big feature of all the engines and we found them happy to hold onto high gears in the interests of lower consumption and emissions. There’s also a turbo-diesel option by way of a 1.8-litre unit with 100 kW and 300 Newton metres. 

If you’re considering the 90 kW petrol engine may we suggest you load it up with passengers and take it onto some hilly roads? We feel it has enough power, but there’s not a lot to spare. Our favourite powerplant during our introductory drives was the turbo-diesel. All three engines run through a double-clutch, seven-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. We found it smooth and easy at all speeds. 

DRIVING 

The driving position is more ergonomic than in the old B-Class, which had a steering wheel that was rather too vertical for our tastes. We found the seats comfortable and supportive in the 300+ kilometre drive program at the launch of the vehicle in Australia.

Comfort is everything you would expect from an upmarket German car and will prove a big selling feature. As befits a compact people mover there are numerous stowage areas including a handy centre console and sensible door pockets. 

Access to the rear seats through wide opening doors is excellent and there’s the ability to stretch your legs out even if those in the front are claiming lots of space. It’s great to have limo-like space in car that’s simple to drive and easy to park. 

Noise levels are generally well isolated, but Australian coarse-chip surfaces did create more noise than we expected. Handling is neat and tidy and there’s no real sensation that you are in a front-drive family wagon. The full suite of electronic stability aids will assist if traction looks like slipping.

If something still goes wrong Mercedes-Benz’s Pre-safe system will do everything it can to minimise the effects of the crash. Finally, no fewer than nine airbags will do what they can to cushion the occupants. (There are two curtain airbags on each side due to the extended interior, hence the larger than normal number of ‘bags.) 

VERDICT 

The all-new Mercedes-Benz B-Class is an immensely practical family car that will appeal to a lot of different buyer groups. The outgoing model sold moderately well, but much bigger things are expected from this all-new one. It’s offered in several models, each with a number of option packages. Rather than crowd way too much information into this review may we suggest you call into your local dealer to look at the permutations on offer. 

This B-Class is only the start of a suite of all-new models based on the same platform; an A-Class that’s far most stylish than its predecessors is next, with a coupe and small SUV in the pipeline. And a secret new model is being hinted at.

The complete 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class range is:

  • B 180 BlueEfficiency 1.6-litre petrol five-door hatch: $38,950
  • B 200 BlueEfficiency 1.6-litre petrol five-door hatch: $43,950
  • B 200 CDI BlueEfficiency 1.8-litre turbo-diesel five-door hatch: $43,950

Mercedes-Benz B-Class 

Price: from $38,950
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine; 90kW/200Nm. 1.8 litre turbo-diesel 100kW/300Nm
Performance: 0-100km/h time is 10.4 seconds.
Transmission: 7 speed automated manual, 6 speed manual
Economy: 6.1 litres/100km using 95RON fuel. 5.8 litres/100km diesel.

Pricing guides

$17,990
Based on 35 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$13,450
Highest Price
$22,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
B200 2.0L, PULP, CVT AUTO $9,200 – 13,860 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class 2012 B200 Pricing and Specs
B180 BE 1.6L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $9,400 – 14,190 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class 2012 B180 BE Pricing and Specs
B180 CDI 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $13,300 – 19,250 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class 2012 B180 CDI Pricing and Specs
B200 CDI BE 1.8L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $11,900 – 17,490 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class 2012 B200 CDI BE Pricing and Specs