Car Tested: 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class (B180 Sport)
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 29,95,030/-
The Mercedes B-Class is the most affordable luxury car in India, offering good practicality too.
Luxury car makers have turned their attention towards affordable cars. It all started when BMW launched the X1 and saw tremendous response for it. Audi was quick to follow with the Q3. Now in a bid to capture some market share in the entry level segment, Mercedes-Benz has brought the B-Class to India, promoting it as a sports tourer. The Mercedes B-Class was born in 2005 and is now in its second generation (codename W246). The vehicle is a compact MPV which Mercedes-Benz claims has the practicality of a hatchback and the space of a saloon. But does the Mercedes B-Class really offer the best of both worlds?
Exteriors – The styling of the B-Class is unmistakably Mercedes-Benz. The large three-pointed star adorns the wide grille. Although the B-Class is merely a bigger hatchback, it measures a massive 4359 mm in length, which makes it quite long for a compact vehicle. The smooth flowing yet sharp lines on the side give the B-Class quite a bit of appeal, while the rear is typical Mercedes with the two-piece tail lights. The Sports Package on the B180 Sport gives the B-Class a more appealing flavour, with the bigger 17-inch wheels (standard variant gets 16-inch wheels), body kit, LED daytime running lights and chrome inserts all around.
Interiors – Mercedes-Benz has worked on bringing very youthful interiors to the B-Class, which borrows design heavily from its younger sibling, the A-Class. The all black dashboard has neat chrome inserts and the cabin feels of very high quality. Currently, Mercedes is importing the B-Class as completely built units and thus everything feels faultless in terms of quality, fit and finish. The sense of luxury and the feel of sitting inside a premium vehicle is immediately apparent inside the B-Class.
The instrument cluster is easy to read and has multi-information display which offers all the data you would ever need, right on your fingertips. The AC vents have taken inspiration from the SLS AMG and are easy to operate. There are rear AC vents too, along with the three vents on the centre console, ensuring the complete cabin is well cooled even in the hottest of weather. The LCD screen for the COMAND system is placed right above the centre console and doesn’t move. The interface is not particularly intuitive but gets the job done. Audio quality is good and the system is compatible with USB, AUX and Bluetooth.
The driving position is spot on, by being not too high nor too low. The leather seats offer good amount of cushioning and have contrasting stitching to increase appeal. Space inside the cabin is quite generous and the rear seats offer good amount of headroom and legroom. We would have liked more under-thigh support but overall occupants feel comfortable inside the B-Class. A sunroof at the front and panoramic roof at the rear give the cabin a very airy feeling. The B-Class has quite a few storage places all around, including large door pockets and storage bins on the centre console. The vehicle doesn’t have a manual foot-operated handbrake, which frees up space. The gear controls are placed on the right stalk instead of the centre console.
Boot space of the B-Class is one of the biggest we have seen in a hatchback. At 486-litres, this boot is even bigger than the C-Class. However the space saver spare tyre (125/80/17) reduces usability of the boot. With the rear seats folded, the B-Class can swallow quite a bit of luggage.
Performance – Mercedes-Benz currently offers the B-Class with only one engine and plans to add a diesel to the line-up next year. The 1.6-litre M270 petrol engine is turbocharged and is based on third generation Mercedes-Benz direction injection system. Generating a power output of 122 HP and torque output of 250 Nm, performance is good for a car which weighs 1425 kgs. This motor doesn’t really burn the roads but offers good drive-ability and relaxed cruising for the B-Class. NVH levels are extremely good, with the engine barely audible at low revvs. It’s only once you whack the throttle hard, that you can hear all of those 122 ponies.
The B180 does feel a bit laid back at low revvs, although it does get punchy throughout the mid-range, only to start losing zest post 5000 RPM. Mated to this engine is a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox. There are paddle-shifters on the steering wheel, which can override the gear selection from the autobox. In automatic mode, the gearbox does have a slight lag in kick down, but overall the B-Class does remain reasonably quick considering the output. The vehicle also uses a Start-stop system, which helps to boost mileage. In city, the B-Class will return 9 km/l, while out on the highway, the same figure will stretch to 14 km/l, which is indeed impressive.
Driving Dynamics – Mercedes-Benz has reduced the centre of gravity of the new B-Class by 20 mm. The vehicle uses a new four-link rear axle with updated ESP system. The handling is excellent and the B-Class feels poised and surefooted through corners, even though its front-wheel drive. The steering wheel gives ample feedback and although electric, it is well weighed and extremely accurate. The B-Class feels very composed at high speeds and stays glued to the ground, thanks to its low 0.26 drag coefficient. Ride quality is pliant and the B-Class absorbs bumps comfortably. Braking is aided by a range of systems which ensure strong stopping power.
Verdict – As a car, the Mercedes B-Class is brilliant. It offers all the equipment one would expect from a Mercedes car, while at the same time, it doesn’t compromise on the driving experience. The B-Class feels very nice to drive, it handles well and the compact dimensions make it easy to maneuver. The B-Class range starts at Rs. 25.90 lakhs for the base B180 variant, while the BMW X1 range starts at Rs. 30.61 lakhs for the base sDrive18i variant and the Audi Q3 range starts at Rs. 31.10 lakhs for the base Q3 2.0 TDI Base Grade (all prices on-road, Mumbai). Thus the B-Class is the most affordable luxury car available today which offers high levels of practicality and good driver involvement too.
The B-Class might be an entry level luxury car, but Mercedes-Benz hasn’t skipped on equipment at all, resulting in the B-Class being truly a premium offering.
* All around quality
* Handling and steering feel
* Cabin space
Whats Not So Cool
* Design not to everyone’s taste
* Petrol motor not very exciting
2012 Mercedes B-Class Specifications
* Engine: 1595 cc, 4 Cylinder, Direct Petrol Injection, Variable Valve Timing
* Power: 121 BHP @ 5000 RPM
* Torque: 200 Nm @ 1250-4000 RPM
* Transmission: 7-speed auto
* Top Speed: 190 km/h
* 0-100kmph: 10.2 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 9 km/l (City), 14 km/l (highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Tires: 225/45/17
* Brakes: Ventilated Discs (Front), Solid Discs (Rear)
* Safety: Six Airbags, Attention Assist, Adaptive Brakes, ABS, BAS, ESP, Anti-Slip Regulation
2012 Mercedes B-Class Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 4359 mm X 1786 mm X 1557 mm
* Wheelbase: 2699 mm
* Turning Radius – 5.5 m
* Boot Volume: 486-liters, 1545-litres (with rear seats down)
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 50-liters
* Kerb Weight: 1425 kgs