Car Tested: 2013 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Diesel (B180 CDI)
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 27,70,200/-
The diesel engine in the Mercedes-Benz B-Class boosts practicality even further.
Diesel is easily the choice of buyers whether it is an entry level hatchback or a high-end luxury car. Mercedes-Benz launched the B-Class in India last year, powered by a petrol engine only. The Mercedes B-Class has got moderate response in the market as neither it is an MPV, nor a hatchback. Mercedes likes to call the B-Class a Sports Tourer but in all honesty, we find the B-Class to be a smallish MPV or a really large hatchback, or probably a mixture of both. With a length of 4.36 metres, the Mercedes B-Class is siginificantly long and has an impressive wheelbase of 2.7-meters. Mercedes-Benz will launch a diesel engined B-Class on the 11th of July and we drive it to find out how it makes the B really practical. We have already reviewed the Mercedes B-Class (HERE) in detail before and will keep this review limited to the diesel model.
The Mercedes B-Class will not really win design awards, more so because it shares showroom space with the stunning new A-Class. The styling of the vehicle is attractive at a few places like when viewed head-on or seen from the rear. The lights on the car are really eye catchy and those LEDs make the B-Class stand apart on the road. The side profile reveals its large dimensions which carry smooth flowing lines. There is no Sport package on the diesel model which means you get a three slat front grille (instead of twin slats) and 16-inch wheels instead of 17-inchers. The overall shape does end up looking like a shrunk R-Class.
For starters the B-Class is available in Style trim only which means you don’t get a sunroof, navigation and Parktronic system. Offering the diesel model in lower spec enables Mercedes to price the diesel model below the petrol one (we wonder why!). The TFT screen above the centre console is smaller than the one seen on the B180 Sport and this system has less features too. However the vehicle does get some bells and whistles like 7 airbags, fully powered driver seat, leather upholstery and other safety features which Mercs are known for. The Style variant doesn’t get piano black finish on the dashboard but instead features dark wood finish. We really like the black finish as it gives a youthful touch to the dash while the wood one tries to make it look mature but fails in the process.
The Mercedes B-Class is a hugely practical vehicle. Space inside the car is ample and you never complain of legroom, headroom or knee room being less, where ever you are seated. The rear seats offer excellent space and this is a car you don’t need to think twice before calling in your chauffer. The massive wheelbase results in class leading room. Even the boot is very big, which can swallow 486-litres. It is only limited by the uncanny placement of the spare wheel, which although a space saver, spoils the generous trunk volume.
The B-Class diesel is called the B180 CDI but there isn’t a 1.8-litre engine lurking under the hood. Instead the B-Class diesel uses the C-Class’ 2.2-litre diesel unit. The naming system by Mercedes can be quite confusing. Even the petrol B-Class is called the B180, although it uses a 1.6-litre engine. Mercedes-Benz has detuned the engine from the C-Class to boost economy and prevent torque steer. The B-Class is a front-wheel drive car and too much torque on the front-wheels can lead to a lot of wheel spin. However the reduced output of 109 HP between 3200-4400 RPM and 250 Nm between 1400-2800 RPM means the B-Class never burns rubber in glee. The vehicle delivers sane performance, something you expect out of a Mercedes. However don’t be fooled as there is ample grunt even with the moderate output figures. Reaching 140 km/hr in the B180 CDI doesn’t take long at all and Mercedes has got the right tuning for the motor which is at home both in the city and the highway.
The diesel B-Class has good performance and power delivery is linear with almost no turbolag whatsoever. You simply feed the throttle and the B-Class moves ahead with urgency, although this oil burner will certainly not scorch the tarmac with limited amount of output being on offer. The mid-range is quite strong and the B diesel feels the most lively one past 2500 RPM. The vehicle redlines at 4500 RPM (4000 RPM in E mode) and the engine gets very audible past 3000 RPM. This diesel engine is mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox which shifts smoothly and is able to find the right gear for you most of the time. You can manually take control of things via the steering mounted paddles and the B-Class has a Sport mode to make things more eager. The other mode is Economy which shifts gears around the 2000 RPM mark (depending on throttle input). There is a Start/Stop system on the vehicle but mysteriously it didn’t work on our test drive. One can expect the Mercedes B180 CDI to return a mileage of 14 km/l, which is impressive. Top speed is 190 km/hr.
The B-Class weighs quite a bit at 1.5 tonnes which does blunt handling to a certain extent. There is some amount of body roll although handling is predictable and the B-Class remains very composed at high speeds. The steering weighs up decently as speeds build up and is reasonably accurate too. Ride quality is simply splendid and although the suspension is slightly on the stiffer side, the B-Class diesel absorbs bumpers with authority. The 205/55/16 tyres certainly help in this regard as the high sidewalls help in reducing unevenness of Indian roads. The brakes are fantastic and the pedal has the right feel and bite to stop the car with tremendous confidence.
Mercedes-Benz have been making all the right moves lately and the launch of the B-Class diesel is another good move by the company. Indians love diesel engined cars, no matter what the price range is. With the oil burner under its hood, the B-Class diesel is sure to attract more people to dealerships. While the B-Class can’t match the A-Class in terms of visual appeal, the B is the more practical vehicle offering a splendid ride quality along with excellent interior and boot space. The CDI powerplant in the Mercedes B-Class performs very well and is quite frugal too which is sure to please the diesel loving junta.
The diesel engine in the B-Class works very well to offer good performance and mileage in both city and highway conditions.
* Cabin space
* Diesel engine
* Ride quality
What’s Not So Cool
* Spare wheel placement
* No top diesel variant