The Mercedes-Benz B-Class was initially introduced with the diesel-powered B180 CDI and B200 CDI variants, but as of August, the all-new B-Class is now available with two brand-new petrol alternatives.
Before we run through the nitty-gritty of the latest four-cylinder engines, however, it’s worth reminding ourselves of what the new ‘B’ is all about. Built on the Mercedes-Benz Front-Wheel Drive Architecture (MFA) platform, the new B-Class is an entirely new vehicle. Not simply a re-engineered take on the original 2005 platform, with its sandwich floor and engine set at a collision-friendly 45-degree angle, Mercedes started with a ‘clean sheet’.
The result is retention of the original car’s core values, namely: functionality; space; safety; and quality, but with a shift in driving experience from compact-MPV, to what Mercedes call, a ‘compact sports tourer’. Marketing hype? Yes and no. While the B-Class wouldn’t be my first choice for hauling a couple of friends and their overnight bags on a weekend retreat via some of the country’s best mountain passes, it wouldn’t be a bad choice either. The new MFA platform offers above average chassis dynamics and the car’s exterior styling, interior appointments and drivetrains, all encourage, and satisfy, a more energetic driving style.
This is also where the new petrol engines make more sense over their diesel counterparts too. Where the CDI engines offer plenty of torque and favourable fuel economy, the BlueEfficiency petrol engines aren’t far behind, but are arguably a better match to Mercedes’ sportier ideals.
Both the new B180 BlueEfficiency and B200 BlueEfficiency are powered by the same turbocharged 1.6-litre engine. The small capacity may sound like cause for a lack-lustre sigh, but apart from cubic capacity, Mercedes have thrown just about every technology they possess into their smallest automotive heart. The list of technical wizardry reads as follows: direct injection with fast-acting piezo injectors for multiple injection; fully variable cam adjustment on the inlet and exhaust side; controlled oil pump; switchable water pump; high compression (10.3:1) despite turbocharging; ‘scavenging’ for instantaneous turbocharger response; as well as a fast and convenient engine stop/start system. The new 4-cylinder engines have also been designed for both transverse and longitudinal installation, meaning we can expect a few more MFA-based models to share these engines and in various states of tune too.
In the new B180 BlueEfficiency the 1.6-litre engine produces 90 kW and 200 Nm of torque. These peak power figures are achieved at 5 000 r/min and between 1 250 – 4 000 r/min respectively. For our Kwa-Zulu Natal launch route, the car’s were equipped with Mercedes’ new 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission. While the B-Cass is available as standard with a 6-speed manual, the additional ratio, together with the speed and efficiency of changes executed by the 7G-DCT, make it the best match and a worthy R10 000 cost option; one that’s reaffirmed by Mercedes who say less than 5 percent of B-Class’ sold are manual models.
The B180’s 90 kW haul it along adequately, but cog swapping and prodigious throttle were required to climb KZN’s rolling hills. With torque available from so early on in the rev range, the B180 is easy to drive around town, although as a personal preference I’d have liked the accelerator to respond sooner, with less pedal travel required to get the car moving.
The B200 offers more of the same. Quite literally in fact, with 115 kW at 5 300 r/min and 250 Nm of torque between 1 250 and 4 000 r/min from the identical engine, thanks to its turbocharger that supplies slightly more boost pressure. Mercedes claim fuel economy remains identical to that of the B180, at 5.9 L/100km, but our real-world conditions added around 2.0 L/100km to that figure with moderate throttle use. The extra power ushers the B-Class along with less ‘effort’ on the part of the driver and the 7G-DCT, making it the better choice for those who’ll under take longer journeys more often.
The new 1.6-litre engine runs at low noise levels in both car’s and, together with the smooth acting 7G-DCT and non-intrusive engine stop/start system, the B-Class petrol models are particularly quiet and refined in their operation.
While the engines are similar, Mercedes offers a number of options to ensure no two B-Class vehicles are likely to ever be. From the Chrome Package to the Sport, Night and Exclusive packages, the B-Class can be had with an almost mind-boggling array of personalisation, including: 17- or 18-inch wheels; sports suspension; ‘Direct Steer’ with variable-ratio servo assistance; various choices for interior trim and leather; black roof lining; privacy glass; etc, etc.
|Pricing (incl. VAT and CO2 Tax)|
|Mercedes-Benz B180||R299 600|
|Mercedes-Benz B200||R319 600|
|Mercedes-Benz B180 CDI||R325 000|
|Mercedes-Benz B200 CDI||R358 000|
Prices include a 2-year/Unlimited km warranty and 6-year/120 000 km maintenance plan.