Mercedes-Benz B Class: Aging gracefully
The Mercedes-Benz B Class has been around for quite sometime now.
In fact, it’s currently going to introduce its third generation soon.
For now, our focus is this second generation (W246 body) with a production run from 2012 until present.
For a car design that has been around for six years, this vehicle has actually aged gracefully.
The B Class is generally a multipurpose vehicle (MPV) by design and purpose. MPVs are meant for those who cannot decide between having a sedan that has a low ride height and lacking cargo space or a high riding sports utility vehicle that some may not like due to its harsher ride and bulky body.
The B Class may not seem like a convincing design for the three-pointed star brand, but it’s not out of place from the rest of its stablemates either.
It’s actually pleasing to the eyes with its soft flowing lines, big passenger area that houses a good roofline to accommodate a lot of headroom, knee and elbow room for the passengers and a well integrated hatch design for making entry of rear cargo equally as practical and easy as possible with minimal fuzz, which I think is its biggest asset.
On the inside, things do get a whole lot better. Build quality impressions seems to be up there, close to the C Class category with solid and heavy doors, a reassuring thug of the doors when closed, door panels that are well built and not flimsy.
The dashboard is typical of a Mercedes-Benz of this age, with a center command display sticking out of the center dash, which is fine by me. Those rounded aircon vents never goes out of style in any Mercedes-Benz vehicle. In fact, it evokes class.
Dashboard is finished in soft leather and so are other parts inside the cabin where touch is mostly required, save for some hard plastics underneath the dashboard.
Artico leather is also standard on this B-180 with power-operated seats that give it a truly premium feel.
I was pleasantly surprised as a driver, the front seats are quite comfortable and I dare say much more comfortable than in the outgoing A Class hatchback. That feeling of extra space too is quite evident inside the cabin of the B class with its high roof line and wider dimension.
Definitely this, over the outgoing A Class if you want space for both passengers and cargo. The back seat passengers, too, would be glad to know that they will sit just a bit higher than the front passengers, giving them a good view of the outside world.
B Class road manners are noteworthy of mentioning. While it doesn’t perform like a C Class sedan in terms of overall ride comfort and dynamics, the B Class strikes a good balance of precise handling, good dampening and being firm enough to be able to manage its higher center of gravity while taking on the corners.
The ride is not soft, nor hard. The suspension provides a good road feedback and enough cushioning from road imperfections.
Power is courtesy of a 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that churns out 122 HP. This engine is mated to a seven-speed DSG (dual clutch type AT).
While it may not sound ground braking on paper, the engine was never lacking power with four average-sized adults and two cargo bags when I had it with me for a good three days.
At this price point, the B Class offers a lot of standard feature for a premium MPV.
It’s got auto headlights, a lot of cubby holes, cup and bottle holders, charging ports, Dynamic drive select, auto stop/start funtion, distance alert, rotary command selector for the infotainment system, host of active and passive safety features, multiple airbags, split folding rear seats for extra cargo space and a whole lot more.
The MPV design is not for everyone. But for those who are looking to get a vehicle that can do everything right without having to sacrifice a lot, the B Class may just be the right vehicle for you. Think of the B class as a premium, oversized hatchback. Yup! That one would be easier to swallow and digest when cashing in the over P2M price tag.
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