By Sala Masindane
If there was ever a miss by Mercedes Benz, the first-generation A-class would be in the that list as well as the B-class. Fortunately, the former has been improved and has been a competitor in its respective segment for the past two generations. The B-class on the other always felt like an inflated A-class and wore the tag of “mommy van”. Seven years later, the B-class has gone through some changes and the third instalment seems to have removed all those unwanted tags. It is now claimed by the Stuttgart designers as “Sports Tourer”. Could this be too late little, too late though? Is there still space for such a car in an SUV world dominated world?
It is obvious to see that designers were probably briefed to make the B200 stand out and boy does it turn eyes. It may still wear the “mommy van” tag, but the B200 spots a new shape and daring design. It has been stretched with a long wheelbase (2729mm) which is 30mm longer than the previous generation. At the front, it is similar to A-Class but due to the difference in height, you get more head and legroom at the rear seats.
The new B-Class comes with larger and more rounded headlights that have the optional Multibeam LED and daytime running lights. The new B-Class also has a less boxy roofline as we have seen with the previous two-generations and stands 122mm taller than the A-Class. At the back, there is distinctive black bumper bottom section and chrome strip. The large roof spoiler spots high-gloss tips on the sides and the optional AMG line kit ensures that there is a sporty appearance to the B200.
With the different design and shape of the new B200, the space inside feels generous. The boot is sizeable as it stands at 455-litres and when the rear seats are folded, you can get up to 1,540-litres of storage space. The two-tone-seats selected for our test unit are comfortable but we would not advocate for that colour scheme if you have young kids. The carwash bill would rise dramatically.
The B200 has modern premium cabin is beautifully finished. Add the LED mood lighting, the turbine air-conditioning vents, and a continuation of the two-tone theme on the fascia, you have a great space to be in. This is all blended in with 10.25-inch flat bottom double screens. The screen on the left is for the infotainment that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. While the one on the right is for the instrument cluster. These can be controlled using either the multifunctional steering that has paddle shifters or the mouse like finger pad. It may take time to familiarize yourself with these, but once that is out of the way you can easily access most of the car functions or information on them.
Engine and Drive
Under the hood of the B200 there is a 1.3-litre turbocharged 4 -cylinder petrol engine with power outputs of 120kW and 250Nm. The power is transferred to the front wheels via the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 1.3-litre motor is a bit lackluster and almost takes away from the comfortable and serene drive of the B200. It does however go on about its business fairly well and is not thirsty. We managed 7.6l/km of consumption with mostly city driving, and although a far cry from the claimed 5.6l/km, we thought this was not a terrible return for the city. And that is what you require in the vehicle of this nature, just for it to be frugal.
The B200 comes at a time when conventional MPVs have all but disappeared from the South African landscape? That said, it still does hit a few great notes – it is practical, drives well, fairly unique and moderately frugal. The starting price of R590,000 means you will not break the bank to afford it. If you are in the market for a luxurious MPV, the B200 might be an option for you. That said, if luxury is not the measure, R590,000 could fetch you many decent “SUVs”.
The price of B-Class includes a standard 2-year/unlimited km warranty as well as a 6-year/100,000 km maintenance plan.
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