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Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Broadcast date : 14th May 2006

Thereís a new type of vehicle making its mark Ė the cross-over hatch MPV Ė and this is Mercedes-Benzís rendition.

Itís an unusual-looking vehicle, the Merc B-Class. It features the well-defined DaimlerChrysler corporate nose, and the flanks embody the now-trade-mark wheel arch flares common to new generation Benzs and Chrsylers.

The rear-end is neatly styled with conventional rectangular tail-lamps, but what makes it look different is the long wheel base, nearly 2,8 metres, with wheels that look proportionately small.

The big surprise package in the B-Class is in the engine department. The turbo four-cylinder has its power band profiled towards the lower end of the rev range, and itís performance is almost out of character with the people-carrying appearance.

Itís peak torque of 280 Newton metres comes in with a bang at 1800 rpm, and strong punch is on tap all the way through to 6000 rpm. 

Merc claims a 7,6 0-100 time, so the "sport" aspect is fully justified in this touring hatch.

In low-speed pottering thereís virtually no turbo lag and this new turbo motor is just as smooth as the impressive Kompressor engines in the C-Class.

Being front-wheel-drive with a high center of gravity, the B-Class handles like an MPV, and is fitted with an electrically-driven power-steering system that provides very light steering at parking speeds but surprisingly good feedback when hauling hard.

Suspension, though, is a bit on the soft side for high-speed sweeps, and the B200 is capable of very high cruising speeds.

With a rated top speed of 225 km/h, the B-Class can be compared to a Golf GTi in outright performance terms, while when measured against MPVs, itís the quickest on the Block.

In the cabin, thereís a pleasing ambience of quality, which was exemplified by our test modelís mix of cream and black trim.

Multifunction buttons on the four-spoke steering wheel are standard, and from a safety point of view, newly-developed head-and-thorax sidebags complement two-stage front airbags, active head-restraints and adaptive belt-force limiters.

As would be expected of an MPV, there are numerous storage compartments and the load floor is height adjustable.

Load and storage space is very impressive, and all passenger seats are removable to give the B-Class van-like attributes.

A new parabolic rear-axle has been developed for the car, and selective damping automatically provides for comfort and stiffer ride-settings. However the B-Class needs overall stiffer spring and damper rates to go with the excellent performance. From the driverís perch, thingís arenít perfect either.

All-in-all, this is one of the surprise offerings of 2006. Many people may have a problem placing it in a particular category. But the truth is, Mercedes-Benz have just created a new one: The hot-hatch luxury MPV.

It may not have an extra row of seats, but it has amazing rear legroom and luggage space, and performance that is effortlessly useable.

At R266 000 for the petrol turbo itís going to find a lot of fans.

Mercedes-Benz B Class

  • Engine: 4 cylinder turbo-petrol, 2034cc
  • Power: 142kW @ 5 000 rpm
  • Torque: 280 Nm @ 1800 rpm
  • Transmission: Six- Speed Manual, Front ĖWheel Drive
  • 0 Ė 100 km/h: 7.6 Seconds
  • Top Speed: 225 km/h
  • Fuel Consumption: 8.8 Lt /100 Km (Claimed)
  • Price: R 266 000
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