Mercedes-Benz has upped its game with the new B-Class and is set to take on the established MPV elite.
What is it?
This is Mercedes-Benz's offering in the premium MPV segment, and the German firm calls it a "sports tourer". It's spacious and roomy, but most importantly it's an MPV with the coveted three-pointed star on its nose.
It's totally new. Mercedes claim the only thing this all-new B-Class shares with its predecessor is its name – and they're right. While its platform is shared with the all-new A-Class, the two cars are aimed at different buyers. The A being more a Golf-like hatch and the B being more of a practical, premium MPV-like offering.
What's under the bonnet?
The new 'B' is available with two petrols - a B180 and B200 - and two diesels - B180 CDI and B200 CDI. Confusingly the B180 and B200 petrols are powered by a 1.6-litre unit in 121bhp and 155bhp forms respectively, while the 180 CDI and 200 CDI are powered by a 1.8-litre oil burner in two flavours of 108bhp and 135bhp.
What's the kit like?
The entry-level model is the SE which comes fully-packed with 16-inch alloys, Active Park Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, auto lights, and a five-inch multimedia screen; prices start at £21,295. Sport models wade in at £22,610 and gain 'artificial leather', black roof lining, sports suspension and 18-inch alloys.
The B-Class goes head-to-head with VW's reliable Gold Plus, Ford's fun to drive C-Max and Renault's affordable Scenic. The Mercedes isn't the cheapest here but offers a more premium badge and feel than the others.
Is it any good?
The B180 CDI Sport we drove handled well and impressively masked the car's largish proportions. Customers should avoid 18-inch wheels as they make the ride a little uncomfortable. The 108bhp diesel engine, though gruff, was strong, perky and returns pleasing fuel economy figures.
The Autoblog verdict
This new car is a much stronger offering than the old odd looking B-Class, and does its best to match its premium positioning in the market. It's pricy but we can't see this being too much of a problem as the car both looks better and is built more sturdily.