Ready to B

by Guilherme Marques [email protected]

The first B-Class had a bit of a personality problem, but the new generation is much improved

The new Mercedes B-Class was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and, as every other motor journalist, I was there.

Mercedes had one of the biggest spaces in the whole venue, with two floors, all the cars in its line-up and a big stage for presentations.

The biggest news was the new B-Class, which came on stage every hour after an introduction song performed live named Ready to Be.

Now I wasn’t too excited about the new B-Class as I was never a big fan of the first iteration of the model – it always seemed to me that it was a bit lost in the Mercedes range, without the prestige or quality of a C-Class or the practicality of the A-Class.

I never quite got the target audience it was aiming for and, most of all, to me, it never felt like a real Mercedes-Benz, something that could hold up such a significant history on its shoulders.

So when that song began for the first time, I didn’t pay much attention. But then the new car was driven to the stage and things took quite a turn. The new B-Class looked really rather good – big, sportish, with a simple yet detailed design … to my surprise I couldn’t wait to drive it.

Moving forward

Happily, I have now driven it and can report that the new generation is actually a very good car.

A whole new platform, new engines and gearboxes and a big dynamic evolution puts it right where it belongs, at the top of the so-called premium compact segment.

Algarve Resident tested the range topping 200 CDI, packing the 1.8 litre diesel engine, with 136 horse power and 300 Nm of torque.

Although not super fast, this engine suits the car perfectly and together with the 7-speed gearbox, it offers a relaxed driving experience with a very compliant ride, even on 17’’ wheels.

In town, the B never feels too big and on the road it offers levels of comfort found in much more expensive models. The interior is a very nice place to be in, with quality levels now resembling those of the C-Class and a lot more space available for the kids, the dog and your entire set of suitcases.

So now I can understand the B-Class – it is a family car aimed at those who wouldn’t like to stretch to a C-Class or just like the idea of a small MPV, but don’t want to compromise in terms of style, prestige or performance.

Everything it does, it does well. It now knows what it is and who it is aiming at and can even make your neighbour feel that tiny bit of envy – not something you could say about the first generation. Starting below €35,000, even the price of this 200 CDI is a strong point in case.

I believe this latest offer from Stuttgart is ready to be a success.