The German-made B-Class is Mercedes-Benz’ attempt at a multi-purpose-vehicle. The front-wheel drive car is a bigger version of the A-Class, and it first hit the roads in 2005.
The model was re-invented for 2012, and there are now many of these on the secondhand market, hence why this is the one to buy and the version we are focusing on here.
The car might have a posh badge but that doesn’t mean it’s anything special to drive. It has the run-of the-mill petrol or diesel engine choice in four states of tune. The two petrols are a little wishy-washy, so the diesels are the ones to go for if you want anything verging on muscle mixed with economy.
They also get ‘start-stop’ technology, adding to the efficiency side of things. The Merc will pull well at 70mph but it’s just as happy on a short route through town or on winding rural roads.
It won’t thrill but it does, as you would expect for a brand with cachet, provide a calm, tranquil on-road experience, due to its erudite Teutonic power-plants. The gears are just as agreeable in manual or automatic guises, resulting in a drive that really requires little effort.
The cheapest B-Class’ to tax are the B180 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY SE or the B200 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY SE. Both, as long as they come with a manual gearbox, only discharge 115g/km of CO2.
This puts the cars firmly in the £30 per year vehicle excise duty (VED) bracket. What’s more, the both models will do 64mpg.
Ride and handling
The B-Class feels planted on the road and it hugs bends and hoovers up miles of motorway capably. Potholes are dismissed as nothing more than irritants rather than issues for the Merc.
It’s wise to avoid the “Sport” versions though as these have a harsher suspension setup to give a more athletic ride. This results in more engaged drive, but a rather stiff and unpleasant canter over any damaged road surfaces.
On all B-Class’ the steering is anesthetised, which is fine in town, but on a longer drive you feel rather removed from what all four tyres are doing. Safety on this Mercedes-Benz is nothing short of tremendous.
The B-Class has a five-star safety score and comes with numerous airbags and standard safety kit such as Collision Prevention Assist. This is basically radar based gadgetry that helps you brake if it thinks a crash might happen.
The B-Class is practical with lots of sensible features, such as large bottle holding door pockets and cup-holders. The glovebox is big and there are other little areas for storing coins or odd and ends.
The Merc is perfect for four adults, but five will fit. Head and legroom is plentiful and the same goes for the boot – measuring 488 litres. This rises to 1547 litres with the seats folded. That’s a whole wedge of space for any family to utilise.
You could literally go to Mothercare and bring back that new cot without dismantling it – as long as no rear seat passengers wanted to come along. Equipment levels are of a high standard throughout the B-Class line-up.
Standard kit includes parking sensors, electric windows, USB connection and controls on the leather clad steering wheel. If you want leather trimmed seats, then you will have to hunt around – and pay more.
Leather is great for a luxury feel and can be wiped down – but it can also scuff and tear, so it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if there’s a nice model sitting on a used car forecourt without hide-covered seats.
What to know before you buy
The warranty on the B-Class is only three years from new, which is a bit disappointing. You would think that a manufacturer of this standing would have more faith in its cars.
That’s especially the case, given that Mercedes-Benz started to get a poor reputation for reliability a few years back. That was enough to worry the German auto-maker and it has pulled its socks up since, gradually getting back to where it was before that blip.
Cars such as the B-Class are worry-free and are built to last, especially under the bonnet where well-established engines tick over.
Other German brands are the main foe. The BMW 1 Series, from 2011 onwards, is a good challenger. It’s smaller but has more roadside appeal and offers a more engaging drive. That said, it’s tighter in the rear than the B-Class, and its boot, at 360 litres, isn’t a patch on the Merc’s.
The other rival is the Audi Q3. This is a handsome car, but it feels less roomy. It’s not as pleasing to drive as the BMW, but it’s on par with the B-Class’ on-road prowess. The boot is not bad at 460 litres, but this is still 28 litres less than the Mercedes’.
The B-Class offers good room for a family of four and its load area is very practical. The Mercedes has a good level of standard equipment and is a safe, comfortable, long-distance commuter. It’s just not the car to buy if a dynamic drive is what you are after. That said, it’s economical and VED tax is low if you keep to the low emission models.
The B-class is relatively economical and VED tax can be low if go for a low emission model. Read our review and see what makes a great people carrier.