New B-Class promises electric performance
Logic should dictate that drivers looking for a compact multi-purpose vehicle would put practicality, cabin space and flexibility above performance when picking the car that's right for them. But the frankly phenomenal success of the Mercedes B Class suggests that in this car segment, logic doesn't apply.
Since the model's launch in 2011, Mercedes has positioned the car as a premium alternative to the utilitarian Citroen Berlingo and Renault Kangoo and as a sportier rival to cars like the Ford C Max.
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And despite not being able to offer things like sliding rear doors or a split tailgate, Mercedes has sold over 350,000 B Class MPVs.
And to ensure that this success continues, the new 2014 version, which will make its debut at the Paris Motor Show in October, has had an external facelift to bring its looks more into line with those of the company's other 2014 models -- so sharper bumpers, LED headlights and a tidier tailgate.
However, it's under the snub-nosed hood and inside the cabin where the biggest changes are to be found. Thanks to a collaboration with Tesla, the new car is available with an electric vehicle capable of 124 miles (200 km) between charges.
Called the B-Class Electric Drive it also has 177bhp on tap and although its top speed is limited to 100mph (160 km/h), it can accelerate from 0-62mph (0-100 km/h) in 7.9 seconds. Not bad at all.
For those still comfortable with fossil fuels the car has a choice of four four-cylinder diesel engines and two four-cylinder petrol engines, all of which offer better economy and performance than in the first generation model.
In the cabin, quality has also been boosted. There's a new 8-inch display in the center of the console, that supports the Mercedes COMMAND system. So as an optional extra you can get navigation, live traffic updates and other infotainment features.
The car also gets keyless entry and keyless start as standard for the first time and there are a host of driving assistance systems available (some standard, some optional) including collision avoidance and attention assist -- this monitors the driver's fatigue levels and will prompt him or her to pull over and take a break if they drop too much.
Mercedes-Benz will start taking orders for the new B-Class this month but the first deliveries won't commence until early 2015.