Imparting visual flair to a bodystyle intended for family-toting practicality is no easy task, but Benz’s designers lowered the new B-Class’ roofline, trimmed overhang lengths, and stretched the wheelbase by 3cm to put 2.729 metres between the front and rear axles. Result: more aesthetically-pleasing proportions, along with more space for passengers.
Low-profile headlamps sharpen the styling up front, while the tailgate features a prominent roof spoiler that, along with high-gloss black spoilers at the sides of the rear window, helps improve aerodynamics while adding to the sportier look.
From some angles, the new B-Class echoes the smaller A-Class – another box-fresh Benz that has benefited from a wholesale makeover this year. The two are siblings, being based on the same platform, but the B-Class features a roomier interior that puts more air above passenger’s heads and inserts an extra window behind the rear doors to give the B-Class a wagonoid bodystyle – not to mention greater cargo capacity.
Stepping inside reveals a distinctly more spacious interior, and one that’s substantially more ‘glam’ than the outgoing B-Class. Much of that gloss comes courtesy of the twin-screen infotainment/instrument panel arrangement, which is available with either two 7.0 -inch displays, a combined 7.0- and 10.25-inch display or an impressive widescreen version with two 10.25-inch displays. A head-up display can also be specified.
The B-Class also shares Benz’s new MBUX infotainment software with the A-Class, which features natural-speech voice control functions to reduce the amount of button-prodding required to operate infotainment and vehicle functions. It has also borrowed advanced driver assist technology from the bigger S-Class flagship that brings autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.
Meanwhile seating positions have been tweaked to liberate more space and provide more comfort than its predecessor. Drivers who like a more commanding view of the road will appreciate sitting 90mm higher in the new B-Class than in its A-Class relative, making the B-Class the ‘missing link’ between Benz’s conventional passenger cars and its SUV range.
Boot space is about the same as before, however the rear-seat backrests now have a 40:20:40 split to cater for various sized loads. In some variants the rear bench can slide back and forth up to 14cm and dial in a more vertical backrest angle to boost luggage capacity from 455 litres to a very handy 705 litres. Fold all the backrests down and you’ll be able to carry 1540 litres in total, while an optional flat-folding front passenger seat, available from mid-2019, will further boost capacity.
For 2019, the powertrain range opens with an 86kW/260Nm 1.5-litre turbodiesel in the B180d, with the entry-level petrol B180 and B200 powered by 100kW/200Nm and 120kW/250Nm versions of Benz’s 1.33-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder (which has been co-developed with Renault) respectively.
Similarly, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel that sits higher up in the range is also offered in two states of tune, with the B200d producing 100kW/320Nm with its version of that powerplant, and the B250d winding up the same engine to 140kW and 400Nm.
A new eight-speed dual clutch transmission will take power to the wheels in the 2.0-litre diesel models, with all other powertrains retaining the company’s existing seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
Mercedes-Benz Australia has confirmed the 2019 B-Class will be available here from mid-2019, with prices and specifications to be announced closer to its local arrival.
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