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.
Read next: 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class review
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.