Mercedes-Benz B-Class the sports tourer not on the B-list yet – The Citizen

Mercedes-Benz B-Class the sports tourer not on the B-list yet – The Citizen    

A ‘‘compact sports tourer’’ was how Mercedes-Benz described the Vision B Concept that bowed at the Paris Motor Show 15 years ago. Unsurprisingly, the taller version of the A-Class become known as the B-Class just over a year later when the covers came off at the Geneva Motor Show. Unveiled at a time when MPVs had reached their zenith among buyers and when SUVs still hadn’t shrunk in size, the B-Class was touted by Mercedes-Benz as being a “trendsetter” model “preparing the way for a young market segment with a promising future”. In what can only be described as a…

A ‘‘compact sports tourer’’ was how Mercedes-Benz described the Vision B Concept that bowed at the Paris Motor Show 15 years ago. Unsurprisingly, the taller version of the A-Class become known as the B-Class just over a year later when the covers came off at the Geneva Motor Show.

Unveiled at a time when MPVs had reached their zenith among buyers and when SUVs still hadn’t shrunk in size, the B-Class was touted by Mercedes-Benz as being a “trendsetter” model “preparing the way for a young market segment with a promising future”. In what can only be described as a horrible twist of ironic fate, its future rapidly descended from “promising’’ to the social media expression ‘‘it’s complicated’’ when crossovers/SUVs started emerging as the family vehicle of choice.

With the three-pointed star’s fielding of the GLA and more recently the GLB at the entry-point of its crossover line-up, its launching of the third generation B-Class in the French capital last year more than likely surprised many observers in lieu of the MPV appearing down and out for the count. Fast forward to 2019, the B-Class quietly touched down in South Africa earlier this year as the third MFA2 platform underpinned model after the A-Class and CLA, but with noticeably more fanfare when it arrived for its weeklong stay.

As per the age-old adage of ‘‘everything gets better with time’’, the B-Class has made the switch from a polarising, awkward looking A-Class van, to a sleek and dare I say it, eye-catching compact MPV that retains its trademark rounded silhouette, but without the inherent tall stance and out-of-sync proportions it was once known for.

Aside from the obvious A-Class influences such as the sweptback Multibeam LED headlights, concave grille and that long bonnet, the B’s eye-pleasing aesthetics was heightened by the fitment of not only the AMG Line bodykit, but also the optional Night Package. That resulted in our B200 being decked-out in sinister-looking grey paint finish, backed-up by the racy two-tone black-and-chrome 19-inch alloy wheels.

Open the front door, it becomes clear where the B-Class take its inspiration from as the overall look, design and feel mirrors that of the A-Class to tee with the turbine-style vents, minimalist design, steering wheel with its touch sensitive buttons and upmarket fittings being carried over. It is worth noting though that the actual feel of the materials somehow eclipsed that of the equivalent A200 by being more premium and better put together.

Along with the long list of optional extras fitted, the B200 also came with the dual 10.25-inch displays made up of the instrument cluster and the MBUX infotainment that al lows for the functions to be carried out via the haptic feedback touch-pad, the screen itself or by simply saying the now ubiquitous line, ‘‘Hey Mercedes’’ followed by the instruction.

As easy and intuitive as the MBUX is, it very much pales behind the the B-Class’ biggest standout, versatility and practicality. In spite of sporting the optional panoramic glass-sunroof, rear head-and-legroom is opulent with the same applying to the boot which measures 455 litres as standard, but swells to a capacious 1 540 litres with the rear seats folded down.

It is not all perfect though as the B-Class is slightly undone by its drivetrain. Like the A200, the B200 is powered by the 1.3-litre turbocharged M 282 petrol engine co-developed with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance that punches out 120kW/250Nm.

Paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the blown four-pot is eager right from the off and willing to play ball, but goes above its limits at above 3 000 rpm by sounding strained and raucous. Compounding matters, the gearbox tends to get flustered and would often go on a hunting spree to keep the engine on the boil, although this can be rectified by using the gear shift paddles that results in smoother changes.

On the flip side, the B200’s seven-day tenure and 304km resulted in a best indicated consumption of 7.5l/100 km which, despite being well off Mercedes-Benz’s rather bullish claim of 5.6l/100 km, still rated as good given that it spend the majority of its time doing the daily commute and running errands.

The Achilles Heel of the B200 though is the ride as a result of the sport suspension that comes with the AMG Line. With the Dynamic Select system in everyday Comfort mode, the ride is too firm in spite of the comfortable sport seats, which results in a coarse sensation when the road surface is anything but smooth. Select Sport mode, the steering becomes a tad sharper and the throttle response quicker, but at the cost of even more engine noise and a crashy ride.

In a world where MPVs seemingly no longer have a place in the hearts or minds of buyers, the B-Class proves that Mercedes-Benz’s risk of extending its life by another generation has been worth it. No longer the posh bread van this writer once described it as being, its merits as being the ideal small Benz that puts versatility first without the SUV stigma, has been justified. At R577 075 before options, the B200 AMG Line offers decent value, but if the hard ride is anything to go by, rather opt for the Style and the R50 175 credit that goes with it.

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Author: Charl Bosch

Source: https://citizen.co.za/motoring/motoring-news-motoring/2204381/mercedes-benz-b-class-the-sports-tourer-not-on-the-b-list-yet/

Posted on November 14, 2019.

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Categories: South Africa News

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