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The new B gets Classy

S Muralidhar | Updated on November 06, 2014

Plush upgrade: One of the factors that needed to be improved was the luxury quotient of the interiors S MURALIDHAR

Merc-B-Class

Merc-B-Class

Merc-B-Class

Merc-B-Class

Merc-B-Class

Merc-B-Class

Mercedes' B-Class has been redone inside-out for the 2015 model year. Now it is more than just a practical, compact MPV

The mini MPV market is a tough segment, even more so if it is in the luxury end of the car market. Buyers who are trying to get themselves an entry-level luxury car are bound to look past at other hatch or sedan options, and so a compact multi-purpose vehicle will more often be the second luxury car in the family.

It is not surprising then that one sees more of the new A-Class from Mercedes-Benz than the B-Class on India roads. With the sexy new C-Class sedan due out soon, the B-Class could get overshadowed even more here. So, it is good news that the B has been given a facelift. Worldwide, the B-Class has done better and has been appreciated for its practicality, space and compact footprint. But it has had competition recently joining the fray especially the new BMW 2-Series Active Tourer.

The B-Class has had its plus points, but one of the factors that needed to be improved was the luxury quotient of its interiors. Mercedes designers and engineers have focused their energies in refreshing the B-Class’ family design ties and in boosting its interior quality. The result is the new 2015 B-Class, a mid-cycle facelift that retains much of the B-Class’ original charm, but will leave buyers more satisfied about allegiance to the three-pointed star.

Design

The 2015 B-Class’ big design changes to the exterior are all mostly bunched together at the front. And a lot of the new elements have been redesigned to introduce family resemblances. So, the fact that there is a lot of C-Class visible in the B’s grille and headlamps is part of the plan. A new, wider bonnet grille with a twin louvred design and chrome trim is now part of the package. The front bumper also gets a complete revamp. A larger airdam and scoops on either side now give the B-Class a stronger, stout on-road stance. The bonnet slab with its deeply creased lines that merge into the A-pillar continues.

The headlamps are also completely new in design and in configuration. The headlamps are all LED now, including the main lamps and the daytime running lights. The new B-Class’ exterior design is almost identical when it is viewed from the side. The familiar roofline and the body side lines have all been retained. The alloy wheels on offer will be new, including the 17-inch and 16-inch wheels you see in these pictures. The rear again is pretty much the same as the outgoing model except for minor changes to the rear bumper that has been done mostly to accommodate the tail-pipe treatment. The tail-lamps are also LED lights now. We travelled to Mallorca in Spain where Mercedes-Benz had organised test drives of the new B-Class. With the wide, well-paved roads and grand vistas of the hills in the background, the B-Class looked smaller than it actually is. The new B is being offered in over four trim variants for international markets. The India-spec B-Class will probably be offered in two trim levels, and the number of engine options is also likely to be fewer.

Interior

For the 2015 B-Class, more changes have been incorporated inside the cabin. The size and space in the cabin continues to be the same. But, new materials and new executions that include high quality leather, wood inserts and a more pleasing dashboard layout manage to boost the feel of luxury in the cabin. The most striking addition is the 8-inch free-standing infotainment display at the top of the centre stack.

The fact that the B-Class is also a product from the MFA platform has many indicators, the classiest is the aircraft turbine style aircon vents.

Other premium additions that take the B’s cabin close to the youthful luxury feel of the A-Class and the new C-Class are double stitched leather seats, the push-button start, flat bottomed steering wheel (in the top-end variants) a new Harman Kardon music system, new steering mounted controls, galvanised switches and a new instrument cluster. Optional additions include a larger display screen and LED ambient lighting in 12 colours.

Performance

There is a lot of chrome trim too that will further help boost appeal, especially amongst potential Indian customers. During our test drive the new B-Class was available with essentially two petrol and two diesel engine options. These engines were being offered in different states of tune with the petrol models starting with the 1.6-litre engine and a power rating of 122hp upto 156hp. The other petrol engine – a two litre – was offered in two states of tune; a 184hp and a 211hp.

The diesel engines included the 1.5-litre mill in two states of tune either at 90hp or a 109hp. The other diesel burner is the 2.2-litre with it either generating 136 horses or 177 horses. We drove the B 200 CDI and the B 220 CDI – both the top-end diesel models, after all diesels are likely to be the overwhelming choice amongst customers here.

Even though the diesel engines sound a bit loud outside, the cabin is extremely well-insulated and quiet.

The India-spec B-Class will probably get lower powered versions of the engines. The engines are now more efficient and to counter BMW’s electrics, Mercedes has also developed the B-Class Electric Drive – a plug-in electric co-developed with Tesla.

The B-Class variants we drove in Mallorca’s smooth tarmac were obviously European-spec and the ride quality was perfectly balanced for dynamic handling.

Bottomline

The India-spec variants are likely to retain the current model’s slightly raised posture with smaller rims and the suspension set-up will also be more pliant to allow it to handle bad roads.

The new B-Class will be launched here by mid-2015 and the prices will probably only be marginally higher.

Published on November 06, 2014

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