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Mercedes-Benz B-Class

£22,115£34,605
8/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Modern design means the B-Class is pretty desirable overall

Against: 

It's not cheap and it's still not quite perfect
The B-Class is now a genuine contender – if an expensive one – in the family hatch sector.

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Our choice

Mercedes-Benz

B180 CDI Sport 5dr

£23,115
N/A
69mpg
11.60s
109bhp
107g/km

What we say: 

B is for better: this latest B-Class is a big improvement over previous iterations

What is it?

The latest B-Class is a practical Mercedes five-door hatch you might actually want to buy. Which is a big improvement on the undesirable original one. It’s been designed to feel more like a big Merc, rather than an underdeveloped afterthought: its platform and interior is also used by the excellent new A-Class plus future models including a small coupe and mini SUV.

Unlike the A-Class, it’s not really a looker, but is fine in silver and on the right wheels. The body side crease hints at the CLS, which is good, and it generally looks a lot less apologetic. It’s also impressively aerodynamic: in full beardy Eco trim, its drag coefficient is just 0.24. Almost implausible for such a practical-looking car.

Driving

Praise be – this is a B-Class that proves perfectly nice to drive. OK, it’s still not that keen on being pushed beyond its comfort zone, despite a centre of gravity that’s lower than before. But the comfort zone itself is now much more habitable, courtesy of a ride that proves sweet even on some of the larger wheels that come with Sport suspension. Road and wind noise are well isolated too.

The all-new engine range includes direct injection turbo petrols and diesels, of which the diesels are preferable due to their fatter torque profiles. A six-speed manual is standard, but the optional auto is preferable.

On the inside

The seats of the old B-Class were set high, which made it easy to step into but didn’t do much for feeling a part of the car. They’re lower in this one, meaning it no longer feels like a small Routemaster bus behind the CLS-style steering wheel. The interior has a feeling of real Mercedes-like substance, with much of the same topography as in bigger models. At last, it lives up to the promise of being a genuine junior Mercedes Benz.

It’s bright, airy and roomy in the back, enhanced by sliding seats, although the boot isn’t up to much when fi ve-up. Overall though, the packaging is very well balanced – and still future-proofed too: it’s ready to take electric and fuel-cell derivatives when they’re ready.

Owning

The B-Class is a premium product with premium prices, and that’s before you hit the options list. Amazingly, it’s possible to specify a £50k B-Class by hitting the options list with vigour. Decent fuel economy at least helps save a few pennies on the road, while the build quality is such that it really does feel like a car for life. A safe one as well: Mercedes even fits a standard Collision Prevention Assist system that bleeps, flashes lights and primes the brakes when its radar detects potential impacts.