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Review: Mercedes-Benz B180

We first drove the B-Class two months ago, a left-hand-drive B200 with a 6-speed manual. This here is the actual car that made it to India. Apart from the wheels, it doesn’t really look different and we’re not complaining. The B-Class’s MPV stance may not look good from every angle, but it’s still nice looking. And being the smallest three-pointer in the market, it commands attention. The model we’re driving is the B180, so it comes with the same 1.6-litre turbo-petrol, but here it makes 120bhp and 200Nm. The rest of the drivetrain is a front-wheel drive layout with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Last time around, we’d driven the B200, which is the more powerful version. With a deficit of around 36 horses, we expected the B to be a bit of a slouch because the B200 itself needed a lot of stick to stay on the boil. But we were pleasantly surprised by the B180. And you have the dual-clutch automatic gearbox to thank. We weren’t very impressed with the B200’s slightly subdued acceleration, but the B180 doesn’t really feel that bad.

In fact, thanks to the gearbox, the B180 feels quicker than it should. Zero-100kph comes up in 10.59 seconds and top speed is pegged at 190kph. Expect about 8.5kpl and 12.2kpl in city and highway cycles respectively. Out on the road, the B responds well to throttle and is quite eager to downshift. The shifts are smoother than you’d expect from a dual-clutch tranny.

The B is the smallest Mercedes, and the only one here with front-wheel drive, unlike the traditional Mercs we’re used to. So has handling gone to the dogs? No, the B feels quite agile and darts into corners. Sure, there’s some understeer, but it won’t really bother you, especially when you realise how good it is for packaging – the B-Class is one of the most spacious hatchbacks we’ve seen. Plenty of legroom for all passengers and a big boot. Too bad, the spare sits on the boot floor, not under it – the B-Class was designed to ride on runflats and therefore not meant to carry a spare. The interior doesn’t feel low-rent despite the B being an entry-level job. It’s hard to find fault with the cabin. Sure, there’s some equipment missing, but it has every thing you need.

Priced at Rs 24.87 lakh, the B180 won’t give the Maruti Swift a run for its money, but it’ll certainly keep your C-Class safe from mundane duties like picking up groceries. Mercedes is pegging the B as the grand sports tourer, but for it to really arrive at its true calling, Merc needs to get the diesel here quick.

The numbers
1595cc, 4-in-line turbo-petrol, 120bhp, 200Nm, 7A, FWD, 10.4kpl, 1425kg, 0-100kph: 10.6s, 30-50kph: 1.98s, 50-70kph: 3.22s, 80-0kph: 2.27s, 25.32m, Top speed: 190kph, Rs 24.87 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)

The verdict
Entry Merc doesn’t really feel entry-level barring some missing equipment. Perfect premium runabout. Will complement your other Merc nicely

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