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Mercedes has revamped the B-Class minivan

A-Class's podgy but practical brother gets fancy interior and self-driving tech

Every week we tell you about a new Mercedes model with subtle styling tweaks and revolutionary fancy pants interiors. Okay, that may not be strictly true, but that’s what it feels like.

Things started with the new E-Class, then the S-, A- and G-Classes (forget the multitude of variants in-between). But this week it’s the turn of the new B-Class - an updated version of Merc’s five-seat posh family MPV with, you guessed it, subtle styling tweaks and a revolutionary fancy pants interior.

Ready to take the fight to the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, the new B-Class uses the same front-wheel-drive architecture as the A-Class hatch. As you can see in the gallery above, the bodyshell has then simply been jacked up and bloated out to provide more space inside – making it easier to get the kiddies and all the stuff that goes along with them in and out.

However, although the car is slightly bigger than before and the rear seats are more adjustable, overall boot space is the same as the outgoing model at 488 litres. And there’s no seven-seat option; you’ll have to wait for the upcoming GLB for that, an Audi- and BMW-rivalling crossover we should see at some point next year.

But the B-Class has garnered some hand-me-downs from other members of the family. Notably, the whizzy new interior from the A-Class, as well as self-driving and safety tech from the S-Class.

The cabin is very familiar to anyone who has seen the new A-Class. Not that that’s a bad thing, as it’s one of the best on the market. Like all the other new-age Mercs, the B’s funky new interior is dominated by widescreen LCDs. There are three sizing options; two 7-inch displays, a mixture of 7- and 10.25-inch display, then the big daddy with two widescreen 10.25-inch displays. A head-up display is optional if you need even more things to look at while driving.

There’s also the inclusion of the MBUX infotainment system, Merc’s self-aware machine learning interface that adapts its behaviour to the person behind the wheel. Spooky. How? Well, if you regularly switch to Radio 4 for the shipping forecast (really, people do), the car will remember this and remind you that it’s on.

The B-Class also offers you a new digital friend to chat to, alongside the other partially deaf and slightly confused voices in objects you ask inappropriate questions, Siri and Alexa. This one is called – surprise, surprise – ‘Mercedes’, and is a voice-prompted operating system activated by saying “Hey Mercedes” to operate all the controls you’re too lazy to hit a button to do.

The machines don’t stop there, though, as the B-Class is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To do so, it employs improved camera and radar systems to anticipate the traffic up to 500 metres ahead while using map and navigation data for assistance functions, just like the S-Class.

Like all the latest Mercs, the design outside isn’t a radical change. It’s more or less the same as the old one just with posher headlights, plus edges that have been chamfered off and then softened further. It’s still a big improvement on the undesirable original B-Class, but you can’t help but feel it looks a bit dumpy – so we’d recommend going big on the wheels.

Stay away from the 16s if you can, and opt for the 19s to give it some visual clout and shape. Yes, it may affect the ride, but B-Classes on the posher end of the spectrum now come with active adaptive damping, so that should help iron things out. It’s surprisingly slippery through the air, with a drag coefficient score of 0.24, bettering its predecessor thanks to a lower roof that Merc tells us contributes to a best-in-class airflow. Something it’s very proud of, but not necessarily the first thing people think of when they’ve just had twins and need a new car ASAP.

Engines? Yep, it has some. Transversely-mounted and attached to either a seven or eight-speed automatic, depending on what output you choose. At launch, there’ll be two petrols and three diesels to choose from. Petrols comprise two tunes of 1.3-litre turbo – a 134bhp B180 and 161bhp B200 – while your choice of diesels range between 1.5 and 2.0 litres, and are made up of the 116bhp B180d, 150bhp B200d and the 190bhp B220d.

Prices are yet to be announced, but expect more information once it’s been shown off at this week’s Paris Motor Show.

Like what you see? Or is an SUV more up your street these days?

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