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Mercedes has already garnered plenty of new car headlines this week with its AMG GT hot rod. That’s all very well, but will it carry five people? Can it top 78mpg? And does it have a ‘modular ENERGY SPACE body concept’ (their gratuitous use of upper case, not ours)?

It won’t, it can’t and it doesn’t, but the new B-Class puts ticks in all three boxes. It’s mid-life update time for Merc’s second generation B, a car we actually quite like in a sensible, posh family transport kind of way. The timing of its refresh with the launch of the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer is doubtless more than a coincidence.

So what’s in the Merc’s armour to tackle its new German foe? Outside, it’s facelift by numbers - new bumpers, lights and a shinier grille give it a sportier look than before, while inside the infotainment screen is larger.

There’s new safety equipment too, with upgrades to Merc’s collision prevention technology and an even more scrutinising attention assist, which will now demand you pull over for a coffee at speeds of up to 124mph.

As well as retaining its class-leading drag coefficient of 0.25, Mercedes is claiming best-in-class levels of powertrain choice, too, with ten different options.

Most interesting is the B-Class Electric Drive - which we drove in prototype form earlier this year - its 180bhp motor providing it with an emission-free 7.9sec 0-62mph time and a 124-mile range from fully charged, though presumably those two figures are mutually exclusive. It’s this version that possesses the mighty ‘modular ENERGY SPACE body concept’, with the stack of lithium ion batteries stored in the car’s underbody, benefitting the B’s centre of gravity as well as its luggage space.

Likely to appeal to most buyers will be the frugal four-cylinder diesels, the B180 CDI Eco boasting that headline 78.5mpg fuel economy alongside 94g/km CO2 emissions, while the cheapest way into B-Class ownership is the 120bhp B180 petrol with a manual gearbox, which kicks the range off at £22,575. Merc’s seven-speed twin-clutch auto is optional on some models, as is its 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system, replacing the standard front-drive setup.

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