Mercedes-Benz B200 Urban – Your luxury baby minivan

When Mercedes-Benz launched its very first generation B-Class in 2005, it raised quite a fair bit of eyebrows, with many wondering if the German leadership marque should even venture into the realm of MPVs.

I mean, the three-pointed star has been long regarded and associated with luxury sedans, and it was with no surprise that the T245 B-Class met with much criticism.

But Mercedes managed to pull off a good one with their subsequent facelifts, and this luxury compact MPV found its way to popularity over time. It enjoyed all the attention it could get, being the only compact MPVs from Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. It was only in 2014 that BMW joined in the game with their 218i Active Tourer.

And now, in line with tradition and history, the three-pointed star has rolled out the facelift of the W246 B-Class, putting it on the same playing field as the BMW Active Tourer.

Exterior

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Mercedes has been implementing their signature “arrow-head” design onto the front of their cars, and the B-Class doesn’t escape this. While it looks similar to its predecessor, the facelifted B-Class boasts a sleeker and more aggressive front facade.

In making away with the traditional halogen technology, you now enjoy new LED headlamps and daytime running lights, signature of almost every other newer Merc you would find out there on the roads.

Also, we probably would not fault you for not being able to differentiate between this facelifted B-Class and the older one. We were, for one second, confused too when we first saw the launch of this facelift – and it was until a while later that we figured out the changes in lighting technology as well as a few others in the interior.

Interior

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We’ve always been amazed by the quality of Mercedes-Benz’s cars, and the B-Class didn’t disappoint us. There is honestly not much difference between the interior of the B-Class as compared to the rest in the Mercedes family. The design just speaks two distinct, identifiable words – “Mercedes-Benz”.

Up front, the infotainment system has been upgraded for you to play with, though we lament the lack of COMAND Online, which will probably set you back by another 10 grand. The interior ambient lighting now comes with 12 colour options – from the girly pink to a more zen and calm blue, and you can “spice up” your ride according to your mood that day.

Two adults would fit comfortably at the rear, while the third (depending on size) would get a little bit of a squeeze if necessary. And for families with kids or those hungry on the go, you’d be glad to know the rear of the front seats come fitted with a foldable table and cup holder – the perfect place to put your snacks and drinks!

When we reviewed the 218i Active Tourer, BMW stressed that the car could take a whopping 468 litres of cargo, which we thought was impressive for a car that size. Then we came to the B-Class and realised, hey – it could take 20 litres more (at 488 litres)!

The Drive

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Under the hood sits a 1,595 cc engine – the only capacity available from Cycle and Carriage (unless you order the diesel variant). Despite its small size, the plant puts out 156 horses and 250 Nm of torque (for the B200 variants), and finishes the century sprint in just 8.4 seconds.

Now we were surprised because the older B-Classes were known to be a little more laggy when it comes to acceleration and speed, but our test car wiped our fears away with its performance on our two day test.

Of course, there is the lower spec-ed B180 variants for those who are worried about COE categorisation, with the same 1,595 cc plant producing 122 horses instead of 156, just short of the 130 bhp limit of the CAT A COE range.

The B-Class was more responsive than we had expected, on different driving conditions from the mild family cruise to the hard bends we took the car through. Despite the car standing at 1.5 metres tall, we felt minimal body roll and tilt.

But if there was an issue we would raise, we thought there was a little bit of a turbo lag when the pedal was floored. Acceleration doesn’t kick in instantly, and even a switch to Sport mode didn’t solve that much.

Conclusion

Compared to the previous B-Classes, this facelifted W246 proved to be an eye-opener with its drivability and ever-promising solid built quality. It doesn’t meet the cut for the precision sports driver, but for the family man looking for a compact MPV filled with comfort and luxury (with a table to spare for the kid’s meal), the B-Class is indeed an excellent option available.

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We like:

Improved performance and drivability compared to the past B-Classes

We don’t like: 

The limited options available on the standard variants, as well as the slight turbo lag.

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