• Mar 8, 2010
Mercedes-Benz B-Class – Click above for high-res image gallery

Here in the United States, the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio starts off with the C-Class sedan. Those familiar with the alphabet may realize that there are at least two available letters before 'C' that would theoretically allow the German automaker to offer something a bit less expensive before graduating up the ranks to the likes of the E-Class and S-Class, in all their assorted variations.

Wouldn't you know it, Mercedes has seen fit to fill those two pre-C-Class slots with A- and B-Class ranges across the Pond (okay, so Canada gets the B as well), and we've been hearing rumblings for quite some time that one of these models might make its way Stateside before too long. Those rumors gain new traction today with this report from Automotive News, which suggests that a compact car and a "small SUV" (read: crossover) may soon be in the offing in the U.S.

AN says that Mercedes-Benz plans to launch the next version of its B-Class in Europe in 2011, and that's the likely candidate for conversion to be sold here in the States. Included amongst the powertrain options will reportedly be some kind of fossil fuel alternative, perhaps either an electric version or one powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

All of this news would seem to gibe with what Autoblog sources within MB have told us in recent days. While earlier reports indicated that the recently launched F 800 Style concept sedan was an indicator of the next CLS or E-Class, we now understand that the Geneva Motor Show star is actually more of a hat-tip regarding the next C-Class, a vehicle that is slated to grow slightly in order to better accommodate new models slotting in below it. Incidentally, we hear that the F-800's controversial snout is in fact a near match for the next-gen E, and that America could receive a sedan version of the rumored B-Class lineup as well.

So, when might we expect all this to go down? Depends. Says Joachim Schmidt, sales and marketing chief at MB, "The behavior of Americans depends on fuel prices. Nevertheless, we see a trend also toward fuel-efficient cars."



[Source: Automotive News – sub. req'd.]


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  • 33 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you visit Richmond, British Columbia, you will find a B-class every 2 minutes. Most drivers are Asian women.
        • 4 Years Ago
        yup,
        drive down Number 3 Road and it's one B-Class after another.
        Or go down to Yaohan centre or RiverRock.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Or any T&T parking lot. Said B-classes are typically adorned with a bowtie/bone-shaped neck pillows and a kleenex box and several cute plushies on the dash.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Even I have no interest in seeing this come to the US. Didn't they learn their lesson with the C coupe/hatch thing and wagon, which are much better looking now than they were when MB brought them stateside. I predict another sales failure.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wait, is this a holdover from 2005? Let me guess, plans for diesel too? ;)

      I saw a few of these overseas and they look ok, but all optioned up for us Americans they'll probably very overpriced.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ever since the arrival of Asian premium brands MB, BMW and Audi have been scurrying up market trying to avoid competition. In the march up they all have eliminated small engines and all most all manual transmissions. There once was a time when a MB S320 (last year 1999, 228HP) was the biggest selling S-Class model. What did MB do? Cancelled it of course. It doesn't matter that the current 3.5l V6 makes almost as much as the old V8. Basically these actions have turned motoring life upside down. In the US Teutonic salons cruise city streets often with more than 400hp on tap and rarely break a sweat. In Germany the wingless pilots push 200 kph when traffic will allow their 3.5l diesels to run - but back to the story.

      MB makes and aggressively markets to all segments trying to instill the MB fervor at the earliest age possible. MB's greatest challenge will be pricing. Undoubtedly the B class does not cost that much to make but they have gotten so used to the European markups. When less than 15 hours is required for assembly and paint even German wages don't have a real impact. All of the German nameplates need to worry. Lexus has a broad and deep portfolio of smaller cars to choose from. In an instant they could present a broad range of cars. With such a line Lexus could leverage the overall growth in the luxury sector to the great disadvantage of MB, leaving it to repeat sales and conquests over other German marks.

      The B-Classe is an efficient platform earning great mileage (54+ mpg) when diesel powered (6M). As a gas/auto model with highway mileage in the 20's it does not present a compelling proposition. They need to introduce it with a diesel and a 6M to yield startling mileage figures even if that combination gets short run.

      The Prius has shown a large US appetite for fuel efficient hatchbacks. Hopefully MB will offer a model that can compete on the merits not just on the availability of a cappuccino machine in the waiting area.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Actually it is ... they make everything from farm vehicles to busses and a full line of commercial vans and trucks. That's in addition to their passenger car ranges."

      Just wondering how Germans think of MB. Here in the U.S. its a luxury brand. Are they considered the do everything brand in Germany? Kinda like a combination of GM and Oshkosh?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think ive seen the b class in Canada for a number of years now.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The B-Class is highly successful in Canadian metropolitan areas, from what I've seen, and they have the same sensibilities and needs as most American metro areas.

      The B-Class will sell well in the USA. It will sell on it's badge-strength alone plus the fact that it's a reasonably-sized crossover with upscale trim.. What else does it have to offer over the competition anyhow? Nada.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Canada also had the Acura EL and the US didn't. Apparently the markets are a bit different, or at least the luxury marques think so.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I grew up in Toronto and now live in Philadelphia. I do not buy the incessantly reported argument about how "Canadians love hatchbacks" and "Americans hate them". I see no difference in real life. In fact, with each visit back to Toronto, I am surprised at how few of those I see. If we were talking Québec, I'd be in agreement, but not in Toronto, which is the most "American-like" city in Canada, probably.

        In Philadelphia, where we have truly tiny streets the likes of which Torontonians could not even imagine, as well as the need to parallel park as a way of life, I see tons of small hatches of all sorts. There are some idiots with inappropriately huge cars too, but for the most part, there's plenty of hatchback love in Philadelphia.

        These generalizations are ridiculous AND inaccurate, in my opinion.

        Having said that, the B-Classe is small, but not tiny, and it looks like a mini M-classe, if anything (i.e. it looks like a small SUV).

        The specific differences between the US and Canadian markets are extremely small. The Acura EL (i.e. Honda Civic) is just about the only remaining example of a distinctly Canadian model (besides the B-class M-B), but it probably only exists to compensate for the fact that its options list can in large part be had on a US-spec Honda; whereas, Canadian-spec Honda's are more limited (e.g. if you want a sunroof, I think you have to go Acura?). A good example of this trend is the new Suzuki Kizashi. In the US, it's available in about 6 variants of trim, but in Canada, there's only one: SLS AWD A/T.

        I think the "Canadians prefer hatches" paradigm is not true across the country, plus one must remember EVERY SUV is a hatch. Americans love SUV's, so there you go. Where I live, Versa, SX4 and Mazda3 hatch-versions FAR, FAR outnumber their sedan counterparts. Furthermore, the MINI Cooper is a smash-hit in both countries. That defies explanation by the so-called "experts".
        • 4 Years Ago
        They are fairly different. Canadians tend (historically) to be warmer towards hatchbacks. The Saturn Astra is a reasonably common sight here, whereas in most US cities it's one of the rarer choices.

        That said, the B-class is crap. It's plagued with reliability problems--especially the turbo.
      • 4 Years Ago
      When I was home over reading week my dad had a B200T from the dealer while they continue to look at the reason why the clutch misbehaves in cold weather in his C230k. I found it to be a decent car for someone who likes a high driving position (not me, thinking my mother here). The car is meant to be targeted at a younger demographic than who Mercedes-Benz has been selling to with its other cars in North America. It is nice and roomy, and that turbo makes it plenty fast enough for an urban car. In my short time driving it, I didn't have any complaints with it, and found it to be a good car, though not my type. It had an automatic transmission, though a decent one, and to my surprise with 7 gears. I have also driven the B200 (sans turbo) and I must say, if you are thinking about getting the car, get the turbo, and a manual (which I don't think is offered in Canada at the moment).
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just because Americans perceive Mercedes-Benz to be a luxury marque does not mean the company isn't a mainstream car company. They just happen only to sell a small selection of their overall product line in the United States, primarily geared towards the executive car market.
        • 4 Years Ago
        JayP:
        You will note the BMW MINI is not sold as a BMW. So perhaps the levels of awareness still don't completely close the gap. Perhaps Mercedes could learn something from this.

        Bloke:
        I agree with your summary of M-B's positioning outside Europe being different than their positioning inside Europe. I just don't feel it is to M-B's advantage to adjust their positioning in the US by bringing this car out here. Just as the C-coupe was a mistake before. Perhaps they should work on a new sub-brand for the US to make cars like this under? This kind of separation works for BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, GM, Ford and VW, perhaps it has some merit?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Might sell.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Meh. I know that this works well in other markets where M-B covers the entire spectrum, but in the US, this won't work well, considering that the A3 isn't selling well at all and the 1 Series (the segment's strong seller) is RWD.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I see C-coupes nearly every day (including today).

      But this doesn't seem like a great idea to me. M-B isn't supposed to be a mainstream brand.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually that's two words, but whatever.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bloke, this is talking about the brand in the U.S., hence the title of the article.

        I'm sorry you mistook my comments.
        • 4 Years Ago
        One word: Sprinter vans.

        And yes, they're sold as Mercs in the US and Canadian markets now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's Europe. This is the US.

        Just look at the person who was whining that Barbara Boxer called the Lexus ES a Toyota.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I gotta agree that this is a terrible idea in the U.S. where Mercedes soundly has the idea of luxury attached to their name. Now personally I don't care, and I'd buy a nice car regardless of the brand on it, but unfortunately I know plenty of people who bought their Mercedes because of the idea of it being a great luxury brand and not so much because they actually knew anything about their car. Seriously, I met someone who found out like 4 years after owning their car that it was RWD, then ask me whether that was good or bad. And in their case it was mostly not so good because they just drove it [slowly and boringly] as basic transportation and had just moved to the snow belt from the sun belt, and thus was driving a RWD car with summer tires. On the bright side, they're a firm believer in snow tires now.
        Seriously though, the people who think of Mercedes as equaling luxury cars are not going to want regular cars to have the MB name. They might have to brand it as a Smart or something.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bloke, the article title says Mercedes launching the B-class "in U.S.", you were probably making a mistake to assume my post was about Mercedes in a market other than the U.S.
        • 4 Years Ago
        In Canada, the B-Class MB is viewed as "above MINI" in "prestige", so I wouldn't worry too much for them/it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "That's Europe. This is the US."

        Yes, we know. But you said M-B isn't supposed to be a mainstream brand. Which is incorrect, because it is and has been for donkey's years. But if Americans are so badge conscious that M-B is perceived only to be a luxury marque there, you need to clarify as such.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not to mention all the E Class taxis in Europe.
        • 4 Years Ago
        you need to travel more and see a mercedes sprinter and let that expand your mind.
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