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We all received the news that the B-Class' launch was being delayed in the United States, but those in Europe, Canada and Mexico should be enjoying this car by the end of the year. We have the first official shots of the car (remember the car shown at Detroit was a "concept" Vision). More info and pictures at the link.
The B-Class uses what MB calls the ?sandwich concept? where the engine and transmission is partly in front and partly beneath the passenger compartment giving the interior space of much larger cars. Outside is a compact B-Segment car, but the distance between the front and rear seats are almost as large as the S-Class sedan.
The B-Class packs in the techno-gadgetry to increase safety, convenience and comfort. Electromechanical steering varies the steering assist at certain speeds. Electric Stability Control works with the steering system when the sensors pick up a critical handling situation to help the driver stabilize the vehicle. A selective damping system adapts the shock absorbers to the driving situation.
The sandwich concept also helps keep the occupants safe in a frontal collision. The powertrain unit is mounted at a downward angle so it slides downwards away from the passenger compartment instead of breaching it. Front and thorax/head side air bags also are a part of the standard safety system.
The B-Class has a host of MB systems to enhance the comfort of the B-Class including an automatic climate control system, nav system and a panoramic sunroof.
Engine choices in Europe will, of course, consist of multiple diesel units including the 140 hp CDI with 217 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and a CVT automatic is available on all engine choices.
While those in the U.S. will have to wait a little longer for the B-Class, Mercedes may get a little saucy if the upcoming Audi A3 takes off. We think they are a bit squeamish about the reaction Americans will have on a smaller ?premium? vehicle.