Motive effort comes courtesy of a new pair of direct-injection gasoline engines, that technology also gaining entry to the B-Class segment for the first time. The 1.6-liter B180 will have 122 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, the B200 will put out 156 hp and 183 lb-ft, those torque figures coming from 1,250 rpm. A 1.8-liter and common-rail diesel and rounds out the options, coming in 109 hp/183 lb-ft and 136 hp/221 lb-ft flavors. Transmissions will be either a 7G-DCT dual-clutch or a six-speed manual.
Piling more firsts into the slight package, the B-Class will get safety systems like Pre-Safe, Blind Spot and Lane Keeing Assist, and Distronic Plus, among others. We won't know for another couple of years if this is enough to make the B-Class a viable option for American audiences, but for Europeans the changes should make the popular little car even more popular-er.
Agile: space and dynamics abound
Efficient: drive system with new engines and dual clutch transmission
Safe: radar-based collision warning system as standard, PRE-SAFE® featuring for the first time
Sensational: outstanding aerodynamics set a new benchmark in the segment
Substantially more agile and efficient, but as comfortable and spacious as ever – the new B-Class from Mercedes-Benz is a winner on all fronts. The vehicle's lower height and more upright seat position provide for a first impression that hints at the compact sports tourer's dynamic credentials.
With a new four-cylinder petrol engine featuring direct injection and turbocharging, a new diesel engine, a new dual clutch transmission, a new manual transmission and new assistance systems, the front-wheel-drive car also rings in a new technological era for compact cars from Mercedes-Benz. "No model change in the history of Mercedes-Benz has ever seen so many new developments introduced in one fell swoop," stresses Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. "Future B-Class customers will benefit from this quantum leap in terms of exemplary low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions combined with driving pleasure, plenty of space and the highest standard of safety that has ever been available in this class."
The new B-Class (length/width/height: 4359/1786/1557 millimetres) will be making its way to European dealers in November 2011.
The exterior design: perfect space in a most attractive guise
The new B-Class is a typical Mercedes sports tourer, offering plenty of space combined with impressive dynamic performance as a hatchback saloon. The characteristic lines of the exterior design indicate both of these attributes: front and rear sport a width-emphasizing design, with a wide, prominent grille and headlamps extending along the sides at the front while the rear end features a wide rear window, two-piece tail lights with horizontally offset meander and a large tailgate with low loading sill.
The new sportiness and the outstanding aerodynamics are particularly evident in the side line: the bonnet flows seamlessly into the A-pillar and the roof line descends sleekly to the striking roof spoiler. The roof features a swage line which lends the vehicle a longer appearance. The pronounced wheel arches offset by dynamic feature lines under the beltline are a sporty interpretation of the current design line from Mercedes-Benz. The bottom edge of the body features dynamic side skirts which add a light touch to the vehicle's appearance. Refined details such as the exquisitely designed headlamps with the new spotlight element confirm the brand's unmistakable premium credentials which shine through in the compact segment, too.
Outstanding aerodynamics: astounding cd value despite station wagon rear end
An outstanding drag coefficient of cd = 0.26 places the new B-Class at the forefront of its market segment. Apart from the aerodynamic exterior design, numerous optimisation measures on points of detail such as the air flow around the front wheels, the underbody design and the cooling air flow are also crucial contributory factors to this excellent aerodynamic performance. Patents are pending for innovative details such as the serrated wheel arch spoiler. With the optional ECO Technology package which will be available in due course, the B-Class is even on a par with the world-class aerodynamic credentials of the E-Class Coupé, attaining a drag coefficient of cd = 0.24 which is nothing short of sensational for a vehicle with a station wagon rear end.
New concept: lower overall height but more space inside
The new vehicle concept underscores the dynamic aspirations of the new B-Class. The most striking aspect is the reduced height: at 1557 millimetres, the new model crouches almost five centimetres lower on the road than its predecessor. The seat height in relation to the road has also been reduced (minus 86 mm) in order to facilitate boarding, while maintaining a clear overview of the vehicle's contours.
In response to requests from many customers, the sitting position is more upright, however. At the same time, the headroom has been further improved. With maximum headroom of 1047 mm at the front (without sliding roof), the B-Class is among the most spacious cars in its segment in this discipline, too. The ergonomically expedient more upright sitting position in combination with a lowering of the vehicle's floor leads to a segment-leading degree of legroom (976 mm) at the rear which even surpasses that of the S- and E-Class.
The B-Class is optionally available with the so-called EASY-VARIO-PLUS system. This enables simple reorganisation of the interior so as to enable the transportation of bulky items. Features of the EASY-VARIO-PLUS system include fore/aft adjustment of the rear seats by up to 140 millimetres (thereby increasing the luggage compartment volume from 488 to 666 litres) and a front passenger seat whose backrest can be folded forward onto the seat cushion.
The interior design: superior quality in a new dimension
High-quality materials and finely structured surfaces, stylish details, precision workmanship and a new spaciousness – the interior of the B-Class defines a whole new benchmark in the compact segment.
Many features have been the reserve of higher classes of vehicle to date and embody Mercedes-Benz's special definition of quality and aesthetics. The dashboard is optionally available in ARTICO man-made leather finish and features stitching, for example. Four equipment packages (Chrome, Sports, Exclusive and Night package) enable individualisation according to personal tastes.
In the interior, the large, three-dimensional trim covering the entire dashboard first strikes the eye. It is available in four variants, covering a broad spectrum from modern through sporty to classic. Common to all versions is a high-class appeal combining an attractive look and feel with easy care and durability.
The three large round vents in the middle and their uniquely designed cruciform nozzles add a sporty attribute to the interior's emotional design idiom. The display, which is available in two sizes (5.8- and 7-inch) appears to hover over the vents. With its stylish design – the trim frame with galvanised finish contrasting with the piano black of the front panel – and slender lines, the colour display (TFT) is a highly attractive feature in the cockpit.
The 3-spoke steering wheel, which always incorporates a silver chrome insert in the middle spoke, the instrument cluster with four analogue round dials and suspended pointers in 6 o'clock position and the seats with contrasting stitching underscore the sporty character.
The drive: designed for maximum efficiency
The new B-Class features new petrol and diesel engines as well as new manual and automatic transmissions. All transmissions and engines have been developed in-house, with production taking place at the plants in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and -Hedelfingen, Rastatt/Baden, Gaggenau/Baden and Kölleda/ Thuringia. The simultaneous development process enabled perfect coordination of engines and transmissions, e.g. with regard to implementation of the ECO start/stop function which features as standard on all B-Class models.
Common features of the new drive systems are the use of state-of-the-art technologies for maximum efficiency, very smooth running, high tractive power right from low revs, sustainability in terms of impending emissions standards and low weight. For the purposes of transverse installation the engines, all of which are turbocharged, and the two transmissions are very compactly designed, providing the B-Class with an exemplary small turning circle for a front-wheel drive vehicle of eleven metres. The engine and transmission suspension disposes of a four-point mounting system comprising engine mount, transmission mount and two self-aligning supports. This suspension system has been designed specifically to meet the requirements of the high-torque engines with regard to minimum noise levels. The hydraulic damping integrated in the transmission mount is a key contributory factor to the exceptionally high ride comfort.
The new four-cylinder petrol engines (internal designation M270) mark the launch of a completely new engine series. The combustion process is based on the third-generation Mercedes-Benz direct injection system which was introduced last year with the BlueDIRECT V6 and V8 engines. Its use in the B‑Class marks this technology's debut in the compact segment. The new four-cylinder engines have been designed for both transverse and longitudinal installation. In the new B-Class they are initially available with a displacement of 1.6 litres, as the B 180 rated at 90 kW (122 hp) and the B 200 with an output of 115 kW (156 hp). Their maximum torque of 200 and 250 Nm respectively is available from an engine speed of 1250 rpm.
The new four-cylinder diesel engine is a further development of the OM651 deployed in the C- to the S-Class, a common rail direct-injection engine of the third generation. With its displacement scaled down to 1.8 litres and numerous optimised points of detail, this is the first time that the compression-ignition engine has been mounted transversely in a Mercedes-Benz car. The B 180 CDI generates 80 kW (109 hp) of power, while the B 200 CDI has an output of 100 kW (136 hp). The maximum torque stands at 250 Nm from 1400 rpm for the 80 kW variant and 300 Nm from 1600 rpm for the 100 kW variant.
Another Mercedes-Benz premiere is the new 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission in the B-Class. This transmission is extremely compact, extremely variable with regard to adaptation of the engine speed thanks to seven gears, features an electric oil pump for start/stop capability, shifts gear without any interruptions in tractive power and combines the comfort of an automatic with the efficiency of a manual transmission.
The new 6-speed manual transmission designed along similarly compact lines as a three-shaft transmission is a close relative of the DCT. Extremely easy gear shifting, low shift forces, low internal friction and a low weight are among its most important characteristics.
Chassis and suspension: refined sportiness now for the sports tourer, too
"Fascinatingly agile" is the assessment of all test drivers who have put the new B-Class through its paces to date. Three factors are instrumental to the substantially enhanced dynamic performance in comparison to its predecessor, which does not come at the cost of any compromises on comfort: the lowered centre of gravity, the new four-link rear axle and the upgraded ESP® Electronic Stability Programme. A sports suspension is optionally available for further enhanced agility. The centre of gravity has been lowered by a further 20 mm and the suspension additionally features sports dampers with amplitude-selective damping and a Direct-Steer system to emphasize the car's sporty character.
Steering: mechanical with electric assistance
The electromechanical steering of the B-Class has been redesigned. The electric motor of the servo assistance system is now located directly on the steering gear as a dual pinion EPS system, thereby optimising the package as a whole. A Direct-Steer system is available in combination with the sports package. The steering ratio becomes noticeably more direct at greater steering angles, enhancing the vehicle's handling and agility substantially.
The electromechanical steering system makes an important contribution to the vehicle's overall efficiency, as the steering assist function only requires energy when steering actually takes place.
New assistance and braking system reduces the risk of rear-end collisions
As a world first in the compact segment, the B-Class features a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist as standard, which lowers the risk of rear-end collisions. The COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST system outputs a visual and acoustic warning to alert a possibly distracted driver to identified obstacles, and prepares Brake Assist for the most precise possible braking response. This is initiated as soon as the driver emphatically operates the brake pedal.
In contrast to systems currently on the market in the compact class, the new COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST brake assist feature is not merely a system intended to minimise minor damage in urban traffic. Rather, this innovative solution is aimed at protecting motorists from typical rear-end collisions in dangerous traffic situations. Mercedes-Benz expects the new safety system to have a significant positive effect on accident statistics.
The democratisation of safety also encompasses an array of other assistance systems which have been adopted into the B-Class from the larger model series. These include:
- Adaptive Headlamp Assist
- Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist
- ATTENTION ASSIST (standard)
- Speed Limit Assist (speed limit sign recognition)
- Active Parking Assist
- Brake HOLD function (standard with 7G-DCT)
- Hill Hold function
- Reversing camera
- DISTRONIC PLUS
Premiere in the compact class: PRE-SAFE® available for the first time
The PRE-SAFE®preventive occupant protection system which features in the B-Class is available for the first time in this vehicle category. This represents a further step in the ongoing democratisation of this innovation, which was premiered in the S-Class in 2002. Core features of PRE-SAFE®are reversible belt tensioning, the closing of side windows and sliding sunroof in case of critical lateral dynamics and adjustment of the fully electric front passenger seat with memory function to an ideal position for maximum effectiveness of the restraint systems. PRE-SAFE®is always activated in response to critical longitudinal and lateral dynamics and may also be triggered upon intervention by certain assistance functions.
The scope of restraint facilities takes special account of the B-Class' use as a family car. Great importance has been attached to the safety of the rear occupants. Belt tensioners, belt-force limiters and belt height adjusters come as standard on the outer seats. Rear sidebags are optionally available. Integrated child seats and automatic child seat recognition are available as in the predecessor. Driver and co-driver are provided with new pelvis bags which are able to cover the pelvis and the entire upper part of the body. For head protection, a windowbag is fitted as standard.
COMAND Online multimedia system with internet access
Internet access, the convenient LINGUATRONIC voice control system, two navigation solutions tailored to different budgets, connection for mobile audio devices and an intuitive operating concept – the information and communication systems in the B-Class offers excellent user-friendliness and a superior level of functionality which has been the reserve of higher categories of vehicle to date. It is the new multimedia generation from Mercedes-Benz which delivers these standards. The operating concept featuring the turn/push control in front of the armrest and the control knob on the head unit is also familiar from other Mercedes model series.
The COMAND Online multimedia system offers internet access. Customers can either surf the web as they wish while the car is stationary or call up a Mercedes-Benz app whose particularly fast page loading and simple operation make it suitable for use while driving. Integrated apps include Google™ Local Search and Weather, and the facility for downloading a route which has previously been configured on a PC using Google Maps and transmitted to the car.
All set for the future: modular "Energy Space" concept
The modular "Energy Space" concept means that the new B-Class is already designed to accommodate versions with an alternative drive: appropriate interfaces in the body shell enable the main floor panel to be modified and a step to be produced for the versions with alternative drive. An underfloor compartment covering part of the area under the rear bench seat offers space for alternative energy accumulators.