Sneak Peek: Benz’s new babyBy Jason K. Ang
Philippine Daily Inquirer
What it is: The new B-Class hatchback, currently Mercedes’ smallest offering in the Philippines
Design: The B-Class, as a compact hatchback, has followed a different theme from Mercedes’ imposing sedans—friendly rather than stately. The new B carries a markedly sportier styling theme, with a front end similar to the new CLK’s and pronounced arrow-shaped creases on the doors. LED units run along the top of the headlamps and on the bumper, with side skirts and rear spoiler some visual spice to the monobox form. The B rides lower as well, with a nearly 50-mm reduction in overall height.
For those desiring a madder-looking hatchback, CATS will be offering a Night Package scheme, with black-painted mirrors, roof trim, beltline trim and radiator grille. The rear glass will feature dark factory tint, and 18-inch 5-spoke glossy black alloy wheels.
The interior likewise goes for a sportier feel, from the three-spoke steering wheel to the chromed air vents. As with previous models, the B aims for plenty of interior space within its compact exterior.
Engine and transmission: A new-generation 1.6-liter inline-four gasoline engine delivers 156 HP and meaty 250 Nm of torque from just 1250 rpm. The engine features turbocharging and direct injection technology, and results in 12-percent better fuel efficiency, at a quoted 16.9 km/liter. The engine mates to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, for uninterrupted drive combined with the efficiency of a manual gearbox. Hydraulic engine mounts lessen the vibration transmitted to the cabin.
Suspension: The B uses a new 4-link axle to improve handling performance. A sport suspension lowers the car’s center of gravity by 20 mm, with different damper settings and a more direct steering feel. Car stability is assisted by a new generation of ESP, which helps to keep the car pointed in the intended direction. Torque-vectoring brakes can reduce oversteer during fast cornering. Electric-power steering also helps stabilize the car when encountering crosswinds and uneven roads. The B-Class has an 11-meter turning circle, making it potentially quite agile.
Positioning: Mercedes designed its A and B-Class cars as a new breed of innovative family transport. With most of the mechanicals tucked under the floor, the hatchbacks had cavernous interiors disproportionate to their compact exteriors. The new B follows in that tradition while slanting more toward a more enthusiast-driver audience.
Despite the increased sportiness, the B is firmly in the family car category, thanks to its shape and interior configuration. The versatile interior adapts to different passenger- and cargo-carrying requirements. Every safety measure is available, including integrated child seats and multiple airbags.