Mercedes-Benz B-class review - Practical people-mover not Mercedes' best effort

A compact MPV for those that value the Merc badge

Evo rating
from £21,825
  • Refined, spacious, classy, good electric version
  • Very ordinary to drive and most models dull to look at

evo Verdict

While the Mercedes-Benz B-class is classy, beautifully made and has plenty of space for five people, it's not the best compact MPV available and certainly not the most interesting, electric B 250e versions aside.

It'll no doubt appeal to those that place a lot of value on having something with the three-pointed star in the grille on their driveway, but it's rather dull to drive. We will admit that the mid-life update it received in 2014 enhanced the B-class's appearance, but it's still difficult to get excited about. We'd be tempted by the BMW 2-series Active Tourer instead - or the Volkswagen Golf SV if it wasn't so ugly.

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Don't be fooled by the AMG Line name - it's just a trim level and if you expect it to drive like a real AMG vehicle you'll be disappointed. In fairness, it does look good with bespoke bumpers and side sills, 18-inch alloy wheels and a tastefully enhanced cabin. Bizarrely, it's fitted with something called 'Comfort suspension', which has a lower ride height. And there's Sports Direct Steer too - speed-sensitive power steering with a variable ratio. None of which makes it interesting to drive. 

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An unexpected star of the B-class line-up is the fully electric model. Once dubbed Electric Drive, streamlining of Mercedes' nomenclature means it's now called the B 250e - an even more confusing title than internally-combusting Mercedes, since the 250 numeral is less relevant than ever to engine capacity.

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Motive power comes from a front-mounted electric motor that produces 177bhp and a considerable 250lb ft of torque. As ever with electric motors, that maximum torque is available the instant you put your foot down, making this supposed eco-warrior one of the fastest examples of the B-class off the line, posting a respectable 7.9-second 0-62mph time in the process.

Its lower centre of gravity makes it more agile feeling than most other models as well and it can reach 100mph, so it's up for journeys out of the city so long as you can manage its range. Depending on how you specify it, that's up to 143 miles. Along with all that, the B 250e loses no space to its drivetrain, making it the most spacious premium electric car of the moment. It's also exceptionally quiet - even by electric car standards.

> Performance and 0-60 time - With no B-class AMG (can you imagine?), the fastest model in the range is the electric B 250e, which can manage a 7.9sec 0-62mph time. Click here to read more about Mercedes B-class performance.

> Engine and gearbox - All combustion engines under the B-class' bonnet are four-cylinders, available as petrol or diesel drinkers. Click here to read more about Mercedes B-class engines and gearboxes.

> Ride and handling - Unlike the A-class, the B-class is in no way exciting to drive. It is stable, however. Click here to read more about Mercedes B-class ride and handling.

> MPG and running costs - Where the B-class excels is in its fuel efficiency. Over 70mpg (claimed) can be extracted from the most eco diesel. Of course, the electric version betters this, but it's far pricier to buy. Click here to read more about Mercedes B-class running costs.

> Prices, specs and rivals - Prices kick off at £21,825, with three trim levels available: SE, Sport and AMG Line. Click here to read more about Mercedes B-class pricing.

> Interior and tech - Five doors and plenty of room, the B-class makes up for its unengaging drive with masses of practicality. If that's your thing, that is... Click here to read more about Mercedes B-class interior and tech.

> Design - There's only so much you can do with an MPV-cum-hatchback shape, but in AMG Line trim the B-class is tasteful. Click here to read more about Mercedes B-class design.

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