It only takes a short while exhausted in the new B-class to realise that, more than a Compact Sports Tourer, it is a gravely spacious hatchback with all the quality and appeal of a full-size Mercedes-Benz. With the launch intended for the second half of August, the B-class will, for all intents and purposes, be in a class of its own. It will slot in below the C-class and above the A-class with which it shares its basic planning, so expect it to be priced at around Rs 24-26 lakh.
Before you read on, you must know that the B-class you see here is very diverse from the car that will be launched in India. This car is left-hand drive, has a six-speed manual gearbox and comes with a sporty body kit that adds those beautiful but impractical 18-inch rims and run-flat tyres. The car is here as part of Merc’s pre-launch endorsement of the B-class and while our drive was short, it allowed a reasonably good insight into what to expect from the Indian-spec car.
The first thing that grabs you is the design – there are a number of styling accompaniments intended to create visual width – the large grille, well-defined nose, low bonnet and high roofline do give it some individuality, but it’s the upswept flank crease that really catches your eye.
The B-class is larger than it looks in pictures. As you can see, it is significantly taller than a C-class and the wheelbase is obviously long. This is the first transverse-engined, front-wheel-drive Merc on auction in India. Look under the cap and you’ll see the engine sits ahead of the front axle line, thereby therapeutic vital space for the cabin.
The driving place is upright and something of a middle ground between tailgate and MPV norms. But it’s easy enough to get contented and, though this car didn’t have them, we’re pretty sure Merc will offer motorized seats on Indian versions.
Space inside the car is generous – there’s ample room for heads and knees wherever you’re sitting, and rear legroom is mainly good. However, the seat base is a bit too short and thigh support is not great. The boot is helpfully big though.
Other highlights lie with the sheer excellence of the interiors. The nice, sporty three-spoke wheel, the triple AC vents in the centre and the sheer quality of leather and plastics tell you that you’re in no normal hatchback. It’s a practical cabin too, with a large glove box and plenty of storage spaces dotted around.