MOTORS REVIEW: Mercedes-Benz B220d
You see, while many industry commentators — and car manufacturers, for that matter — consider the MPV sector to have died a death, this week’s passing of British Summer Time delivered the perfect platform for the German premium brand’s hatchback-cum people carrier to shine.
Having had a transplant of its cabin architecture to draw it in-line with the super-stylish latest generation Mercedes product elsewhere in the range, the B-Class now boasts cool ambient lighting which plays cleverly across intricately designed brushed aluminium dashboard architecture to ensure that dark nights (or mornings) are where the car is poised to look its best.
Standard fayre on the AMG Line car tested here is an attractive three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, a stunning array of jet turbine-like air vents — three in the centre and one at each side of the dashboard — and an arcing touch-pad on the centre console to navigate through the infotainments system’s various functions.
Red-stitched sports seats, clad in part-Alcantara and chrome sports pedals add some extra style.
But with the addition of the loftily-priced (£3,459) Premium Plus equipment pack, the B-Class playing a major part in raising my test car’s alr4eady premium £31,375 up to an eye-watering £39,114, there are more visual and technological treats in store.
The addition of a 10.25-inch instrument cluster ushers in a hi-res colour tablet-style screen to transform the dashboard still further.
Here it mirrors the seamlessly conjoined brace of screen seen on other, more expensive Mercedes products. It’s a stand-out system that elevates the interior’s ambience and adds a cutting-edge layer of modernity.
Also part of the pack is keyless entry and engine starting, heated front seats, a panoramic glass sunroof which is split into front and rear elements (the front of which can be opened), a high-quality Bose stereo system and the novel 64-colour ambient lighting system which so helped to raise my spirits in the October darkness.
Gimmicky is may be, but the ambient lighting system allows neat LED lighting throughout the cabin to be switched through a spectrum of potential colours which illuminated door sleeves and those sculptural vents to impressive effect.
In short, the cabin’s a lovely place to be and that tall MPV-like silhouette brings with it great visibility and plenty of headroom for a spacious feel.
That Premium option pack also includes Mercedes’ excellent Multibeam LED headlamps with Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus, which cut out oncoming cars from the glare of their main beam to ensure you never have to manually dip your lights again.
The 2019 B-Class is 10mm wider and 26mm longer than the car it replaces and feels more spacious than the equivalent and similarly-priced GLA-Class, although it sacrifices a little boot space over its SUV crossover style sibling — 445-litre versus 481.
Tested here in B 220d guise, with its most powerful diesel drivetrain — there’s a more powerful petrol plug-in hybrid — the B-Class delivers 190PS and a noticeable slug of 400Nm of torque from just 1,600rpm.
Mercedes claims that’s good for a rather sprightly 7.2-second dash to 62mph and 145mph top speed in front-wheel-drive guise.
Quoted fuel economy is 56.5 to 50.4mpg on the combined cycle, which seemed accurate, but I saw well over 60mpg during motorway running. CO2 emissions stand at 116g/km.
The new B-Class is fitted with Mercedes’ latest eight-speed dual clutch (DCT) gearbox.
A steering column-mounted shifter accesses the Drive. Park and Reverse functions and paddle shifters can be adopted to shift gears if you want to feel involved.
Like many DCT systems, the gearbox can feel snatchy and abrupt at low speeds, grabbing a gear with a jolt and potentially delivering more power than anticipated if a decent amount of throttle is applied from a standstill or low-speed crawl — seemingly surprised by the sudden right foot command.
Up and running, the gearbox does a fine job, though, and compliments what is a very smooth riding family car with an impressively refined interior.
In the past I have criticised Mercedes’ diesel engines for their industrial soundtrack (particularly the old 1.7-litre unit) but the sound of the B 220d’s two-litre power plant rarely reaches the interior.
Cruise control, lane departure warning and emergency braking systems are standard, but, again, were superseded on my heavily optioned test car, a £1,695 Driving Assistance Package adding adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, a rear cross traffic warning system and the ability to change lanes with a flick of an indicator. Clever stuff.
There is stacks of technology and a feast for the eyes in an excellent interior in the latest B-Class.
It’s a car that makes the somewhat forgotten compact MPV format feel cutting edge.
All those options may have detracted from what is an impressive package in basic trim, but they certainly added another layer of safety kit and some light and colour to the early days of British Winter Time and, for that, I was truly grateful.