Somehow or other, the second-generation entry-level Mercedes flew under the radar at this week’s 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. Ok, it’s not so surprising. It is, after all, a practical German hatchback shown in production form, vying for the media’s attention against an onslaught of vapourous wares and exotic ephemera. What chance did it ever have against the Jaguar C-X16 concept, Audi S6/S7, Citroen Tubik concept, Ferrari 458 Italia Spider, Ford Evos concept, Kia GT concept, Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale, Maserati Kubang, Mercedes F125 concept, 7th gen Porsche 911, Peugeot HX1 concept, VW Nils, and Volvo Concept You? Not much. Which is exactly why we’re taking this opportunity to provide you with yet another bit of CarEnvy Car Buying Advice:
Skip the S-Class, go for the B-Class.
If you’ve made the jump, you’re probably about ready to lose your shit all over the comments section. Cool it. Keep that sphincter puckered while we explain this very sensible bit of consumer advice.
First off, get a load of this interior! Just soak it in. Every little detail is spot on. The retro vents look to be lifted straight from the $200,000 SLS AMG and you can practically smell the aromatic notes of tanned cow hide and cured wood from here. The B-Class looks so good inside it almost (almost!) makes us want to get an AJAC membership, just so we can have a hope in hell of reviewing the B-Class someday.
Note: Mercedes is the only manufacturer with a press fleet in Edmonton that requires journalists or bloggers to be a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. We hope to change this policy someday soon.
As if the general plushness and thoughtful design of the driver accommodations weren’t reason enough to consider this $30-40,000 hatchback, the rear seat accommodations provide more legroom than the Mercedes S-Class! That’s right, Mr. CEO, your luxury limousine just got a lot easier to park. With a back seat that can slide 5.5″ fore and aft, the new B-Class gives you the flexibility to prioritize occupants or cargo in a way the S-Class can only dream of. The 23.5 cubic feet of trunk space (with the back seats up) also trumps the piddling 16.4 cubic feet in the full-fat luxobarge. If you’re making a trip to IKEA, the back seats in the new B-Class will fold down and the passenger seat folds flat to swallow all but your most excessive purchases
And it’s not as if the B-Class is giving up on fancy Mercedes technology in the name of practicality and comfort. The list of optional features on the new B is nothing short of astounding. It includes:
- Radar Based Collision Warning System
- Pre Safe/Collision Prevention Assist
- Blind Spot Assist
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Attention Assist
- Speed Limit Assist
- Adaptive Headlamp Assist
- Drowsiness Detectors
- Active Parking Control
- Distronic Plus
- Radar Cruise Control
- Adaptive Brake Assist
- Brake Hold Function
- Hill Hold Function
- Reversing Camera
At least half of these are overkill, but for the technologically sympathetic, they’ll make driving that much safer.
The new B-Class might not be the most inspiringly original package, what with the predicable one-box design, but it still does everything that the niche-busters try to do, but fail so spectacularly at. The BMW 5GT, for example, has less trunk space, yet has a 22% larger footprint (9.50 m2 vs. 7.79 m2), making the BMW heavier and more cumbersome to maneuver around town. The turning radius of the new B is also 4 feet less than the S-Class, 36 feet versus 40, making nimble navigation easier.
Unlike the S-Class, the 2012 B-Class will also be available with a 6-speed manual transmission, giving you the direct connection your inner enthusiast clamours for. The optional transmission if a 7-speed DCT dual-clutch affair that will provide better fuel economy and an even more limo-lite experience. You can’t go wrong either way. Neither transmission will make the B-Class “fun”, but it’ll still be infinitely more tossable than the Enormous Es.
As if you needed further convincing, the second-gen B is also remarkably aerodynamic. This pays dividends for fuel economy and quietness, two hallmarks that luxury buyers hold in high regard. Ok, they don’t really give a shit about fuel economy, but the quietness will be much appreciated.
To recap, the B-Class gives you more storage, more passenger space, better fuel economy, less stigma, and better parkability with scarcely any loss in available features and at a vastly reduced cost. Even when Mercedes unveils the 6th generation S-Class sometime next year, the second-generation B-Class will remain our pick of the litter. Consider yourself educated. And with this video, consider yourself cheered up!