The premium image of the Mercedes B-Class is being boosted by adding the option of four-wheel drive. And with the rise in popularity of crossovers and SUVs, it’s a logical progression.

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• Mercedes B-Class review

Unfortunately, the new B220 4MATIC doesn’t deliver on its promise. The 184bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine is smooth, but it’s hampered by the auto box. This is slow to kick down when you need a quick burst of acceleration – particularly when in Eco mode.

Plus, while the four-wheel-drive system is a reassurance for those concerned about the winter weather, it’ll only ever be a niche choice on a car of this type.

All this combines to a startling price of £28,135 – that’s nearly £4,000 more than the two-wheel-drive B180 equivalent, as well as VW’s highest-spec Golf Plus. What’s more, with options, our test car came to a whopping £38,000.

Sport trim includes lowered and stiffened suspension, which means body roll is well stifled, while the steering is precise and direct. However, you feel every pothole. Still, there’s no questioning the B-Class’s practicality – the rear seats provide plenty of legroom, and although the car is lower than before, even tall passengers should have headroom to spare.

Add 488 litres of boot space (17 litres more than in the Ford C-MAX), and the Mercedes is one of the roomiest small MPVs around. It’s possibly one of the best-looking, too, with plenty of luxurious touches.

While 4MATIC adds another string to the B-Class’s bow, it feels unnecessary. For the kind of pragmatic customer Mercedes targets with this car, minimising costs is likely to be more important than boosting wet-weather grip.

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