Mercedes-Benz launches B-Class in India from INR 21.49 Lakhs

Mark our words. Mercedes-Benz' resurgence in India begins here. The last few years haven't been all that good for them with BMW and later Audi surging ahead in sales, relegating the once-dominating Mercedes-Benz to the third spot amongst luxury brands. But in hindsight, it wasn't fair play at all as Mercedes-Benz did not have a compact SUV in its portfolio to compete with BMW X1 and Audi Q3, the major volume pullers for the respective brands. So what do they do to tackle the twin blows from fellow Germans? B-Class is the weapon in their arsenal, albeit temporarily. After being driven by select media friends at the Buddh International Circuit in New Delhi a couple of months back, the B-Class was then unveiled across major cities. We covered the Chennai event that took place at Trans Car India and came away with a whole lot of pictures and totally impressed.

After all this initial hype and brand-building, Mercedes-Benz finally launched the B-Class today in Mumbai, priced at INR 21.49 Lakhs for the base B180 variant and INR 24.87 Lakhs for the B180 Sport variant. Both the prices are ex-showroom Mumbai. These are the only variants available on sale now, both powered by a 1.6-liter gasoline engine with a rated power output of 122 HP and a peak torque of 200 Nm between 1250 to 4000 rpm. There is no reason to worry for diesel lovers though. Come late 2013, the B-Class will also be available with a diesel engine. At these prices, the B-Class becomes the cheapest Mercedes-Benz on sale in India and will remain that way until the A-Class comes around.

Dubbed and heavily marketed by Mercedes-Benz as India's first sports tourer, the B-Class is actually a combination of MPV and Hatchback. This is pretty evident in its styling, as it doesn't pretend to be an SUV like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. The B-Class just looks like a glorified hatchback or a compressed MPV, depending on how you look at it. The interiors are extremely spacious with both the front and rear seats having adequate room for 5 occupants. Staying true to its roots, Mercedes-Benz has loaded the B-Class to the hilt with both the variants boasting a whole lot of active and passive safety features like Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Braking Assist (BA) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Attention Assist, Acceleration Skid Control (ASR), Adaptive Brake Lights, seven Airbags and dashboard displays for tyre pressure loss warning and brake wear warning. Phew, that's one exhaustive list!

Separating the B180 Sport from the base variant are chrome highlights in grille and air intake, dual exhaust pipes with stainless steel finish, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, 17-inch wheels with 7-spoke alloys, LED Daytime Running Lamps, electrically folding mirrors, multi-function sport steering wheel, leather upholstery with contrasting top-stitches, a panoramic sunroof and electrically adjustable seats with memory function. Both the variants come with a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission with paddle shifters and interiors that mimic the design theme of SLS AMG.

Now you know why we were impressed the day in which we saw the car. The initial lot of 250 B-Class cars allocated for India are all sold out and any further bookings would be delivered only in 2013. Is this Mercedes-Benz' way of saying 'If BMW can sell out the X1 and Audi the Q3 before launch, why can't we?

Globally too, the B-Class, in its second generation now, has been a phenomenal success with more than 75,000 units sold within the first few months of launch. More significantly, this is the first model to come out of the company's Modular Front Architecture (MFA) Platform, the magical words in which Mercedes-Benz has pinned all its resurgence hopes on. Don't forget, the premium hatchback A-Class, a compact four-door coupe and a compact SUV tentatively dubbed CLA and GLA respectively will join the Indian line-up over the next few years to complete a new model onslaught for Mercedes-Benz.

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