Driven #20: Mercedes-Benz B-Class (B180)

A couple of hours is all it took for the nice chaps at Mercedes-Benz and Trans Car India, the German brand's dealership in Chennai, to confirm us a slot for picking up the B-Class for a drive. And, if they exhibit the same kind of attitude and enthusiasm in bringing their new models to India, which apparently is well charted out already, their quest to return to the top of the luxury segment might happen sooner than they think.

The B-Class is a very important model for Mercedes-Benz in India. Spearheading the brand's all-new MFA Platform, which, the company believes, is going to play a main role in its resurgence, the B-Class is being marketed as a 'Sports Tourer'. Also, being "the cheapest" Mercedes-Benz currently on sale in India, the B-Class is expected to bring in new customers and much-needed volumes to the three pointed star.

The pre-launch sell-out of the first batch of B-Class models proves that the Indian car-buying public have given this car a thumbs up. But, putting on the hat of a critic, does the B-Class deliver what is expected out of it? We found out with a short drive.


The Mercedes-Benz B-Class has an identity problem. It doesn't fit into any particular category within the realms of the Indian automotive industry. Though Mercedes-Benz has chosen to market it as a 'Sports Tourer' - a coinage that's new to India but quite popular abroad, the B-Class is actually a Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) that's designed to look like a hatchback. Then again, it is considerably bigger than the biggest hatchback that we have seen. Measuring at 4.3 meters bumper to bumper, the B-Class is bigger than many sedans. So, what do we classify it as, then? Well, that's a question that even Mercedes-Benz doesn't have an answer yet. 

Based on the brand-new 'Modular Front Architecture (MFA)' that's developed by Mercedes-Benz to churn out an array of affordable, front-wheel drive models, the B-Class currently sits at the bottom of the company's Indian lineup. But, don't let it's affordable price tag fool you into thinking that this isn't a real deal. The B-Class is every inch a true Mercedes and draws a lot of styling cues from its elder siblings.

The detailing in the head-light clusters, for instance, is typical 'Mercedes' stuff, as are the sling-shot indicators in the rear view mirrors, the upright grille with horizontal slats and the thin streaks of Daytime Running Lamps that adorn the front end. The sharp-cut creases that criss-crosses the profile lends a muscular look to the car, while the stunning 17-inch wheels with low-profile tires screams sportiness. All is well, until this point. It is only when you walk over to the rear the underwhelming styling of the B-Class becomes obvious. Though the split taillights and the twin exhaust pipes try their best to liven up things, there is only so much that a pair of lights and pipes can do.

That said, the B-Class did turn heads and quite a few were inquisitive to know more about the car.

There are two variants on offer - the base B180 and the B180 Sport that we drove. The base variant loses the chrome accents in the grille and bumper, bi-xenon headlights with washers, LED Daytime Running Lamps and the dual exhaust system to name a few. The snazzy 17-inch wheels too make way for a set of more practical 16-inch alloys.


The moment you walk into the B-Class and slam the doors lock with that solid thud, you will realize that the interiors are made of top-notch quality. Forget your qualms, if any. There is absolutely no evident cost-cutting here.

The interiors follow a design philosophy that will soon be shared with other MFA-based models like the A-Class and CLA. The all-black dashboard has a nice three-layered look, with the glossy black, ash-wood trim proving to be a visual delight. The SLS AMG-inspired circular air-conditioning vents with chrome finish look great and feels good to operate. The top of the dashboard houses a tablet-like infotainment screen with a colour display. Unlike its siblings, the B-Class makes do with just a single climate control system. The leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel is good to touch and hold, and houses a whole lot of buttons for controlling everything from the multi-function display to the Bluetooth-paired mobile phone.

The instrument cluster, with four analogue dials and a multi-information display, look classy. The B-Class offers three driving modes to choose from at the touch of a button - Economy, Sports and Manual, the latter operated through paddle shifts in the steering wheel. The steering-column mounted gear selector lets us toggle between Drive, Neutral and Reverse with a gentle flick and the electronically-operated Parking Brake is a breeze to operate. The seats are adequately supportive, with the driver's seat getting full electric adjustment with memory function. Ergonomics are spot on with things nicely falling on to our hands. The central infotainment controller is quite nifty and intuitive as well.

All that length that you saw outside proves to be a boon inside as the B-Class accommodates 5 full-sized adults in decent comfort. That's not all, there are lots of places to slide in your knick-knacks too. Fully foldable rear seats with split function increases the practicality quotient to an all-new level by creating a flat loading bay that could carry just about anything.

The base B180 variant misses quite a few features like power-adjustable driver's seat, ash-wood dashboard trim, contrasting top-stitching in leather upholstery, electrically folding mirrors and the sporty stainless steel pedals. But, Mercedes-Benz has not skimped where it matters the most. Both variants are equipped with a full set of safety features that includes 7 Airbags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Acceleration Skid Control (ASC), Antilock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist with 'Hold' function, tire pressure loss warning system, brake pad wear indicator and the Attention Assist system which, for some reason, kept flashing during our drive indicating that we needed a break.

We didn't need it then, but we do now, after typing that exhaustive list.


Bucking the current market norm, Mercedes-Benz sells the B-Class with just a petrol engine under its hood, with diesel variants expected to join the lineup later this year.

Don't let the B180 badging at the rear confuse you. The B-Class comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged petrol engine that belts out a maximum power output of 121 bhp at 5000 rpm and a peak torque of 20.39 kgm of torque between 1250 to 4000 rpm. Though the specs aren't impressive on paper, the B-Class doesn't let you down on the road. Power delivery is smooth and refined unless you push the throttle hard at higher revs, at which point the engine starts getting vocal. In the Economy mode, the 7-speed automatic transmission upshifts quite early, while the Sports mode sees the engine spinning at higher revs before shifting. Then, there is this Manual mode that allows the driver to override the auto transmission through the paddle shifts.

Moving to the transmission itself, the 7G-DCT dual clutch unit is simply superb with absolutely no jerks that many dual clutch transmissions are known for. For a change, using the paddle shifts are so much fun that enthusiasts are going to have a ball of a time fiddling with them. The Eco Start Stop function works well, but is a bit too intrusive for our liking. The gamble taken by Mercedes-Benz in plonking a 1.6-liter engine has paid off, as the B-Class returned an average fuel efficiency of 11.2 km/l during our full-city drive. Not venturing onto a proper highway meant that we weren't able to check the claimed 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of 10.2 seconds and the top speed of 190 km/h.

That the B-Class is based on a new front-wheel-drive chassis unlike the brand's other models is first evident in the way it rides. While the 17-inch wheels might be a reason for this, the ride quality of the B-Class is nowhere near that of its siblings, including the not-much-more-expensive C-Class. The car does filter the road irregularities despite its stiffly-sprung suspension, but not to the extent we have come to expect from a Mercedes-Benz. What it loses in ride, the B-Class gains multi-fold in handling though. Straight line stability is excellent and the B-Class chews up miles unassumingly. There is not a hint of body roll, with the car turning into corners with utmost ease and conviction.

Unlike many other cars whose marketing tags are purely for 'marketing' purposes, the B-Class is as close to a 'Sports Tourer' as one can get in India. It is sure to make you smile every time you get behind the wheel and embark on a long drive. And, that's what a Sports Tourer is expected to do.


* Engine Type: In-line, Turbocharged, Direct Injection
* No of Cylinders: 4
* Displacement: 1595 cc
* Maximum Power: 121 bhp @ 5000 rpm
* Maximum Torque: 20.39 kgm @ 1250-4000 rpm
* Transmission Type: 7-speed AT
* Tires: 225/45 R17 (B180 Sport)
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Disc (Rear)


* Space and practicality
* Full complement of safety features
* Sporty handling


* Average ride quality
* Lack of powerful engine options


Though we have trumpeted more than once that the B-Class is the cheapest Mercedes-Benz on sale in India, at INR 27.38 Lakhs and 32.25 Lakhs on-road Chennai for the base B180 and B180 Sport respectively, it is not cheap by any stretch of imagination. For that price though, the B-Class comes across as a stylish and practical car with spacious, feature-loaded interiors. Combine that with its superbly-balanced chassis and sporty handling, and the B-Class presents a strong case for itself as one of the best highway cruisers available in the market.

If only people flocking towards the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 are ready to get past their pseudo-SUV looks, Mercedes-Benz has a great alternative in the B-Class.

After driving this, we just can't wait to get our hands on the stunning A-Class hatchback and CLA four-door compact coupe that are on their way to Indian shores. Bring them on, Mercedes-Benz!


  1. as usual very neatly detailed all the factors da... except a small thing. "To drive" part is missing some detailed informations da.. like how it manages potholes, steering feedback, braking effectiveness, etc...
    Though u have mentioned "Stiffy sprung", we can understand how it keeps the passengers inside...

    1. Thanks Sri, your points are noted. We will try to address that next time.

  2. Also dude, share some more information about the infortainment... How is the ICE quality. What are all the hardware features in it, etc...

  3. What will CLA cost when it comes to india?

    1. That is still a mystery Kaustubh. Already, the top-end B180 treads dangerously close to the base C-Class and the 'B' diesel will end up being more expensive than 'C' petrol. That leaves no space for CLA.

  4. Nice review and excellent shots.. Where were these pics taken, in Chennai?

    1. Thanks for your feedback. These pictures were indeed shot in Chennai.