Just like the A-Class, its B-Class derivative used to be seen as a glorified Smart car in the eyes of many in the early 2000's, or a car for Moms. Oh how times have changed.
Now in its third generation, the new B-Class follows the strong DNA woven into its genes by the German automaker. The first thing you notice is the racing-inspired steering wheel of the AMG-line B200 petrol version - filled with all the goodies.
Lots going for it
One item that is immediately noticeable, when compared to its predecessor, is its appearance. Gone is the stubby or 'boxy' look and in its place are much smoother, and sportier lines.
A large diamond chrome grille grabs your attention from the offset while the optional Multibeam LED and daytime running lights brings the exclusivity full circle. The rear is reminiscent of the A-Class featuring two-part brake lights and a distinctive black bumper bottom section with single-exiting exhaust tips on both sides, adding to the sporty appeal.
Length-wise it measures in at 4 419mm compared to the first generation's 4 270mm, slightly bigger, but the current model's design gives it the perception of being longer than the numbers suggest. The 18-inch AMG wheels are a winner and fill the arches nicely while also sticking to the road like glue.
Image: Top - Mercedes, Bottom: Robin Classen / Wheels24
It's on the inside where the party really begins.
The Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) is just something else. First making its appearance in the 2018 A-Class, it has become popular feature for buyers as an optional extra. A simple scroll and click on the centre console pad allows you to monitor and change things like the colour inside the cabin, and it displays how much power the car is making in real time - crazy technology.
The turbine-like air vents is a unique feature in Mercedes-Benz cockpits while the heatable seats offer a more comfortable seating position. The Multi-function sports steering wheel is covered in Nappa leather further enhancing the sporty feel that is prevalent throughout.
The small engine capacity, turbocharged recipe is being used by many manufacturers in the pursuit of achieving optimal power, as well as punchy performance, and fuel efficiency. That is the case here with 120kW coming from its 1.4-litre, petrol engine mated to a 7-speed G-Tronic transmission.
Speaking of, transition between gears is as smooth as silk while paddle-shifting is also available, and more fun when choosing 'Sport' mode. You get what you pay for in terms of driveability and performance.
Besides being luxury on wheels, it boasts a wide range of safety features with a 360-degree on-board camera, Active Distance Assist and Speed Limit Assist form part of the different packages you choose. Those, of course, come standard with the AMG-line models.
Image: Chad Gallant
There is also a diesel engine available producing 110kW and an all-new 8-speed transmission. All future B-Class models will include 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
Mercedes-Benz claims a fuel consumption in the region of 5.4 - 5.7l/100km, and I consistently recorded around the 5.6 mark switching between 'Eco' and 'Comfort' driving modes.
Image: Chad Gallant
Many people mistook it for an A-Class and in one instance standing at a petrol station, a gentleman came up to me and asked me if it was, and he was very curious about the vehicle. I then told him it was the latest B-Class and it was clearly visible that he was caught off guard. He gestured that the 'B-Class is an A-Class that got fat' but definitely not in this case.
Pricing starts from R526 900 with a range of colours to choose from.