If driving an environmentally conscious vehicle is important to you, you can’t do much better than the new Mercedes B-Class. It’s the ideal way to go green, and stay there — all while retaining the authentic driving experience we’ve come to know and love from Mercedes.
Last month, we reviewed the Model X, a brainchild of both Elon Musk and his groundbreaking automotive company, Tesla Motors. There’s a bit of a recurring theme here, and it’s music to your ears if you’ve been patiently waiting for the electric car to make its move to the mainstream. With the Model X, we took a look at what the electric motor has in store for the performance minded driver.
This month, we’re looking at the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, another electric car that promises to make 2017 the best year yet for electric autos. It’s refreshing to see what good old Mercedes are doing with the concept, combining tried and true German engineering with tomorrow’s approach to conquering the road.
Under the Hood
Straight away, it’s worth noting that this car boasts a zero emissions rating, meaning it’s literally the cleanest available technology you can run a car on today. Underneath the hood is a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which pauses automatically at stop lights to save fuel.
There’s also a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, which offers up the perfect blend of response, efficiency, and performance. Paddle shifters are behind the steering wheel, giving drivers even more control in their fingertips. From ECO to Sport, there are 4 driving modes, all tweaking the suspension, throttle, shifting ratio, and steering responsiveness to your preference.
All told, and paired with a 4matic all-wheel drive system, the car is extremely responsive over a pretty impressive range of terrain.
Design & Safety
The exterior of this Mercedes does come off as a bit less conservative as other models. Some Mercs look just like the previous year’s model, but with a small cut or edge changed by just one degree. Not faulting them, here. They know what they’re doing, but leaping visual changes aren’t Mercedes’ style.
With the B-Class, drivers get a healthy serving of their traditional styling, while experiencing a bit of the company’s fresh take on a 5-door, electric car. Two black sheep in the car industry. Combining the two offered Mercedes some room to play around with the design. They used that space well.
If it’s safety you focus on, the company hasn’t cut any corners just because they’re playing in a different market. All the safety features you’ve come to expect from the German automaker are on board, including LED headlamps, daytime running lamps and rear lamps. There are fast-acting brakes and fiber-optic LED taillamps — the car’s wired to be very responsive and all-accommodating..
Luxury Feel — Mercedes Enough for You?
It’s Mercedes. We’ll sooner see the Sun forget to rise one day than we will Mercedes release a luxury car that isn’t best in class at providing comfort, or at least knocking on the door.
The B-Class is no exception. The cabin is very spacious, a godsend for fans of the 5-door configuration. On the inside, there are cool, ambient lights, with aircraft-panel style air vents and accents. Paired with aluminized rings, a panoramic sunroof, and hand-detailed wooden trim which come as optional extras, and the car earns a lot of favor in the comfort and class department.
Of course, there’s a nice central color display (7” and mounted high) with a central controller. From there, you can take control of audio, video, calling, and other features. The steering wheel is equipped with many of the same controls, meaning you’ll be able to control the entirety of your driving experience without taking your eyes off the road.
The onboard nav system is Mercedes’ oft-used COMAND system, which utilizes an even brighter, larger display and puts drivers even further in control of their drive.
Tests show the car is able to achieve speeds of 60mph in 6.8 seconds. You won’t be winning any races at that pace, but you shouldn’t be participating in any with this class of car anyway. If you’re looking at a B-Class in the first place, you’re not buying for outright speed here, after all.
You’ve probably got your eye on range, or gas mileage to us dinosaurs. It’s the only real point of contention we, and many others, have about the car. The total range of the car is only 87 miles, meaning there are probably some holiday family dinners you’d have to skip entirely if you drove only a B-Class. Think what you will of your in-laws, you still may find yourself in need of more range.
The redeeming factor here is the car’s ability to charge back up very quickly, using the charge ports in your home. In about 2.5 hours, you can get about ¾ of a charge using the car’s quick-charge feature. If you’re curious, check out your smartphone. Odds are, it uses the same sort of thing if it’s below 50% battery. That might be a saving grace, if you’ve got enough places to charge the car or don’t have to take it outside of its limited range. Still, though, keep your eye on this.
At the end of the day, Mercedes know how to make a car that delivers on the automaker’s promise of enduring quality, comfort, and convenience. Even when they deviate from the proven model (in their case, add power, add comfort, subtract color), their product feels naturally Mercedes-esque, which is stunning considering how new the B-Class is under the hood.
If it took them a few more years to get the B-Class right, we could forgive them. They got it right this time around, though — making it a staunch competitor for your attention, and that of any driver looking to leave that ancient, old-fashioned petrol behind.