A member of the so-called New Generation Compact Car (NGCC) range of Mercedes-Benz, the all-new B-Class joins the A-Class, CLA, and GLA as practical, more affordable representatives of the family.
Today, Auto Nation Group, the official Philippine distributor of the Stuttgart-headquartered premium automaker, begins selling one trim of the all-new B-Class. Imported from Rastatt, Germany, the B180 is classified as a small MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), and carries a starting sticker price of P2.69 million. Powering it is a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The system returns an output of 136hp and 200Nm.
In a release, the B-Class is said to “(redefine) practicality, versatility and safety while putting emphasis on a sportier tourer identity.” The badge was first introduced more than 14 years ago and has been geared towards a generally younger market. Now it is seen to “appeal to a new generation of car owners who are drawn to more stylish, sporty, and technologically advanced vehicles – all new and fresh while maintaining the distinct Mercedes-Benz DNA.”
The B-Class banners a new design and more room – a family car with “space, comfort, and safety yet sporting a compact vehicle profile – revolutionizing interior design while retaining cargo space.”
Compared to its outgoing generation, the new B-Class offers more headroom and elbow room in both the front and rear. Mercedes-Benz says the seats have been elevated for heightened comfort, and boasts increased all-around visibility for greater safety and ease in driving.
“The B-Class is more of a fun, easy-to-drive-vehicle. It’s for a starting family, yuppies who have a certain budget level on their corporate (car plan), adventurers who want to go out, and mommies too who would like to go on errands and pick up their kids,” said Auto Nation Group senior product manager for Mercedes-Benz Benjie Bautista, in an interview with Wheels. He added that the 1.3-liter engine is perfectly suited for the size of the B-Class.
Cargo capacity is improved not just through larger cabin volume but via a 40-40-20 lay-fold rear seat capability. Bautista demonstrated the capacity, loading a full-size golf bag by collapsing the rear seatback, and showing there was still space for an additional bag and piece of luggage.
The new B-Class also features a slew of state-of-the-art active safety features which had been previously available only in more premium Mercedes-Benz such as the S-Class. Standard on the vehicle is extended Active Brake Assist which “can effectively help to mitigate the consequences of rear-end collisions with slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles ahead, and even with crossing pedestrians and cyclists, or prevent them altogether.”
The technology does this by monitoring distance from other vehicles. Should they get closer than the safety threshold, the system issues a visual warning to the driver. If it detects a serious risk of collision, the driver receives an additional, audible warning, and the system ascertains the brake pressure required to prevent a collision, if still possible. If, having been warned, the driver then steps on the brake pedal, the feature is capable of boosting insufficient braking pressure in line with the needs of the situation. The system thus makes the best possible use of the remaining distance in order to leave the vehicles behind room to brake. If the driver fails to respond, Active Brake Assist can engage autonomously if the danger of collision persists, so as to mitigate the severity of the accident or even prevent it.
The B-Class also has Attention Assist with adjustable sensitivity, “which can warn the driver in a timely manner of inattentiveness and drowsiness.” The vehicle is equipped with airbags for the driver and front passenger, including windowbags and kneebag for the driver, as well as Isofix child-seat mounts and TopTether attachment points in the rear backrest, and other safety features.
As with the new A-Class, the newest iteration of the B-Class has been equipped with the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), vastly improving and increasing its connectivity. The MBUX system banners a “highly intelligent virtual assistant,” activated by pressing a button in the steering wheel or by simply saying, “Hey Mercedes.” It reacts to voice commands and allows the user to access infotainment functions such as destination input, phone call, music selection, climate control, and ambient lighting. The technology comes with a “natural speech recognition program” to enable it to “recognize and understand nearly all sentences from the fields of multimedia and vehicle operation.” It can also learn and customize itself to the user through artificial intelligence.
The MBUX feature is equipped with a 7.4-inch touchscreen display, a touchpad on the center console, and touch-control buttons on the steering wheel for less driver distraction and stress. Five round aviation-inspired air ducts give character within, while Artico leather seats offer style and comfort even on long trips.
Mercedes-Benz might look at bringing in more trims/variants of the B-Class next year, revealed Bautista. But for now, Auto Nation Group is confident in the B180 making the grade for people on the lookout for space and practicality in a Mercedes-Benz.
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