Rental spec? What do you men rental spec…?
The family car market has never had it so good — so much so that the level of choice can become quite confusing. But there is always a Mercedes-Benz out there no matter what level you are buying at and in this case, allow us to introduce you to the latest Mercedes of family cars. Not that the B Class is anything new, but the latest one takes the mom’s taxi to another level altogether - even in this one’s ’stripped down’ rental spec...
Benz promises the latest family sports tourer B is more agile, dynamic and roomier than ever as it puts the emphasis on sport while still delivering a super-comfortable avant-garde cabin packed with S Class-like premium tech dominated by top drawer instrumentation and multimedia and luxury car level active driving assistance measures.
A good looking car inside and out, the chunky new B is sleeker and more aerodynamic too, and while this one lacked the optional Multibeam LED headlamps, you have to look closely to notice, especially with those signature daytime lights burning. The new B-Class is however all about that cabin, which is dominated by dual-split screens atop five airplane-inspired turbine-look air vents with colour-accentuated surrounds and 64-colour ambience lighting for an evening ambience to suit any mood.
Our test unit never had the full size infotainment system — it was still good but felt cheap in comparison to the optional fully fledged system, although I'd personally opt for the better-looking full cream big screen version. This one's AI-charged multimedia still works just the same to learn its users and adapt to form an emotional bond between B, its driver and passengers. Say, “Hey Mercedes,” and the car responds to or prompts you to continue to arrive at your desire via B’s various systems.
Other cabin highlights include improved seat geometry and lower belt line to make for an even more generous feeling of space, while a taller driving position than A-Class and minimised roof pillars make for a commanding all-round view out too. Flatter, more adjustable and more comfortable seats mean more headroom, width and elbow room while a variable 40:20:40 split backrest rear bench sits ahead of an optimised and more efficient boot to accommodate up to 1540 litres with the rear seats folded down flat.
Our B200 came with the 120kW 250Nm 1.33-litre M 282 turbo petrol four-pot in the B200 with cylinder management, a delta cylinder head and particulate filter and an eight-speed 8G-DCT dual-clutch auto box driving the front axle. The car is surprisingly nimble and responsive for a thirteen-hundred, but lacks slightly on power above 100kph, while ride is a bit stiff, but probably because of the low sidewall tyres. That's always a bit of a trade off between ride quality and looks.
Safe as houses, B-Class packs Active Distance, Lane Change, Emergency Stop and Brake Assistants among other driver aids to help mitigate avoidable incidents over myriad driver situations, while a stiffer ultra-high-strength steel shell, all the airbags and the rest ensure top drawer safety too. The new B-Class is backed by a 2-year unlimited warranty and 5-year 100 000km service plan at indicated intervals and is waiting to meet you and the family at your local Mercedes-Benz dealership now.
Even in this apparent rental spec sans some of the really cool kit, the Mercedes-Benz B200 is still a good, practical and luxurious family car that brings the best of high tech to everyday family driving. We will get to driving the full cream all version soon, but in all honesty, judging by this experience, do really need all those bells and whistles…? - Giordano Lupini
Images - Phillip Makhonde & Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-Benz B200
Engine: 120kW 250Nm 1.3-litre turbo petrol I4
Drive: 7-speed automatic FWD
0-60km/h: 2.89 sec
0-100km/h: 5.81 sec
0-160km/h: 12.90 sec
400m: 14.0 sec @ 166km/h
80-120km/h: 3.63 sec
120-160km/h: 5.71 sec
Fuel: 5.6 l/100km
CO2: 129 g/km
Warranty/Service: 2y Unl/5y 100Kkm
LIST PRICE: R536K