First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz B 250. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s Website
Mercedes-Benz Canada

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2013 Mercedes-Benz B 250

Miami Beach, Florida – We previewed the European version of the new B-Class in Austria more than a year ago, but at that time, the Canadian introduction date, pricing, and powertrain choices hadn’t been finalized. Now that the details have been released and we’ve had a chance to drive the Canadian model, we can confirm that the new B 250 is not only quicker, better handling, safer, and better equipped, it’s also a much better value. Starting at $29,900 (the same price as the previous B 200, which was discontinued in the Fall of 2011) the 2013 B 250 adds $7,000 worth of standard equipment (according to Mercedes) and offers considerably more horsepower and torque from its new standard turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, a new quick-shifting standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, improved fuel economy, a revised suspension with improved handling, a more luxurious interior, and more standard safety features.

The head of Mercedes-Benz Car Development, Dr. Thomas Weber, put it this way: “No model in the history of Mercedes-Benz has ever seen so many new developments in one fell swoop.” Considering Mercedes-Benz’ long history, that’s quite a statement.

The B’s all-new platform ditches the previous “sandwich” design, which incorporated a double floor that was intended for future fuel cell and electric versions of the B-Class. The previous B’s higher centre of gravity made the B-Class feel a little tippy when compared with other hatchbacks and many B-Class owners expressed dissatisfaction with its handling, according to Mercedes’ own customer surveys. That was a major impetus for the redesign.

Though it’s still a compact four-door hatchback, the new B 250 is 86 mm longer and 9 mm wider than the previous model, with a wheelbase that has shrunk by 79 mm – but apparently without affecting interior space. With a roof height that is 46 mm lower than the previous model and a corresponding drop in the floor height, the passengers sit lower to the ground and still have plenty of headroom in the front and back. However, the rear floor is slightly higher than the front floor, helping rear passengers to get a better view. As well, the rear seats are positioned further back, increasing rear legroom. The cargo area behind the rear seats is smaller though: 488 L vs 544 L. However, with both rear seatbacks folded down, the cargo area increases to 1,547 L from 1,530 L previously. Also worth noting is that the width between the wheelhouses is 40 mm wider and the loading height is slightly lower.

First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz B 250. Click image to enlarge

The quality of the interior materials has been given a major upgrade, more in keeping with what you’d expect of a Mercedes. All B 250s come with Artico (simulated) leather seats, high quality dash trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel with multi-function controls, and a new 5.8-inch centre screen propped up on the top of the centre dash with functions operated by the round COMAND controller on the centre console. Also standard is a 100-watt sound system with CD/USB/aux/Bluetooth audio functions, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone with text message display, single zone automatic climate control, power windows and locks, circular metal vents, split folding rear seatbacks, and heated mirrors. A major interior design change is the relocation of the shift lever from the floor to the steering column using Mercedes’ small wand shift lever, and the addition of an electronic parking brake activated by a button near the driver’s door. The new ergonomically designed front seats offer standard manual height and lumbar adjustments.

There are new safety features too: eleven standard airbags include a driver’s knee airbag and rear side airbags, standard Attention Assist, which warns the driver when the vehicle is drifting out of its lane, and new Collision Prevention Assist, which uses radar signals to determine when the car is approaching another car too quickly and emits visual and audible warning signals to the driver. When the driver brakes, additional braking pressure is automatically applied to slow the car more quickly.

Perhaps the biggest news is the B 250’s all-new turbocharged direct-injection 2.0L DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine (not the same as the previously optional 2.0L SOHC 8-valve turbo engine in the B 200 Turbo) which pumps out 208 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque from 1,250 to 4,000 rpm. That’s a significant 74-hp and 122 lb-ft increase over the B 200’s non-turbocharged 2.0L base engine and 15 hp and 52 lb-ft more than the B 200 Turbo’s 2.0L turbocharged engine. The new 2.0-litre turbo four is the only engine offered in the 2013 B-Class and it uses Premium Unleaded fuel.

First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz B 250. Click image to enlarge

Compared to the B 200, the new B 250 is a rocket, sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.8 seconds, 3.4 seconds faster than the B 200 (Mercedes’ figures). And despite its turbocharged ferocity, Mercedes claims the turbo’s fuel economy numbers of 7.9 L/100 km City and 5.5 Highway are 18% better than the B 200’s. That’s due in part to a new Eco stop/start system, which automatically shuts off the engine at stoplights and restarts it automatically when the right foot is released from the brake pedal. Considering the B 250’s small engine, this stop/start system works without too much of a jolt, but we still found it annoying in stop-and-go traffic. In addition, we found that the air conditioning would sometimes turn off when the engine stopped. As it was a humid 30 degrees Celsius in Miami, this wasn’t appreciated. The auto stop/start function can be deactivated by pressing the Eco button on the dash, but it defaults to automatic stop/start every time the car is started.

Another new feature that can improve, or not improve, fuel economy is driver-selectable performance modes, Economy, Sport, and Manual. Each can be selected using a button on the dash. Economy is the default mode, and this retards the throttle and shifts the transmission sooner to maximize fuel economy (the company’s fuel consumption ratings are calculated in Economy mode). On the road, we noticed some turbo lag when starting out and the B 250 felt like it was hesitating until the turbo boost kicked in at about 1,200 rpm. Switching to Sport mode, we found the throttle more responsive, but perhaps a bit too sensitive when starting off. As well, the delayed transmission shifts resulted in a particularly revvy engine during city driving. Once out on the open road in Sport mode, the driving experience became more enjoyable.

First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz B 250. Click image to enlarge

The B 250’s new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with a manual shift mode and optional shift paddles behind the steering wheel replaces the B 200’s standard five-speed manual and optional continuously variable transmission and the B 200 Turbo’s standard six-speed manual and optional CVT. Like other dual-clutch transmissions, this one preselects the next gear to minimize shift times. We found it generally smooth in automatic mode and it even ‘blips’ the throttle when braking and shifting down. Some fun can be had by shifting manually with the shift paddles, but it’s likely most people will just leave it in automatic mode because it does such a good job anyway. The driver can shift manually even in automatic mode, but the transmission will revert back to automatic mode after ten seconds or after a long downhill or uphill drive.

In the corners, the new B 250 feels more agile than the previous B-Class and there is much less lean. Cornering control is enhanced by a new independent four-link rear suspension that replaces the previous torsion beam setup. With its lower ride height and improved suspension, there’s definitely more driving fun to be had with the new B 250. The ride is comfortable over smooth pavement but potholes and utility covers reveal an uncompromising stiffness when surface changes are abrupt—with both the standard 17-inch and optional 18-inch tires.

First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz B 250. Click image to enlarge

Various options can increase the price of the B 250 considerably. Useful options include the Driving Assistance Package ($800) with Blind Spot Assist and Lane-keeping Assist; heated front seats ($550), rear-view camera ($480), Parktronic with parking assist ($900), and COMAND APS HDD navigation with a seven-inch screen and DVD player ($1,950). The optional Sport Package ($2,000) is likely to be popular—it includes: 18-inch five twin-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in summer performance tires; bi-xenon headlights and headlight washers; two-bar grille with black and chrome; LED daytime running lights; LED taillights; glossy black exterior trim; Direct Steering; steering wheel shift paddles; lowered suspension; and perforated front rotors.

Possible competitors for the B 250 include the Audi A3, BMW X1, Lexus CT200h (hybrid), and possibly the VW GTI, or a fully loaded Toyota Matrix or Mazda3 Sport. But based on its price, standard features and luxury brand image, there’s really nothing that competes directly with the B 250.

First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz B 250 mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz B 250. Click image to enlarge

Interestingly, the new B 250 won’t be sold in the U.S. Given Canadian’s love of compact cars, particularly hatchbacks—and more particularly, affordable hatchbacks—the new B 250 is likely to find plenty of willing buyers here. Built in Rastatt, Germany, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz B 250 is on sale now.

Pricing: 2013 Mercedes-Benz B 250
Base price: $29,900
Options:
Premium Package ($2,650): Panoramic sunroof; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated front seats, media interface; black fabric roof liner.
Sport Package ($2,000): 18-inch five twin-spoke alloy wheels and 18-inch summer performance tires; bi-xenon headlights and headlight washers; Direct Steering; steering wheel shift paddles; lowered suspension; perforated front rotors; two-bar grille with black and chrome; LED daytime running lights; LED tail lights; glossy black exterior trim; honeycomb interior trim; stainless steel pedals.
Memory Package ($1,200): 14-way power front seats with power lumbar and three-position memory; power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; auto-dimming rearview and driver’s side mirror; power folding mirrors.
Driving Assistance Package ($800): Blind Spot Assist; Lane-keeping Assist
Bi-xenon headlight package ($750): Bi-xenon headlights and headlight washers; straight bar LED daytime running lights.
COMAND APS HDD navigation with 7-inch screen and DVD player ($1,950)
Exclusive Package ($1,700): Black leather upholstery; Burl walnut wood trim; radio frequency remote locking
Harmon/Kardon 500-watt surround sound audio system with 10 speakers ($1,000)
Sirius satellite radio ($475)
Heated front seats ($550)
Rearview camera ($480)
Distronic Plus ($2,400)
Parktronic with parking assist ($900)

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