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

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2013 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Vienna, Austria – The next generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class will go on sale in Europe next month, but it won’t arrive in Canada until late 2012 as a 2013 model. Production of the current model has already ended in Rastatt, Germany, so there won’t be a 2012 B-Class model offered in Canada.

We drove three European B-Class models with three different engines, two turbocharged 1.6-litre gas engines (122 hp & 156 hp) and one turbocharged 1.8-litre diesel engine (136 hp), but were informed that these engines won’t be available in Canada. An all-new, yet-to-be announced engine will be offered here (very hush, hush, apparently), different from both the normally-aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder (134 hp) and the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine (193 hp) currently offered. A safe guess is that it will be a turbocharged direct-injection four with better fuel economy and more horsepower. The new engine will be announced in the Spring of 2012.

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

If you’re wondering how we can write a test-drive report without knowing which engine will be under the hood, don’t stop reading yet. The most important changes to the new B-Class have to do with its all-new platform, new body design, new dual-clutch transmission, new independent suspension, new safety systems, and vastly improved interior.

“No model change in the history of Mercedes-Benz has ever seen so many new developments introduced in one fell swoop,” stressed Professor Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, at the car’s introduction.

In fact, the new B-Class is just one of five new compact vehicles to be unveiled using this new platform, one of which will be a B-Class extended range electric vehicle called the “E Cell Plus,” with technology similar to the Chevrolet Volt. And a peek at the redesigned rear suspension revealed that it’s designed to accept rear drive, an indication that a 4Matic all-wheel drive model may be in the works.

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

Mercedes is suddenly bullish on compact vehicles for a very good reason: their research shows that the global market for compact vehicles is set to rise from the 19 million vehicles to almost 34 million annually by 2020.

With the new B-Class, Mercedes-Benz did a major u-turn with the exterior design, although it’s difficult to get a sense of the new car’s proportions from the photographs. It’s no longer the tall, somewhat ungainly utility vehicle with a so-so interior and mediocre handling. The current double-floor “sandwich” design – which was designed to allow the engine to tilt down and under the floor in a frontal collision, and to allow room under the passenger compartment for future electric and fuel cell batteries and motors – has been replaced by a single floor which steps up 10 cm (3.9 in.) behind the front seat to allow room for future batteries and the like. In the future, this area can be modified for different sized alternative powertrains and components.

The drop in the floor height allowed Mercedes to reduce the overall height of the new B-Class by 46 mm (1.8 in.). As well, the vehicle length has been increased by 86 mm (3.4 in.) and the width by 0.9 mm (0.4 in.). Now longer, lower and wider, the new B-Class has decidedly sportier proportions and a class-leading 0.26 coefficient of drag. This, combined with sportier styling features, such as a front airdam with LED daytime running lights, new HID headlights with illuminated “eyebrows”, a new two-bar grille on some models, and an upswept character line in the bodyside running from the front to the rear fenders, gives the 2013 B-Class a more appealing, athletic look from just about every angle – at least in our opinion. At the same time, it’s still easily identifiable as the B-Class.




About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).