NEW FOR 2008:

– B200 receives standard storage net on front seatbacks, cruise control, interior light package and seat comfort package
– B200 Turbo receives standard heated front seats and seat comfort package
– B200 Premium Package adds electronic compass and myrtle wood trim
– B200 Turbo Premium Package adds power front seats, automatic climate control and myrtle wood trim
– B200 Sport Package includes 17-inch five-spoke AMG wheels
– New Entertainment Package adds Harmon/Kardon LOGIC7 six-CD stereo, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and cellular telephone pre-wiring

For 2008, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class receives standard and optional upgrades to both models. Despite this, prices drop from 2007 levels.

The entry-level offering in the company’s line-up, the B-Class four-door hatchback is available as the B200, with 2.0-litre four-cylinder, or as the B200 Turbo, which uses a 2.0-litre with turbocharger. The B200 uses a five-speed manual, the B200 Turbo a six-speed, while both can be optioned to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Features on the B200 include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, cruise control, CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, aluminum interior trim, manual seat height adjustment, height-adjustable cargo floor, tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped multifunction wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, outside temperature display, power windows with express up/down, cargo cover, heated mirrors, heated washer system, projector-beam headlamps, fog lamps, intermittent rear wiper, keyless entry, speed-sensitive power steering, exterior chrome package, and tire pressure loss warning system.

The B200 Turbo adds heated seats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and rain-sensing wipers.

Attractive, sharp-handling and roomy for its size, the B-Class has proved extremely popular with Canadians (it’s not sold in the U.S.). It features an innovative "sandwich" double floor, which places the running gear below the cabin and a tall seating position. It improves visibility and side-impact collision protection, but long-legged passengers may find the floor a little too close. The hood meets European standards for pedestrian safety, while the engine is tilted and "submarines" under the passenger compartment in a frontal impact, providing the crashworthiness of a larger vehicle.

The optional CVT acts and sounds much like a conventional transmission, but with improved fuel economy over a regular automatic. The B200 is expensive when compared to most "tall wagon" compacts, but it’s a relatively low buy-in for the brand, and is attracting people who might not otherwise be able to get into a Benz.

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