2011 Mercedes-Benz B 200 Turbo Avantgarge Edition
2011 Mercedes-Benz B 200 Turbo Avantgarge Edition. Click image to enlarge

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Mercedes-Benz B-Class on Autos.ca

Manufacturer’s web site
Mercedes-Benz Canada

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2011 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Back in the earlier days of motoring, luxury automakers often faced a dilemma. Well-heeled customers could be hard to come by, especially when the economy soured. One solution was to offer a smaller, less-powerful and less-expensive model that would appeal to a fresh round of buyers – but the plan often backfired. Wealthy buyers didn’t want to see their vehicle’s logo on one driven by a mere mortal, and often left the brand for one that remained more exclusive.

It’s a situation Mercedes-Benz might have faced in 2005, when it introduced its 2006 B200 compact hatchback, its least-expensive model save for Smart. But rather than watering down the brand, the B-Class has carved out its spot in the company’s Canadian line-up. It’s also “all ours” over here, as it isn’t sold in the U.S. The smaller A-Class remains European-only.

Buying a B-Class isn’t really a practical decision. It’s expensive for a hatchback, starting at $29,900 for the naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre B200, and $32,400 for my tester, the B200 turbo, which also uses the 2.0-litre but with forced air. It’s not for someone who simply wants cheap transportation. Rather, it’s a great car for someone who has always wanted a Benz but whose bank account can’t move up to the pricier models. It can also be a second-car runabout for those who already have a larger Mercedes in the driveway and want to “keep it in the family.”

2011 Mercedes-Benz B 200 Turbo Avantgarge Edition
2011 Mercedes-Benz B 200 Turbo Avantgarge Edition. Click image to enlarge

The base price includes a five-speed manual in the B200 and six-speed in the B200 Turbo, with both optioning up to a CVT. Standard features include a/c, six-CD stereo, heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, aluminum interior trim, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, tire pressure monitoring system and cargo cover. Moving up to the B200 Turbo adds 17-inch wheels in place of 16-inch and seats with cloth and “Artico” leather, the type that hasn’t been anywhere near a real cow, rather than the B200’s all-cloth chairs.

The B-Class is undergoing a makeover for 2012, and so my model came as an optional Avantgarde Runout Edition, with several options tucked in to sweeten the model. Paint, upholstery and trim levels have also been cut back to prepare for the upcoming changeover. On the non-turbo B200, the Avantgarde adds heated seats, CVT transmission, media interface and 17-inch twin-spoke wheels. On the B200 Turbo, it includes all of that plus a panoramic sunroof and power-adjustable driver and passenger seats.

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