2015 Mercedes-Benz B250 4MATIC review
Mark Higgins’ 2015 Mercedes-Benz B250 4Matic review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
In a Nutshell: Blurring the lines between an SUV an MPV and a hatch hasn’t persuaded Aussies to embrace them in large numbers, despite their similar levels of practicality, flexibility, plus better fuel economy and more car like driving experience.
IN AUSTRALIA, maxi hatches have been a hit and miss affair. Europeans see these family-friendly, carry-alls differently and this week we’ve been behind the wheel of the Mercedes B250 4Matic; this B-Class is the car that prompted BMW to abandon its traditional rear-drive only platforms and introduce a front-wheel drive wagon-hatch of their own, the 2 Series Active Tourer.
Retaining its familiar tallish body, short sloping bonnet, steeply angled, panoramic windscreen, the second generation B-Class,which arrived on our shores earlier this year features a newly contoured front bumper with larger air intakes, redesigned front and rear lights and a tweaked rear bumper that integrates the exhaust outlets.
The interior also gets a makeover with new dials in the instrument cluster and a larger (8-inch) centre-dash screen that to my eyes looks like an afterthought. Matte silver, gloss black garnish and red stitching on the seats, steering wheel, centre armrest and door armrests lift the black interior and the five circular air vents give it edginess. Pairing the phone and streaming music, so important these days, through the command system, was achieved in four button pushes. Working through the command system, I found a raft of new digital radio channels in addition to the usual AM/FM offerings. Internet connectivity is available and you can even select your interior lighting from a palette of 12 colours.
While there is plenty of fore and aft adjustment in the electrically adjusted driver’s seat, although it didn’t drop down low enough for my liking. There’s also plenty of reach and rake adjustment available on the flat-bottomed, multifunction steering wheel, however I never quite found my ideal driving position.
While not new, I’m still not a fan of the gearshift lever on the right side of the steering column. Its function is simple enough; push the button on the end to select Park, push it up for Reverse and pull it down for Drive. However, it’s to easy to inadvertently select neutral if you are not used to a left hand indicator stalk, but hopefully ownership and familiarity will help to eliminate that. The steering wheel mounted flappy paddles add to the air of sportiness.
Although it is smaller overall than the Mazda3, clever interior packaging ensures the B-Class isn’t short on head or legroom for five adults. There’s oodles of both as attested by a 6’7″ friend who tried both rows and said he’d be happy travelling in the back. With the rear seat in place, the luggage space is 488 litres (a mere 7L less than a Holden Commodore) and when the rear 60:40-split rear seat (with aircraft-like pull-up tables), is folded flat into the floor, carrying capacity grows to a substantial 1547 litres. There’s also plenty of storage available in the deep door pockets, in the centre console.
Vision all around thanks to vast glass house is excellent, and the widows aft of the B-pillar are tinted for privacy.
Acceleration from the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 155kW at 5500rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1200-4000rpm, is impressive. Power comes on strongly from idle with the thing accelerating right through to redline. Driving through the seven-speed automatic transmission, the B250 4MATIC is quite economical and against the official combined figure of 6.8L/100km, we returned 7.4L/100km, which included a large portion of city driving.
There are three drive modes available in the B250 4MATIC, the default Eco mode, Sport and Manual. In Eco it feels lethargic and uninspiring, but it’s designed for highway cruising and conserving fuel. Selecting Sport or Manual makes the throttle responses and gearshifts (that blip the revs on downshifts) more aggressive, uncovering the thing’s warmed-over character.
Although the B250 4MATIC has a tall body it still knows how to navigate a corner neatly and tidily, especially in the sopping wet conditions we experienced. There’s just a hint of a gentle lean through bends. It reassures the driver with good grip levels and excellent feedback through the well weighted and direct steering. The AMG suspension that lowers the body by 15mm over the base model offers a firm, solid ride but it never feels jiggly or uncomfortable, even across poorer surfaces. The 225/40/18 inch tyres on superbly crafted AMG five-twin-spoke alloy wheels never transmitted a peep of noise inside, giving the cabin an air of stress free, relaxing serenity.
Generously equipped, the B250 4MATIC highlights include, Mercedes-Benz branded brake calipers, lowered comfort suspension, perforated front brake discs, keyless-go, start/stop function, artico upholstery, dual zone climate control air conditioning, electrically folding exterior mirrors and sports pedals in stainless steel-look with rubber studs. Our test car was optioned with metallic paint, panoramic sunroof, AMG package, Command system, Driver assist and electrically adjustable, three-memory, multi-stage heated front seats, adding $9,640 to the price.
With a five-star ANCAP safety rating, the B250 4MATIC has nine airbags, adaptive braking with hill start assist, ABS brakes, brake assist, auto locking doors with emergency opening, electronic stability program, adaptive cruise control and anti-theft system with tow-away protection.
The B250 4MATIC has a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty with several scheduled servicing packages to select from.