From time to time you may have read my mutterings that fashion takes precedence over function in cars far too often. Which is why I admire the Mercedes-Benz B-Class so much, it’s a major case of function pushing fashion aside. It is immensely practical, with a spacious interior (you need a large Mercedes S-Class to get more rear legroom), a tall seating position that provides good visibility, and variable luggage space that can be tailored in many ways.
Merc B-Class is smaller on the outside than most compact SUVs so easier and safer to drive, as well as being lighter and therefore more economical and cleaner.
Access to the rear seats through wide opening doors is excellent. As befits any mover, the Merc has numerous stowage areas including a handy centre console and sensible door pockets.
The B-Class was launched in Australia in May 2005. Some are getting on in years, but with good maintenance and sensible driving should still have plenty of life left in them. As befits such a sensible vehicle it remained on sale for almost seven years, albeit with upgrades and a mild facelift until April 2012 when an all-new model was launched.
Petrol, turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel engines are on offer, with the turbo-petrol units providing performance that can almost be called sporting in the latest, 2012, generation.
There’s a solid, quiet, refined feel in the Benz B-Class that belies it size. It’s not quite as quiet and smooth to ride in as the larger Merc sedans, but it comes impressively close.
Handling is pretty good for a mid-sized front-wheel-drive car, with decent balance, and minimal understeer at normal speeds. Exceed sensible cornering efforts and it remains controllable, with electronic aids moving in to help when required.
These small Benzes aren’t cheap in absolute terms, but you do get some excellent engineering and good build quality. Many owners are happy to pay thousands extra so they can be seen sitting behind that famed three-pointed star.
Mercedes-Benz is well represented in almost all areas of areas of Australia, even in the far outback as diesel Mercedes cars have been a favourite with Aussie farmers for decades.
Many owners get all their work done at Mercedes-Benz dealerships. These cars generally fetch higher prices than ones serviced elsewhere. You may pay more in the first place, but recoup your cash when it comes time to trade-in time.
This isn’t really the sort of car you should attempt to work on yourself, though a good home handyperson can do some of the routine service work.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
A correctly driven and maintained Mercedes B-Class should have plenty of life left in it, but it’s still best to have one inspected by a Mercedes mechanic.
If you find what appears to have been major repairs to the body either pass it up altogether or book it in for an after-crash inspection at a reputable panel repairer.
Check the interior, particularly the rear seats and the luggage area for signs of rough and ready use.
Before going for your test drive try and arrange for the engine to be completely cold, after an overnight stop is ideal. Make sure the engine starts easily and idles smoothly within a few seconds of kicking over.
Check the engine never shows any signs of hesitation to your push on the throttle pedal. Also, that it pulls easily and strongly even on hills and with a load on board.
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