2016 Mercedes-Benz B 250 4MATIC Sports Tourer Road Test Review
More than worthy of its enviable ownership loyalty
I have a confession. I really like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. From styling to interior quality, features to the way it drives, the second-generation B 250 4MATIC Sports Tourer I recently tested is a true testament to why Mercedes’ is the auto industry’s bestselling luxury brand.
You can tell a lot about a carmaker’s core values when spending time with its entry-level value leader. That’s the B’s position in the Canadian market, one step below the stylish and sporty CLA, and a number of steps up from the tiny little Smart city car that can be purchased through Mercedes dealerships. B-Class pricing starts at $31,700 plus freight and dealer fees for the front-drive B 250 and $34,000 for the B 250 4MATIC, making it one of the most affordable premium branded cars in Canada, but believe me this car isn’t just about being the least expensive way to get three-pointed star bragging rights on the grille, as it really lives up to M-B’s revered credentials.
It starts with a stylish tall wagon/crossover shape that’s fronted by a classic SL-inspired grille, intricately detailed LED-enhanced headlamps, a sporty black mesh ducted lower fascia, trademark scalloped turn signals on each mirror cap, upswept bodyside creases, elegant LED-infused taillights, tasteful chrome and satin aluminum trim all-round, plus twinned five-spoke 17-inch alloys at each corner, while the B’s interior pampers with high quality soft touch synthetics across the dash top and the entirety of each door panel from top to bottom, while the door inserts are comfortably padded with Artico leather that matches up to a similar treatment with contrast stitching for the armrests.
Metal trim highlights key areas with a thick engine-turned inlay running across the instrument panel that’s dotted with satin silver-rimmed air vents along the way, while all of the B’s switchgear is up to Mercedes’ usual high standard. Ditto for the electronic interfaces, a large colour multi-information display positioned between the otherwise beautifully detailed analog primary gauges, plus an extremely high resolution full-colour tablet-style infotainment display jutting out from the dash top at centre. High-grade woven roofliner fabric stretches down to cover the A-pillars (my loaner’s black instead of standard grey), while most of that roof opens up via an expansive optional dual-pane panoramic sunroof with a powered front panel and sunshade. Its quality, refinement and layout are pure Mercedes-Benz, as is the cabin’s overall sense of occasion.
The rear seating area is finished just as nicely and almost as comfortably, with plenty of space in all directions. I had four to five inches above my head and six to seven ahead of my knees when the driver’s seat was positioned for my five-foot-eight frame, while the seats themselves were particularly supportive for the lower back. With only two abreast in back you can fold down a wide padded centre armrest featuring a fancy set of flip-out cupholders that don’t get in the way of resting forearms.
After taking in the beautiful chromed protector plate atop the rear bumper, a large liftgate opens up to a wide, flat, very roomy cargo area behind the rear seats, which can be hidden from prying eyes by a scrolling cover extracted from a very sturdy removable cross member. Below the cargo floor is a large carpeted compartment where a spare tire could be housed, although the B rides on runflats. Just above, more luxurious carpeting flows up the sidewalls and seatbacks, while a handy emergency kit is housed in the right side of two cargo wall compartments. Expanding its 488 litres to a maximum of 1,547 comes via 60/40-split rear seatbacks, leaving a flat, voluminous loading space, or alternatively for narrower long loads like skis you can keep rear passengers in the outboard seats and use the centre pass-through. It’s a smart design that incorporates a small door that swings sideways before magnetically clamping onto the backside of the seat to stay out of the way.
Only one state of tune is available in our market, the B 250 incorporating a 2.0-litre turbo with 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the latter from just 1,200 rpm, which when combined with its seven-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddles results in spirited performance off the line and plenty of passing power at highway speeds. My 4MATIC enhanced version took to fast-paced corners with verve too, the B’s wide track and relatively long wheelbase making for smooth, stable and predictably composed handling while its ride continued to provide a level of compliance few small cars can match. The turning circle isn’t Smart car small, but it’s certainly easy enough to maneuver around tight parking garages, the B 250’s aforementioned ride height joined by large mirrors, a rearview camera with active guidelines plus available front and rear parking sonar for total dimensional awareness.
When coming to a halt you’ll likely notice the auto start/stop system shutting down the engine, although it’s quite quiet when doing so as well as when instantly rebooting, this standard feature joining other fuel saving technologies to help the B 250 eke out a commendable 9.2 L/100km city and 6.6 highway rating in FWD guise or 10.0 and 7.0 respectively with AWD.
The B 250 is actually one of the greener luxury models available, especially when compared to other crossovers, the multi-information display mentioned earlier featuring an eco display to prompt more efficient driving, along with the usual real-time and average consumption info, range details, etcetera, all accessible via a set of arrows on the left steering wheel spoke. Push the horizontal arrows and you’ll also find navigation, audio, phone, driver-assist, servicing, and vehicle settings info, while much of these functions are duplicated in more detail on the centre stack-mounted infotainment screen that’s controllable by a rotating dial and quick access buttons on the lower console. It’s a graphically attractive design within an intuitively laid out interface, upgradable to include enhanced iPhone connectivity via Apple CarPlay if you order the $1,700 Versatility package or as-tested $3,800 Premium package.
That package also adds the aforementioned black fabric roofliner and panoramic sunroof, dual-zone auto HVAC, a rearview camera, navigation, DVD player and passive blindspot assist.
Of note the Versatility package includes a powered driver’s seat with powered lumbar support, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, the latter also power-folding, a universal garage door opener, and a storage system dubbed Easy Vario Plus that adds a flat-folding front passenger seat, fore and aft sliding rear seats, a height-adjustable cargo floor, and more.
A $1,500 Sport package is also on the menu with an AMG styling package, 18-inch AMG alloys, sport brakes, lowered suspension, direct steering, AMG floor mats, black leather upholstery, and carbon-look trim, while additional options include partial LED headlamps, keyless proximity access, satellite radio, and parking assist.
All in all my B 250 4MATIC tester was such a good, honest and capable car that I couldn’t help but like it, and while its overall sensibility spoke in perfect clarity to the practical side of my brain, it was also wonderfully refined, thoroughly comfortable and a joy to drive. That’s a rarified set of attributes in any segment let alone the most affordable compact category, making the B-Class more than worthy of its enviable owner loyalty.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.