2018 Mercedes-Benz B 250 4Matic Sports Tourer Road Test Review
One of the best small cars in the luxury class
The Mercedes-Benz B 250 moves into 2018 mostly unchanged, but this is hardly a bad thing considering its attractive tall wagon/MPV shape, superb interior, and finely balanced ride and handling.
Mostly unchanged? True, Mercedes has added plenty of new standard features to the base B 250 mix, this raising the entry price by $4,050 to a still very affordable $35,900, or $38,200 for the all-wheel drive 4Matic. And you get a lot for that money. Now standard is the previously optional Avantgarde Edition package, which adds high-performance auto on/off LED headlamps, blindspot assist, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch tablet-style infotainment display filled with a dynamic guideline-enhanced backup camera plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, this package continuing with power-adjustable front seats with four-way powered lumbar support and a panoramic sunroof, turning what was a good little luxury compact into something you can really be proud of.
There’s no holding back when it comes to standard and optional features
You can still add options, starting with three no-cost base colours and seven $890 metallics, my tester coated in a classy yet conservative Mountain Grey metallic although some really bright and fun colours are available, while the interior gets the no-charge choice of Black Artico/Dinamica leatherette, Sahara Beige Artico, or as-tested Crystal Grey Artico with contrasting black stitching. The standard Sail Pattern metal inlays can be swapped out for $250 worth of Dark Ash Wood trim too, which I can attest looks fabulous and feels as solid as genuine hardwood should.
Other options include $1,100 for a very accurate navigation system, $900 for helpful rear parking sonar and even more appealing semi-autonomous active parking assist, $475 for satellite radio, $350 for a useful drawer under the front passenger seat, and that’s about it, but you don’t really need a lot more considering everything already mentioned and all the other items that come standard, like proximity keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, rain-sensing wipers, heated wiper washers, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, three-way heatable front seats, a rear centre armrest with integrated cupholders, a first aid kit, tire pressure warning, hill start assist, attention assist for sleepy drivers, collision prevention assist, all the usual active and passive safety gear including an airbag for the driver’s knees, plus more.
I know it’s German, but there’s something honestly Canadian about the B-Class too. It’s not trying to be cool, it just is. Kind of like the self-confident minivan owner, B 250 drivers choose their rides for practicality as well as strong performance and refined luxury. Sure they’re getting a three-pointed star as part of the package, but their choice is less about the prestige that comes with that revered badge and more about the quality associated with anything built by Mercedes-Benz.
Large and accommodating cabin is finished to a high standard
Truth be told, every time I get behind the wheel of a B-Class I’m once again smitten by its all around goodness. From the quality of finishings to overall roominess and seat comfort front to back, the former two even including supportive thigh extensions, the little Benz has a great deal going for it.
Seriously, with the driver’s seat set for my admittedly average five-foot-eight medium-build frame I still had about seven to eight inches in front of my knees when seated behind, plus so much room for my feet I could’ve worn a pair of massive snow boots and still stretched out. The B is surprisingly wide too, the rear outboard positions leaving about five inches between my shoulders and the window and another few next to my hips, with room remaining for three abreast in back if required. As for headroom, you’ll find few cars with more.
The aforementioned standard features make it all the more appealing, especially the panoramic sunroof that visually opens up the cabin with a fresher, airier feel, while all the beautifully finished satin metal detailing, particularly the fabulous circular dash vents and row of aluminized rocker switches on the centre stack, add sparkle to the design. The sport steering wheel is wonderful too, with satin-finished lower spokes, both perforated and solid leather wrapping around its rim, and contrast beige crisscross stitching down the inside.
I couldn’t go without mentioning the digital interfaces either. A large colour multi-information display sits at gauge central, feature-filled and easy to operate, while the dash top mounted infotainment display is as friendly to figure out as it’s clear, colourful and graphically attractive.
Last but hardly least, the B incorporates high-quality soft-touch synthetics in all the right places, proving the premium materials trickledown theory is alive and well at Mercedes-Benz. Truly, both front and rear door panels get a rich, pliable, padded surface treatment all the way down to their very bottoms. That’s where you’re bound to notice that even the two-tone Mercedes-signed floor mats are worthy of mention. The B 250 might be smaller than most other Mercedes cars, but it wears its much-lauded badge with honour.
Sporty driving dynamics yet excellent economy
OK, I admit the ability to add larger rims and rubber would be nice, if anyone would want to, but that said the twinned five-spoke 17-inch alloys on 225/45 all-seasons look proportionate and drove well, providing a very comfortable ride as well as plenty of grip through fast-paced corners, while they’ll be a lot less expensive to replace than anything larger down the road.
Its performance is strong, but the B’s superb visibility will likely be appreciated even more in city traffic, partly because it rides a little higher than the average car, much like a compact SUV, and also due to its tall windows that even include tiny quarter glass in back.
Along with its well-proven 2.0-litre turbo-four making a healthy 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of highly tractable torque, plus its quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox with manual mode and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, its grippy standard 4Matic all-wheel drive, and its Dynamic Select with Sport, Comfort and Eco modes, the B 250 gets standard auto start/stop that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, this and other efficiency measures helping it achieve an impressive 9.8 L/100km in the city, 6.8 on the highway and 8.4 combined with FWD or 10.3 city, 7.8 highway and 9.1 combined with AWD.
Surprisingly accommodating cargo capacity
Now that we’re leaning toward things practical, open up the B’s expansive liftgate and a surprisingly large and accommodating cargo compartment combines a well-made retractable cover up top with upscale carpeting on the seatbacks, sidewalls and load floor, the latter revealing another large spare tire-sized compartment below when raised. Back on top of that cargo floor, the luggage compartment measures a considerable 488 litres behind the seatbacks and 1,547 litres when they’re laid flat, although you can separate them 60/40 or alternatively stow long, thin items like skis within a pass-through down the middle.
I’m guessing it’s easy to tell I like this car, the second-generation B-Class having thoroughly won me over. It’s a great little ride with big intentions inside, delivering just enough premium dazzle with its expected Mercedes quality, plus plenty of comfort, loads of luxury features, and fun-loving performance, resulting in one of the best small cars in the luxury class, and even with its price hike, one of the best small car values. I highly recommend it.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.