With the new B 180, Mercedes-Benz is targeting a whole new demographic in India. Will this new car tempt buyers into trying something different?
The test car came with a sports package that includes low-profile tyres on 18-inch rims and a lowered, sports suspension. The launch car comes with what Merc calls a comfort suspension, which offers higher ground clearance, softer suspension settings and more practical 16-inch wheels on the base petrol variant, while the B 180 Sport gets 17-inch wheels.
The sports kit no doubt adds to the ground-hugging looks of the B-class, but look past the eye candy and you’ll see what looks like a shrunken R-class. There’s that low bonnet, steeply raked windshield and high roofline, and despite the unusual shape, it won’t take long for even untrained eyes to tell it’s a Benz. Every current Merc styling cue is present – the oversized grille with the huge three-pointed star in the centre, the clamshell bonnet and the bumper with its integrated LED lamps all point to Stuttgart.
Viewed in profile, your eyes are drawn to the sharp upswept kink that runs along the flanks and the unusually long space between the front and rear axles – yes, the wheelbase is a massive 2699mm. The rear is pure Merc too – it’s the most uncomplicated part of the design. Also impressive is the extremely slippery shape – the B-class’ drag coefficient is a low 0.26.
Under the skin, the new B-class (W246) retains its predecessor’s - the W245’s - front-wheel-drive architecture, but ditches the old car’s complex and expensive ‘sandwich structure’ chassis for a more conventional monocoque. The advantages of the less complicated setup (aside from a cut in manufacturing costs) are a liberation of interior space and lower seats that are easier to slide into.
Not that the B-class is very tall – with its 1557mm height, it fits in somewhere between a soft-roader and a saloon. The suspension is independent all round, with a MacPherson strut, wishbone setup up front and a four-link, wishbone setup at the rear. Brakes are discs all around and the steering is an electrically assisted rack-and-pinion system. The spare wheel is an inflatable space-saver and the B-class comes with an electric tyre inflator. All in all, the B180 weighs a hefty 1425kg.
Watch video review here