- We like...Second-hand prices
- We don't...Reluctant stop-start system
Our 200th car review, published since this section of motors.co.uk launched a year ago. Time for a party?BlueEfficiency, Econetic, Bluemotion, Greenline. Different names, used by different makes, going for a common goal. To up fuel consumption, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and convince buyers that the car is greener.
This B170 BlueEfficiency is Mercedes-Benz latest tilt at going all eco-friendly. On the face of things, this ought to be easily the most sensible Mercedes you can buy. Practical, boxy body, bit bigger than a Merc A-class but still a sensible size, and fuel-sipping, ‘green’ credentials.
And it looks classy enough and fresh, too, thanks to a just-done makeover that includes new bumpers, bonnet, grille and changes to the dash. But key problems remain. The first is its price, pitched beyond direct rivals such as the Volkswagen Touran or Toyota’s Verso. And where both rivals are cheaper, they also seat up to seven – where the B-class takes only five.
What's more, the B-class feels little bigger for its passengers than the A-class, on which it is based. The boot is big, though and every seat bar the driver’s folds to make way for luggage.
And it is a Mercedes, which for some buyers will be enough. It has that feel of solidity you’d want from the make and feels built to withstand whatever you and your kids throw its way.
Where most other eco-specials employ diesel engines, this one has a petrol. It’s a sweet and reasonably willing 1.7 petrol developing a modest 116bhp. It’s coupled to Mercedes’ Stop/Start system, which should turn the car off whenever you halt in traffic and switch the gears to neutral. It also has an on-dash display that nags you to change into the best gear for economy driving.
To re-start, dip the clutch and the engine should quickly spring to life. Mercedes says the system saves up to 9% over a ‘conventional’ set-up, and the car’s 44.1mpg average overall figure is good. Its 156g/km of carbon dioxide is fair enough, too, although it sets no new standards.
Like all such stop-start devices (and by now, there are better than a dozen offered on various cars) it works only once the engine is warmed and not if you’re running too many of the car’s electrics at once. But, try as we might with our test car, we could coax it to stop and start on only a couple of occasions. We spoke to Mercedes, who advised switching off the air conditioning. We did – but even then it would not reliably play ball.
Still, we managed a little over 40mpg over 400 (mostly motorway) test miles, which is respectable. We can also say that the car is a refined and steady friend on a long trip, cruising quietly at the national speed limit. Elsewhere, its ride is stiff and pattery, while the steering dsn’t give quite the info we’d want for fully confident progress through bends.
If you’ve set your heart on a ‘B’, probably the best way in is to buy second-hand, not least because prices are keen once the car is a couple of years old. All told, the B-class isn’t the best Mercedes or even the most sensible. But it’s not a bad car, particularly if you’re its second or even third owner.
To view and buy new and second-hand Mercedes-Benz B-classes, click on motors.co.uk
- Engines1.7 petrol
- 0-60 mph11.3secs
- Insurance groups8
Motors.co.uk value verdict: