I was able to get behind the wheel of the top-of-the-line diesel B-Class, the B200 CDI. Based on my negative experience with the last two B-Classes, I seriously wasnt expecting anything remarkable here either. Weak brakes, a steering sensitivity that was too light and a boat-like suspension were some of the things I was expecting here. On the positive side, I knew the B200 CDI would be a quick and agile car thanks to that wonderful diesel upfront.
This B200 CDI had the optional sports package, which added those gorgeous 17″ 10-spoke rims to the car. Overall, the B-Class looked pretty attractive with this setup. Personally I think the normal B-Class is an attractive little car. Seeing it in person changed my mind after I had only seen this car in pictures.
I get into the B-Class and find that I actually have enough head space, despite the panorama roof option on this car. Silly me forgot that there was a mechanism beside the seat where you could adjust the seat height: I therefore take back everything I said about the B-Class being low on headspace. Yep, my bad! :p] Interior is well finished and crafted despite all that plastic. Its appropriate for its class and definitely a big player in the Who has the best interior in this class? category.
The 1991cc diesel upfront is a 3rd generation CDI 4-cylinder with 140-horsepower and 300 Nm of torque (221 lb/ft) channeled to the front wheels. For comparison purposes, our E320 has 315 Nm of torque. So this B-Class is loaded with power and torque. The engine came to life with a smooth little growl. It was hardly audible as well, impressive for a diesel engine in a car of this class. There were some vibrations, but those disappeared once the engine was properly warmed up. Early on, even while cold, you could feel that this was an eager engine.
Once warmed up, I drove it at first cautiously, but when I saw that the B200 CDI was slightly sportier than the B170 and B200, I got into the car more. For one, the sports package makes the boat-like suspension of regular B-Classes feel really boat-like. Second, the steering feel was more direct and weighted here. Despite this, there was still heavy body roll in curves, which didnt suit sporty driving much. Other than that, I was glad for the more responsive steering feel and suspension. The brakes of the B200 CDI, something I wasnt impressed with in the B170 and B200, were good! They responded instantly and didnt feel underpowered at all.
The engine was a lot of fun. 140-hp and 300 Nm of torque are very generous in a car of this class, especially in Europe. The CDI engine was eager and rev-happy for a diesel. It definitely felt sporty all right. Coupled to the smooth and precise 6-speed manual gearbox (yep, you read that right, smooth and precise Mercedes-Benz manual gearbox!), the car drove very nicely. 1st gear and 2nd gear were a breeze for this car. In 2nd gear, it pulled really hard and nice and didnt sound dieselish at all.
3rd gear was fun too, here the B200 CDI pulled with a ferociousness that pressed you into the seats. Very impressive and a lot of fun. I enjoyed the torque being routed to the front wheels and sending me flying into the seats. Nice, I like it. And yeah, the manual was pretty precise and smooth for a Benz manual. A far cry from those shitboxes located in used A, C and E-Classes on the dealer lot! 0-100 km/h takes place in 9.6 seconds and the B200 CDI can reach a top speed of 200 km/h (125 mph): it is therefore perfectly suitable as a comfortable long distance cruiser for small people.
I took two acceleration videos of the B200 CDI. Can someone please host it for me? Its not the best video since I had to film, shift gears and be on the lookout for traffic etc. Youll be amazed at how fast the speedometer flies from speed to speed. Impressive for a small diesel engine.
Well, overall the B-Class is a great car in the case of this B200 CDI. Wasnt too impressed with the B170 and B200 I drove before. Or maybe it is the sports package, which helped this B200 CDI impress me. Its still not as sporty as the A-Class or the facelifted C-Class but the sports package definitely helps driving wise and visually. If only there wasnt so much body roll in curves. Personally, Id still take an A200 CDI over the B200 CDI, even if the B-Class comes with the sports package. Driving that little A-Class is fun because it feels so nimble and agile! Cars dont have to be super fast to be fun you know. :devil:]
I like the B-Class from a design perspective, but I dont see myself being interested in owning one. I honestly prefer the A-Class to the B-Class for many reasons. Despite this, I think the B-Class is the perfect car for small families and older people. Indeed, the majority of people coming into the Benz dealership with the intention of checking out the B-Class are older buyers. And the young folks usually go for the A-Class, C-Class and SLK-Class. Thats a trend I have noticed at the local dealership.
Well, hope you enjoyed the short quick review about the B200 CDI. Great engine and performance, but the handling characteristics of a stock A-Class still blow away those of a B-Class even with the sports package IMHO.