THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: An entry-level vehicle in the Mercedes-Benz lineup with real, useable family room in a compact vehicle.
- What’s Worst: Teutonic technology – sometimes elegant, rarely intuitive and usually more complicated than it needs to be.
- What’s Interesting: The B 250 offers upright compact MPV architecture but shares platform and powertrain features with the European A-Class and the CLA 250 four-door coupe (sedan) and GLA 250 crossover models sold here.
Ah, the Mercedes-Benz B 250.
I still don’t quite know what to call it – a hatchback, tall wagon or multipurpose vehicle (MPV). Or maybe even a mini minivan, considering its two-box architecture.
I guess I could toe the party line and go along with Mercedes-Benz’s “compact sport tourer” label but, whatever you call it, the Mercedes-Benz B 250 certainly seems to be the oddball in the lineup at first, unique in an upper class stable of sedans, coupes and SUVs.
But it’s not really all that out of place, as the most affordable gateway into the Mercedes family of products. It’s a good fit, really, for Canadians who can still be cash conscious even when moving up to a prestige brand.
Which is why Mercedes-Benz Canada fought so hard to get the B-Class while the American division tended to pooh-pooh this lower entry level.
A few years ago, the B-Class got some overdue attention, jazzing up its jellybean blandness with angular accent lines and stronger familial styling cues.
The front face now features a wide matte black diamond grille with silver twin louvres above a sporty, soft-nose front bumper, bracketed by standard halogen headlamps with integral LED daylight running lamps (DRLs).
Following those stronger accent lines along the side profile, the B 250’s bodywork tails to a rear treatment that includes a standard roof spoiler, a wide hatch and chrome trim pieces complementing twin exhaust outlets.
It’s a more aggressive, more stylish package but there were even more important changes made under the skin.
For Canada, a 2.0-litre 16-valve DOHC turbocharged engine, making 208 hp at 5,500 rpm and 258 lb/ft of torque anywhere from 1,200 – 4,000 rpm, replaced the former B 200’s older 2.0-litre two engine combo – a standard 134 hp motor and an optional 190 hp turbo.
The new turbo engine was mated to a 7G-DCT (seven-speed dual clutch transmission) and along with the extra power it delivered improved fuel economy and reduced emissions.
For the 2015 model year, Mercedes-Benz Canada has evolved this potent B 250 package further with standard heated seats, a new audio interface and added choices in upholstery, paint and trim choices.
But, more significantly, they have added a new 4MATIC all-wheel-drive model, always a popular option for Canadians looking for winter weather safety and security.
The B 250 4MATIC, tested here, makes the B-Class a truly viable contender for consumer attention. It uses an all-wheel-drive system that will shift variable amounts of power from the front axle to the rear, activated, as Mercedes puts it, “as often as necessary and as seldom as possible”.
Under normal cruising conditions, the B 250 4MATIC operates in a simple, fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive mode. But sensors monitoring vehicle performance and road conditions can divert torque to the rear to the tune of an up to 50/50 split in the case of, for example, full acceleration, high speed cornering or loss of front traction.
Life is full of tradeoffs so, along with the added price premium ($2,200) for the 4MATIC, you’d expect some kind of penalty for the extra bulk and weight of an all-wheel-drive system (+40 kg). But the 4MATIC model, with better traction, actually has a slightly quicker acceleration time (0-100 km/h in 6.7 sec) than the lighter front wheel drive version (0-100 km/h in 6.8 sec).
The B 250 4MATIC system works seamlessly in conjunction with the 7G-DCT automatic, offering three driving programs – Economy, Sport and Manual.
And the powertrain benefits from the B 250’s other inherent driving technologies – an electronic stability program (ESP) and the 4ETS dynamic handling control system that will brake individual wheels to keep you on the straight and narrow.
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I found the initial acceleration to be slightly sluggish, especially in the default Economy mode but the turbo engine hauls up to speed nicely, revving at a sedate 2,000 rpm on the highway with plenty of oomph left for passing.
And there’s always Sport mode . . .
The 2015 B 250 4MATIC is rated at 10/7.5L/100km (city/hwy) compared to the regular B 250 front-wheel-drive’s 9.2/6.6L/100km. My real world results with the 4MATIC model, mostly in Economy mode and using the auto stop/start system, averaged out to 9.8L/100km (comb).
Inside, my B 250 4MATIC tester complemented roomy practical tall wagon spaciousness and upright seating with Cranberry Red Leather upholstery, Dark Ash wood trim, rich textures, metallic highlights and a full suite of standard equipment.
And in this case, that list of standard features was also bolstered by everything from a panoramic sunroof to a rear view camera, passive blind spot assist, COMAND navigation system, even funky front seatback tray tables, for Pete’s sake.
It works out to more than $8,000 worth of packages and options, designed to impress the press, I guess but probably, at $41,950, getting a little too pricey a total for buyers staying within this compact entry class.
But with customers picking and choosing from among those many offered extras, the 2015 B 250 4MATIC ($33,500) certainly starts out as the most affordable entry level compact in the lineup, listing for less than the two other vehicles that share the same engine and A-Class platform parts – the CLA 250 4MATIC four-door Coupe ($36,800) and the GLA 250 4MATIC crossover ute ($37,200).
Which makes the 2015 B 250 worth a closer look.
And with the added driving security of Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, also definitely worth a test drive.
2015 Mercedes-Benz B 250 4MATIC At A Glance
BODY STYLE: Compact sport tourer
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, all-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbocharged DOHC inline four-cylinder (208 hp, 258 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 10/7.5L/100km (city/hwy); as tested 9.8L/100km (comb)
CARGO: 488 litres, 1,547 litres with second row folded
PRICE: 2015 B 250 4MATIC MSRP $33,500. As tested $41,950 includes Versatility Pkg ($1,800), Premium Pkg ($3,800), Premium Seating Pkg ($1,900), KEYLESS-GO ($700), Dark Ash Wood Trim ($250).
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