Company Car Today - Issue 54 - 26th June 2019

“The new B-Class features the latest version of our 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine which already meets the new RDE2 emissions standards. This means company car drivers will benefit from tax savings due to the removal of the four per cent BIK diesel surcharge. Private customers will also benefit from a lower road fund licence. Along with the financial benefits, the B-Class is even more practical. It also features the latest infotainment system, which includes a state-of-the-art touchscreen and voice-controlled virtual assistant.” Tom Brennan, head of fleet sales, Mercedes-Benz Cars WHAT THEY SAY... ● Mercedes’ brake hold function, where they stay engaged if you stab the brake pedal, is a very useful feature that it’s surprising others haven’t copied. ● The front bumper on the AMG Line trim level is rather low, and scraped the ground over particularly aggressive speed bumps or even hefty dips in the road. ● The throttle is very sensitive and it’s easy to lurch when pulling away or at low speed until your brain has recalibrated. TEST NOTES The new B-Class enters something of a minority segment, with boxy and upright people carrier- style vehicles having been well and truly usurped by the SUV and crossover breed that are deemed more stylish by buyers happy to overlook the reduced practicality. But Mercedes has persevered with its larger and more spacious sibling to the A-Class hatchback as part of a seven-strong small car offering, and the B-Class is also right at the forefront of cars offering engines that comply with RDE2 emissions regulations. Two of the diesels meet RDE2, which means they sidestep the Government’s four-band Benefit-in-Kind penalty on diesels, as is also the case on the 200d and 220d engines in the A-Class. That means a saving of more than £40 a month for higher-rate tax payers on the B200d driven here, as well as around £500 on a business’s National Insurance payments on the car over three years. But there’s more to the new B-Class than a bit of saving on tax. The car comes in Sport or AMG Line trim levels and with a choice of four petrol and three diesel engines, with an entry 116hp B180d joining the RDE2-compliant diesels, and the petrol range running from entry 136hp B180 to the most powerful model in the line-up, the 224hp B250. The B180d is the most efficient in the range; when fitted with the seven-speed automatic gearbox, it gets down to 103g/km, although it still sits one BIK band above the 115g/km B200d thanks to the latter’s RDE2 compliance. All are front-wheel drive, but the B220 petrol in AMG Line trim is also available with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system for £1920 over the regular car. The B180 petrol and diesel and the B200 petrol have the choice of seven-speed auto or six-speed manual transmissions, while the rest of the range is only offered with an auto (seven speeds on all bar the two more powerful diesels, which get a new eight-speed gearbox). The step up from Sport to AMG Line is a very modest £1495, and that adds privacy glass, the AMG bodykit, sports seats, stainless steel pedals and other visual adornments, including the 18-inch alloys that look much more attractive than the Sport’s 17-inch wheels. All cars get two-zone climate control, lane-keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, cruise control and a rear parking camera, but the standard kit roster isn’t overly generous. Mercedes bundles the majority of its options into packs now, which means, for example, heated seats can only be had as part of the £1395 Executive Pack, that also includes the excellent 10.3-inch media display, front and rear parking sensors and folding mirrors, while the £2259 Premium pack brings the Executive kit plus a 10.3-inch instrument cluster, keyless entry, uprated sound system and improved interior There’s far more to the new B-Class than a bit of a saving on your monthly tax bill ROAD TEST COMPANY CAR TODAY.CO.UK 13