Company Car Today - Issue 54 - 26th June 2019

Higher-speed travel is also far from a chore, with impressively low levels of wind and road noise finding their way into the cabin. As far as rivals go, front and centre is the only real core competition – the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer. It’s the only other premium small MPV-type car, and is very similar in principle, scope and size. We’ve also looked at the more upright version of the Volkswagen Golf, the SV, and a more regular crossover model in the form of Peugeot’s excellent 3008, which for the same money offers extra kit, a larger vehicle and more stylish crossover design for the same sort of cost. The B-Class stacks up well against the BMW as its main rival, while the rather bland Golf SV is a way off on whole-life cost. The Peugeot is an interesting one, because crossovers generally have a higher residual value than more sober MPV-style vehicles, but the Peugeot outpointing any of its rivals for RV is still an impressive effort, and the 3008’s favourable emissions figures help make it the best car here from a whole-life costs point of view. But the Mercedes badge does carry significantly more sway than the Peugeot one, however far that brand and product has come in recent times, so there will be an element of the customer base that won’t move to a non-premium brand. For those people, the B-Class is certainly more practical than an A-Class and under £1000 more expensive. It’s also a more entertaining and agile drive than might be expected and has a decent-quality interior. If a more sensible version of the new A-Class is what’s required, the B-Class ticks that box nicely. DRIVE 8/10 The driving experience is sharper thanmight be expected from a car that looksmore practical than sporty. Its throttle is a touch oversensitive but it handles nicely. EFFICIENCY 9/10 Emissions are decent, but the fact that two engines are tax-busting RDE2-compliant is a bigwin for company drivers. PRACTICALITY 7/10 The boot hasn’t got asmuch space as rivals can offer, but there’s plenty of headroom front and rear, and legroom is acceptable. EQUIPMENT 7/10 Kit levels are reasonable although Mercedes has bundled some useful items, such as front parking sensors or heated seats, into expensive options packs. LOOKS 7/10 It has a sharper design than the previous B-Class at the front in particular, but not all angles are quite so striking. COMFORTAND REFINEMENT9/10 Road andwind noise are kept well under control, but there is plenty of engine noise over 2500prm. CABIN 8/10 The quality is good acrossmost of the cabin, and the choice and variety of materials workwell. INFOTAINMENT 7/10 The touchscreen doesn’t have the useful haptic feedback of Audi’s systems and the touchpad sensitivity sometimesmakes it a little tricky to use. The screen display is clear, especiallywith optional larger displays. WHOLE-LIFE COSTS 9/10 Lower tax bills, good RV and decent emissions give the newB-Class very competitive running costs. CCT OPINION 8/10 BIK savings, running costs and driving experience all score highly. VERDICT THREE THINGSWE LIKE… 3 1 2 The rear sports seats look great, but aren’t ideal for child seats The front stying is the area most notably improved over the old car The big screens are excellent; shame they’re a pricey option VERDICT 79% Mercedes has successfully reinvigorated the B-Class, although it still won’t be a huge seller compared to the A-Class hatchback. Costs stack up well against rivals. Ride is good, but throttle is sensitive ROAD TEST COMPANY CAR TODAY.CO.UK 17 The steering wheel has plenty going on in terms of controls to get to grips with …AND ONEWE DON’T