Mercedes has given its B-Class a midlife upgrade with a range of more efficient engines, including electric and natural gas options, along with small styling tweaks and an updated infotainment system.
The most interesting powertrains in the new B-Class are the new B200 Natural Gas Drive and the B-Class Electric Drive. The natural-gas B-Class uses a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter engine that is fueled by three tanks of natural gas, and 14 liters of petrol if there is no gas available. Although the fuel of choice may be unconventional, the car's outputs aren't radically different to the other 2.0-liter engines in the range. The natural-gas powered B-Class makes 115 kW (156 hp) and 270 Nm (199 ft.lb), while producing 117 g/km of CO2.
Fueled by its lithium-ion battery, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive was previewed at the 2013 New York Auto Show, and is already on sale in the US. The car's electrics produce 132 kW (180 hp) and 340 Nm (251 ft.lb) of torque, while consuming 16.6 kWh of electricity per 100 km (62 miles). So while it may not match the zip of the SLS Electric Drive, the B-Class should be comfortably powerful enough for darting in and out of city traffic.
It wouldn't be a midlife upgrade if the B-Class hadn't undergone some subtle cosmetic changes. The car's front end has been updated to include new daytime running lights, and a new bumper that accommodates a wider radiator grille. High-performance LED headlamps are optional, while LED taillights are standard on all B-Class models.
On the inside, cosmetic changes are similarly subtle. The major update is to Mercedes' COMAND system, which is now viewed through an 8-inch screen. Coupled with Mercedes' Connect Me, B-Class owners can now view details about their cars (such as how much fuel the car has in it) via connect.mercedes.me, regardless of whether it's switched on or off. The system will also automatically dial the Mercedes Emergency Call Center and send details of the car's coordinates to a rescue center, who can dispatch help.
The new B-Class will also be available with a range of five diesel engines and four petrol engines. The diesel range starts with the four-cylinder, 1.5-liter B160 CDI, which produces 66 kW (90 hp) and 240 Nm (177 ft.lb) of torque from just 1700 rpm, while consuming 4.1 l/100km (57 mpg) of fuel and emitting 108 g/km of CO2. The least powerful B-Class diesel will hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in a leisurely 14 seconds, and top speed is 180 km/h (112 mph).
Upgrading to the B180 CDI takes the same 1.5-liter engine to make 80 kW (109 hp) and 260 Nm (192 ft.lb) from 1750 rpm, with identical fuel consumption and CO2 figures as the less powerful B160, but cuts 2.4 seconds from the 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint, and top speed jumps to 190 km/h (118 mph). Choosing the B180 CDI BlueEfficiency cuts fuel economy to 3.6 l/100 km (65 mpg) and CO2 to 94 g/km.
Topping the B-Class' diesel range are 2.1-liter, four-cylinder B200 and B220 CDI. The B200 uses 4.3 l/100km (55 mpg), while producing 111 g/km of CO2 from its 100 kW (136 hp) and 300 Nm (221 ft.lb) engine, which propels it to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). The range-topping B220 CDI uses slightly less fuel, with figures of 4.1 l/100 km (57 mpg) and 107 g/km of CO2, and the 100 km/h sprint takes 8.3 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 224 km/h (139 mph).
On the petrol front, the B180 opens the range with 90 kW (122 hp) and 200 Nm (148 ft.lb) of torque from its 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine. Fuel consumption is a claimed 5.6 l/100 km (42 mpg), with emissions CO2 of 129 g/km. The BlueEfficiency B180 cuts these figures to 5.2 l/100 km (45 mpg) and 122 g/km of CO2. Moving to the B200 brings 115 kW (156 hp) and 250 Nm (184 ft.lb) from the same four-cylinder engine, with the same fuel consumption figures as the B180.
The range of petrol engines is topped by the all-wheel drive B220 4MATIC and the B250. Both take advantage of the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine producing 135 kW (184 hp) and 155 kW (211 hp) respectively. As well as making less power, the B220 also makes less torque, with 300 Nm (221 ft.lb) from the B220 instead of the B250's 350 Nm (258 ft.lb). The B220's all-wheel drive system comes at the cost of economy - the less powerful 2.0-liter uses 6.5 l/100 km (36 mpg), more than the 6.1 l/100km (39 mpg) from the B250.
A full range of active safety features will be available on the updated B-Class, with optional autonomous braking included in the Collision Prevention Plus system, which will also monitor drivers' attentiveness between 60 and 200 km/h.
The B-Class will take to the stage at the Paris Motor Show before going on sale in Europe on November 29.