WHEN: December 2012
HOW MUCH: Rs 22 – 25 lakh
ENGINES: 1.6-litre petrol (156 PS / 250 Nm), 1.8-litre diesel (136 Ps / 300 Nm)
Lovers of the Three-Pointed Star truly have reason to rejoice. Mercedes-Benz India Ltd (MBIL) is gearing up to introduce the new B-Class in India. The new B-Class, introduced in Europe at the end of 2011, is an all-new model catering to the premium car market, and will be launched in India at the end of 2012. Further, Mercedes will assemble the new B-Class at its Chakan facility near Pune in Maharashtra, ensuring that the vehicle will be very competitively priced.
But just how exactly do you classify the B-Class? It is a compact utility vehicle by all standards, even according to Mercedes, but it will be positioned as a sports tourer. Well, let’s call it a sporty tourer to be fair. To begin with, it marks a departure from the usual template of cars Mercedes assembles and sells in India. For starters, consider the layout: the new B-Class has its engine installed transversely, and is front-wheel drive to boot. Small, four-cylinder engines, and the option of both manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions are on offer.
The styling is instantly recognisable as a Mercedes, yet the company has left no stone unturned in ensuring the car appeals to younger buyers. The B-Class gets a bold grille, with the Mercedes logo prominently in the centre. The roof line tapers gradually at the rear, but Mercedes has ensured that head room isn’t compromised in any way. What really sets the design alight are the two strong creases that run along the sides; one starts from the front fender and slashes its way through the front door, ending just below the B-pillar. The second character line starts low on the front door, before rising diagonally along the car’s sides. It truly is an amazing piece of work, especially from an otherwise conservative manufacturer like Mercedes.
The model range consists of four variants: B 180 CDI BE, B 200 CDI BE, B 180 BE and B200 BE. Don’t be confused by this nomenclature, for it’s all very simple, really. ‘BE’ stands for BlueEFFICIENCY, which is Mercedes-speak for all the systems being fully-optimised for maximum fuel efficiency and minimum emissions. The models with the CDI suffix denote the diesel variants. The two diesel variants are essentially the same, displacing an identical 1796 cc, but are in two different states of tune. It’s a similar story for the petrol variants as well, with both displacing an identical 1595 cc.
For India, it’s likely that Mercedes will offer the more powerful of the two variants, with the dual-clutch automatic transmission as standard.
These new four-cylinder petrol engines (internal designation M270) mark the launch of a completely new engine series. The combustion process is based on the third-generation Mercedes-Benz direct injection system which was introduced last year with the BlueDIRECT V6 and V8 engines. Its use in the B-Class marks this technology's debut in the compact segment. The new four-cylinder engines have been designed for both transverse and longitudinal installation, and could likely be used to power the new GLC compact SUV as well, when Mercedes begins assembly in India in 2014.
Mercedes has also optimised the front suspension with a four-point mounting system, which includes the engine mount, transmission mount and two self-aligning supports. This suspension system has been designed specifically to meet the requirements of the high-torque engines with regard to minimum noise levels. The hydraulic damping integrated in the transmission mount should ensure a high degree of ride comfort, without compromising agility.
Another Mercedes-Benz premiere is the new 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission in the B-Class. This transmission is extremely compact, extremely variable with regard to adaptation of the engine speed thanks to seven gears, features an electric oil pump for start/stop capability, shifts gear without any interruptions in tractive power and combines the comfort of an automatic with the efficiency of a manual transmission.The start stop system will be available on the B-Class as standard, and goes some way to giving the new B-Class impressive fuel economy figures. According to Mercedes, in the combined driving cycle (city + highway), the B 200 BE petrol model should manage more than 16 kpl, while the B 200 CDI BE will be good for 21 kpl. That might not be the same for the Indian driving cycle, but the B-Class will easily be the most fuel efficient of all Mercs sold in India.
Rear seats can slide forward and back by 140 mm.
The Mercedes B-Class will come fully-loaded with all the equipment Indian car buyers could hope for, including Collision Prevention Assist (which sets off an audible buzzer and activates the Brake Assist function), Hill Hold, Reverse camera, radar, Parking Assist and an all-new COMAND system with Linguatronic, which understands spoken commands. Further, there is full internet connectivity and Google Maps, Weather and Local Search are bundled in as well. Whether these systems will work seamlessly in the Indian environment is a concern, but Mercedes’ Indian management assure us that all will be sorted before the B-Class goes on sale.
Mercedes will begin assembly operations for the new B-Class towards the end of this year, and sales could commence as early as December, or early in 2013. Pricing will be key, and Mercedes’ sales and marketing director Debashis Mitra assures us that it will be less than Rs 25 lakh. The company is treading carefully however, and is keen to point out that it is diversifying its product portfolio away from luxury alone, and is seeking to tap into the fast-growing premium end of the car market.
Differentiation will be key, but with the B-Class, Mercedes has the opportunity to take the fight to BMW’s X1 and the soon-to-be-introduced Audi Q3.
The Mercedes B-Class offers up to 666 litres of boot space with the rear seats upright. The seats fold flat for more stowage.
Mercedes-Benz Upcoming Cars
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Mercedes-Benz has taken the wraps of the refreshed E-Class, which is expected to go on sale in Europe in the first quarter of 2013, but will only make it to our shores towards the end of the year. Read More...
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The all-new Mercedes-Benz A-class is set to hit the Indian shore by the second half of next year. The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class will be the second member of the NGCC (new generation compact car) family, after the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Read More...
The new Mercedes GL-Class was unveiled at the New York Motor Show this April. Based on the same architecture as the new M-Class, which was revealed at the New Delhi Auto Expo in January, the new GL is set to go into production at Mercedes’ Chakan facility early next year. Read More...
The M-Class SUV heralded a whole new era for Mercedes-Benz, proving hugely popular and bringing more cusotmers into the three-pointed star's fold. Now, the third-generation M-Class has just been launched in Europe, and is scheduled to make its way to India in early 2012. Read More...
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