Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive – Review
Mercedes-Benz are quite the busy lot these days. Having rolled out a fleet of new global compact models recently in the A-, CLA-, and GLA-Class, the Stuttgart-based carmaker is certainly on a roll. But while a lot of hype surrounds the new compact range, Benz aren’t forgetting one other of its beloved compact models, the family-friendly B-Class.
With it only just being treated to a minor facelift, Mercedes-Benz were also keen to show off its sights on the future for the compact MPV by revealing the new B-Class Electric Drive. Utilising the MPV’s interior spaciousness, you could almost argue that the B-Class Electric Drive was made from the ground up to be what it is, and the architecture of the car does not lie.
Just like the revolutionary BMW i3, the B-Class Electric Drive has its 28kWh lithium-ion traction battery laid out flat along the floor, resulting in a low center of gravity which we know improves overall handling and stability. To achieve this, Benz engineers have had to raise the rear seats very slightly to make room – the electric motor sits up front.
Design wise, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive blends in perfectly with the rest of its non-electrified siblings, so you couldn’t tell one from the other by just looking dead-on at it. There is a unique design line reserved for it, called the Electric Art Line, which adds chromed blue trims here and there. Decide against this, and you could have the Electric Drive in either one of Merc’s other design lines: AMG, Urban etc.
That in itself is a major plus point of the B-Class, because you don’t have to visually harass everyone around you with guilt in your zero-emissions driving, and nor would you stick out like a sore thumb in the way the BMW i3 does. The Benz still has its radiator grille and front air vents looking like they’re in full use, rather than opting to have them sealed off by a plastic shield – the vents on the B-Class may not function to cool an engine the way they would on a regular B-Class, but they do maintain a key sense of familiarity of what a ‘car’ entails.
Back inside the cabin, and there’s nearly zero changes that take place, apart from the slightly raised rear seating mentioned earlier. What’s great about that is that all the usable space and functionality we’ve grown to appreciate in an ordinary B-Class is exactly where Benz designers last left them – great! Untouched also is the boot, which still reserves its 501 litres of space, which can be increased to 1,456 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Mercedes-Benz has kept the B-Class Electric Drive’s production processes simple too. Where the BMW i3 demands to be built in only one factory (Leipzig) using very specific methods for its very unique carbon-fibre reinforced-plastic (CFRP) body shell, the B-Class Electric Drive takes a much more simpler and conventional approach that allows it to be produced without too many more constraints than what effort it would take to produce a regular B-Class.
Where driving is concerned, a respectable 200km range is claimed from a fully charged battery, with potential buyers having the option to spec a RANGE PLUS package that adds an extra 30km. RANGE PLUS doesn’t take the shape of any additional petrol motor, but is simply a system upgrade which gives you a selectable mode to focus the car towards energy regeneration.
Nail the throttle to the floor and 7.9 seconds is all it takes to hit 100km/h, courtesy of the 180hp and 340Nm of torque on tap. Yes, this B-Class storms off the line only a second slower than a B-Class B 250 with its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.
In conclusion, the B-Class Electric Drive is still very much its good ol’ self: practical, spacious, easy to drive, convenient for everyday use. All that’s really new here is that you’d never have to spend a drop of petrol running it, and that you’d be doing the environment a massive favour with your 100% zero emissions driving.