Tested: Mercedes B200 is a smart family cruiser, but it could be cushier
PRETORIA - A couple of years ago on a visit to my doctor I noticed a Mercedes-Benz B-Class parked outside her waiting rooms and when I politely enquired why the B-Class, it basically boiled down to practicality.
Looks weren't mentioned because to be honest unless pugs were your thing, the B-Class was never going to win any design awards.
Fast forward to the new B-Class and it's a whole different ball game and it now combines that practicality with looks to match and in fact, it looks quite striking.
It's still very much a car that's likely to be parked in the garage by families rather than young singles or those aspiring to be seen with two doors and flashy lines.
And that's okay because the B-Class knows its place in Merc's line-up and doesn't pretend to be anything else.
Mercedes calls it a "sports tourer" but it's more of an MPV really, even with the AMG Line upgrade of the test unit, which includes 18-inch AMG-style alloys, diamond-effect grille, rear diffuser and lowered suspension.
If possible, I would stick to the original suspension for a more comfortable drive, considering the average demographic that's likely to be an owner.
While it handled well around bends and corners, it bordered on the unforgiving and considering it's likely to be used as a family car which will spend time off the main highways on our pockmarked, potholed roads you want it to be a more comfortable drive.
Powered by a 1.3 litre petrol turbocharged engine sending 120kW and 250Nm to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, it's a perfect combination for both urban driving and open road cruising.
It gets up to speed without any fuss and cruises comfortably at the national speed limit and there's enough spare power should you find yourself behind slower traffic, even with four adults.
It's not bad at the fuel pumps either averaging 7.5L/100km over the time that we had it, with Mercedes-Benz claiming 5.6L/100km.
It's not surprising considering the design that there's a ton of headroom even for the tallest rear passengers and with a comfortable upright drivers position the B200 is an ideal car to load up the family luggage in the 455 litre loading bay (1 540 litres with the rear bench folded) and head for the long road.
It now also comes with the Mercedes-Benz MBUX multi-media system which adds to the premium-type feel to the cockpit. Once you get the hang of it it's easy to use and can be used by touchscreen, optional touchpad on the centre console and touch controls on the nappa leather wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel.
The B200 doesn't pretend to be flashy or anything other than what it is, it gets on with the job without making a fuss and if you choose your options carefully you get a very decent family hatch with a ton of autonomous safety technology without breaking the bank and having to dive into the SUV pond.