Mercedes B-class (2012) first official pictures

Published: 25 August 2011

This is the new 2012 Mercedes B-class, the first in a new family of small Mercs. It presages the new A-class – due later in 2012 – and a suite of new compact models, including a coupe and an off-roader.

So take note of the new B-class. The hardware you see here will pop up across future small Mercedes.

Merc B-class: what’s new for 2012

The styling is in line with today’s B-class, but they’ve made it less wantonly sensible. It’s a couple of inches lower to the ground and there are hints of it being a baby R-class tourer rather than a boxy babywagon van. That’s a good thing, as its sleek 0.26 drag coefficient attests.

Underneath is Merc’s new architecture, the so-called MFA or Mercedes Front-wheel drive Architecture that will power the whole compact family.

For the B-class it remains front-wheel drive (4wd will be offered on sportier and off-road variants).

New engines for the new B-class

If you want a petrol engine in your new B-class, you’ll have to settle for a 1.6-litre direct injection turbo. The B180 musters 120bhp, or pick a B200 for 154bhp. These engines – dubbed M270 - are significant, as they’ll power many future small Mercedes, up to and including the C-class.

Diesel engines come from the OM651 family, the dervs already seeing action in everything from the C-class to the S-class. This is the first time these diesels have been used in a transverse application. At launch, there’s just a 1.8-litre CDI, badged B180 (108bhp) or B200 (134bhp).

New for the 2012 B-class is a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission. All engines come with stop-start, and a six-speed manual will be standard on most models.

Can I still move house in my B-class?

Yep. At 4359mm long/1786mm wide/1557mm tall, the B-class is still a packaging marvel. Merc claims legroom is actually better than in an E- or S-class, yet the driver sits 86mm lower than before to remove that sit-up-and-beg van posture of before.

The rear bench slides back and forth to swap space for bodies and bags – the boot stretching between a large 488 to an evil sounding 666 litres’ capacity. Sounds like it’ll be a massive load lugger still.

CAR has already sat in the new Mercedes B-class and can confirm it’s a pleasant environment in there. Some of those details – lovely round chromed air vents, for instance – are snaffled from elsewhere in the Mercedes’  oeuvre (the SLK in that instance).

And there are distinct overtones of large car gadgets too. A radar-based collision warning system is standard, and options include adaptive headlamps, drowsiness detectors, active parking and radar cruise control.

See the new B-class for real at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet