Mercedes is giving its new small car range a much more modern cabin. This first official photo inside the new 2012 Merc B-class reveals a cockpit with distinctive round air vents from the SLK and a heavily stylised dashboard.
We've been to Mercedes' Italian design studio to sit inside the new B-class and can report it's a much slicker affair inside. It feels more like a baby E-class with rounder, more playful forms than today's sober-suited, grown-up B-class cabin.
Chief of the Lake Como design studio Michele Jauch-Paganetti said the new B was designed to inject some spice into the staid current B-class.
So what's the new Mercedes B-class like inside?
It's still very roomy, and there's plenty of space front and back. A six-footer will sit behind a tall adult. There is a small transmission tunnel, however.
The materials are classy and it feels like a much bigger Merc inside. The wheel is the same as a CLS's, those air vents snaffled from an SLK. Pick an auto and the gearlever sprouts from the right hand side of the steering column.
The multimedia display is interesting: it's fixed and looks like - and was shamelessly modelled upon - an Apple iPad. 'It's like televisions; we used to lock them away in cupboards, but now we're proud of our flat screen tech,' said Jauch-Paganetti.
He said in future Merc screens would be fixed in place like on the B-class. It's run by an upgraded Comand system multi-function controller.
Take note of this B-class cabin: the same basic architecture and layout will resurface on the new A-class next year, the planned baby coupe and the junior 4x4 all spun off the new small car platform, called MFA (for Mercedes Front-wheel drive Architecture).
What does the B-class look like?
That's still top secret. It'll be an evolution of today's shape, as the B-class remains a taller, roomier mini MPV and the new A-class - arriving in later 2012 - becomes a more traditional Golf rival.
We were walked through a darkened room to sit in the B-class, but in the gloom it looks like a wedgier, sleeker take on today's car.
We'll find out for sure on 13 September at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.