What’s it like?
The Mercedes B-Class has been around for three generations, with each one always sharing much with the A-Class. As the original two generations of the A-Class were tall, unusually shaped hatchbacks, the B-Class didn’t really realise its potential in life until the A-Class reverted to a more conventional hatchback shape for its Mk3 in 2012. As a riposte to the upmarket compact-MPV likes of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and Volkswagen Golf Plus, the positioning and new-car pricing of the second-generation B-Class (2011-2018) means that while it is an obvious rival to its premium German compatriots, you could also consider the Mercedes against more mainstream MPVs such as the Renault Scenic and Ford S-Max.
Sold only as a five-seat, five-door, tall hatchback, the B-Class favours giving its owners a cosseting, premium driving experience rather than any scintillating driver interactivity. The weight of that three-pointed star on the exterior and the B-Class’s high-quality interior will be what swing used-car buyers in the direction of the mini-MPV from Mercedes most of all.
Which model to go for?
Mercedes sold this generation of B-Class with a variety of cultured petrol and diesel engines, some sourced from its tie-up with the Renault-Nissan Alliance and others being the German firm’s own units. Most models were front-wheel drive, although 4Matic all-wheel traction was offered on the B 220 petrol in certain markets. Used buyers will also find that automatics outnumber B-Class manuals by about four-to-one here.
On the petrol side of things, the B 180 used a 1.6-litre engine with 120hp. There was then a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit, which was sold in three configurations known as the B 200 (156hp), the B 220 (181hp) and the B 250 (211hp); the latter two of these are almost unheard of here in Ireland.
There was even a version of the B 200 which could run on compressed natural gas, but again that’s not common, so those looking for everyday economy will be better served by one of the numerous diesels. Again, there were a few models to consider, split into different power outputs and therefore badging. The 1.5-litre in the B 160 CDI made 90hp, while there was also a B 180 CDI which originally used the 1.5 in 109hp format before switching to a 1.8-litre unit with the same power output later in the B-Class’s life.
Above these, the B 200 CDI used the same 1.8-litre turbodiesel but with power up to a useful 136hp, while Mercedes’ venerable 2.1-litre – sometimes referred to as a ‘2.2’ – topped the lot off in the 170hp B 220 CDI. A minor nomenclature note: Mercedes later changed its diesel suffix to a lower-case ‘d’, so you may find later second-gen B-Class diesels are known as, for example, the B 180 d, rather than the B 180 CDI.
For a brief period, Mercedes even made a zero-emissions model of this car called the B-Class Electric Drive. This had a 180hp electric motor and a small 28kWh battery pack, which when new was claimed to do between 200- and 230km to a single charge. The Electric Drive later became the B 250 e in later models of the B-Class, but the Electric Drive is incredibly rare on the used market today. The truth is that the B 180 CDI or B 200 CDI are going to be the easiest to find and better long-term prospects for those looking for a Mk2 B-Class these days.
Does anything go wrong?
The diesels were fitted with a particulate filter that could become clogged up if previous owners only used their B-Class for short-distance journeys where the engine and exhaust didn’t often warm up fully, so watch for issues revolving around that. Most of the problems reported by owners referred to non-drivetrain-related electronics, such as glitches with the proprietary navigation.
Mercedes issued 12 recalls for this generation of B-Class during its life, for issues relating to its steering column (two), fuel rail and injectors, air-conditioning system, front-seat occupant warning, eCall software module, the current of its starter motor, side airbags, the fitment of the pre-fusebox, screws in the rear seats, the fuel pipes and, finally, its ESP system.