Price: Rs 22,60,000
Good: Comes at a lower price, hence makes much more sense than the petrol variant. Decent to drive and comes with a very fuel efficient diesel engine.
Bad: It isn't as feature rich as B-Class petrol. Also, the engine's a bit noisy.
Verdict: This is what the B-Class should have been, right from the start. Although it isn't as feature rich as the B-petrol, the diesel B-Class isn't as expensive either to run or buy. If you're looking for a B-Class to fulfill your touring desires, this is the car to own.
The B-class, which was the first of the 'New Generation Compact Cars' from Mercedes Benz, was launched in India in 2012 among much fanfare and optimism. The marketing campaigns have glorified the B-class as a Sports Tourer; but the B180 Sport - which is a petrol powered car - hasn't quite lived up to the expectations of being mile-munching touring car. Blame it to ever-increasing cost of petrol or the lack of enough bang for the buck. The B-class diesel though, could bring about the necessary changes. Let's find out if it does...
In terms of the design, the B-class diesel looks a tad different than its petrol sibling. Draped in the ‘Style’ trim, the B-diesel gets a three-slat grille on the face with a large three-pointed star at the centre. The B180 Sport (petrol) gets a two-slat grille instead. The diesel variant also loses out on the panoramic roof and therefore the all-black, all-glass unit is replaced with sculpted metal that has a wide indentation running through the length of the roof. It breaks the monotony of the large and prominent roofline.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the sharp and stubby nose of the B-class still looks disconnected from the rest of the body – more so when viewed from the car’s side profile. If you are keen-eyed, then you’ll also notice that the diesel variant of the B also rides on slightly smaller, 16-inch alloy wheels. But if such design changes are too small for anyone to differentiate this car from its petrol counterpart, the boot-lid will make things clear. It wears the ‘CDI’ badge, which indicates that there is an oil-burner under the hood. The ‘B180’ badge is misleading though as the cubic capacity of the engine is not even in the same pin code as what the badging may suggest. More on that, later.
The overall design on the B-class diesel looks very sober with the ‘Style’ trim though; and takes away whatever little sporty styling the B-class petrol had to offer.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the ‘B180’ badge on the boot is misleading. You would expect a 1.8-litre engine under the hood, but what you get instead is a 2.2-litre oiler that puts out a 109 PS of power and a healthy 250 Nm of torque. In the global market, Mercedes Benz sells the B-class with a different set of engines altogether, which are Euro 5 compliant. However, for India, the carmaker chose to use this 2.2-litre motor because it not only is cheaper to integrate – since it is also used in the E-, C- and A-class – but also because this engine is Euro 4 compliant and therefore works better with the Indian fuel quality.
When you crank the engine you have the trademark, gravely note of a diesel motor. It settles into a low idle of less than 800 revs per minute and the moment you engage the Drive mode, the engine note becomes smoother. With a diesel engine, you generally expect some sort of a turbo-lag or a sudden surge of torque. But with a variable geometry turbine and the large 2149cc displacement, the B-class’ diesel engine doesn’t impart any such behavior. Instead, it pulls off cleanly and builds up the power and torque without making you feel the lack of either.
Thanks to the seven-speed dual clutch transmission, the gearshifts feel quick and the engine doesn’t feel stressed in either of the driving cycles – urban or highway. Speaking of driving cycles, our test car returned us a fuel economy of 14-15 kmpl in the urban environment and 17-18 kmpl on the highway. This is very close to Merc’s claim of 18.9 kmpl. With a fuel tank capacity of 50 litres, you have a driving range of close to a 1000 kilometres then, should you take to sport touring seriously.
The B-diesel can attain a restricted top whack of 190 km/h, but with the front wheel drive architecture, this compact car does feel nervous at high speeds - despite the relatively broad tyres. The safety tech keeps the car in check though. Speaking of which, the safety features remain untouched - so you get quite a few airbags, assisted brakes with ABS and EBD, acceleration skid prevention and of course, ESP.
The B-diesel’s 16-inch wheels are shod with 205-55 section tyres, which are higher in profile than the ones on the B-petrol. Their higher profile results in slightly better ride quality as compared to the latter. The tyres also provide very good grip through bends but the relatively high body-roll from the soft suspension setup reminds you that this isn’t an enthusiast’s car. Nevertheless, the B180 CDI does its job of tackling the Indian road and fuel conditions very well and leaves little room for any sort of complaints.
The B-class is certainly not the prettiest car from Mercedes Benz. But if you think that the A-class looks too flashy or is cramped (or both), then the matured B-class could appeal more to you. And with a diesel engine under the hood and better ride quality to boast of, it seems like the B-class can finally live up to its claims of being a potent sports tourer.
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