Motoring 2.5.2015 05:00 pm

B Class in the city jungle

Coming from a compact hatch, which is my daily drive, the spacious interior of the new Mercedes-Benz B Class can make you feel a bit like a pea manoeuvring a hot-air balloon.

Coupled with a dashboard filled with shiny buttons, crisp lines and a beautiful centre console display, this uber mom-mobile is a little intimidating at first. The back seat, however, has nothing but food trays. Not even an air vent for small hands to get stuck in. Those are tucked neatly away beneath the seat.

There is a feeling of pure luxury that washes over you from the moment you open the door and the Mercedes-Benz name lights up on the doorstep. Ignition on, gears located (hint: they’re where the windscreen wiper controls should be), and you’re off, hands gliding across the silky, and surprisingly light, steering wheel.

Just about everything is customisable, right down to the support your precious spine receives – a real treat for anyone spending a fair amount of time on the road – but the option to customise the ambient lighting to a colour of your choice is probably an unnecessary, yet cool, feature – unless programming in your happy colour is something keeping B Class drivers sane worldwide.

The boot, despite a heavy door, is very spacious. Dogs, pram, shopping, golf clubs, none are a problem. You’ll even be able to drop down a seat to accommodate a mountain bike. And the first aid kit tucked away neatly in the side boot panel is more than sufficient.

For a car that feels so hip-heavy, parking is a dream. While I wouldn’t recommend dashing off on a rally race, if you do need to go off-road, you’ll be fine. Just don’t go too far off.

Looks aside, the chassis really lets you know that it is long. As you dash off around through the urban jungle, you’ll feel the bumps and kinks in our less-than-smooth roads. It just feels a bit hard and, for the R448 000 you’ll be forking out for this B 220 CDI, a little more glide would be good.

Urban consumption is a bit heavy for a diesel vehicle, but once you’re out of the small roads and have a slightly more open road ahead you’ll see it drop right down to about 5.0 litres per 100km, which is excellent.

While the stop/start feature is an efficient option, it’s not something I felt comfortable with along the Joburg roads. I would probably turn this feature off.

While Queen B – as I called my test car while I had it – can definitely move, I felt the Sports feature could use a bit more oomph. All in all, it’s a cross-over car. And by cross-over I mean urban assault to road trip cross-over (yes, there is a division in the back seat). And gents, not to worry, the sound is great.

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