Mercedes-Benz B-Class: Buying guide

  • Considering a new Mercedes-Benz B-Class?
  • Parkers takes you through which options to pick
  • We could help you save yourself money and time

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is a comfortable 'compact sports tourer' with premium appeal and a high degree of practicality.

Taking the plunge to buy a new car, especially something like a Mercedes-Benz, is not a casual investment.

You need to think carefully about which options to pick, to ensure that you get a car that's going to fulfil all your requirements. You also need to bear in mind what potential buyers will be looking for, should you ever want to sell your car.

After all, if you specify the wrong engine, or overlook an important bit of extra kit, you may find your car harder to sell. You could even lose more money through depreciation.

To help you navigate through the minefield of specifying a B-Class, Parkers has come up with a simple buying guide that will help you narrow down what you really want.

Read on to find out what you should consider when buying a new Mercedes-Benz B-Class

SE or Sport trim?

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is surprisingly well-equipped, even in standard 'SE' specification.

It comes with air-con, electric windows, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, a USB connection for MP3 players, park assist, steering-wheel mounted audio and trip computer controls, 16-inch alloys, stop/start and numerous safety systems.

The higher-specification Sport trim consists primarily of cosmetic changes. It gets larger 18-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tyres, lower and stiffer suspension, bi-Xenon lights with LED daytime running lights, privacy glass, a reversing camera, different interior trim and other minor detail changes.  

Unless you're keen on the cosmetic upgrades offered by the Sport version, we'd recommend choosing the SE model. The B-Class' ride is quite firm, and the lower suspension, bigger alloys and run-flat tyres of the Sport model exaggerate the already stiff ride. It can make the car quite harsh, and isn't ideal for the majority of roads - nor is it particularly in keeping with the smooth and refined nature of most Mercedes-Benz models.

The more powerful B200 petrol version of the B-Class is, however, only available in Sport trim. As a result, if you are dead set on that particular engine then you have no choice but to opt for the Sport trim.

Petrol or diesel?

Four engines options are available. Buyers can choose from a 1.6-litre petrol engine with either 120bhp or 156bhp outputs, or a 1.8-litre diesel in either 109bhp or 136bhp outputs.

All of the available engines are smooth, refined and economical. In the real world there's relatively little difference, in terms of performance, between the low- and high-powered engines.

As a result, unless you're going to be doing lots of high-speed motorway work and overtaking, you're best off picking the less expensive lower-output engines.

If you do want one of the more powerful engines, barring the additional premium there are few other negatives. They're only fractionally more expensive to run and the economy and emissions are usually identical.

If you're happy with choosing either the B180 petrol or B180 CDI diesel, but aren't sure whether you should go for the petrol or diesel, have a look at your annual mileage. If you're doing less than 10,000 miles a year, and intend to do mostly just short trips or town driving, it's probably best to go for the petrol version.

Manual or automatic?

All models are available with a choice of either a six-speed manual gearbox, or a seven-speed automated dual-clutch gearbox.

The manual gearbox is a slick and unobtrusive affair, and ideal for those who will be doing lots of long-distance motorway driving and commuting.

The automatic gearbox also works well, and provides relatively rapid shifts thanks to its dual-clutch technology. It makes the B-Class effortless to drive in traffic, meaning it's probably best suited to those who intend to drive frequently in more congested areas. It does, however, command quite a hefty premium.

Which options should I really pick?

With a comprehensive array of standard equipment, buyers need not worry too much about the optional extras list.

That doesn't mean you should ignore it entirely, though, as there are a few options that are guaranteed to make your B-Class easier to live with, and easier to sell later on.

If they're not standard on the model you are looking at, you should look to specify cruise control, the reversing camera with guidance lines, the DAB digital radio and the media interface.

The cruise control makes the car less tiring on long trips, while the reversing camera cuts hassle when parking. The DAB digital radio future-proofs the car against a future FM shutoff, and the media interface allows people to connect MP3 players and USB drives.

In some instances, these options might not seem particularly useful to you. When it comes to selling the car, however, they'll make it more desirable to potential buyers. You may also find that your usage of the car changes, and you may regret not choosing certain options initially.

These options are costly to add to the car afterwards, so it's good to get them fitted straight from the word go. Having a few pieces of impressive and visible technology, such as a reversing camera, also helps improve the premium feel of the car.

What about the additional packages?

A range of equipment packages are available for the B-Class, ranging from inexpensive additional storage solutions to expensive electronics packs.

There are two low-cost packs that are highly recommended: the mirror package and the Easy-Vario plus system.

The mirror package adds an auto-dimming rear view mirror, a multifunction steering wheel and electrically folding exterior mirrors. These simple touches come in handy on a daily basis.

The Easy-Vario plus system improves the practicality and load-carrying ability of the B-Class. It's particularly useful for those with small families or those who carry equipment around with them.

If your budget can stretch to it, then do choose the 'Exclusive' package as well. It's a costly option but it adds heated leather seats with adjustable lumbar support, upgraded dash trims, a 12-volt rear power socket, better floor mats and other minor upgrades.

Even though it's an expensive option, it improves considerably the general feel and comfort level of the B-Class.

Second-hand buyers are also likely to seek out cars with the Exclusive pack fitted, so choosing it will potentially make your car easier to sell. 

Do I need to look out for anything else?

As standard, the B-Class comes in a red or plain white finish. You'll have to fork out a little more to pick from one of the more attractive metallic finishes. If you do go for a metallic finish, try and avoid any of the less desirable colours.

The ideal combination?

A B180 or B180 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY with a six-speed manual gearbox, optional cruise control, reversing camera, DAB digital radio, media interface, and the Easy-Vario plus, mirror and Exclusive packages.

Parkers Top Tip:

Thinking about buying a car? Check out the Parkers car buyer's toolkit for more advice and information.