Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

The B-Class shares its engines with the A-Class - both were launched around the same time. The range starts with a 95bhp 1.5-litre engine promising 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds for the manual but it feels slow and needs to be revved hard to get decent pace. Next is the 116bhp 1.7-litre in the A170 which is marginally better, but still lacklustre. The 2.0-litre engine in the B200 is a far better choice with 136bhp and a 0-62mph of 10.1 seconds.

A range topping sporty B200 Turbo uses a turbocharged version of the same engine, developing 193bhp and offering a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.6 seconds, but it doesn't really suit the family image of the B-Class and averages just 34mpg . Both the C180 CDI and the C200 CDI use the same 2.0-litre diesel engine, with the former providing 109bhp and the latter developing 140bhp.

There's no lower output version (as in the A160 CDI) and both engines offer decent pulling power, although they're not especially quiet or smooth.

It isn't a car aimed at enthusiastic drivers, but the B-Class is safe and composed. There is little body roll in bends but the biggest criticism is the overly assisted steering which never gives much confidence on twisting roads. However, thanks to a longer wheelbase than the A-Class the ride is better and it doesn't fidget over rough roads. Standard on all models is a feature called 'steer control' which uses sensors in the stability programme to detect a skid and discourages the driver from turning the steering wheel the wrong way.