Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

You sit relatively high in the driving seat of the B-Class, but it doesn't feel like you're driving a people carrier. This is partly because it has a high floor thanks to the 'sandwich floor' concept which keeps the engine away from the front-seat occupants in a crash. It's far from premium - either in feel or appearance - and lacks the luxurious feel you expect from the German make.

And while build quality is good, it's robust rather than inviting. All instruments are clear and the audio and ventilation system controls are logically laid out. Indicators, wipers and main beam are controlled by the Mercedes trademark single steering column stalk, which is fine once you get used to it. Visibility is good, with minimal blind spots around the A-pillars and to the rear.

Four adults can travel in comfort in the B-Class. For five occupants, you'd better hope at least two are children as the rear bench is too narrow to carry three adults for long journeys. Otherwise the Mercedes provides a relaxed environment with low noise, even at high speed, although the diesel engine versions seem a little noisier around town. Air conditioning is standard across the range as are electric front windows.

The SE pack (offered as an option on B150, B170 and B180 CDI models) includes upgrades to automatic climate control and adds electric rear windows.