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Mercedes-Benz B-Class engines, drive and performance

2019 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 3.2 out of 53.2

Written by Alan Taylor-Jones Published: 27 July 2023 Updated: 1 August 2023

  • Only two engines after 2023 facelift
  • One mild-hybrid petrol, one diesel, no PHEV
  • Both come with an automatic gearbox

The B-Class’s range of engines was slashed in a 2023 update to just two. Although the petrol gets mild hybrid assistance, you can’t have a plug-in hybrid while the all-electric EQB is based on the GLB SUV, not this. If you want more choice, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has similarly powerful petrol and diesels, plus a punchier 2.0-litre petrol and a plug-in hybrid.

Petrol engines

You’ll find a 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the B200 – the same kind you’ll find under the bonnet of the smaller A-Class, as well as the Nissan Qashqai.

Available in a couple of power outputs previously and elsewhere, the sole B 200 has 163hp and 250Nm of torque, and a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds. It has a mild-hybrid system to help improve efficiency and power, although we found it could still be hesitant, especially from a standstill.

Mercedes B-Class front cornering
You’ll find the handling is tidy enough and there’s plenty of grip, but AMG Line doesn’t mean AMG fun.

Outright performance is good, but it does need to be worked quite hard to deliver the goods, creating a rather thrashy noise in the process. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is unobtrusive in normal driving, but can take a moment to kick down.

Diesel engines

The diesel in the B-Class will be a better fit for longer-distance drivers thanks to higher torque figures that suit overtaking, not to mention the more impressive fuel economy claims.

We only get the 2.0-litre B 200 d, producing 150hp and 320Nm of torque. This version will get from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds, but in most situations feels more muscular than the 200 petrol. That’ll be especially useful when you’ve got a car loaded up to the roof.

Mercedes B-Class rear cornering
A powered tailgate is standard, which is nice.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Excellent manoeuvrability in town
  • Safe and predictable handling
  • Good grip levels in corners

The B-Class gets the basics right with pleasantly weighted steering that makes it easy to place on the road (especially once you’ve turned the lane keep assist off), peppy performance when you need it and decent comfort most of the time.

As it stands, we’ve only driven a facelifted AMG Line Premium Plus on giant 19-inch wheels. Around town it feels a bit sudden as it thumps through potholes and over ridges, although it reveals a softer edge at speed especially on the motorway. All versions get the same suspension, but we’d expect the smaller 18-inch wheels of AMG Line Executive and Premium, and especially 17-inch shod Sport to improve the low-speed ride.

Mercedes B-Class front cornering
Mercedes has slimmed down the engine range, ditching the 2.0-litre petrol and PHEV during the 2023 facelift.

You’ll find the B-Class is competent but not especially fun in the bends. Body roll is well contained and there’s plenty of grip to lean on before electronics reign in any over-exuberance, even if you’ve supposedly turned them off. However, even with the additional steering weight and less dim-witted gearbox Sport mode brings, there’s no sense of fun here. A BMW 2 Series Active Tourer feels a bit more agile if you’re a keen driver.

Low-speed handling and manoeuvrability around town – likely of greater consequence to most B-Class buyers – is impressive thanks to a tight turning circle and raised-up driving position. The steering is light at low speeds which makes it ideal for manoeuvres in town and in car parks, which is where the B-Class is likely to spend most of its time. In this scenario, it handles very well indeed. A-pillar blindspots are noticeable, however, and do affect visibility.