Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

Buyers can pick between four engines. Petrol versions, both of which displace 1.6-litres, come with either 120bhp or 154bhp. The diesel versions, both 1.8-litre units, produce 109bhp or 136bhp. Each gets technology such as stop/start and turbo charging. This helps improve economy, maintain smooth running and allow the engines to generate lots of pulling power at low speeds.

The engines are all smooth, refined and economical. The petrol engines, particularly, are impressively flexible – even at low speeds. All models are capable of 0-62mph in less than 11 seconds. Two gearboxes are available. There’s a six-speed manual that’s relatively slick, although there is a little too much free play in the gear lever. There’s also a seven-speed DSG automatic.

It’s not as quick or as smooth as Audi's S Tronic gearbox but it makes the B-Class effortless to drive. The DSG box, however, will occasionally ignore the instructions sent to it from the wheel-mounted paddles, particularly on downshifts.

The last generation of B-Class proved to be safe and composed, yet lacking in engagement and feedback. This generation sets out to change this, with a new chassis and suspension, redesigned electromechanical steering and an upgraded stability control system. While the changes have made the B-Class feel more precise and composed, feedback through the steering is still minimal.

Regardless of this, there is a considerable amount of grip in corners – partly thanks to a system called Torque Vectoring Brake, which reduces understeer. The ride, however, is not what you’d expect. The rear suspension feels overly stiff, leading to it crashing into potholes, transmitting dull thuds into the cabin, while certain surfaces can set up an unpleasant vibration.

Cruising at speed on good roads is relatively comfortable but bumps can cause the B-Class to bounce and float, which can prove unsettling. The only consolation is that the suspension controls body roll well during fast cornering. Sport models get lower and stiffer suspension and run-flat tyres, which exacerbate these issues - so unless you want the 'Sports' tag and a harsh ride, go for the SE model.