Mercedes Benz B Class B180 CDI Diesel Road Test Review: Bang for Buck!

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Added in: Mercedes Benz

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The Mercedes B180 CDI diesel embodies some of the most desirable qualities for the Indian market in a liberal measure. Big space, great fuel efficiency, fab interiors and a small price tag –entry level buyers in premium segment will have to find a really good reason to overlook this one…

Words and images: Amit Chhangani

Is there something more to the B-Class diesel than a different engine?

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You’d be surprised when we start pointing out the differences. There is a whole lot more to this car than just a different engine, all of which comes together to make this particular version of the B-class a hot buy in its segment. That holds especially true for India. More on that later, but for now, what you should know is that the B-Class diesel is more than just an engine variant.

Feed me with some fodder on that engine first

Well, to start with, that label on the tail-gate may read 180 CDI, but like in the case of most other confusing nomenclatures in the modern auto world, you would be wrong to assume that powering this big hatch is a 1.8 liter engine. Under the bonnet you have a 2143cc (not sure whether we should call it a 2.1 or a 2.2 liter. Or should we call it a 2.15 liter?) turbo charged engine. This engine has been around doing duty on those 220CDI Mercs for some time now. But here, on the B-class it produces a rather low 107 bhp @ 3200 rpm (1.6 liter diesels on some mainstream cars are producing more power these days) and 250 Nm of peak torque at a very low 1400 rpm.

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While absolute output figures may not be too enticing, where the engine scores, really, is in terms of linear power delivery and smoothness. It pulls cleanly from low revs in a very refined manner before getting a little noisy towards the upper extreme of the rev range.

Wait, do you mean to say that it’s low on performance?

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By no means! The B-class is essentially a compact MPV, and by that yardstick, the engine’s quite punchy. An 11 sec 0-100 sprint doesn’t tell the complete story, as in-gear acceleration and overtaking capability on this car is quite good for the real world use. A top whack of close to 190km/h takes some time, but cruising at 120 kays (upto 150) is no sweat. Beyond this the engine does feel a little huffy but that’s all the speed you need to drive (very) swiftly (and legally) in the real world.

What you get as a reward for the slight tradeoff in power is very good fuel efficiency. The B-class boasts an ARAI certified 18.98 kmpl efficiency figure, which can translate into a 14-15kmpl in-city and 16-17 kmpl highway figure in practical use. Some of the credit should also go to the very efficient and slick DCT dual clutch system that controls the transmission of power very intelligently.

Last time you drove the car you said it handles brilliantly, has anything changed?

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The B-class does come across as a fantastically well balanced and fun to drive car, especially for an MPV with FWD layout. The B180 Blue Efficiency petrol indeed managed to surprise us with its poise and balance while being driven around the inviting twisties leading to Aamby valley.

In its diesel avatar, the B-class gets a tad less aggressive in terms of handling, and has its focus more towards ride quality and comfort. What has happened, essentially, is that unlike the petrol variant, the diesel version rides on smaller 16 inch wheels with higher profile (55) tyres. The petrol version, on the other hand in its Sport trim gets 17 inchers with lo-pro (45) rubber. This makes the primary suspension on the B-class softer, and it’s quite evident in the way it handles sharper bumps – it’s much more silent and composed over them.

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The good news is the suspension itself is pretty stiffly sprung even now, lending the B-Class it’s still laudable poise around bends. The slightly softer ride hasn’t taken much away from the fun to drive appeal of the B-class. It’s still an appreciably well balanced and sure footed machine around the bends, especially for an MPV body type.

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How does one tell the B 180 CDI from B 180 Blue Efficiency petrol from the outside?

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There are quite a few changes. The first giveaway is the CDI badging on the diesel’s tailgate. Up front the radiator grilles of the two cars are different. The B petrol has a twin louver radiator grille, while the diesel gets a three louver set. The diesel also loses the chrome tipped twin exhaust units on the petrol, it has only one tail pipe to the left.

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For those who get to see the car in closer detail, and who have an eye for finer elements, the front brake discs on the petrol B Class are perforated and internally ventilated, but not on the B Diesel. Also, the front brake calipers on the Sport badged B petrol have “Mercedes-Benz” lettering, the diesel variant doesn’t.

Has anything changed inside the cabin?

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Yes and no. Functionally, the cabin is exactly the same as the petrol variant. In all honesty, you will have to look at the features list with a lens to figure out the differences. In terms of the overall feel and quality appeal of the cabin, these changes hardly make any difference, except for the big panoramic roof on the petrol B-Class. Infact we were surprised when we realized that there were so many differences between the two variants, as we were not able to notice more than a couple of them.

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The biggest difference, as mentioned before, is that the diesel variant loses the big sunroof. The B diesel is available only in the Style variant, which doesn’t offer the feature. In addition, the Style spec B-class diesel has the following differences as compared to the Sport spec B petrol

  • The steering wheel on the B Class diesel is wrapped in normal leather, unlike the perforated leather wrapped unit of the B petrol.
  • The door central panel on the B petrol is made of ARTICO man-made leather with contrasting topstitching, but not on B Diesel
  • B Class Diesel doesn’t have front door sill panels in stainless steel
  • B Class diesel has normal pedals, unlike the stainless steel – rubber studded pedals on the B Petrol
  • Black high-gloss ash wood trim on B Petrol is replaced by Brown burr walnut wood trim in silk matte finish on the diesel variant

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But fret not, because you get to save money for not having those features. You get a diesel power plant for a lesser price than the petrol. The savings you make with the more frugal diesel engine come as an additional bonus.

But they launched the sexier A-class after the B. Shouldn’t I be looking there instead?

Well, the A-class is an ultra chic, fashionable compact which lends a new definition to cool in the hatchback segment. It’s got a glamorous shape, a very sporty attitude and that entire galaxy of sparkling stars on its radiator grille. So if style is high on your priority list, you most definitely should be looking at the debonair A-Class.

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The B-Class, on the other hand is one of the most spacious machines in its segment. It’s big on cabin volume, comfort and boot size. So if a big, comfortable and practical family car is what you are looking for, the B-class should be your model of choice.

Refresh me about the features available on the B-class

The B-class gets the entire list of Mercedes safety systems, along with some really cool luxury features too. Leading items in the feature list would include seven airbags with ABS, EBD and ESP. There’s also the drowsiness banishing Attention Assist.

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The interiors are very tastefully appointed and equally well put together. Those jet turbine inspired A/C vents made their debut first on the B-Class in India. You also get climate control, cruise control, steering mounted controls, and electrical ORVMs. The COMAND system on this car is not the most advanced version, but still has Bluetooth telephony and some other basic function. The B-class is indeed very well kitted for its segment and price.

Does the transmission behave differently with the new diesel engine?

Nope. The dual clutch 7 speed DCT unit works fabulously well with the diesel engine as well. The shifts are quicker than the traditional 7G-Tronic and the pedals behind the steering wheel make driving a lot more fun too. If anything, with the diesel’s easily accessible lower down the rev range, it’s now much easier to cruise nicely in the highest gear in low revs, extracting maximum fuel efficiency from the engine. There is also an intelligent Stop/Start system to optimize fuel efficiency in stop go city traffic.

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There are three drive modes to choose from – Economy, Sport and Manual. Economy mode shifts up as quickly as possible, depending on the weight of your foot that is, Sport mode holds on longer to the revs, while manual mode wont shift all the way up to the redline, waiting for you to shift up – allowing maximum attack in corners.

So which one do you recommend? Petrol or diesel?

We’re absolute suckers for diesel motors. And this one, even with its not so enticing power output figure is still a punchy enough performer in the real world. You get comparable performance to the petrol unit, you get it for a cheaper price, you get much better fuel efficiency, and much lesser running costs, and finally, a more comfortable ride quality than the more stiffly sprung A Petrol.

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In our humble opinion, the diesel offers much more value and practicality than the petrol variant. It’s a more suitable choice for the Indian market with no significant downsides against the petrol version. Sure, the petrol variant has that big, funky sunroof and a very minor edge in terms of visual enhancements inside the cabin. But honestly, that doesn’t add up to change our opinion. The diesel is indeed the better choice of the two. Now we cannot be more unequivocal than this, can we?

Price as tested :  Rs 25.3 lakh ex-showroom

Next page for technical specifications and image gallery>>>

Mercedes Benz B180 CDI diesel technical specifications

Engine and performance
Arrangement/number of cylindersIn-line/4
Total Displacement (cc)2143
Rated Output (kW/hp @ rpm)80 @ 3200 – 4400
Rated Torque (Nm @ rpm)250 @ 1400 – 2800
Acceleration (0-100 km/h, sec)10.7
Top speed (km/h)190
Chassis (standard) and wheels
Tyre Size, front/rear205/55 R 16
Fuel and consumption
FuelDiesel
Tank Capacity (I)/reserve approx.50/6
Quantity, dimensions and weights
Boot Capacity (I)486 to 1545
Turning Circle diameter (m)11
Kerb weight (kg) [1]1565
Permissible gross vehicle weight (kg)2025

Mercedes Benz B180 CDI diesel image gallery

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