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Used Mercedes B-Class review | Auto Express

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Until the arrival of the original A-Class in 1997, Mercedes had built saloons, cabriolets, estates and off-roaders – but it had never offered a hatchback.

While mainstream car makers produced huge numbers of these practical and popular cars, Mercedes focused on bigger, more profitable models. But while the A-Class was revolutionary thanks to its innovative twin-floor construction, it didn’t prove quite as popular as Mercedes hoped.

Despite this, Mercedes introduced a bigger version of this model in 2005 – the B-Class. Once again this five-door hatch failed to set the sales charts alight, but as a used buy we reckon it’s worth a closer look, thanks to its spacious cabin, excellent practicality and safety, plus keen prices. 

Models covered

The Mercedes B-Class went on sale in late 2005 and was in production for seven years before being replaced by the latest model in 2012. It’s the first-generation car that we’re focusing on in this review.

  • Mercedes B-Class Mk1 (2005-2012) – Unloved Mk1 now makes a decent used buy.

Mercedes B-Class Mk1

History

The B-Class arrived in September 2005 in B150 (1.5-litre), B170 (1.7-litre) and B200 Turbo (2.0-litre) petrol forms. There was also a 2.0-litre diesel in B180 CDI or B200 CDI guises. Buyers could choose between SE or Sport trims, while the B150 and B180 CDI also came in an unnamed entry-level trim.

For £1,390 any engine could be ordered with an Autotronic continuously variable transmission. A facelift in April 2008 brought more efficient engines and a tweaked nose, along with a few interior revisions. The final development for the original B-Class came in June 2009, when the B160 and B180 petrol engines were introduced with fuel-saving BlueEFFICIENCY technology. The second-generation B-Class went on sale in the UK in spring 2012. 

Mercedes B-Class Mk1 reviews

Mercedes B180 CDI review
Mercedes B200 CDI review
Mercedes B200 Turbo review
Mercedes B-Class Fuel Cell review

Which one should I buy?

Which engine you go for will dictate whether or not you gel with the B-Class. The B150 and B170 are a bit slow, and while the B180 CDI is no ball of fire, it has more low-down torque. Best of all is the B200 CDI, with its 140bhp and 300Nm of torque; we’d also recommend a manual gearbox as the CVT auto isn’t great to use.

The standard suspension is quite firm, so you might find that Sport editions are uncomfortably stiff. All B-Classes have air-con as standard, along with a multifunction steering wheel, electric front windows, ESP and six airbags. SE trim adds 16-inch alloys, powered rear windows plus automatic lights and wipers. The Sport has more stylish trim, lowered suspension and 17-inch wheels.

Alternatives to the Mercedes B-Class Mk1

There are few direct rivals, but several cars can be considered alternatives. Closest is the VW Golf Plus; a high-roofed Golf that offers extra space over the regular hatch, but not a lot of added versatility.

If the latter is important, a Ford S-MAX or Vauxhall Zafira will prove a better bet, as both have three rows of seats and can carry seven. The Ford is the more stylish of the two and better to drive, or you could try a Mazda 5, Renault Scenic/Grand Scenic or Citroen C4 Picasso, all of which are strong value. The Honda FR-V is also worth a closer look, as this six-seater is reliable, versatile and very reliable.

What to look for: 

Heater woes

Many owners find the heater inadequate in winter, while the air-con isn’t the most efficient  when things get warmer, either.

Rear washer

The pipe that feeds the rear screen washer can detach, allowing water to short the electrics that control the tailgate release.

Rusty brakes

Rusty rear brake discs are common, especially on cars used sparingly. It’s down to the front brakes doing most of the work.

Locks

Central locking problems can occur in cold weather, while the electric windows can play up; syncing them usually fixes things.

Interior

The B-Class doesn’t have the level of flexibility or versatility of most MPVs, but it’s easy to get comfortable. It all feels solidly built, too, while kit levels are okay, but nothing spectacular. The boot holds 544 litres, or up to 1,645 litres with the rear seats folded – that’s as much as a large estate car, such as the VW Passat. 

Running costs

The B-Class needs maintenance every 15,500 miles or 12 months, with services alternating between minor (£280) and major (£338) at a dealer. All Mercedes engines are chain-driven, so there are no cambelts to replace, while the coolant has to be renewed every 15 years, with the cost already built into the service.

A fresh fuel filter is required every four years (£75), a new air filter every three years (£60) while the brake fluid has to be replaced every two years (£65). In a bid to keep cars in the dealer network, Mercedes offers maintenance plans with prices starting at £27 a month.

Recalls

The second-generation B-Class has been recalled nine times so far, so three campaigns for the original don’t seem bad. The first came in October 2008 as the seatbelt buckle of some early cars could detach in an impact.

The next was in September 2010, as the fuel tank could leak. The most recent campaign was in May 2012 and related to a potential clutch failure. The A-Class was caught up in these campaigns too, although in each case only a handful of cars were affected.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The B-Class Mk2 achieved 118th place in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey, but the original model has never appeared in our annual poll. That’s probably due to the low sales numbers; on our sister CarBuyer website, owners give the current B-Class four stars out of five on average.

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