Thanks to a number of leaked photos and a slew of spy shots, we saw this coming. However, that doesn't make the official release of details on the 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class any less important. The new compact makes its debut next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show boasting an all-new look, powertrain, and platform.
As has long been reported, the B-Class it is the first production model to use the automaker's new MFA (Mercedes Front Architecture) front-wheel drive platform. The MFA replaces the previous sandwich-floor platform that the current A- and B-Class hatchbacks use, and is a modular architecture that can be enlarged, adapted for all-wheel-drive, and compatible with many different body styles and powertrain options. Other vehicles to come from the MFA are the next A-Class (previewed by the Concept A-Class shown earlier this year at the New York auto show), a small crossover to do battle with the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, and a CLS-inspired four-door coupe.
Aesthetically, the 2012 B-Class blends cues cribbed from the Concept A-Class and the previous B-Class. It maintains an upright greenhouse and short nose, along with large headlights and a prominent grille. Around back, the flat hatch bears similar taillights to the outgoing model, although they are LED-powered and a little more artistic than before. Inside, the cabin sports large, circular air vents, a infotainment screen placed high in the dash, and horizontal, flowing lines to convey a feeling of openness and luxury.
The 2012 B-Class will be available for the first time with Mercedes' seven-speed automatic transmission, though an all-new six-speed manual will also be offered. Either of the transmissions can be mated to the buyer's choice of gasoline and diesel inline-four-cylinder offerings. Gas-powered offerings include two forms of the direct-injection 1.6-liter I-4, and are rated at 122 hp and 156 hp. Diesel options include two variants of Mercedes' 1.8-liter common-rail diesel, rated at 109 and 136 hp, respectively.
As promised, the B-Class is packed full of advanced features typically found in larger vehicles. Standard equipment includes a radar-based collision avoidance system; Attention Assist which detects a drowsy driver; and Benz's Pre-Safe system, which closes windows, tightens belts, and adjusts front seats to prepare occupants for a collision. Two versions of the Comand infotainment system will be offered, both of which are available with Internet connectivity. According to Mercedes, passengers will be able to surf while parked or use voice commands to search Google and Google Maps while in motion.
The 2012 B-Class will make its debut next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show and will go on sale in Europe this coming November. Whether or not the car will come to the U.S. remains to be seen, but rest assured several variants of the MFA platform are heading our way.