/strong>With the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class set to debut in a few months, the automaker felt now would be a good time to tease us with the technological bits we should expect to see in the front-wheel drive compact hatchback.
Mercedes has stated that it wants to attract younger buyers to the front-wheel drive B-Class by stuffing it with S-Class goodies. To boost the B-Class’ performance credentials, the automaker turned to the S63 AMG for inspiration. That means the CVT transmission gives way to a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox (the six-speed manual is still available as well) and two new four-cylinder gas engines will be turbocharged with direct injection technology. The 1.6-liter engine is rated at 122-hp and 147 lb-ft of torque, while the larger displacement 2.0-liter will put out 156-hp and 184 lb-ft. Mercedes also made significant revisions to the diesel powerplants and has reduced the displacement on both engines to 1.8-liters. Power, however, remains about the same compared to the previous engines with the B180 CDI putting out 109-hp and 184 lb-ft, while the B200 CDI is rated at 136-hp and 221-lb. Fuel figures weren’t available, but we expect the engines to be more efficient, thanks to the aforementioned upgrades as well as the addition of start/stop technology.
Mercedes states that the new B-Class now achieves an impressive 0.26 drag coefficient, further boosting efficiency in the process. In addition to the aerodynamic sheetmetal and underbody, the new B-Class is fitted with serrated spoilers for the front and rear wheels (Mercedes is currently attempting to patent this new bit of technology). With the addition of the ECO Technology package—which lowers the body and adds more seals to various components around the body and underside—drag is further reduced to 0.24, the same as the E-Class coupe. Not bad for a four-door hatch.
Not only will the B-Class will feature many of the S-Class’ alphabet soup of safety features, but it will be the first Mercedes fitted with Collision Prevention Assist, a radar-based system that helps prevent both front and rear-end collisions. When the system detects an imminent rear collision, it combines Distronic Plus and Brake Assist (BAS) Plus technology to detect how much room is left in front of the B-Class. BAS will then adjust brake pressure to help prevent or reduce the impact of the rear collision.
Finally, the new B-Class should be a better driver compared to its predecessor. Mercedes says it has improved the suspension through the use of a new four-link rear axle and has shortened the overall height by five centimeters for a better center of gravity. The B-Class will also feature an updated Electronic Stability Control (ESP) that will work in conjunction with redesigned electromechanical steering for two new handling systems. First is Torque Vectoring Brake, which uses ESP to help counter oversteer in fast turns. Next is a Direct-Steer system that varies the steering ratio for improved steering feel and will also counteract changes due to crosswinds and varying road gradients.
On paper, the new B-Class appears to have all the necessary technology to be a strong competitor in the luxury compact market, but we are anxious to see how it will look. Also still unknown is if Mercedes will offer it here in the States, although Benz officials have hinted strongly in the past that the new B-Class will come here at some point. We should find out closer to the world debut of the B-Class at the Frankfurt International Motor Show this September.