herald

Friday 15 December 2017

B-SPOKE DRIVING

New Mercedes family car proves to be the perfect motor for busy Bs, writes Ian Mallon

b-class
b-class

THERE'S a voluptuous blonde grinning across the counter at me as I arrive, cash-in-hand, to pay for the juice.

"Pump number seven, please," I offer, nervously, wondering what in hell can this young woman, half my age, find so interesting about me.

"Oooh, a brand new Mercedes, eh? 15 D, wow," she says, immediately popping my temporary delusion.

"Erm, it's only a B-Class, steady on," I respond, following her gaze out the window to where there is indeed a brand new B-Class sitting beside pump number seven.

But then, and for the first time that week, it all made sense.

To me, it was "just a B Class", but to this young woman whose aspirations and dreams stretched farther than the cash desk of her local garage it was a thing of beauty.

It's not that I found anything particularly uninspiring about the B - it was perfectly good, enjoyable even.

SLEEK

It's just that you never really appreciate the "nice" in this game - it's much easier to notice the extraordinary or the appalling.

But thanks to the girl in the garage, I suddenly started looking at the B-Class in a different light as I peered at her through the window.

The first thing I noticed was how beautifully it has evolved, from its almost sportily sleek nose, all the way back to its practically poised rear.

This has evolved through some serious redesigning of the front apron, restyled headlamps and a welcoming blue light when you unlock the doors.

Once inside there's an abundance of space which is quite deceptive from the outside.

Mercedes is all about the technology these days, and the B-Class is its latest showcase for such innovation and driving assistance.

There are many new safety systems employed by the Germans, including Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which visually and acoustically alerts the driver to impending collisions.

This also instigates brake activation, and it works - as I found out on the M9 one evening when the car in front decided to try 100-0 in the fast lane.

The entertainment system in the Mercedes still remains one of my favourites, and it offsets the glorious dash of the B-Class as a thing of visual beauty.

There's chrome everywhere including on the various nozzles and vents and on the trim of just about every single lid and box.

Mercedes has produced 10 different models in its B-Class engine range, from a 1.6 litre diesel right up to a 2.5 litre petrol, sticking to the adage that "too much choice is never enough".

Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, air con, LED daytime running lights, multi-function steering wheel and electric windows all round.

But it's the space that will attract most buyers - namely families with busy lifestyles.

There's literally oceans of room for that growing brood, and there's even space for the dog and maybe even the odd stick.

So, back to the forecourt of the garage in the middle of Kildare on a Sunday morning in January, and the founding member of the B-Class Appreciation Society and me both nodded to pump number seven as a new Mercedes concept hit home.

The Mercedes B-Class starts at €31,585.

Ford is the best seller In the combined new vehicle sales for January with a tally of 4,515 units (3,128 cars and 1,387 vans) ahead of Toyota's total of 4,282 and VW at 4,166.

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