The B-Class is priming itself not only for a completely revised model debut at Frankfurt this September, but also, possibly, for its first sales in the U.S. As something of a pint-sized hatchback in American eyes, it will be interesting to see how buyers perceive its unusual mix of features.
Having already consulted with U.S. Mercedes-Benz buyers on the new B-Class, Mercedes-Benz appears to be optimistic from the data gleaned thus far. And given the slate of features and specs unveiled today, it may have good reason to be.
For instance, the B-Class will offer two turbocharged gasoline engines and one diesel, in Europe, at least, along with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The high-tech draw of the dual clutch alone, especially a fully modern seven-speed unit, sets the B-Class apart from not only the rest of the hatchback spectrum, but ahead of most of the luxury segment as well.
Of the two gasoline engines, only the 2.0-liter 156-horsepower version is likely to see U.S. sale. The 1.6-liter engine is sure to be even more efficient, but at 122 horsepower, won't likely meet the expectations of American luxury buyers. Both engines are based on Mercedes new M270 line of engines, which use direct injection and turbocharging to maximize torque and efficiency. They can be mounted either longitudinally or transversely.
The diesels, while not likely to see U.S. use, are still possible, and with 109 horsepower in B 180 CDI trim or 136 horsepower in B 200 CDI guise, the larger diesel could be potent enough to meet approval in terms of driving experience--especially when considered with the more important (for diesels) torque figure of 221 pound-feet.
A six-speed manual transmission will also be available, though we don't expect many Americans--even those progressive enough to buy a luxury German hatchback--to opt for it with the DCT also on the table.
Beyond the drivetrain specs, Mercedes is also planning to pack the B-Class full of high-tech equipment, with a radar-based collision warning system and adaptive brake assist standard--the first car in the world to offer such a system as a base configuration.
The Collision Prevention Assist, as Mercedes calls it, uses radar to detect relative speeds to other vehicles and objects, and can calculate the rate of decrease in the gap to the obstacle. When the system sees a collision is imminent, it can apply the precise brake pressure needed to avoid or minimize the effects of a collision. It's even smart enough to tell the difference between bumper-to-bumper traffic and an emergency situation, so it won't annoy drivers by activating warnings when it's not needed.
For even more detail on the upcoming 2012 B-Class, you can read the full release on page two. Unfortunately, there's no mention of the rumored B-Class AMG.