KBB Editors' Overview
By Keith Buglewicz - Updated Date: 6/20/2014
Electric cars are becoming more mainstream, and the best evidence is the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive hatchback. Conventional in appearance, electric range and charging time, this first electric car from the German manufacturer nonetheless distinguishes itself with its uniquely Mercedes driving experience. It also offers up comfortable seating (especially for the front occupants), cargo space that's uncompromised by the underfloor battery pack, and some unique twists on "regenerative" braking – using the energy produced under braking to charge the battery pack. Using a drivetrain supplied by electric-car leader Tesla, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive doesn't break a lot of new technological ground. Yet it refines and matures the genre with a premium feel, handsome but not eye-catching style, and a surprisingly reasonable price.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you want an electric vehicle from a luxury manufacturer, but aren't looking for outrageous styling, then the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive is just the ticket. The hatchback's $41,500 entry-level price is also low enough to attract EV buyers who just want more cargo space in their environmentally friendly ride.
You May Not Like This Car If...
For some, electric vehicles are the future, and the styling should match that vision. If that describes you, then you'd do better to skip the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and its conservative lines. Check out the BMW i3 instead, Buck Rogers.
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is an all-new model for Mercedes. While the B-Class is old hat in Europe – and sold with a variety of powertrains – the 5-door hatchback is new for the U.S., destined to be the company's electric vehicle for the U.S.
The 2014 Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive is utterly conventional in the way it goes about its business. Rather than wow you with a whole new way of driving a car, the B-Class simply gets the job done, always with a premium feel and very good control of things like wind and road noise. The firm suspension and good steering aren't exactly sporty, but they do make the B-Class more athletic. As for the drivetrain, the electric motor moves this car better than you might expect. After an initial rush of torque, the B-Class electric settles into the same steady accelerative pull you get in a jet airliner taking off. Of course, foot-to-the-floor starts will discharge that battery quicker than you can say, "Where's a charging station?"
RADAR-BASED RECUPERATION SYSTEM
Electric cars use regenerative braking to recharge the batteries as the car slows and coasts. The 2014 B-Class electric offers a system that lets the driver choose the regenerative braking's aggressiveness. Most interesting is an adaptive mode that uses radar to slow the vehicle depending on traffic and road conditions.
Using the Mercedes-Benz mbrace app, B-Class electric owners can monitor and control a variety of functions from their smartphones. Our favorite is programming the climate control system to cool or warm the car while it's still plugged in, saving the batteries for driving, rather than getting the temperature just so.
For vehicle details and pricing notes…