2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

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2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review

By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor

As electric cars move to the mainstream, entries such as the 2015 B-Class 5-door electric hatchback from Mercedes-Benz will continue to give the public more reasons to go green. We’ll concede the B-Class’ exterior is not as expressive as the BMW i3, but it does mirror similarly sized electrics, namely the Ford Focus and Volkswagen e-Golf. Unlike other electrics, however, the B-Class delivers a more active driving experience, and the quality of its construction and materials is beyond reproach. Because it uses a drivetrain supplied by Tesla, the B-Class doesn’t exactly break new ground. There’s also the matter of plug-in hybrids such as the Ford C-Max Energi or Chevrolet Volt, which many find more practical as they don’t rely solely on electric power.

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You can find similar range and interior accommodations in other electric vehicles, but they won’t deliver the handling, style or upscale interior that comes with the 2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Though it seems expensive, the B-Class’ $42,375 starting price remains in line with the unconventional BMW i3.

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If you think a cutting-edge propulsion system should be matched by a cutting-edge design, the BMW i3 and Nissan LEAF are clearly more distinctive. Those who have concerns about the B-Class’ range might feel more comfortable with a plug-in hybrid like the Ford C-Max Energi or Chevy Volt.

What's New for 2015

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive gains a few styling changes and new standard equipment including Keyless Go and Garmin Navigation. Last year’s optional Range Package is also standard, adding a heated windshield, additional roof insulation and a button for extending the B-Class’ range between charges.

Driving the B-Class
Driving Impressions

Driving the 2015 Mercedes B-Class is utterly unremarkable, and that’s actually a good thing. Other than the lack of engine and exhaust noise, the B-Class accelerates, brakes and handles with...

... all the skill expected of a car wearing the 3-pointed star. The interior is beautifully laid out and filled with high-tech options, although we did find the hard plastics used on the lower dash and door panels to be a bit off-putting. On the road the B-Class moves from a standing stop with steadfast determination, thanks in large part to the hefty dose of torque from its electric motor. Keeping one’s foot to the floor will continue this rapid acceleration, an experience that is addictive but can also significantly lessen the car’s range. Charge time with a 240-volt outlet takes about 3.5 hours, while a conventional 120-volt plug requires more than 24 hours.

Regenerative braking recaptures kinetic energy when the car is slowing or braking. The 2015 B-Class offers a system that allows the driver to decide how aggressive the energy capture should be. There’s even a radar-based adaptive mode that can automatically slow the car depending on traffic and road conditions.

With the mbrace app, the B-Class Electric Drive for 2015 allows its owners to monitor and control a number of features directly from their smartphones. Our favorite is the ability to program the climate control to heat or cool the vehicle while charging, thus reducing battery depletion once on the road.

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Details
2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class photo Interior

The 2015 Mercedes B-Class interior is high quality, with the dash top and doors covered in soft-touch materials, but with hard plastic on the lower parts and center console somewhat spoiling the mood. An iPad-like screen juts out from the top of the dash, above three air vents and the rest of the audio and climate controls. The front seats are roomy, but the high floor in the rear limits passenger legroom. There's plenty of cargo space though.

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class photo

While handsome, there's not a lot of visual pizazz to the 2015 B-Class electric's styling. The tall 5-door hatchback shape is shared by a number of other vehicles, although the 3-pointed star on the nose classes things up on its own. We also like the LED accents on the headlights, which emphasize the kinship this car has with other Mercedes vehicles like the S-Class. Callouts to the car's electric nature are subtle, with just a few "Electric Drive" badges here and there, plus a blue-tinted grille.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive comes well equipped for a reasonably priced electric car. In addition to cruise control, aluminum-alloy wheels, navigation and automatic climate control, the car wants to assist you with just about everything. Collision Prevention Assist warns if you're about to rear-end another car, while Active Parking Assist helps find a big enough parallel-parking spot. Attention Assist determines if the driver is getting drowsy, and advises to take a break from driving with a dashboard warning. Safety equipment includes front, side and side-curtain airbags, and a knee airbag for the driver to prevent lower-limb injuries.

Optional Equipment

In addition to the radar-based regenerative-braking system, the 2015 B-Class electric offers several other high-tech options. Blind-spot monitoring warns if you are about to change lanes into another car, and lane-keeping assist helps nudge you back into the correct lane. Parktronic with Advanced Parking Assist helps drivers find and park in a parallel-parking spot. The COMAND multimedia system with its 7-inch dash-mounted screen is also optional.

Under the Hood

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive for 2015 comes with one powertrain option only: a 177-horsepower electric motor driving the front wheels. Supplied by the electric vehicle pioneers at Tesla, the motor accelerates the B-Class electric to 60 mph from a standstill in just under eight seconds, according to Mercedes. The 28-kWh lithium-ion battery provides up to 85 miles of driving range, and can be recharged to 60 miles of range in about two hours using a Level 2 (40-amp) charger. A full recharge takes 3.5 hours on the same charger.

AC electric motor with 28kWh lithium-ion battery pack
177 horsepower
251 lb-ft of torque
Range with full charge (estimated): 85 miles

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