The all-new Mercedes B-Class Electric midsize SUV is designed with cruising the suburbs in mind. With a nice interior and standard collision-prevention assistance, the B-Class is ready to get groceries in style, but that is about all you could do on a single charge. With a mere 60 mi range, the B-Class does have some limitations. However, engineering that is unquestionably classic Mercedes is apparent in all aspects of the ride. Featuring an interior that is dripping with cutting-edge technology, it is a great ride for the luxury car owner who is also environmentally minded.
The B-Class boasts a 177 horsepower electric motor, with an estimated 0-60 mph acceleration in 7.9 seconds. The auto’s front-wheel drive, with four wheel independent suspension, rides and steers smoothly with help from an electromechanical power steering system. The lithium battery has a rated range of 60 miles after a two hour charge time, but with an optional temporary range extender, 15% can be added to the battery’s range. This helps to make up for the lackluster base range but is disappointing that it is not included in all models. Also optional for the B-Class, a first for electric vehicles, is Mercedes’ state of the art radar-based technology that monitors the speed of the vehicle ahead, as well as its distance. Regenerative Braking with paddles, which is also radar based, allows the driver to adapt driving speed to the flow of traffic. The system automatically adjusts the car’s braking to reclaim as much energy as possible, extending the battery’s driving range. A pair of paddles behind the upper steering-wheel spokes also allows the driver to manually select from three recuperation levels. These levels range from gliding to maximum.
Safety features of the B-Class range from “smart” to “engineered with purpose”, with offerings ranging from adaptive brake control to advanced body structuring. There is the awesome braking system we spoke of earlier which Mercedes dubs “Adaptive Brake Assist” which functions as more than just range improvement. It automatically provides the ideal level of braking, as soon as the driver steps on the brake pedal, to help prevent a collision or reduce its severity. LED daytime running lights make the auto more visible, save energy, and give the exterior a high-tech styling. Emergency Tensioning Devices in the seatbelts take up slack in safety harnesses during a collision to keep passengers in place and safe.
The auto’s batteries are stored in separate compartments, away from passengers, due to a “bi-level” cabin floor design. Ultra high-strength steel is used in the roof pillars and cross members, door beams and various reinforcements throughout the body. The front bulkhead helps channel impact forces under and around the cabin. Other safety features, such as an electronic parking brake, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto-on rear window wiper, backup camera (optional) and bi-xenon headlamps (optional) add the finishing touches to a safety machine. Although it is unlikely that a US crash test rating will be available due to low estimated sales numbers, the vehicle has performed well in European tests. The B200 cousin of this car achieved a 5-Star rating from Euro NCAP in performance and Mercedes will try for top crash-safety scores from the NHTSA and IIHS for the Electric Drive model.
The B-Class’s interior is unmistakably the signature Mercedes-Benz design. The three-spoke steering wheel houses a multi-function control unit, which operates the most frequently used vehicle controls, and is leather-wrapped. Standard dash and door trim is offered in textured anthracite, with optional stitched leather, walnut or black ash wood trim. Controlled by the steering wheel’s multifunction control unit, the 4.5-inch color instrument cluster display offers drivers the ability to stay in tune with the vehicle’s settings and data, including stereo settings and battery charge levels. For tech junkies, the B-Class offers My Mercedes Electric Vehicle Homepage where, through a computer or portable device, drivers can view and control vehicle features, including charge status and profile, climate control, ECO scores, driving range on a map and a charging station finder. Drivers also have homepage access to user-defined shortcuts, favorites and preferences.
The vehicle also comes standard with a three-year Mercedes mbrace subscription. The iPhone or Android app gives you access to the My Mercedes Electric Vehicle Homepage, Automatic Collision Notification, SOS/Emergency Calls, Roadside Assistance Connection, Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, Automatic Alarm Notification, Crisis Assist, Valet Protect, several Mercedes Benz branded apps, remote door lock and unlock, Vehicle Finder, remote horn and lights, and dealer connect vehicle information. Mercedes has made one of the most mobile accessible vehicles on the current market in the B-Class Electric.
Along with tech toys, the interior boasts a three zone automatic climate control system, 14-way power front seats with three memory settings and a network of strategically placed LEDs that make up a glorious ambient interior lighting system. Split folding rear seats paired with a spacious cargo area combine for 21.6 cubic feet of space with the seats up, and 51.4 cubic feet with the seats stowed. Becker MAP PILOT and a 5.8 inch color multifunction display pair together to give the driver full color maps with notifications for points of interest, including charging stations. Optional 80 GB hard drive navigation and 7-inch screen pair with the COMAND system to give the driver-storable maps and navigation. A Harman/Kardon LOGIC7 sound system, optional, was specifically designed for the B-Class, offering the driver 450 Watts of brilliant and balanced audio. Optional leather, heated seats, garage door opener and auto-dimming mirrors round out the luxurious and gadget-packed interior features.
The Mercedes B-Class Electric Vehicle MSRPs start at $41,450. The vehicle is covered against defects in materials and workmanship by Mercedes for 50,000 miles or 48 months. Extended warranties are available up to 125,000 miles. The B-Class is only available as an EV in the US, with CNG and diesel models being held out of US markets. The B-Class is now available in California and selected states as of this month and is scheduled for all US markets in 2015.
Overall, the only real complaint for this car is the lackluster range and the limited availability for which Mercedes is already gearing up. A wealth of tech features will keep the driver connected while the car’s “smart” features provide comfort and convenience. The price tag, for all that this car offers, is really quite good. If you’ve been a Mercedes fan, you will no doubt revel in all things about this car and find it indeed suitable to be included in our list of iReviews 2014 best electric cars.
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