The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class of 2014: alternative drive systems - A pioneer in terms of efficiency, too

Oct 20, 2014
Mercedes-Benz has given the already successful B-Class a thorough facelift, giving particular attention to an upgrade of the interior. With the addition of the B-Class Electric Drive and the B 200 Natural Gas Drive the portfolio from now on includes two models with alternative drive systems. Both feature the modular "ENERGY SPACE" bodyshell concept: the underbody houses either the lithium-ion battery (B-Class Electric Drive) or one large and two smaller natural gas tanks and a 12‑litre petrol tank (B 200 Natural Gas Drive). Due to this intelligent packaging method, the five-seater model has been able to retain the generously proportioned luggage compartment for which it is known.
In terms of their exterior design, the B-Class Electric Drive and the B-Class Natural Gas Drive combine refined sportiness and aesthetics with powerful, taut lines. When it comes to the finer details, they differ in design from the petrol and diesel models - particularly in the shaping of the front and rear aprons and the side skirts.
Even more individual, exclusive and sophisticated – the facelift has also involved an upgrade of the interior of the B-Class. Evidence of this in the B‑Class Electric Drive and B-Class Natural Gas Drive can be found for example in the form of the free-standing head unit display, which can be provided as an option with a screen diagonal of up to 20.3 cm, or in the elegant design of the dials in the instrument cluster. New is the chronograph look with black dial, four illuminated red pointers as well as modified typography.
As part of the facelift, Mercedes-Benz has also revised the model range and aligned it logically with the other compact models. The two new design and equipment lines for the models with alternative drive systems have been given the names Style and Urban. A further line, Electric Art, is available as an option for the B-Class Electric Drive.
When it made its début, the B-Class redefined the standard of safety in the compact class with its numerous new driving assistance systems, some of them included as standard equipment. These functions have now been enhanced and new assistance systems added to give the driver even more support. The standard-specification COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS extends the functionality of COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST (radar-based distance warning and braking assistance in the form of Adaptive Brake Assist) with the addition of autonomous partial braking to reduce the risk of rear-end collisions.
The drowsiness detection system ATTENTION ASSIST (standard) has been similarly upgraded: operating within an extended speed range (60 - 200 km/h), it now uses a five-stage bar display to visualise the driver's current attention level. The optional Intelligent Light System adapts automatically to the prevailing weather, light and driving conditions and, by improving visibility, also enhances safety.
"Mercedes connect me" connects the B-Class with the world around it. Basic Mercedes connect me services can be used with the standard communications module. Available services include, for example, Accident Recovery, Maintenance Management and Breakdown Management. Mercedes connect me services are even more extensive for the B-Class Electric Drive: for added convenience, for example, connect.mercedes.me can be used remotely to determine the current state of charge of the lithium-ion battery or the possible range of the vehicle.
B-Class Electric Drive: locally emission-free, chargeable in three hours
With its torquey electric motor, the B-Class Electric Drive offers lively and effortlessly superior fun at the wheel over a range of around 200 kilometres – all locally emission free. Full climate control for the interior as standard and some innovative optional extras, such as the recuperative braking system with radar support or the RANGE PLUS range extender, add to the car's ride comfort and everyday practicality. The B-Class Electric Drive will be available to order from 3 November, with deliveries starting before the end of the year.
Quiet, locally emission-free motoring is ensured by an electric motor generating more than 132 kW. Typically for an electric drive system, this develops its maximum torque of more than 340 Nm straight away from idling speed. This is approximately equivalent to the torque from a modern, naturally aspirated three-litre petrol engine. The result is noticeably powerful acceleration from a standstill. For the standard sprint from zero to 100 km/h, too, the electrically powered B-Class requires only 7.9 seconds. Effortlessly superior driveability and exhilarating driving pleasure with a high level of dynamism are thus guaranteed in every situation.
Particularly effective energy recovery and thus an extension of the vehicle's range are made possible by the radar-supported, recuperative braking system (optional extra). The system also supports the driver in controlling proximity and speed. The system uses the data from the radar sensors of COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS to increase or reduce to zero, as appropriate, the level of recuperation and thus of deceleration.
The power supply to the electric drive comes from a high-performance lithium-ion battery (capacity 28 kWh), which is compactly and securely fitted in the underfloor area between the front and rear axles, known as the ENERGY SPACE.
The charger for the battery is located in the engine compartment. Charging is as straightforward as refuelling. First of all the socket flap is opened, then the charging cable is connected to a domestic power socket, a public charging station or perhaps a Wallbox. With the latter, a full recharge of the battery is possible in just three hours or so (400 V, 3-phase, 16 A). The optional RANGE PLUS extends the range of the vehicle by as much as 30 km.
B 200 Natural Gas Drive: clean emissions, low fuel costs
The Mercedes B 200 Natural Gas Drive boasts 16 percent lower CO2 emissions, markedly cleaner emissions than with petrol or diesel, and fuel costs which are some 50 percent below those of a comparable petrol-powered car. It has been possible to order the facelifted version since 12 September and the car will be making its way to dealers from 29 November onwards.
When running on natural gas, the consumption of the 115 kW (156 hp) B 200 Natural Gas Drive is just 4.2 kg/100 km – which equates to CO2 emissions of 115 g per kilometre. The emission figures are thus about 16 percent lower than those of the petrol-driven B 200 BlueEFFICIENCY, which offers equivalent performance. The new model is classified as an efficiency class A vehicle and meets the EURO 6 emissions standard. But it is not only the environment that benefits – your wallet does too: If you convert the consumption of the B 200 Natural Gas Drive into the energy equivalent of petrol, the resulting  price per kilometre is about 50 percent lower than the fuel costs for covering the same distance in the petrol model.
Performance is on a similarly dynamic level: the B 200 Natural Gas Drive can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h, and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.1 seconds (with 7G-DCT automatic transmission; with six-speed manual transmission the figure is 9.2 s). The B 200 Natural Gas Drive operates according to the monovalent+ principle. This means that its engine generally runs on gas. For emergencies, however, there is a small 12-litre petrol tank on board. In the event that the gas tank should ever run dry, the vehicle switches automatically, and imperceptibly, to petrol operation. As the driver is not able to select petrol mode himself/herself, the B 200 Natural Gas Drive is taxed more favourably as a natural gas vehicle. The range in natural gas mode is around 500 kilometres.
The technical data at a glance:
Model
B-Class Electric Drive
B 200 Natural Gas Drive*
Number of cylinders/arrangement
-
4 in-line
Displacement (cc)
-
1991
Rated output (kW/hp at rpm)
132/180
115/156 at 5000
Rated torque (Nm at rpm)
340
270 at 1250-4000
Fuel consumption, combined, from
16.6 kWh/100 km
4.3 kg (4.2 kg)
Combined CO2 emissions from (g/km)
0
117 (115)
Efficiency class
A+
A (A)
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)
7.9
9.2 (9.1)
Top speed (km/h)
160
200 (200)
*Figures for model with 7G-DCT in brackets
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