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First drive: Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First drive: Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
Though not as sexy as BMW's i3, the new zero emissions Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive is a worthy addition to the electric car ranks.

   



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Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

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It's difficult to get excited by the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class, but the Electric Drive model is a well-developed product. It's exceedingly quiet, refined and comfortable and we reckon it's the most spacious of the mainstream electric cars on sale right now.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
Pricing: estimated at 27,000 after grant
Propulsion: front-mounted electric motor, lithium-ion battery pack under the floor
Transmission: front-wheel drive, single-speed transmission
Body style: five-door, five-seat compact MPV
CO2 emissions: 0g/km (Band A, 0 per year)
Range: 124 miles (can be extended to 143 miles - see text)
Top speed: 100mph
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Power: 180hp
Torque: 340Nm

What's this?

The Electric Drive name indicates that this is the zero emissions, all-electric variant of the updated Mercedes-Benz B-Class line-up. An electric motor up front feeds 180hp and 340Nm of torque to the front wheels. It's fed by a lithium-ion battery pack that's neatly mounted within the unique sandwich floor construction. That means the interior is as spacious as ever and boot space is undisturbed. Range is quoted as 124 miles as standard, while buyers can upgrade the car with the Range Plus option, extending the range to a theoretical 143 miles.

The blue grille, door mirrors and decals you see here are part of the Electric Art package, so most examples of the Electric Drive will look little different to the rest of the facelifted line-up - albeit with a different ride height, modestly restyled bumpers and side skirts and no exhaust outlets. Inside, the only big giveaway is a unique set of instruments.

How does it drive?

Rather well actually. We're used to near silence in the latest generation of electric cars, but the B-Class is quieter than most, with the characteristic electric motor whine noticeable only by its absence. This quietness sets the tone for the experience in general, as the Electric Drive is incredibly refined. As are its driving manners. There's never anything other than smooth progress, whether you're cruising along the motorway or putting your foot to the floor.

Do the latter and the 340Nm of torque is instantly fed to the front wheels, causing a momentary chirrup as the traction control struggles to keep up. After that it's seamless, meaningful acceleration. That 7.9-second 0-62mph time seems pessimistic. The Electric Drive is set up for comfort more than cornering prowess, but it's still an enjoyable car to hustle around town and feels a little wieldier than the diesel model we drove on the same day. Drivers can vary the amount of regenerative braking via paddles behind the steering wheel and choose between Economy, Economy+ or Sport modes as well, the middle of which cuts power output in half unless you put your foot all the way down.

Verdict

This is a very impressive electric car and one of the best of the current generation. Along with a spacious and practical interior and a sense of high quality throughout, the Electric Drive model is amazingly refined. The hot hatch like performance is a bonus, though many will immediately discount it because of range anxiety. Try it for yourself before you do that.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 23 Oct 2014



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2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.



2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 






 

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