2012 MERCEDES-BENZ B-CLASS
We saw its cuvaceous rear-end back in June, the sporting interior last month and, thanks to a handful of leaked images, its sharp new face earlier this week. Now, it's official: this is the all-new 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class.
The new B-Class is wider, lower, longer and sleeker than its predecessor, adopting more than a few styling features from its MB stablemates.
The new B-Class will initially be offered with a range of petrol and diesel options. On the petrol front, a single 1.6 lite four-cylinder engine will be available in two states of tune: the B 180 getting 90kW and 200Nm of torque, and the B 200 producing 115kW and 250Nm.
In diesel form, a four-cylinder common-rail direct-injected 1.8 diesel engine will produce 80kW and 250Nm in the B 180 CDI, and 80kW and 300Nm in the B 200 CDI.
Built on an all-new Mercedes Frontwheel Architecture (MFA), the new B-Class has been developed to accommodate a full range of powertrain arrangements, including electric and hybrid options.
Higher-powered petrol and diesel models are expected to join the line-up sometime after launch, along with a rumoured AMG-powered model, although no announcement has been made for any further additions to the family.
For the four variants offered from launch, a six-speed manual transmission is fitted as standard, while a stop-start equipped seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is available as an option.
Larger all-round than the outgoing model, the 2012 B-Class also offers 976mm of rear legroom - greater even than the 904mm of the E-Class and 870mm of the longest S-Class.
With the Easy Vario Plus system optioned, the rear seats can be moved back and forward by 140mm, putting rear storage at anywhere from 488 to 666 litres with the rear seats in the upright position.
Standout safety and comfort features in the new B-Class include a radar-based collision warning system and adaptive brake assist, both standard across the range - a world-first, Mercedes claims.
Other common Mercedes systems featuring in the new B-Class include Attention Assist, Active Parking Assist and Hill Hold, along with a lengthy list of optional safety features.
Up front, there's a TFT touchscreen display ranging in size from 5.8 to seven inches, offering internet connectivity in its bag of tricks. The display features a satin silver frame and a piano black border outlining the galvanised TFT display face.
Mercedes says the look and feel of the new B-Class cabin is a result of the company's "perceptual psychology" studies carried out at the Daimler Customer Research Centre.
Described as an "emotional design with sporty qualities," the new B-Class interior gets a trio of SLS AMG-inspired circular vents in the centre of the dash, setting the theme for the surrounding style.
The large 'three-dimensional' decorative element running the length of the dash will be offered in four variants, covering a range of modern, sporty and classic styles.
Mercedes' new three-spoke steering - featured in performance models right up to the CLS - sits ahead of an instrument cluster with four round analogue displays and 'hanging' needles.
The new B-Class will be making its international debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in September, before making its way to European dealerships in November.
Speaking with TMR, Mercedes-Benz Australia's David McCarthy confirmed an early 2012 debut for the new B-Class.
"We're aiming for near the end of the first quarter, but specific dates are still to be confirmed," Mr McCarthy said.