The combined compact / hatch / people-mover market was basically owned by Benz upon the B-Class’ release, but increased competition from the likes of Kia’s Rondo and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer - along with the Ford S-Max in overseas markets - has prompted the upgrade.
"As the first member of a completely new generation of compact class, for us the B-Class paved the way for great success in this vehicle segment; the pioneer is now in better shape than ever," Mercedes-Benz’s Ola Källenius said.
Mercedes hopes to build on the more than 350,000 first-generation B-Class examples sold since its market debut in 2011 with new styling and more equipment for 2015.
The German market will have 11 B-Class models to choose from at launch - five diesel, five petrol and one natural gas - kicking off price-wise with the B 180 petrol model at 27,102 euros (AU$38,810).
Three 1.5 litre and two 2.1 litre engines make up the diesel range, with power and torque ranging from 66-130kW and 240-350Nm while fuel economy ranges from 3.6 to 5.0 l/100km.
The petrol range offers three 1.6 litre and a pair of 2.0 litre engines, with power and torque spread between 90-155kW and 200-350Nm while fuel usage is listed from 5.6 to 6.6 l/100km.
Powertrain options include manual and 7G dual-clutch automatic transmissions, along with BlueEFFICIENCY engine specs and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive.
As mentioned, a natural gas-powered B 200 with 115kW/270Nm is also available, while the big news for the new B-Class is the soon-to-arrive ‘Electric Drive’ variant.
The EV model uses only a 132kW/340Nm electric motor for propulsion, with a 0-100km/h time of 7.9 seconds (only bettered by the top-two petrol models) on its way to a top speed of 160km/h.
A range of 137km is available to the all-electric B-Class with a recharging time of 3.5 hours, but a two-hour fast-charge option will give the driver around 96km.
Benz says an “intelligent packaging method” sees the batteries (or natural gas tanks, as the case may be) stored in a way that boot space has not been reduced.
Elsewhere, new features for the B-Class include LED headlamps, new front and rear bumpers and an improved autonomous emergency braking system; which now operates partially between speeds of 60-200km/h.
Inside, there’s a larger display screen (now eight inches), an optional ‘keyless’ locking/unlocking and starting feature along with 12 colour-choices for ambient lighting.
Owners will no doubt be bookmarking “connect.mercedes.me” in internet browsers on their smartphones, giving them access to data such as fuel level (or battery charge) and traffic information while also allowing them to preheat or precool the vehicle for a certain departure time.
A three-tier styling line-up will be offered with the new B-Class including ‘Style’ and ‘Urban’ guises, while the ‘AMG line’ adds a two-pipe exhaust system, lowered suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, interior enhancements and more.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class is available to order in Germany from this month, while the Electric Drive model will join the range in November. Australian timing, specifications and pricing are yet to be finalised.