Mercedes-Benz engineers are out testing prototypes for a redesigned B-Class minivan.
The car represents just one of eight body styles Mercedes plans for its next-generation compact car family, the first member of which is the redesigned A-Class hatchback that debuted earlier this year.
Others will include replacements for the CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA, as well as some new additions such as an A-Class sedan, GLB SUV, and EQA electric car. The first to reach the United States will be the A-Class sedan, which is expected on sale here later this year with a price tag as low as $30k.
We expect the new B-Class to be revealed near the end of the year. However, don’t expect it to see it in the United States this time around. We received the current B-Class in electric guise only but the car was dropped after the 2017 model year to make way, eventually, for the aforementioned EQA.
Despite its stodgy image, the B-Class is a vital model in Mercedes’ portfolio, particularly in Europe where its higher seating position appeals to older buyers, and its spacious cabin to young families.
Underpinning Mercedes’ next-generation compact car family is an updated version of the automaker’s MFA (Modular Front-drive Architecture) platform. Aptly dubbed MFA2, the updated platform brings weight savings plus the capacity for alternative drivetrains. A plug-in hybrid option will join the standard gas and diesel inline-4s that will be offered in the new B-Class.
The MFA2-based cars also benefit from a much more advanced interface. Dubbed MBUX, short for Mercedes-Benz User Experience, the new interface features digital screens for the instrument cluster and infotainment system, much like on the pricier E-Class and S-Class models. However, there’s also touch capability for the infotainment screen and you’ll also be able to use natural speech to control many vehicle functions.
The B-Class’ only direct rival is BMW’s 2-Series Active (and Gran) Tourer. There are, of course, a handful of non-premium alternatives. Examples include the Fiat 500L, Ford B-Max, Opel Meriva and Volkswagen Touran.
Stay tuned for updates as development continues.