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Old 22nd July 2012, 14:57   #1
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Default Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

Mercedes Benz held a brief preview of the upcoming B-Class at the Buddh International Circuit. The price is expected to be in the region of Rs. 25 lakh.

Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9908.jpg

The 1st generation B-class was launched in 2005, while this 2nd gen model arrived in 2011. The new generation has a lower center-of-gravity than its predecessor.

This car shares its underpinnings with the A-class, and will be Mercedes' entry level offering in India. The company hopes that the B-Class will bring the volumes home. Mercedes has been losing market share in the premium segment to Audi & BMW, despite having had a considerable head-start, being the first luxury marque to open shop in India. BMW & Audi have popular compact SUV offerings (the X1 & Q3 respectively), but Mercedes' answer to the same is atleast 2 years away.

Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9849.jpg

Mr. Debasis Mitra - Director, Sales & Marketing - said that the B-class will be targetted at customers who need more than a sedan. In plain speak, the B-class can best be described as a premium MPV (or a large hatchback). At Rs. 25 lakh, it will be positioned below the Mercedes C Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

Do note that the B-class was merely unveiled at this event, and not launched. The actual launch window would be "2-3 months from now, around September/October". Mercedes needs that much time to start homologating the car and tune it to Indian conditions. That would also bring the car's launch in the manufacturer-friendly Diwali season.

A petrol engine will be offered first, while a diesel will follow only in 2013. The main reason for the staggered availablity of diesels is supply constraints from the Rastatt plant in Germany. Mercedes, across all markets, has a rationing system and India's slot is late 2013. Also, the B-class is popular in Europe and a majority of the production is catering to demand from left-hand-drive markets.

The B-Class will be launched as a CBU, thus inviting high import taxes. Over a couple of years, production will be moved to CKD. The price will remain unchanged though; Mercedes is going to absorb costs initially, to keep the CBU model priced at Rs. 25 lakh.

The B-class is positioned as India's first "sports tourer". However, it's clearly a mini-MPV or a large hatchback (depending on how you see things). Will the image-conscious premium customer pay premium $$$ for this body style? Worldwide, the B-class competes with the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, none of which are offered in India.

Last edited by GTO : 24th July 2012 at 10:58.
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Old 22nd July 2012, 15:01   #2
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Default re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

We drove the B200 156 BHP, 6-speed manual, left-hand drive imports from Germany. These were Euro-spec cars with a bodykit that included 18-inch wheels and skirts. They do not represent the eventual package that will be offered in India. The test-drive cars are therefore only showcase vehicles and apart from general inferences, no specific India-pertinent characteristics can be ascertained.

When you first lay your eyes on the B-class, it comes off either as a small MPV from certain angles, and a wide overgrown hatchback from others. The B-class looks best from the side-profile...the 4,359 mm length is obvious:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9896.jpg

Front has a very MPV-ish stance:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9897.jpg

Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9855.jpg

Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9913.jpg

The rear reflects the MPV part of its DNA:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9895.jpg

As expected in a Mercedes, the build quality is excellent. The track cars were all pearl-white and wore amongst the best pearl-white paint finishes I have seen. The B-class isn't light. The car we drove had a kerb weight of ~ 1,400 kilos.

All this effort of a hybrid segment car has its most direct effect on the inside which is definitely the car's strongest point. The B-class' interiors can best be described in 2 words: classy and spacious. In fact, when you first peer in, its the quality, space and simplicity that hit you. The interiors are soft-touch and include leather. The dashboard features a mini-iPad like screen that the ICE uses.

I must mention that the air-conditioner just about managed to keep things comfortable. The India-spec models definitely need beefed up air-conditioning.

Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9862.jpg

Ingress/egress does not need you to be malnourished or jointless. This is one area that the family might take a liking to. There is ample headroom and leg room, both at the front and rear. The front seats do get armrests.

The seats have just the right amount of firmness. The leather feels particularly high quality. The high positioning of the seats aids overall comfort levels.

Decent rear legroom:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9892.jpg

The double sunroof:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-sunroof.jpg

The interiors can be configured in more ways than I could count. The rear seats can slide forward or be made to fold down. If the rear seats are folded away, you get 1600 liters of space.

Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-boot.jpg

Mercedes will launch the B-class in India only with a petrol engine first. The diesel engine is expected by the end of 2013.

The B200 car we drove was equipped with the higher-rated M270-series 156 BHP, 1.6L turbo-charged petrol engine. It doesn't look likely that this engine will make its way to our market. The B200's engine is very refined and has minimal turbo-lag. You could be forgiven for thinking that it's a normally aspirated motor. It's rated for a 0 - 100 in the 8.5 second range. However, the real potential of the B-Class will only be realised by the diesels. Remember, over 3/4th of the luxury cars sold in India have an oil-burner under the hood. While our test cars had a manual transmission, the B-Class will be offered with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox at the time of sale.

Body roll is controlled and the car didn't exhibit much roll during the hot laps. I cannot comment on the ride quality as we drove the B-Class primarily on the race track.

Last edited by GTO : 24th July 2012 at 12:11.
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Old 22nd July 2012, 15:05   #3
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Default re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

Panning with the wide-angle:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9904a.jpg

A brilliant technical track that I thoroughly enjoyed burning rubber on. The start-finish straight is one of the fastest amongst all tracks:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-startfinish.jpg

Cars coming into formation at the start grid:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9846a.jpg

Cars pulling into the pits behind the C-Class pace car:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9899.jpg

India-impossible but aesthetic 18-inchers. Also notice the low ground clearance on this import:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-img_9864.jpg

Capturing a back-seat view:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-track.jpg

Genelia D'souza was the other star of the unveiling:
Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-genelia.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 24th July 2012 at 11:35.
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Old 24th July 2012, 12:11   #4
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Indian Car Scene. Thanks for sharing
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Old 24th July 2012, 12:38   #5
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

I believe Indian Mindset won't allow many people to plonk 25-30 lakh on a vehicle which looks like a mini MPV or a big hatch. At this amount of money many would buy the premium SUV's or the the 3 series/A4 with a boot. On the other hand, People who look beyond the shape and appreciate the practicality & utility aspect of the B200 or people who crave for owning a three pointed star would happily go for this!

Merc have to seriously increase the GC and provide a powerful AC in addition to a much required diesel power plant!
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Old 24th July 2012, 12:39   #6
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

Well firstly its a superbly written description of the preview. Looks like mercedes are really worried about their eroding position in the luxury segment in India.
Dont know why I am not impressed by the looks. I am repeatedly telling myself that the car is great as it is a mercedes after all, but somehow I am not really liking it. The principle reason bein the styling of the face. It gives a "sad" type look to the car (again its just my opinion). Hope mercedes prices it well and after all the Indian market gets tough competition to the X1 and Q3.

Last edited by dZired : 24th July 2012 at 12:41.
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Old 24th July 2012, 14:15   #7
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

I don't know about other markets but I wished MB would price the B-Class (may be a manual entry level petrol variant) closer to a cruze or an Altis. As a brand MB will find takers at 25L but will find volumes at 15-18L as there are a lot of people out there (including me) who wish to purchase a genuine premium hatchback, oozing with quality but still priced attractively. I have said it before and would say it again - that only premium brands like the Germans can open up the Hot hatch segment and the others will just fall flat on their face if they come in before that.
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Old 24th July 2012, 14:42   #8
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

It's not particularly a good looking car. Coupled with that disastrous low GC, I really doubt this car is going to do much for MB.

On the volume front too, I doubt this car will pull any kind of traction for MB.
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Old 24th July 2012, 15:05   #9
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

I quite like the B Class. It is very compact for general use in the city at 4359 mm L, spacious for 4 and comfortable for 5 and a compact boot for my needs. Auto Car India says rear seats are short though.

Most important a potential diesel AT with a 7 Dual Clutch Transmission.

It cannot do off-roading but hopefully can do "aaafff-roading" ( http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...ml#post2848808

So typical German reliability issues aside I find it an ideal car.

What I am wondering is, if they are so generous to absorb duty differential between CBU and CKD, why not bring the diesel variant here.

Cheers,
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Old 24th July 2012, 15:48   #10
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

Thanks for sharing the report. I was about to ask in the other thread (on B) whether we did not cover this event, and there comes the report

Was there an AT variant available in the event, at least as a display. I remember reading that the AT does not have a conventional gear level.


Quite looking forward to the launch of this car. The interiors look top-notch, and more importantly quite young.

Last edited by .anshuman : 13th August 2012 at 20:15. Reason: Typo fixed. Thanks
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Old 24th July 2012, 16:10   #11
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

Quote:
Originally Posted by vb-san View Post
I remember reading that the AT does not have a conventional gear level.

Quite looking forward to the launch of this car. The interiors look top-notch, and more importantly quite young.
AT has a steering column mounted shifter.
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Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh-mercedesbenzbclassw246_wallpaper_07_1920x1200_062012.png  

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Old 24th July 2012, 16:21   #12
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

this is about as big as an ertiga, engine output is comparable to a petrol corolla, cabin size is comparable to ertiga yet costs thrice as much. It may be better put together and quality of interior parts may well be better than the Japanese competition but still I wonder as to which segment does it target with it's price as it's a 16-17 L car masquerading as a 25 L one. At best it would be a second or third car in a stable which already has a merc or two and would be used for sundry runabouts. Can't see anyone upgrading from their 2.2 ltr cruze diesel or 1.8 corolla/civic to a 1.6 merc.
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Old 24th July 2012, 19:22   #13
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

Methinks 25 lacs is a bit of a dampener for prospective buyers especially with the likes of Audi Q 3 around in that vicinity. I personally quite liked the looks (for an MPV that is) and the interior.

Last edited by wilful : 24th July 2012 at 19:25.
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Old 24th July 2012, 19:33   #14
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

Quote:
Originally Posted by lurker View Post
this is about as big as an ertiga, engine output is comparable to a petrol corolla, cabin size is comparable to ertiga yet costs thrice as much. It may be better put together and quality of interior parts may well be better than the Japanese competition but still I wonder as to which segment does it target with it's price as it's a 16-17 L car masquerading as a 25 L one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilful View Post
Methinks 25 lacs is a bit of a dampener for prospective buyers especially with the likes of Audi Q 3 around in that vicinity. I personally quite liked the looks (for an MPV that is) and the interior.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vb-san View Post
Quite looking forward to the launch of this car. The interiors look top-notch, and more importantly quite young.
Quote:
Originally Posted by S2!!! View Post
I don't know about other markets but I wished MB would price the B-Class (may be a manual entry level petrol variant) closer to a cruze or an Altis. As a brand MB will find takers at 25L but will find volumes at 15-18L as there are a lot of people out there (including me) who wish to purchase a genuine premium hatchback, oozing with quality but still priced attractively. I have said it before and would say it again - that only premium brands like the Germans can open up the Hot hatch segment and the others will just fall flat on their face if they come in before that.
Please, remember that they are going to bring in their A-Class, which, I am sure they are going to place it in the premium hatchback place of 15-20lakhs. It makes no sense to place this B near or in the same range of A. Remember in near future, they have to place the GLK and CLA too in the band of Q3 or X1. I hope that Merc has done a good market study before they are launching their full product line in India. Given the number of years Mercs have been in India, I am sure, they know a thing or two better than their German counterparts. For sure, they are going to be the first to bring in their complete line up into India among the German brands.

That 7G transmission costs a bomb, even in Europe. A manual gearbox will be cheaper but, I dont think Merc will ever introduce it in India. Hence, the price justified. Personally, I would love that 6 speed manual with AMG styling.

PS: not taking anything away from the People who tested it at Bhuddh. I have personally driven this B, in Germany, and its outgoing model too. Its clearly legues ahead in terms of space and equipment. Although, the outgoing model had almost all the equipments that the new one features, but the new car has been retuned for driving dynamics. It has indeed come out well and quality, in my personal opinion, reminds of the good old W124 days.
I am neither associated with Merc nor promoting it. Just sharing my experience and opinions. I am open to be corrected.

Last edited by AlphaKilo : 24th July 2012 at 19:41.
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Old 24th July 2012, 19:44   #15
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Default Re: Pics & Report : Mercedes B-Class unveiled @ Buddh

Its such an inherent contradiction - Sports Tourer with petrol only engines!

What is the rationale behind the now what may seem as hasty "petrol" only launch that may not do much to the sales figures? Can the petrol sustain any momentum and build a clientele for the offering until late-2013 when the Diesel is introduced? Suddenly this doesn't seem much of answer from MB to any of the challenges by Audi or BMW. Did any of these questions get asked or answered during the event?

And when i extrapolate this rotation policy, i hope it doesn't apply to the A-Class when its launched. I don't think it makes sense to launch the petrol only A-Class if MB expects to crack the low end of the premium market. Or convert the high-end of the immediate lower segment.
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