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2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2014

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is an understated car, even by Mercedes' famously stoic standards. An inoffensive little 4-door hatchback, the electric B-Class looks like it was designed primarily to blend in on congested European streets. And as it turns out, that's pretty close to the truth. The B-Class Electric Drive is a modified version of the Euro-market B-Class economy car, so American roads aren't its natural habitat. But Mercedes needed an affordable electric vehicle (EV), and the versatile B-Class proved a worthy platform for experimentation.

Once you're in the driver's seat of the B-Class Electric Drive, you may stop caring about what it looks like on the outside. This is a surprisingly engaging car to pilot, and it sports plenty of power and a nimble feel in tight spots. It's also quite practical, thanks to split rear seatbacks that fold flat to open up crossover-grade cargo capacity. As long as you don't need to drive more than 70 or 80 miles in one stretch, the B-Class Electric Drive could be the luxury-infused EV you've been waiting for.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 B-Class Electric Drive is unchanged.

What We Like

Quiet cabin; responsive handling; swift acceleration; versatile hatchback body style; upscale character

What We Don't

Anonymous styling; high price

How Much?

$42,375

Fuel Economy

The front-wheel-drive B-Class Electric Drive is propelled by an electric motor rated at 177 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque. Notably, the electric drive system is borrowed from Tesla.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the B-Class Electric Drive's range at 87 miles per full charge. For reference, the Nissan LEAF is rated at 84 miles. However, this Mercedes is less efficient in its energy usage, garnering a rating of 84 miles per gallon equivalent (mpge) to the Nissan's 114 mpge. The upshot is that the B-Class Electric Drive will cost you a bit more to charge; the EPA projects an extra $150 per year with typical use.

If you have access to a 240-volt charging station, the charging process should take about three-and-a-half hours. On standard household current, that figure is closer to 30 hours. In other words, it's advisable to have a fast charger installed at home.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is offered in a single trim level. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights and taillights, a 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel, a hybrid-specific vehicle app with remote functions (My Mercedes Electric Vehicle Homepage), keyless entry/start, a 4.5-in color driver-information display, MB-Tex synthetic-leather upholstery, 14-way power front seats with memory settings, split-folding rear seatbacks, dual-zone automatic climate control, the COMAND infotainment system with a 7-in central display and console-mounted control knob, a voice-controlled navigation system, Bluetooth and an 8-speaker audio system with a USB port and HD Radio.

Options include bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, parking sensors, a self-parking system, an upgraded regenerative braking system with fingertip paddles, a button-activated range-extender feature (which provides a claimed 15 extra miles of range if used sparingly), extended MB-Tex trim with exposed stitching, leather upholstery, an automatic garage-door opener, wood trim, a Harman Kardon audio system, smartphone-app integration and an upgraded navigation system with hard-drive music storage.

Rear-seat space is adequate in the B-Class Electric Drive, though this is a small hatchback, so it's not exactly roomy back there. Cargo capacity measures 17.7 cu ft. behind the rear seatbacks, which isn't all that impressive, but it expands to a healthy 51.4 cu ft. with those seatbacks folded flat.

Safety

The 2015 B-Class Electric Drive is equipped with adaptive anti-lock disc brakes (including radar-based collision monitoring and preparation), traction and stability control, a drowsiness monitor and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee and full-length side-curtain). Notable options include a blind spot monitoring system and a rearview camera.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we couldn't help but notice the B-Class' humble roots. This is one of Mercedes' entry-level vehicles in Europe, and it shows in the relatively modest quality of the plastics and other surfaces. Of course, that's compared to other Mercedes vehicles. If you compare the B-Class Electric Drive to the Nissan LEAF instead, you'll likely be impressed by its luxurious appointments. Overall, longtime Mercedes drivers might be somewhat disappointed, but the B-Class does deliver a more premium ambience than most rivals.

On the road, the B-Class Electric Drive rides firmly, but it's a familiar kind of firm; German vehicles tend to feel a little tauter than their rivals. The cabin remains remarkably quiet at all speeds. Acceleration from the electric motor is immediate and enthusiastic, and it can hit 60 miles per hour in 7.9 seconds per official estimates. The steering wheel feels light in your hands and responds quickly to commands, lending a sporty feel to common maneuvers. Handling limits are ultimately quite low, but there's enough athleticism here to provide some entertainment in brisk driving. You might even say that the B-Class Electric Drive is pretty fun.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 BMW i3 -- The funky i3 is the aesthetic opposite of the conservative B-Class Electric Drive, and it's even more entertaining to drive.

2015 Kia Soul EV -- What's in a badge? The Soul EV has a high-quality interior with a dashboard inspired by Apple devices, and it's as versatile as the Mercedes, if not as quick.

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf -- For affordable German engineering in an understated package, the practical e-Golf hatchback is a prospect not to be missed.

Used Toyota RAV4 EV -- Don't underestimate the electrified RAV4. It has serious acceleration and a cavernous cargo hold.

Autotrader's Advice

The B-Class Electric Drive doesn't quite live up to Mercedes-Benz's reputation for innovation, but it's a competitive offering that's worth considering if you're looking for an EV with a little extra luxury.

Find a Mercedes-Benz B-Class for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive: New Car Review - Autotrader