2008 Mercedes-Benz B200
 

Offered for sale in Canada but not the U.S., the 2008 Mercedes B200 got a bit of a facelift this year. Mainly in the form of a new grille treatment, new bumpers, and new taillights. Power for the base model was still provided by a transversely-mounted, 2.0 litre overhead camshaft four cylinder engine that developed 134 horsepower, and 136 foot-pounds of torque. Not the liveliest two litre powerplant around, Mercedes was definitely opting for durability and thrift as opposed to performance with this unit.

On the other hand, you could also order a turbocharged version, bumping the power up substantially....to 193 horsepower, which put the 1345 kilogram B200 close to the pocket rocket category. Two transmissions were available with the normally-aspirated model: five-speed manual and an optional CVT, while the turbo version had either a six-speed or CVT.

As far as the normally-aspirated model was concerned, this was also one of those rare times when the automatic was almost as good a choice as the manual gearbox. Mainly because Mercedes engineers built in "ghost" gearing, so that the CVT actually mimicked a conventional geared transmission. Choose from either the “M” or “C” setting and you could change ratios by tapping the shift lever to the right or left.

Whichever transmission-engine combo you chose, if you were unfortunate enough to be involved in a front-ender, the whole drivetrain was designed to slide underneath the vehicle’s occupants, out of harms’ way. Mercedes called this their “sandwich concept” and it complemented other safety features such as dual front, side impact, and window curtain airbags, as well as laser-welded cross-beams, anti-locking brakes, and traction and stability control systems. The B200 was and still a comparatively safe automobile.

Fuel economy? Acceptable, but not scintillating:  9.2 L/100 km in town, and 7.2 L/100 km on the highway, according to Natural Resources Canada. And, unfortunately, the B200 prefers premium grade fuel. For what it’s worth, a normally-aspirated model with the CVT transmission accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in about 10 seconds.

The B200 was - and is - all about practicality. In Europe they’re used as taxi-cabs, and the combination of a high roofline and sensibly placed seats made for plenty of interior elbow room: 544 litres with all seats in place, and 1530 litres with the back seats lowered. This latter feat was accomplished by pulling on a couple of seat back-mounted levers, lifting up the lower cushions and tilting everything forward.

Because of the aforementioned “sandwich concept” safety design,  Mercedes had to raise the rear floor section of the B200 a little, which made climbing in and out of the back of the vehicle a little more involved than normal. On the other hand, tall folks will find all kinds of front seat legroom once they’re aboard.

And all occupants, regardless of their size, will feel like they’re in a Mercedes. In ’08, the B200 was the company’s entry-level model, but the interior ambience was still Mercedes all the way.

Including the level of standard equipment, which included things like one touch up and down power windows, power door locks, cruise control, keyless entry, air conditioning, steering wheel mounted controls for the stereo and cell phone, a tire pressure monitoring system, and even an air-conditioned glove box.  You could also order heated front seats, wood trim, rain-sensing wipers, an electronic compass and a “panoramic” sunroof .

One safety recall from Transport Canada to report for this vintage of the B200. It’s an electronic glitch that could affect things like fuel level readings, top speed governor, and the automatic fuel pump shut-off. The on-board diagnostic system could also be afflicted, leading to the “low fuel” level light going off prematurely. This defect also applies to 2007 models.

Because the B200 was not sold in the U.S., Consumer Reports and J.D. Power have no info to offer here. However, the enthusiasts website, BenzWorld.org. does have a bulletin board that discusses a wide range of issues. Front end and steering glitches seem to be a common thread, as do sketchy rear disc brake rotors, and mysterious noises emanating from the steering wheel/column.

These days, a three-year-old B-class is worth about half of what it cost new. Prices appear to range from the mid to high teens, with the Turbo fetching around $1000 - $1500 more than the base model.

AT A GLANCE

Original Base Price: $29,900 - $33,900; Black Book: $16,925 - $18,125; Red Book: $17,500 - $18,800.

Engine: Normally-aspirated and turbocharged 2.0 litre four cylinder

Horsepower/Torque: 134 & 193 hp  / 136 & 207 ft. lb.

Transmission: Five / Six-speed manual / CVT

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 9.2 city/7.2 hwy (Normally-aspirated w. CVT)). Premium gas.

Drive: FWD

Alternatives: Smart Fortwo, VW Golf, Chevrolet Aveo, Kia Rondo, Mazda5, Toyota Matrix, Hyundai Accent.

 

Manufacturer's Site: Mercedes-Benz

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