For luxury car buyers ready to take the plunge into all-electric power, Mercedes-Benz serves up the B-Class Electric Drive, a roomy hatchback that tops 100 miles on a single charge. The B-Class offers the same level of luxury and technology as the brand's other compacts, proof that you can travel on juice alone and still enjoy the good life.
What's New for 2015
The front end receives a slightly different look, and last year's optional range extender is now standard.
It's important to note that the B-Class "range extender" is not a small gas-powered motor, as in cars like the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3. Rather, it is a feature that can add up to 17 miles of extra range to the battery's charge.
Choosing Your Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
The front-drive B-Class is powered by a 132-kilowatt electric motor that put out 175 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. As with most EVs, the motor is paired with a single-speed automatic transmission. Pleasantly enough, the lithium-ion battery pack resides under the floor, where it doesn't interfere with interior space. In terms of safety, you get a front collision mitigation system and a driver alertness monitor.
Recharging a fully depleted battery takes about 3.5 hours on 240-volt outlet. Once charged, the B-Class is good for up to 87 miles, or 104 with the range extender activated. (Mercedes-Benz doesn't recommend using this feature continuously as it can reduce battery life.) Zero to 60 mph comes in just under 8 seconds, laudable performance for an EV.
Thanks to its tall hatchback design, the B-Class offers more rear passenger room than similar-size sedans. You also get up to 51 cubic feet of cargo space, which approaches compact crossover territory. Standard features include power front seats with driver memory, leather-like MB-Tex upholstery, ambient interior lighting, a navigation system, HD radio and keyless ignition.
The Interior package ($1,825) adds leather upholstery, heated front seats and wood trim. For $2,690, the Premium package provides a premium Harman Kardon sound system with satellite radio, auto-dimming mirrors, bi-xenon headlamps and an enhanced radar-based regenerative braking system. Your other choice is the $2,480 Multimedia package with a rearview camera, an in-dash DVD/CD player and a hard drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic and weather.
All of the major package features are available individually if you wish to pick and choose. Among the strictly standalone options are front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring and an automated parking system. For some reason, a sunroof is not available at all.
The Interior package makes the B-Class feel like a proper luxury car, not just an upscale EV. We consider it essential. This car also begs for the optional rearview camera, which can be added separately for just $460 if you don't want to spring for the whole Multimedia package.