For luxury car buyers ready to take the plunge into all-electric power, Mercedes-Benz launched the B-Class Electric Drive in the summer of 2014. The company claimed that this roomy compact hatchback had a range of 87 miles, and could top 100 miles if the integral “range extender” was activated. The B-Class electric offers the same level of luxury and technology as the company's other compact cars, demonstrating that you can travel solely on battery power, and still enjoy abundant amenities. No gasoline-engine version of the B-Class is offered in the U.S., though it’s been a popular model elsewhere in the world.
What's New for 2016
Renamed B250e for the 2016 model year, in accord with Mercedes-Benz’s revised model-designation format, the battery-powered B-Class continues with no other major change, with a $41,450 sticker price.
It's important to note that the B250e "range extender" is not a small gas-powered motor, as in cars like the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 (B250's main competitor). Rather, it’s a technical feature that can temporarily add up to 17 miles of extra range to the battery's capacity.
Choosing Your Mercedes-Benz B250e
The front-drive B250e is powered by a 132-kilowatt electric motor that produces 177 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. As with most EVs, the motor mates with a single-speed automatic transmission. Pleasantly enough, the 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack resides under the floor, where it doesn't interfere with interior space. In terms of safety, you get a standard front collision mitigation system called Collision Prevention Assist Plus, and Attention Assist, a driver-alertness monitor. A pedestrian warning sound is included.
Recharging a fully depleted battery takes about 3.5 hours at a 240-volt outlet. Once charged, the B250e is good for up to 87 miles, or as much as 104 miles with the range extender activated. (Mercedes-Benz doesn't recommend using this feature continuously, as it can reduce battery life.) Acceleration to 60 mph takes just under 8 seconds, which is commendable performance for an EV.
Thanks to its tall hatchback design (63 inches high), the B250e 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. With rear seats up, cargo volume totals 21.6 cubic feet. Standard features include power front seats with memory, leather-like MB-Tex upholstery, ambient interior lighting, Bluetooth, Garmin Map Pilot navigation, HD radio, and keyless ignition. Also standard are 17-inch wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, split-folding rear seats, and mbrace Connect telematics. Front-seat backrests hold folding tables.
The optional Interior package ($1,825) adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, and top-stitched MB-Tex dash/door trim. For $2,690, the Premium package provides a Harman Kardon sound system with satellite radio, 8-inch color display, auto-dimming mirrors, bi-xenon headlights, and an enhanced radar-based regenerative braking system. Another 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 prefer to pick and choose. Among the strictly standalone options are blind-spot monitoring and a Parktronic automated parking system. A sunroof is not available.
Going electric doesn’t have to be dull or dreary. Adding the Interior package makes the B250e look and feel like a proper luxury car, not just an upscale EV. We consider it practically essential. This car also begs for the optional rearview camera, which can be added separately for $460 if you’d rather not pay for the whole Multimedia package. Remember that like any electric car, maximum range varies with outside temperature and driving habits.