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Reader test: Mercedes B200 Turbo

2008-10-28 10:32

Armand Prue, Groblersdal

When people think of the B-class, they’re usually at a loss for words to describe it, or to come up with a good reason for it to exist. I used to have my doubts, too.

Being a hard-core Mercedes enthusiast, the A-and B-Class Mercs were hard to swallow. Since then though, I’ve become convinced that the B-Class is a stroke of pure genius!
Why the B-Class?
When my mate and I spoke of getting a car, it soon became clear that we had different ideas of what a car should do.

He wanted something big and practical that he could carry all his sports gear in and could tour with. I wanted a low-slung city-slicker with decent performance.

His choice: Toyota Fortuner.

Mine: Mercedes C-Class.

Those needs are hard to reconcile. An obvious solution would be an MPV like the Zafira OPC, but my mate and I both agreed that it simply didn’t have style, and neither of us liked the other MPVs on offer.

We considered a station wagon, but my mate wanted a high-up seating position. An SUV was out of the question because they’re just plain stodgy to drive. That left us with very few options.

It’s surprisingly hard to find a car that is practical, comfortable with a high seating position, fast, stylish and backed by a good dealer network. Enter the B-Class.

I hadn’t even considered it. Like everyone else, I couldn’t get a grip on what it was trying to be. An MPV? Too compromised. A Scenic is more practical. A hot hatch? GTi would have it for lunch. But we were running out of options, so we took a B200 Turbo manual for a test drive.
Our impressions
My mate was immediately impressed with its interior space and the high level of fit and finish. With the back seats tumbled forward, he could fit all his gear into it with ease.

With the back seats up, 5 people could travel long distances in supreme comfort – high up. He loved it, and he loved the performance even more.
Halfway through the test drive, he handed me the wheel. I didn’t expect to like this car. I really didn’t want to like it, but in the end, all it took to win me over was to get seated behind the wheel. Everything just fell so perfectly to hand! I felt at home immediately.

Driving it is a blast! The little turbo revs willingly and really hauls ass. You have to be quick and precise with the gears to prevent hitting the limiter, but it shifts slickly enough.

Driving it fast can be tricky through the corners, but that’s always been part of the brand’s appeal for me: they’re not really designed to be track weapons, but they’re willing play hooligan when you’re in the mood for some fun.
So is this the perfect car? Maybe not for us as individuals, but for us as a gay couple with differing needs to reconcile and only so much money to spend, it’s just about perfect!"

Inside Wheels24

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