Mercedes-Benz B200

CDI SE

FAMILY motoring can be a fraught affair thanks to cranky kids and cars that sometimes put practicality above comfort and the driving experience.

So when Mercedes-Benz getS involved in the people carrying sector of the market then expectations are raised and, with the B-Class, the Germans manage to produce something that is anything but run of the mill.

The B200 CDI SE is a smooth cruiser that offers acres of space and a refined atmosphere for driver and passengers.

The price will be an issue for some as, at £24,000-plus, it is not cheap, but it is a classy offering and in this life you get what you pay for.

As far as the B200 is concerned this is a hushed driving experience that would put a library to shame.

On the motorway you glide along in an oasis of peace and tranquillity with only the merest hint of wind and road noise.

The two-litre diesel engine barely lets you know it's there, but is still able to provide the required power with a smooth delivery that would put Perry Como to shame.

The B-Class offers a sedate rather than exhilarating ride with conservative cornering characteristics and an emphasis on calm rather than chaos.

The cabin is well designed and constructed while the exterior is sleek and stylish. There is lots of legroom in the rear while shoulder room is also good allowing three adults to be accommodated with ease.

You really appreciate the impressive dimensions of the B200 as its anaconda-like boot swallows whatever is put in front of it. The rear seats also fold easily when more space is required creating a cavernous loading area.

The driving position is excellent thanks to the fully adjustable seat and steering wheel. The controls are well set out - apart from the cruise control stalk which is a bit of a pet hate of mine - and are easy to see and operate.

So far so good then - but what about running costs and safety? These are key weapons in the armoury of any successful family motor.

Well, the B200 CDI offers decent fuel economy - I achieved close to the quoted combined figure of 47.1 mpg - while low carbon dioxide emissions ensure an enticing combination of green credentials and premium badge.

But safety is the real ace in the hole for the B200 with a ‘sandwich floor' that protects the occupants in a head-on smash as the engine slides underneath the passengers. Six airbags are fitted as standard and the SE model also sports side bags and window bags, plus electronic anti-skid systems, active head restraints and clever seatbelts.

Lots of equipment is included - which considering the price is just as well - with radio/CD player, electric windows and door mirrors, fixed glass panoramic roof, font fog lamps, hill start assist, multi-function steering wheel with trip computer, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, cruise control  and alloy wheels just some of the goodies thrown into the mix.

If you're looking for an upmarket spacious MPV then the B200 CDI SE has to be on the short list.

£24,140 140bhp, 1,991cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox 121mph 47.1 21 159g/km 18% 3yrs/ unlimited miles

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