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The Mercedes-Benz B200, A Family Hatchback with a Difference

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The Mercedes-Benz B200 is described as a Sports Tourer. It could also be described as halfway between a family car and a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), combining the comfort of a family car with the space of an SUV. But to me, the B200 is a large family hatchback with a difference – the difference being the solid, high-quality engineering of Mercedes.

The car I was given to test drive was royal blue with a pleasing white/grey and black ash wood interior. I climbed into the leather sports seat and adjusted the seat position using the multi-directional switches on the door and lumber support switch on the side of the seat. The seat was very comfortable, and the high driver position gave me a good view of the road.

I soon worked out two essential requirements for starting my journey. Firstly, that the parking brake is set and released electronically by pressing or pulling a lever beneath the steering wheel and secondly, that the gearshift is positioned on the right side of the steering column and looks like an indicator switch.

Finally, I set out on my test drive from the carpark of the Mercedes headquarters in the Telecom Tower to my planned destination – Penang.

Driving through the urban traffic around Jalan Pantai Baru was effortless as the steering and engine acceleration was so responsive and the high driver position gave me a good awareness of surrounding vehicles. The 1595cc, 156-horsepower turbo-charged engine gave me a relatively fast acceleration of 0-100kph in 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 220kph.

I drove on to the highway, accelerated to110kph and engaged the cruise controlwith a switch on the steering column. The selected speed can be varied either in 1kph increments or 10kph depending on the pressure applied to the switch, allowing total control of the car from the steering wheel.

I soon discovered the main attraction of the B200 – its safety features. As I looked around the car, adjusted the radio and tried to connect my iPhone through Bluetooth, the onboard computer immediately detected I was not concentrating on my driving and warned me that I needed to take a rest.

Soon the onboard radar picked up that I was driving too close to the car ahead and flashed a stern warning from an indicator on the speedometer. I had a vision of a fierce policeman ordering me, “You will keep to the required distance!”

The radar also detects the closing speed of the car ahead and gives an aural/red light warning and, if necessary, automatic breaking if you are approaching too fast. This feature particularly impressed me, as on one occasion the car ahead suddenly slowed and before I had time to apply the brakes, the warning went off.

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When this feature is fitted to all cars I believe accident rates, especially those in Malaysia, will reduce dramatically, in much the same way that the massive improvements in radar technology have had a large impact on aviation and shipping safety.

The long journey to Penang gave me a good opportunity to check the fuel efficiency of this car which, although slightly higher than the advertised figure, at 6.5 l/100km is the best I have every achieved in any car of similar size.

My overall assessment of the Mercedes-Benz B200 is very good in many respects. Comfort, performance, luggage space, and fuel efficiency are all excellent, but what really makes this car stand out is its impressive set of safety features. Bearing in mind the high standard of engineering and the fact that it carries the quality Mercedes-Benz name, the B200, at RM220,888, is very reasonably priced.

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This article was written by Roger McGowan for Senses of Malaysia.
Source: Senses of Malaysia Nov-Dec 2012

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