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FIRST PICTURES: New Mercedes B-class

Date: 25 August 2011

Mercedes-Benz has declared its new B-class is "substantially more agile and efficient, but as comfortable and spacious as ever". The new model will launch into the UK market next March, and the firm's development boss Dr Thomas Weber said the car is a "quantum leap" in fuel consumption and emissions terms, as well as offering "the highest standard of safety that has ever been available in the class".

New petrol and diesel engines make up the launch range in the form of the 109hp B180 CDI and 136hp B200 CDI on the diesel side, and 122hp B180 and 156 B200 for petrol. Emissions figures aren't yet confirmed, but should be significantly lower than the 136g/km that is the current B-class's best effort.

Mercedes said the second-generation B-class is almost 50mm lower than its predecessor, but has more headroom thanks to a driver's seat that's been lowered for easy access. The seat is also more upright, in response to customer feedback, and Mercedes claimed the interior "defines a whole new benchmark in the compact segment", and has confirmed standard fitment of the Collision Prevention Assist system, Attention Assist, Active Parking Assist and Hill Hold, as well as a large range of optional safety systems.

The firm has also confirmed the B-class chassis has been designed for the easy adoption of alternative drive systems such as hybrid or electric into the floor or under the rear seats.

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