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Reacting to the arrival of BMW's 2-series Active Tourer, Mercedes has refreshed the B-class for 2015 - not that you can tell immediately.
Look closer, though, and there's a new front and rear bumper, rear light clusters, and headlamps that pack LED running lights. Inside, the interior boasts better finishes. So far, so underwhelming, but that's because Mercedes has spent its development cash on the bits you can't see. That's how autonomous braking is now standard on all models. Even more impressive is the fact Mercedes has also, with the help of Tesla, created a pure-electric B-class that's coming to the UK next spring.
The best-selling diesels, meanwhile, have also had a makeover and the B180 CDI now packs the Renault-developed 109hp 1.5-litre, while the B200 CDI gains a 136hp 2.1-litre engine.
Unfortunately, for our drive, all the diesels were equipped with Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive. We say 'unfortunately' because it not only ruins fuel consumption and increases emissions, but it takes the edge off the drive and makes the B-class feel less agile.
The new 2.1-litre is not quick (0-62mph in 9.9secs) and sounds rough when worked hard, but ease back the pace and on a motorway cruise the B-class is incredibly refined.
So how does it fare against its new rival? The good news is, in two-wheel drive form the B200CDI is more efficient then the BMW 218d Active Tourer (70.6mpg vs 68.9mpg.) It's also less taxing in benefit-in-kind (16% vs 17%) but has weaker resale values, yet still takes the costs victory by beating the BMW by 1.2p with 52.8ppm.
Despite this, we'd pick the BMW - it's more enjoyable to drive and has a better interior - but both prove that there's still life in the mini-MPV.
B200 CDI SE 7G-tronic auto
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B-class is now less taxing, but it beats the BMW only on cost