Just as the values, goals, lifestyles and interests of people change, so their expectations of the automobile change accordingly. The experience factor is gaining in importance, but comfort, practicality, attractiveness and performance are also expected. These are attributes that present vehicle concepts can only offer in part.
In other words, a young generation wants to be different - and drive differently. It is asking for a new form of car mobility, and for new formats.
The time is right: the world needs new car ideas.
The innovative Sports Tourer concept developed by Mercedes-Benz is entering series production: the new Mercedes -Benz B-Class, a Compact Sports Tourer of outstanding design, dynamism and dimensions, celebrates its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show.
With this new vehicle concept, Mercedes-Benz is once again asserting its role as the trendsetter among car brands and preparing the way for a young market segment with a promising future. The Sports Tourer meets the wishes of today’s motorists for a car with generous space, exemplary comfort, excellent practicality, an exciting design and a high level of driving pleasure. The new B-Class takes the advantages of different vehicle concepts and combines them into an interesting and distinctive profile of its own: as a Compact Sports Tourer, the B-Class is a touring, family and recreational vehicle with incomparable added experience value in terms of design and dynamism.
One of the major advantages of the Compact Sports Tourer is the sandwich concept developed by Mercedes-Benz. Thanks to the space-saving arrangement of the engine and transmission partly in front of and partly beneath the passenger cell, the new B-Class offers the interior spaciousness of larger saloons and estate cars despite its compact external dimensions. The body has a length of 4270 millimetres, corresponding to the compact car class. Inside, however, the new Mercedes model offers more than other cars of comparable size in this segment in all comfort-related respects, e.g. shoulder-room, legroom and headroom.
Occupants in the rear benefit from the long wheelbase (2778 millimetres); this allows a distance between seats and generous kneeroom which almost matches that in the S-Class.
The B-Class also reaches new dimensions where variability and load capacity are concerned. Thanks to a height-adjustable load compartment floor, an asymmetrically divided, folding and removable rear seat unit plus an optionally removable front passenger seat, the Compact Sports Tourer is quickly and easily converted from a comfortable touring car to a practical van. Depending on the number and position of the seats, the load capacity can be increased from 544 to up to 2245 litres (with rear seats and front passenger seat removed). This corresponds to the load capacity of large estate cars. The maximum loading length is 2.95 metres.
Mercedes-Benz has the answer: the Sports Tourer concept.
With the expertise of its engineers, the creativity of its designers and the know-how of its product planners, the trendsetter among the automobile brands has developed an incomparable vehicle type which combines the advantages of familiar car concepts and uses new ideas to create a distinctive new profile: the dynamic design of a sports saloon, the exterior dimensions of a compact car, the spaciousness of an estate and the variability of a minivan. The result is the Sports Tourer – spacious and comfortable, dynamic and confident, attractive and safe.
These are the salient features of two new model series which will enter series production at Mercedes-Benz in 2005. The first will take the stage for the first time at the beginning of March, at the Geneva Motor Show: the new B-Class, the Compact Sports Tourer by Mercedes-Benz. It is above all the "3D effect" that characterises the uniqueness of this new vehicle category: Dimensions, Design, Dynamism.
It is this effect that makes the new B-Class particularly attractive: there is an urge not only to climb in, but to "clothe" oneself with this car – without any compromises where practicality is concerned.
This is supplemented with further typical characteristics which mark the car as a Mercedes-Benz and make it unmistakable: safety, innovation, reliability and the prestigious character of a premium automobile.
Dimensions: compact car on the outside, large-saloon comfort inside
The new B-Class shows its qualities in this area as soon as one enters: despite compact external dimensions – the body has a length of 4270 millimetres – this five-seater offers the space and comfort of larger saloons or estate cars. This is the result of a sophisticated dimensional concept based on the sandwich principle developed by Mercedes-Benz, in which the engine and transmission are arranged partly in front of and partly beneath the body to save space. As a result, almost 70 percent of the body length is available for the occupants and their luggage – an outstanding example of economy of space.
Another advantage is the long wheelbase of 2778 millimetres, which particularly benefits the ride comfort and passengers in the rear: the distance between the seats is 840 millimetres, and at 88 millimetres the knee-room in the rear sets a new standard for cars of this size.
Design: athletic ambience
Design is the second outstanding attribute of the Compact Sports Tourer - extravagant design which awakens immediate enthusiasm for this innovative vehicle concept, while at the same time emphasising the third outstanding attribute of the B-Class: Dynamism.
Typical styling features include the silver-painted radiator grille with four horizontal louvres and the integral Mercedes star, the arrowed front end and the striking contour of the bonnet. These give the front end a wide and particularly muscular appearance, symbolising power, effortless assurance and performance. Viewed from the side, a combination of soft contours and tightly-drawn lines provides a dramatic interaction. The side aspect from the front wheel arches to the rear light clusters is divided by a prominent waistline; this line also rises slightly to the rear, emphasising the wedge-shape of the body - and therefore the dynamic and athletic character of the new B-Class.
Dynamism: agile handling and effortless performance
High-torque engines, newly developed transmissions, the latest safety systems and a sophisticated suspension design provide a driving experience which meets both performance and comfort requirements in equal measure.
A choice of six engines is available for the Compact Sports Tourer - two direct-injection diesel units (80 kW/109 hp and 103 kW/140 hp) with up to 300 Newton metres of torque, which are paired with a new six-speed manual transmission as standard, and four petrol units with a peak output of up to 142 kW/193 hp and a maximum torque of 280 Newton metres.
The extensive standard appointments of the new B-Class not only include air conditioning, head/thorax sidebags, adaptive belt force limiters and projection-beam headlamps, but also the most up-to-date handling safety features: ESP, acceleration skid control and Brake Assist. The newly developed STEER CONTROL steering assistance system is also on board for the first time; this likewise helps the driver to keep the vehicle on course in critical situations. The standard equipment (selection) of the B-Class at a glance:
- Acceleration skid control
- Active front head restraints
- Adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger
- Air conditioned glove compartment
- Air conditioning with dust filter and air recirculation
- Anti-lock braking system
- Armrest and stowage compartment in the tunnel covering
- Belt force limiters in the front and on outer rear seats
- Belt tensioners in the front and on outer rear seats
- Brake Assist
- Central locking with remote control
- Chrome and brushed aluminium trim
- Cup holders at front and rear, also in the door panels
- Disc brakes all-round, front discs internally ventilated
- Exterior mirrors heated and electrically adjustable
- Fog lamps and rear fog lamp
- Folding front passenger seat backrest
- Folding rear seat unit with 1/3 : 2/3 division, removable seat cushions
- Head/thorax sidebags in the front backrests
- Heated washer nozzles
- Height-adjustable load compartment floor
- Height-adjustable steering column
- ISOFIX child seat attachments
- Luggage compartment cover
- Multifunction steering wheel
- Outside temperature display
- Power front windows
- Projection-beam headlamps
- Rear seat belt status display
- Rear wiper with intermittent and convenience modes
- Selective damping system
- Six-speed manual transmission (B 180 CDI, B 200 CDI, B 200 TURBO)
- Speed-sensitive power steering with parameter function
- STEER CONTROL steering aid
- Surround and signal lighting in the tailgate
- Tinted glass
- TIREFIT tyre repair kit
- Trip computer
- Tyre pressure loss warning
Optional extras: technology for the most demanding
High-tech systems from the Mercedes-Benz luxury class are available for the new B-Class as optional equipment. These make the compact Sports Tourer even more comfortable, more versatile - and unique. A selection from the range of optional extras:
- 16, 17 and 18-inch light-alloy wheels
- 6 CD changer
- Anti-theft alarm
- Audio 50 APS radio and navigation system
- Automatically dimming rear-view mirror
- AUTOTRONIC automatic transmission
- Bi-xenon headlamps with Active Light System, cornering lights and headlamp cleaning system
- Child seat recognition
- COMAND APS
- Diesel particulate filter
- EASY-VARIO system
- Front seats electrically adjustable
- Integral child seats in the rear
- Leather upholstery
- Multicontour driver’s seat
- Panoramic louvred sunroof
- Panoramic roof
- PARKTRONIC parking aid
- Rear armrest with cup holder and through-loading facility
- Rear sidebags
- Run-flat tyres
- Sound system with surround sound
- Sports seats for driver and front passenger
- Sports suspension
- Steering-wheel gearshift buttons (in conjunction with AUTOTRONIC)
- THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control
To make it as easy as possible for customers to choose from the extensive range of attractive optional items, Mercedes-Benz has ensured the maximum scope for flexibility. When placing their order customers are already given a confirmed delivery date, however changes can still be made to the paint finish, upholstery or optional items up to six working days before this delivery date.
Packages: attractive offers for more individuality and practicality
In the new B-Class, Mercedes-Benz meets the wishes of today’s customers for more individuality with attractive equipment packages. These particularly enhance three attributes of the Compact Sports Tourer, namely its elegance, dynamism and practicality.
The exterior chrome package (optional) includes:
- Exterior mirrors in the vehicle colour
- Fog lamps with chrome surround
- Radiator with chrome strips
- Rub strips and door handles with chrome inserts
- Side skirts in vehicle colour
- Stainless steel exhaust tailpipe
- Waistline trim strip, loading sill and loading floor handle in chrome
- Windscreen with band filter
The optional sports package upgrades the B-Class with the following extras:
- 17-inch light-alloy wheels
- ARTICO man-made leather/ Maastricht fabric upholstery
- Exterior mirrors in the vehicle colour
- Fog lamps with chrome surround
- Instrument cluster with white illumination
- Leather-covered parking brake handle
- Oval exhaust tailpipe in stainless steel
- Pedals with stainless steel caps and rubber studs
- Radiator grille with chrome strips and three louvres
- Rear bumper of distinctive design with decor strips
- Rub strips and door handles with chrome inserts
- Shift lever leather-covered with aluminium cap
- Side skirts in the vehicle colour
- Sports suspension
- Steering wheel with two aluminium inserts and perforated leather
- Tinted rear lights
- Waistline trim strip, loading sill and loading floor handle in chrome
- Windscreen with band filter
In addition Mercedes-Benz has put together equipment packages which further improve lighting, visibility and comfort:
- Exterior lighting and visibility package:
- Bulb failure indicator
- Failsafe light function
- Headlamp Assist
- Headlamp switch-off delay
- Locator lighting
- Rain sensor for the windscreen wipers
- Windscreen with band filter
- Interior lighting package:
- Entry/exit and signal lights in the front doors
- Front footwell lights
- Reading lamp for the driver
- Reading lamps in the rear
- Sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors
- Seating comfort package:
- o Driver’s seat and front passenger seat with lumbar support and angle adjustment
- o Height-adjustable front passenger seat
- Muscular appearance thanks to pronounced contours and a wide radiator grille
- Dynamism by virtue of an exciting interplay between lines and surfaces
- Elegantly curved roof line
- The aerodynamically efficient shape of the front and rear aprons
- Effective sealing and airflow measures around the radiator grille
- Side skirt panelling
- The exterior mirror housings, whose shape was optimised in the wind tunnel
- The airflow breakaway edge on the upper section of the tailgate
- Spoilers in front of the front wheels
- The large area of underfloor panelling, which is supplemented with full panelling under the engine compartment in the case of diesel models
- Panelling around the spare wheel recess, which acts as an air diffuser;
- Plastic panelling around the Watt linkage of the parabolic rear axle
- Space and comfort: at the level of larger saloons and estate cars
- Variability: from a five-seater to a one-seater in easy moves
- Load capacity: up to 2245 litres with EASY-VARIO
- The compartments in the interior front door panels are designed to accommodate a road atlas and a 1-litre plastic bottle. Bottles or cans with a capacity of up to 0.5 litres can be stowed in the rear door pockets.
- The centre console and tunnel covering provide further stowage space; behind the shift lever there is a further cup holder and a compartment with a drawer in which a mobile phone can be carried.
- The capacity of the air-conditioned glove compartment is 8.5 litres, which means that in addition to various knick-knacks it has sufficient room for an A4 road atlas and a 6-CD changer (optional).
- Each front seat is equipped with a stowage tray which will for instance hold a collapsible umbrella. Stowage boxes can also be installed beneath the front seats on request.
- Seat comfort package: height-adjustable front passenger seat, both front seat cushions adjustable for angle, lumbar supports for driver and front passenger.
- Electrically adjustable front seats and head restraints.
- Multicontour backrest for the driver: pneumatic bolsters allow the backrest contours to be suited to the driver’s body.
- Sports seats with raised side bolsters for the driver and front passenger.
- The optional operating and display unit COMAND APS combines the radio, navigation system and DVD/CD player. The centrepiece of the system is a large colour display (6.5") in modern TFT technology. The European road network and a range of tourist destinations are stored on the navigation DVD. Route guidance is by means of a full-colour road map on the COMAND display, by guide arrows in the central display in the instrument cluster and by audio. For radio reception the unit is equipped with a VHF-RDS twin-tuner; long, medium and short-wave reception is also possible.
- The optional Audio 50 APS for the B-Class is equipped with a twin-tuner receiver for VHF, a CD player and an integral navigation system with dynamic route guidance by RDS-TMC. The display unit of this system is a 4.9-inch graphics-capable TFT colour screen. The road networks of the major European countries are stored on the navigation CD; the integral CD player is also able to play music CDs during route guidance.
- The Audio 20 CD car radio (optional) is equipped with a VHF/MW and LW receiver. Up to ten stations can be stored in memory for each wavelength. The four-channel amplifier has an output of 4 x 25 Watts. The integral CD player is also able to play home-burned CDs. Automatic station search, Radio Data System (with VHF) and a scan function are further features of this optional unit, whose integral telephone keypad also acts as an operating centre for the car phone.
- The entry-level model for the audio world of the new B-Class is the Audio 5 CD (optional). This offers VHF/MW/LW and SW as well as a CD player.
- Engine range: choice of up-to-date four-cylinder units
- Diesel engines: powerful torque and a fuel consumption of only 5.6 litres per 100 km
- Petrol engines: up to 142 kW/193 hp with turbocharging
- Transmissions: continuously variable AUTOTRONIC as an option for all models
- Driving pleasure: Even on paper, these engines provide all the conditions for exemplary agility and dynamism with their outputs of 80 kW/109 hp and 103 kW/140 hp, and 250 and 300 Newton metres of torque respectively – a promise which the B 180 CDI and B 200 CDI keep for mile after mile. The high torque of these engines is available over a wide engine speed range between 1600 and 2600 rpm, enabling the diesel models to execute overtaking manoeuvres rapidly and confidently. Accelerating from 80 to 120 km/h in fifth gear takes 12.6 seconds for the B 180 CDI and 10.0 seconds for the B 200 CDI. Acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h takes 11.3 and 9.6 seconds respectively, and the maximum speed of the CDI models is 183 and 200 km/h respectively.
- Fuel economy: Thanks to pioneering common-rail direct injection, the B-Class only seldom needs to visit the filling station. The B 180 CDI has a consumption of 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres (combined consumption) and is able to cover a distance of more than 960 kilometres on one full tank (54 litres). The B 200 CDI is likewise happy with only 5.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (combined).
- Environmental protection: The newly developed diesel engines have such low emission levels that they are able to meet the stringent EU 4 exhaust emission limits even without a particulate filter system. This is in large measure due to sophisticated in-engine measures and use of the latest common-rail technology. In addition the B-Class is equipped with two oxidation catalytic converters which reduce gaseous pollutants by combining them with oxygen. Mercedes-Benz also offers a maintenance-free particulate filter system which further reduces emissions of soot particles.
- Ride comfort: The ratios are changed without jolting. The engine speed is lower at constant speed. The most suitable ratio is always selected on downhill gradients.
- Acceleration: The ratios are changed without interrupting tractive power. The engine reaches its rated output more rapidly. The engine always performs at its best possible operating point.
- Front axle: McPherson technology with additional control arms
- Steering: speed-dependent servo assistance
- Rear axle: innovative parabolic design for high performance
- ESP: now combined with steering assistance system
- The electric motor is equipped with a microprocessor which is integrated into the databus network of the new B-Class. Here it regularly obtains updated information about the road speed, engine speed, steering angle and the torque at the torsion bar. This information can be used to meter the level of servo assistance as a function of speed – this is known as parameterisation. The advantage is that the level of servo assistance is higher at low speeds than at high speed. Parking and slow manoeuvring are therefore much easier than with a conventional power steering system. The speed-sensitive function is precisely configured and programmed for each body and engine variant of the new B-Class.
- The direct steering ratio and great dynamism of the newly developed system ensure particularly precise steering sensitivity. An active self-centring action provides additional help.
- As the electric motor is only switched on when the steering is operated, the system requires less energy than a conventional hydraulic steering system. This makes itself felt in the form of better fuel economy.
- The electromechanical steering operates without hydraulic fluid and is therefore easier to assemble and repair. This technology also benefits the environment, as no fluid needs to be disposed of.
- When the shock absorber is subjected to only small movements, i.e. during normal driving, the control plunger is in a central position and holds open a bypass duct which allows part of the oil flow to pass through the piston journal. This oil flows past the damper valve, reducing the overall resistance of the shock absorber. This produces "softer" shock absorber characteristics for a high level of ride comfort.
- If the shock absorber is subjected to more abrupt movements – for example when taking bends at speed or during evasive manoeuvres – the oil pushes the control plunger in the valve housing upwards or downwards, automatically closing the bypass duct. As a result the full damping effect becomes available and the B-Class is stabilised to the maximum.
- Sandwich concept: safely inclined, transversely positioned drive unit
- Occupant protection: airbags and belt force limiters with adaptive function
- Long-term protection: fully galvanised body and underbody panelling
- Lighting innovation: bi-xenon with steering-dependent and cornering lights
- two straight side members of high-strength steel with upstream crash boxes of high-strength steel and a box-sectioned transverse member of extruded aluminium. These crash boxes have proved highly effective during low-speed collisions (up to a maximum of 15 km/h), and are inexpensive to repair thanks to bolted connections. The front end side members are offset in the underfloor area, where they are joined to the structural side members (sills);
- two side member sections above the wheel arches, which form an additional energy-absorption path during an offset frontal collision;
- the multi-piece integral member on which the engine, transmission, steering and front axle are mounted. This is connected to the bodyshell at eight points. In the event of a severe frontal impact, the central and rear connecting points are designed to shear so that the drive unit is able to slide downwards. During the process it is retained by the front connecting points with the integral member;
- the front wheels, which are supported by the side members during a collision and therefore help to dissipate impact energy.
- Adaptive front airbags which have been developed to reflect the latest accident research findings: during a collision of medium severity the electronic control unit only ignites one stage of the gas generator, and the airbag inflates more gently. Should the control unit detect a severe collision, however, it deploys the second stage of the driver and front passenger airbags a few milliseconds later. A new folding process and low rupture forces at the airbag flap in the dashboard also ensure that the front passenger airbag deploys more gently.
- Front and rear belt tensioners: in addition to the front seats, the outer rear seats in the B-Class are equipped with belt tensioners. There is a special feature in the form of a belt status display in the instrument cluster; this informs the driver whether the passengers in the rear are wearing their seat belts.
- Adaptive belt force limiters for the driver and front passenger: the standard belt force limiters for the front seat belts likewise adapt to the relevant deceleration conditions as required. When the seat belt has been tensioned during the early impact phase, the belt is initially tight against the body of the occupant. The adaptive force limiter ensures that a higher restraining force is initially applied. As the occupant sinks into the airbag and is additionally restrained, the system slightly slackens the seat belt and reduces the belt force to keep the loads acting on the chest of the occupant at the same low level.
- Head/thorax sidebags in the front seats: this Mercedes development provides dual protection during a lateral impact, as the asymmetrically shaped airbag extends upwards and reduces the risk of head impact against the side window or penetrating objects. At the same time the lower section of the head/thorax sidebag inflates between the door and the occupant, covering a wide area at chest level. The head/thorax bags are located in the front seat backrests.
Design: Poised, assured presence
The specifications were demanding from the very start. Mercedes designers were to create a versatile, compact and yet spacious automobile as the new B-Class – a "space vehicle" which would nonetheless have the exciting, dynamic appearance of a sports model and the representative character of a Mercedes saloon.
The result is an innovative concept with its own design idiom: the Compact Sports Tourer. Although it offers the space and comfort of larger saloons or estate cars, the B-Class with its clear contours and tightly-drawn lines suggests sporty, forward-flowing energy and creates the urge to take it for a drive.
Both the muscular appearance of the car as it stands in the road and the clear, striking lines, finely balanced proportions and carefully styled details make a direct appeal to the emotions. The poised character of the B-Class is also enhanced by the impeccably finished interior with its high-quality materials.
Front end: width symbolises power and performance
As a result of its pronounced wedge-shape, the front end of the new B-Class immediately makes a sporty and dynamic impression. This feature is continued as a discreet but effective ridge along the centre of the bonnet, which is clearly delineated from the wings. Its contours are defined by tightly-drawn, sharp lines. These create an intriguing light-and-shade effect, then blend into the A-pillars in a dynamic curve to continue this racy profile to the rear end.
The front aspect is dominated by a wide, relatively upright radiator grille with four horizontal louvres and the integral Mercedes star in the centre. Along its entire horizontal line, the front bumper with integral rub strips in the corners features a large air intake aperture with fog lamps set into separate frames, providing a muscular transition between the new B-Class and the road surface. This pronounced emphasis on width unmistakably suggests attributes such as power, poise and performance.
This impression is underlined by the widely spaced headlamps, which extend well into the sides. As a result the entire front end forms a single visual unit. Additional highlights are provided by the clear headlamp lenses, which allow a fascinating view of the sparkling chrome high-tech of the powerful projection-beam system; this is also optionally available in a bi-xenon version with the Active Light System and cornering lights.
Side view: striking character line as a point of interest
The silhouette of the car shows an obvious two-box concept. It is characterised by the long, tightly drawn arch of the roofline supported by the heavily inclined D-pillar, indicating both dynamism and elegance. This effect is rounded off by the pronounced dip of the rear end.
The rising flank, whose waistline already begins in front of the mirror triangle, suggests pronounced forward-flowing energy and speed even at standstill. This impression is reinforced by the wrap-around rear window.
From the front wheel arches a pronounced, sharply drawn shoulderline rises towards the rear, continuing into and ending harmoniously in the rear light clusters. This prominent character line – which has meanwhile become a distinguishing Mercedes feature – additionally emphasises the car’s length and underlines the dynamic, powerful character of the new B-Class. In addition, the interplay between soft shapes and tightly-drawn lines creates an interesting refractive edge between the concave and convex surfaces of the doors, providing an attractive aspect from any angle.
The emotional character is also accentuated by the large side window area, which tapers at the rear for a sporty look but in no way detracts from the feeling of generous space enjoyed by the occupants. The impression of dynamic length is additionally reinforced because the B and C-pillars are colour-matched with the windows to form a continuous visual surface.
The athletic proportions made up of the tightly-drawn lines and surfaces, a long wheelbase and short overhangs are in keeping with the prominent, muscular wings which direct the eye to the 15 or 16-inch wheels, depending on the engine variant. If the sports package is ordered, the wheel arches are even filled with 17-inch light-alloy wheels in a sporty ten-spoke design.
The dynamically flowing lines of the front end and flanks are continued into the rear-end design. A direct visual link is created by the rear light clusters, whose upper edges create an unbroken extension of the shoulderline and thereby integrate and structure the rear aspect. A very wide rear window with a slight wrap-around and a vestigial spoiler lip visually reduce the height of the car while emphasising its width. These powerful contours are accentuated by horizontal lines, a high bumper with integral rub strips and reflectors and a high-quality chrome handle for the deep tailgate. The rear lights lend an impression of width to the car with their Mercedes-typical, three-sectioned meander-look.
Aerodynamics: outstanding values for wind resistance and lift
Mercedes engineers have also given the new B-Class outstanding aerodynamic characteristics with the help of the latest development and test procedures. As witness the low Cd value of 0.30 and the good coefficients of lift at the front and rear axles – 0.05 (cLF) and 0,06 (cLR) respectively.
This creates important conditions for a favourable fuel consumption and a high level of handling safety.
Various measures have helped to achieve these results, for example ...
Aero-acoustics: sophisticated measures against wind noise
These detailed aerodynamic measures have also produced audible results. The low noise level in the interior of the new B-Class is the result of painstaking research in the aero-acoustic tunnel, where Mercedes engineers have developed an extensive package of measures to reduce wind noise. This includes continuous door seals with up to three sealing levels, as well as mounting the exterior mirrors in an acoustically favourable position on the front edge of the door frames.
Headlamps: projection-beam technology as standard
The wide, sweeping headlamps, which blend harmoniously into the surface of the front end, contribute to the powerful, sporty appearance of the new B-Class. Their clear plastic lenses reveal up-to-date lighting technology which ensures wide, uniform illumination of the road surface and therefore make a major contribution to safe driving in the dark.
As standard, the new B-Class is equipped with projection-type halogen low-beam headlamps (H7 bulbs), whose chrome-plated cylinders contribute to the dynamic appearance of the Compact Sports Tourer. The cylinders conceal an optical system which controls the light distribution and ensures wide, uniform road illumination. The reflector-type halogen main beam with an H7 bulb is separately accommodated in the headlamp housing. Sidelights provide a further accentuating feature and characterise the night-design of the new B-Class. The fog lamps are housed in the front bumper.
On request Mercedes-Benz also offers lighting technology from the luxury class, namely active bi-xenon headlamps with cornering lights. Bi-xenon means that only one lamp is required for main and low beam: in contrast to main-beam lighting when the full light output is used, when low-beam is selected a shutter is inserted between the lamp and the lens which obscures part of the beam of light. Both in the low-beam and main-beam function the bi-xenon headlamps automatically follow the steering movements of the driver and immediately pivot sideways when the car enters a bend. This improves road illumination by up to 90 percent: whereas the normal illumination range when entering a bend with a radius of 190 metres is approx. 30 metres, this increases by 25 metres with active headlamps. As the light distribution corresponds to the relevant steering angle, the driver is able to recognise the course taken by the road better than with conventional low-beam headlamps. In the speed range between 40 and 70 km/h the active headlamps are supported by an auxiliary spotlight.
If the new B-Class is ordered with bi-xenon headlamps, this also includes cornering lights. These are automatically activated at speeds up to 40 km/h when the driver uses the indicators or turns the steering wheel, illuminating the area to one side of the vehicle to an angle of up to 65 degrees and a distance of up to 30 metres and revealing areas of the road which would normally not be visible with conventional headlamp technology. This also has the advantage that cyclists and pedestrians beside the vehicle are more clearly seen in the dark. The driver also has better orientation when taking bends at low speed. The intelligent electronic control unit does not switch the turning lights on or off abruptly: instead they fade in or out with a dimmer function. This operates more rapidly when fading in than when fading out, giving the human eye time to adapt to the change in lighting conditions.
Dynamic headlamp range adjustment and a headlamp cleaning system using high-pressure water jets are also part of the optional bi-xenon package.
Optional: Headlamp Assist and rain sensor as a package
Headlamp Assist, which automatically switches on the vehicle lights when darkness falls or the car enters a tunnel, is optionally available for the B-Class. It forms part of the light and sight package which also includes a blue windscreen band filter, a headlamp switch-off delay, locator lighting, a rain sensor for the windscreen wipers and additional functions such as emergency and failsafe lighting.
In vertically descending order the large rear light clusters include brake lights, indicators, reversing light (right), tail lights and fog light (left). The raised, third brake light is integrated into the roof spoiler above the tailgate. This contains powerful light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which have a more rapid response and a longer operating life than conventional bulbs.
Interior: Added pleasure
The sandwich concept not only offers advantages in terms of safety, it also enables the available space to be divided up very advantageously. Because the drive unit is accommodated partly in front of and partly beneath the body, and other components such as the battery, activated charcoal filter (petrol models), fuses, electronic control units and the fuel tank are located under the passenger cell, it is possible to create a spacious interior with a correspondingly high level of comfort for the occupants. Almost 70 percent of the body length is available for the occupants and their luggage – an outstanding result in automotive dimensional engineering which creates the ideal conditions for optimal long-distance comfort.
Interior: design and feel create a harmonious composition
The highest quality, attention to detail and a feeling of generous spaciousness - the new B-Class already conveys these impressions in basic trim. In conjunction with the generous space, pleasant feel of all surface materials and large areas of glass, a harmonious composition of shapes, colours and materials creates a definite feel-good atmosphere for enjoyable driving. This is enhanced by the high seating position, which also aids visibility, while the high waistline creates a feeling of safety without confinement. An even more airy and bright atmosphere is created by the optional panoramic sliding sunroof with its innovative louvre technology, or by the fixed panoramic roof.
The designers have also continued the powerful design idiom of the body into the interior, in order to emphasise the unmistakable character of the new B-Class even more. The interior is therefore characterised by tightly-drawn, crisp lines.
Cockpit: steering wheel and instruments convey sporty elegance and precision
A slim yet striking chrome strip divides the upper and lower sections of the dashboard, emphasises its width and accentuates the spaciousness of the interior. The driver of the new B-Class is seated behind a newly designed, black four-spoke steering wheel with multifunction buttons. In the sports version the two lower spokes are additionally embellished with aluminium trim. The eye is attracted to a modern display concept with four high-quality precision dial instruments, whose black dials with white figures and chrome surrounds combine excellent legibility with sporty elegance. A divided display between the speedometer and rev counter completes the comprehensive information offered.
The centre console also blends in smoothly with the tightly-drawn design concept, being framed by vertical aluminium trim strips on the left and right. These elegantly integrated trim strips are repeated in the area of the shift lever and the door panels to enhance the interior appointments.
The main controls for the heating, air conditioning and communication facilities such as the radio and navigation system are conveniently positioned directly below the centre vents. Finely milled edges on the rotary switches, which engage with a reassuring click, ergonomic controls and high-quality buttons whose functioning mode is likewise indicated by a solid click, also reflect the high level of precision by their feel. The centre console is extended with a high tunnel covering featuring a centre armrest with an integral stowage drawer which can be adjusted fore-and-aft.
Doors: shape and materials ensure an all-round feeling of security
The door panels reflect the basic shape of the dashboard and continue this into the armrests, which house the switches for the power windows in accordance with ergonomic control logic. High-quality, homogenous materials provide a harmonious transition from the dashboard to the doors, thereby ensuring an optimal continuity which studiously avoids any break in visual or tactile impressions and creates a feeling of security in the vehicle occupants. The same applies to the rear doors, which correspond to their front counterparts in design and construction and produce an interior which appears to have been cast from a single mould.
All the doors feature spacious door pockets next to circular loudspeaker grilles with slim chrome surrounds. Fine chrome embellishments also accentuate many other areas of the interior and create an impression of high quality, for example on the adjustment controls for the air vents and on the handles of the glove compartment and door catches. The standard decorative trim is of brushed aluminium, or optionally in exotic myrtle wood. Details such as these show the great attention to detail and high standards which the designers of the new B-Class have already devoted to the basic configuration. The optional sports package creates further interesting highlights.
The driver and front passenger are seated on firm, well-contoured seats which reflect the basic character of the compact Sports Tourer. The centre areas of the rear seats have contrasting materials to give the visual appearance of single seats, however there is still a fully-fledged seat in the centre and three passengers can be accommodated in the rear.
In order to reflect the youthful, sporty character of the new B-Class, a new fabric design was developed which is strongly reminiscent of high-quality sportswear. This fabric is available in black, orient beige and alpaca grey, and an interesting combination of ARTICO man-made leather with fabric or alternatively real leather upholstery are available on request.
The designo range for the new B-Class includes a two-tone leather/Alcantara interior with anthracite or brown poplar trim, both in combination with black piano lacquer. The designo versions of the steering wheel and shift lever are lined in a high-quality combination of leather and wood.
In the new B-Class, the Compact Sports Tourer by Mercedes-Benz, this is supplemented with a design feature which likewise benefits the spaciousness of the interior: the long wheelbase of 2778 millimetres – a figure with which the compact B-Class approaches a level reserved only for luxury class cars just a few years ago.
Stowage: air-conditioned glove compartment plus cup holders for all occupants
Practicality and variability are further attributes which characterise the interior of the new B-Class. Mercedes engineers have taken the greatest care to ensure that in addition to an attractive design and a high value impression, all the components in the interior are fully able to meet the requirements of day-to-day driving. The spacious stowage compartments are a good example:
Load capacity: from 544 to 1645 litres
The interior of the new B-Class can be quickly and easily varied and adapted to suit the relevant transport task. The main components of the conversion concept are the load compartment floor, which is height-adjustable by 90 millimetres, the variable rear seat unit and the front passenger seat. If the generous luggage capacity behind the rear seats (544 litres) proves insufficient, the 1/3 to 2/3 division in the rear seat unit provides plenty of options for creating more space. First of all, the seat cushions and then the backrests can be individually or jointly folded forward to increase the length of the level load floor by 649 to 1547 millimetres and the capacity from 544 to up to 1140 litres. To create even more space for luggage or sports/recreational equipment, both seat cushions can be completely removed and stowed under the load compartment floor.
Mercedes specialists have demonstrated the transport capacity the new B-Class offers a family going on holiday with the help of a set of luggage: with the rear seat unit in its normal position and the luggage space loaded to roof level, three jumbo suitcases with a volume of 86 litres each, a suitcase with a volume of 47 litres and a beauty case can be accommodated in the luggage compartment. As the new B-Class is equipped with the innovative tyre repair kit TIREFIT as standard, the spare wheel recess serves as a practical, non-visible stowage space with a capacity of 67 to 118 litres (depending on the position of the load floor). The front seat backrest may be folded forward if particularly long items need to be carried; this extends the loading length from the tailgate to the front footwell to up to 2.95 metres.
EASY-VARIO System: removable rear backrests and front passenger seat
The EASY-VARIO System provides even more options for a variable interior layout. Mercedes customers who choose this option are also able to completely remove the two rear seat backrests and the front passenger seat, increasing the load capacity to up to 2245 litres.
Seats: individual comfort as standard
Thanks to four-way manual adjustment, the seats in the new B-Class have plenty of scope to ensure that the driver and front passenger are comfortable. The driver’s seat has a total fore-and-aft adjustment of 260 millimetres and a height adjustment of 56 millimetres. If the driver changes the seat height, the seat cushion angle is automatically adjusted by up to six degrees to suit. The driver and front passenger are able to freely select the backrest angle, and if required the backrests can be fully reclined.
A range of interesting options is available for even more individual seating comfort:
Integral child seats are optionally available for the rear seats; these fold out of the seat cushion at the touch of a button, and can be retracted again just as easily. In conjunction with a folding, removable rear armrest (optional) there is a through-loading facility from the luggage compartment to the interior – a practical way of carrying skis for a winter holiday, for example. The front face of the armrest has a twin cup holder.
Dashboard: pleasant to the touch and with a high impression of quality
Touch and feel plus ergonomics were two major criteria during the development of interior of the new B-Class. Surface materials, display instruments, switches and operating controls were critically examined from these points of view and selected after extensive testing.
One example is the single-piece dashboard, whose precise edges and radii are the result of an ultra-modern manufacturing process: using a negative mould, a robot sprays on an outer skin of soft polyurethane whose surface is very pleasant to the touch. This can be applied in different thicknesses as required. The process results in a homogenous surface with no interruptions in the form of joints or seams.
A cross-member provides a stable base for the dashboard and its components. The glove compartment, airbag, centre console and jacket tube are attached to this robust structural member, which reduces resonances and vibrations. An assembly bulkhead closes the gap between the engine compartment and the interior, and with audible results: there is a significant reduction in the engine noises transmitted to the interior.
Operating concept: clear instrument layout, ergonomically positioned controls
Easily legible dial instruments with chrome surrounds, black faces and white figures keep the driver informed about the vehicle and engine speeds. These are flanked by smaller instruments indicating the coolant temperature (left) and fuel level (right). At the centre of the instrument cluster the upper section of the divided central display shows the trip and total mileage, while the lower section displays the outside temperature and time as well as the current transmission mode and selector lever position for the continuously variable AUTOTRONIC automatic transmission (optional).
In addition, the operating and display concept of the new B-Class allows the driver to programme individual settings in line with personal requirements. Once stored, these settings always operate in the background and require no further action to be taken. The wishes of the driver are entered with the help of the standard multifunction steering wheel, which is networked with the central display in the instrument cluster, the car radio and the car telephone. A brief touch on the lower left-hand button in the steering wheel causes the main "Settings" menu to appear in the display. Individual functions can be programmed using the different menu items.
The surfaces of the switches and controls in the centre console feature a special "soft touch" coating which provides a soft, silky sheen. All the buttons and controls are arranged according to the latest ergonomic findings, and are located according to their frequency of use or visual considerations.
Right at the top, where it is easily accessible for both the driver and front passenger, there is the prominent red button for the hazard warning flasher system. Beneath this – depending on the equipment level – is the car radio or the navigation system with its easily visible colour display. The next row of controls is for the standard air conditioning or the optional THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control system, which has conveniently placed and attractive rotary switches for manual selection of the fan speed (right) and air distribution (left). An array of buttons for optional equipment such as heated seats, PARKTRONIC, anti tow-away protection and the interior motion sensor etc. rounds off the lower end of the centre console.
Mercedes engineers have developed a special interior lighting package (optional) to ensure that the occupants of the new B-Class can find what they want and feel comfortable even during the hours of darkness. This includes separately switched reading lights on both sides in the rear, a reading light for the driver, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, lights in the front footwells and entry/exit/signal lights in the doors.
Climate control: high technology as standard
The B-Class is equipped with efficient air conditioning as standard. This can be conveniently operated by the driver and front passenger, with user-friendly rotary switches in the centre console for selecting the temperature, air distribution and fan speed. Other "climate-related" functions are also grouped here, e.g. air recirculation and the heated rear window.
The climate control centre also features a sensor which monitors the temperature in the interior and ensures that the setting selected by the occupants remains constant. Other sensors measure the ambient temperature and humidity so that the air conditioning is controlled economically in conjunction with the infinitely variable refrigerant compressor. A solenoid valve carries out this humidity-related control function by varying the swept volume of the compressor, and therefore the cooling output.
The tunnel closing function is another special feature: if the driver holds down the air recirculation switch for approx. two to three seconds, this automatically closes both the air recirculation flap in the air conditioning system and any power windows plus the sunroof if open. Pressing the switch again returns these to their previous position.
Mercedes-Benz equips the CDI models with a PTC heater (Positive Temperature Coefficient) as standard. This is located behind the heater core of the air conditioning system and switches on as required, depending on the ambient temperature. This compact, efficient heating system becomes active just a short time after the engine is started, and quickly warms the interior.
THERMOTRONIC: sensors for optimal climatic comfort
At Mercedes-Benz, THERMOTRONIC stands for the ultimate in climatic comfort. This automatic climate control system is available for the new B-Class as optional equipment.
The THERMOTRONIC control panel differs from that of the air conditioning in having two prominent rotary control switches for the fan speed and air distribution. In the middle of these controls there are two push-buttons which activate the residual engine heat (right) and automatic mode (left) functions. The driver and front passenger are able to select the desired temperature separately by pushing a button in the centre area of the operating unit. The selected values are shown by separate displays.
Like the air conditioning system, THERMOTRONIC operates on the basis of sensor data about the interior and ambient temperature and the humidity of the inflowing air. It also has an integral pollution sensor: if the nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide content in the outside air exceeds a certain value, THERMOTRONIC automatically switches to air recirculation mode. Seven electric motors inside the THERMOTRONIC air conditioning unit are responsible for automatic control of the air flaps.
The automatic climate control system also includes a special sun sensor. This is located on the dashboard and provides the electronic control unit for the THERMOTRONIC system with information about the sun load. In automatic mode this information is used to control the air volume and temperature for the driver and front passenger depending on the angle of the sun.
The air recirculation function also operates automatically: at high ambient temperatures the microprocessor automatically adjusts the proportion of recirculated air in the fresh air inflow to cool the interior more rapidly and limit the power requirement of the unit. A combination filter with an activated charcoal coating, which traps dust particles and pollen when the air conditioner is in fresh air mode, is also standard equipment with THERMOTRONIC.
Efficient ventilation of the interior is ensured by four pivoting square vents in the dashboard, four defrosting vents for the windscreen and side windows and four outlets in the front and rear footwells. In conjunction with THERMOTRONC automatic climate control, Mercedes -Benz also equips the new B-Class with an upward-facing vent in the centre of the dashboard to distribute the air evenly and therefore draught-free, as well as with two pivoting vents on the back of the tunnel covering to ventilate the rear.
Audio systems: first-class entertainment and Europe-wide navigation
The new B-Class also offers high-tech systems from the top Mercedes models where entertainment and communications technology is concerned:
In conjunction with the standard multifunction steering wheel, all Mercedes car radios offer excellent operating convenience. Numerous functions can be controlled in this way, so that the driver’s hands can remain on the steering wheel when for instance adjusting the volume or selecting a different radio station. These units also feature speed-dependent volume control: from approx. 20 km/h the volume is increased in stages to suit the current driving situation. Aerial diversity, which chooses between the signals from the roof-mounted aerial and two VHF aerials in the rear window and thereby ensures optimal reception, is also included with the Audio 20 CD, Audio 50 APS and COMAND APS units.
Mercedes car radios feature six loudspeakers as standard. An even more sophisticated set with an additional centre loudspeaker (front) and a woofer is also available on request. An even richer sound experience is provided by the surround sound system (optional) with ten loudspeakers, including active tweeters and woofers with separate amplifiers.
Sliding sunroof: louvred system with panoramic effect
A newly developed, louvred panoramic sliding sunroof provides the occupants of the new B-Class with a unique open-air experience, and contributes to the bright, friendly interior atmosphere of the Compact Sport Tourer when closed. Thanks to its space-saving technology, the roof aperture is around 60 percent larger than with a conventional sliding roof. The louvres are of tinted plastic and are protected with a scratch-resistant coating which also prevents transmission of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Additional sun protection is provided by a manually operated roller blind on the inside of the louvred panoramic roof, and this is also available when the roof is open. In this case the air-permeable weave of the blind acts as a draught-stop.
When the sliding roof is opened by pressing the operating switch, the first louvre is raised first and remains in this position as a wind deflector. Pressing the switch again causes the other four louvres to slide to the rear and form an obliquely angled pack.
As an alternative to the louvred sliding roof there is the option of a fixed panoramic roof with a 0.6 square metre, grey-tinted area of laminated safety glass. Here too, sun protection is provided by a manually operated roller blind on the inside of the roof.
Engines and gearbox
Engines and transmissions: A strong team
Six four-cylinder engines with outputs ranging from 70 kW/95 hp to 142 kW/193 hp are available for the new B-Class. Their compact design is in accordance with the advantageous sandwich concept, which enables the drive unit to be installed at an oblique angle behind the front axle. This means that in a severe frontal collision, the engine and transmission are able to slide to the rear down the pedal floor panel without damaging the passenger cell.
However, in addition to their unique, angled configuration and compact dimensions the four-cylinder units for the B-Class have plenty to offer in terms of engine technology as well. More output, more torque and more driving pleasure were the development objectives for these engines, and these were achieved together with equally remarkable progress with respect to environmental compatibility, economy and comfort.
Depending on the level of torque, the engines are combined with a five or six-speed manual transmission. The newly developed, continuously variable AUTOTRONIC transmission is also available on request for all model variants.
Combination: dynamic driving pleasure with a favourable fuel consumption
The two diesel engines for the B-Class are new developments which meet all the current requirements of both customers and legislation:
CDI technology: variable high-pressure pump and dual pre-injection
Common-rail injection allows very precise control of the solenoid valves on the injectors and demand-related regulation of the high-pressure pump. In previous CDI engines this pump always operated at maximum output, which required a high energy input at the expense of fuel consumption and also caused a large increase in fuel temperature, but it is now controlled according to demand by a vacuum throttle. Depending on the fuel pressure calculated by the engine management system, the delivery chambers of the pump are only partly filled and enable the delivery volume to be demand-related. This technology considerably reduces the energy input required by the pump, and therefore the fuel consumption.
Another important feature of this second-generation common-rail technology is the newly developed seven-hole injection nozzle, which replaces the previous six-hole nozzle. The new injector makes it possible to reduce the hole diameter by around 20 percent, thereby reducing the flow rate. This means that the fuel is distributed more evenly in the cylinders, ignites more rapidly and burns more completely than before. The progress achieved thanks to this improved mixture formation is particularly noticeable when measuring the exhaust emissions.
The greater throttling effect of the smaller nozzle holes increases the injection time, however, which is particularly unfavourable when more performance is required. To compensate this effect the engineers at Mercedes have increased the injection pressure from the previous 1350 to 1600 bar, thereby shortening the injection time. As in all common-rail engines this high injection pressure is available at all times, i.e. also at low engine speeds.
Pilot injection system has always been a special feature of common-rail engines by Mercedes-Benz. This ensures a quieter combustion noise. In these new CDI engines for the B-Class the engineers at Mercedes have perfected this principle by means of dual pre-injection. The highly-efficient solenoid valves in the new 1600-bar injectors permit even shorter time delays between pilot and main injection, and now small pilot quantities flow into the combustion chambers twice in succession within less than a millisecond, ensuring even better pre-heating. The result is audible, as the combustion noises are once again significantly reduced.
The impressive increase in output and torque which clearly distinguishes the CDI engines of the new B-Class is also a result of increasing the ignition pressure to 180 bar, giving the engine a high torque in the lower engine speed range. Specifically this means that in the B 180 CDI, 198 Newton metres no less than 79 percent of the maximum torque are already available from 1300 rpm.
B 200 CDI: turbocharger with VNT technology for high torque
Even more impressive torque characteristics are shown by the new B 200 CDI, which features a VNT turbocharger (Variable Nozzle Turbine). In a VNT charger the angle of the turbine vanes can be varied according to the engine operating parameters, enabling the greatest possible volume of exhaust gas to be used to compress the intake air and build up the charge pressure. The major advantages of this variable turbocharger control include better cylinder charging and therefore more torque.
The air compressed by the turbocharger flows through a high-capacity intercooler, from where it enters a mixing chamber and meets the recirculated exhaust gases. The exhaust gases are fed directly from the exhaust manifold and flow through a water-cooled heat exchanger. They mix with the compressed fresh air, with an automatic intake air throttling system ensuring the most favourable ratio of charge air to recirculated exhaust gases. The mixing chamber is part of a complex air distribution module. From here each cylinder is supplied with the air/exhaust gas mixture via two ducts. One of the two intake ducts can be switched off depending on the engine speed and engine load, thereby increasing the swirl rate of the mixture. At low engine speeds a system of variable swirl flaps is also in action. These further increase the air speed in the four spiral ducts of the cylinder head, thereby improving the output and torque under partial load.
Design: well-proven technology for the crankcase and cylinder head
A crankcase of grey cast iron provides the solid basis for the diesel engines of the B-Class. In view of the compact engine dimensions, increased displacement and higher ignition pressure this well-proven material offers the most advantages. While maintaining the distance between cylinders, Mercedes engineers have increased the bore from 80 to 83 millimetres and the stroke from 84 to 92 millimetres. The forged conrods have been lengthened to 147.85 millimetres. The crankshaft is likewise of forged steel and features five bearings, eight counterweights and a vibration damper. The pistons, whose crowns have a special, dished profile, are equipped with cooling ducts into which oil is sprayed by pressure-controlled nozzles.
The cylinder head in the new diesel engines has two overhead camshafts, each of which controls two intake and two exhaust valves via roller-type rocker arms. The steel camshafts are produced using an internal high-pressure forming process developed by Mercedes-Benz, which ensures a very high level of precision: the cavities in the blanks are filled with a liquid and subsequently formed for a precise fit at a pressure of up to 2000 bar. A chain drives the camshaft on the intake side, which meshes with its counterpart on the exhaust side.
Petrol engines: nought to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds
The range of petrol engines for the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class comprises four power units with displacements of 1.5, 1.7 and 2.0 litres. Without complex four-valve technology, these engines have a power-to-swept-volume ratio of 47 to 50 kilowatts, a remarkable achievement in this vehicle class, and develop a high torque even at low engine speeds. Take the B 200 as an example: this lively 100-kW/136-hp engine already makes 156 Newton metres – 84 percent of its maximum torque – available at 1500 rpm.
The figures for the engine in the new B 200 TURBO are even more impressive. This 142 kW/193 hp unit achieves a ratio of approx. 70 kilowatts per litre of displacement, and from 1800 rpm the driver can call upon a maximum torque of 280 Newton metres which remains constant throughout a wide engine speed range. This creates the ideal conditions for sporty agility. Expressed in figures: the B 200 TURBO accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in only 7.6 seconds and achieves a maximum speed of 225 km/h.
The lightweight power unit consists of an aluminium crankcase with grey cast iron cylinder liners. The pistons, sump, oil pump, rocker arms, engine mounting, timing case and other engine components are also of aluminium, while the intake manifold, air filter and cylinder head cover are made from plastic. Depending on the displacement, and thanks to this lightweight design, the petrol engines tip the scales at only 92 (B 150) to 117 kilograms (B 200 TURBO) and are therefore significantly lighter than other four-cylinder units in this displacement class.
The compact cylinder head features a swirl duct which creates high turbulence in the fuel/air mixture, thereby ensuring an optimal combustion process. The central location of the spark plugs serves the same purpose. Valve control is via a hollow camshaft of induction-hardened forged steel and low-friction rocker arms. A timing chain with a hydraulic tensioner and rubber-coated sprockets drives the camshaft. A hydraulic system automatically controls valve clearance compensation.
Mercedes engineers have also achieved the high thermal efficiency of the spark-ignition engines with a high compression ratio of 11.0:1. This made it necessary to divide the water jacket into two sections: the lower section has a high speed of flow in order to cool the very hot combustion chamber areas – especially the webs between the intake valves – and therefore make this high compression ratio possible in the first place. The upper section cools the engine’s valve control system. In addition the exhaust valves of the B 170, B 200 and B 200 TURBO are sodium-cooled.
More torque by virtue of a newly developed variable intake manifold
Mercedes engineers have considerably improved the air supply to the engine by means of a variable intake manifold with long intake ducts. This consists of three plastic shells and features an electro-pneumatically controlled actuation wheel which opens or closes the ducts according to the load and engine speed: at low engine speeds the intake air flows to the cylinders via four long intake ducts to obtain a high torque yield. This creates pressure waves in the intake ducts which support the intake process. At high engine speeds the flaps close these intake ducts, so that the air takes a direct path to the combustion chambers via a short intake duct. The engine computer decides whether and when the actuation wheel opens or closes the ducts on the basis of stored characteristic maps which ensure optimal engine operation.
In the newly developed, turbocharged engine of the B-Class the intake air flows from the air filter to the turbocharger, which is located in the exhaust manifold to save space. The flow of exhaust gases required to drive the charger turbine is controlled by a pneumatically regulated wastegate valve, depending on the current engine operating point. The compressed intake air flows from the turbocharger through an intercooler, which is in turn linked to the throttle valve adjusting motor. The outstanding torque characteristics of the 142 kW/193 hp engine confirm the high efficiency of the turbocharger, which was developed by Mercedes engineers together with their DaimlerChrysler Research colleagues. A special turbine geometry ensures excellent responsiveness even at low engine speeds, making an extremely wide torque plateau available between 1800 and 4850 rpm.
Emission control: catalytic converters near the engine and on the underbody
The petrol engines for the new B-Class meet the requirements of the EU 4 standard. These low emission levels are firstly the result of good fuel combustion, which ensures a low level of untreated emissions. Secondly the efficient emission control system makes a major contribution: from the sheet steel exhaust manifold, whose material heats up rapidly after a cold start, the exhaust gases flow through four stainless steel ducts to a catalytic converter located near the engine which features a control sensor and a diagnostic sensor. This converter is accompanied by a downstream catalytic converter on the underbody. In the B 200 TURBO the exhaust manifold is air-gap insulated, and is directly welded to the turbocharger housing.
Automatic transmission: continuously variable driving pleasure with AUTOTRONIC
The newly developed AUTOTRONIC transmission is available for all engine variants of the new B-Class on request. It operates on the "continuously variable transmission" (CVT) principle, in which the ratios are selected with the help of a pulley wheel variator. Accordingly it does not employ the paired gear wheels normally used in other automatic transmissions. The main advantages of the newly developed AUTOTRONIC compared to a conventional automatic transmission are improved ride comfort, more flexibility and more rapid acceleration:
The new AUTOTRONIC is just as easy to operate as a conventional Mercedes automatic transmission. The shift lever positions "P", "R", " N" and "D" correspond to the familiar shift gate. Pressing a button enables the driver to choose between two shift programs: "C" for Comfort and "S" for Sport. In the Comfort program the transmission keeps the engine speed at the lowest possible level, so that the B-Class e.g. accelerates gently and uses less fuel. In the Sport program AUTOTRONIC becomes adaptive: it automatically recognises the individual style of driving and adapts the gearshift strategy accordingly. If the driver has a more sporty driving style, for example, the transmission makes higher performance reserves available by raising the engine speed, while the engine speed is reduced in the case of a more relaxed, comfort-oriented style.
In manual mode, which is activated by briefly nudging the shift lever sideways, AUTOTRONIC divides its complete ratio range into seven virtual stages. The gears are then smoothly shifted up or down by briefly nudging the shift lever, or with the help of convenient shift keys (optional) mounted on the steering wheel. A display in the instrument cluster shows the gear currently selected.
The centrepiece of the AUTOTRONIC transmission is what is known as the variator, which basically consists of two pairs of pulley wheels. These are referred to as the primary and secondary disc sets by specialists. Both sets are made up of a fixed disc and a sliding disc, the latter being axially moveable with the help of a hydraulic pump at a pressure of up to 67 bar. Varying the pressures on the two sliding discs both adjusts the contact pressure on the steel thrust belt and changes the radii of the belt on the primary and secondary sides.
In this way the most suitable ratio is selected for any driving situation – immediately, smoothly and always very comfortably, so that the occupants of the B-Class hardly notice the AUTOTRONIC transmission in operation. The spread between the largest and smallest ratio is 6.41, which means that the ratio range is significantly wider than in a conventional five-speed automatic transmission. During brisk acceleration, for example, AUTOTRONIC moves the sliding discs so that the steel thrust belt has maximum tension at the primary end and moves inwards between the secondary discs to select the highest ratio (2.72). The position of the variator is exactly the opposite for the lowest ratio (0.424), which makes particularly economical driving possible.
The steel thrust belt which moves between the discs has a width of 30 millimetres and consists of 400 individual links. The complete AUTOTRONIC unit has a length of only 345 millimetres and is therefore the world’s most compact continuously variable automatic transmission. It contains only 334 components, the only gear wheels in the compact transmission housing belonging to the reversal unit, which reverses the movement of the discs and thereby enables the vehicle to drive backwards.
A further special feature typical of Mercedes is the torque converter between the engine and the AUTOTRONIC transmission. This helps the B-Class to move off particularly comfortably, yet very briskly. As in all automatic transmissions by Mercedes-Benz, the torque converter is locked up in many operating situations to compensate the slip between the pump and turbine wheels and prevent performance losses. The lockup clutch can be activated with a need-related rate of slip in all ratios, thereby preventing drive train vibrations from being transmitted.
Manual transmission: six gears for high-torque engines
Like AUTOTRONIC, the six-speed manual transmission included as standard in the B 180 CDI, B 200 CDI and B 200 TURBO is a new development. On the basis of the three-shaft concept the engineers in Stuttgart have successfully realised six speeds in an aluminium housing which is similarly compact to that of the well-proven five-speed B-Class transmission. Moreover, the new manual transmission transfers a much higher engine torque – up to 300 Newton metres in the B 200 CDI.
The three shafts – one drive shaft and two output shafts – are constantly in mesh. Gears 1 to 4 are transferred to the output shaft located outside the oil sump, which means that the six-speed transmission has a high level of shift comfort even at low ambient temperatures. The sophisticated synchronisation system for gears 1 to 4 has the same purpose: a triple cone in first and second gear, and a dual cone for third and fourth gear.
Gears 5 and 6, as well as reverse gear, are transmitted to the lower output shaft. As for third and fourth gears, Mercedes-Benz uses dual-cone synchronisation here. Gearshifting comfort was also a primary concern in other areas of this transmission development. For example the linkages which control the selector forks on two levels are on roller bearings for particularly smooth operation. A module is mounted on the transmission to accommodate all the gearshift functions. These include the thrust bearings for control cable attachment, the levers for shift path and gear selection and the main shaft with the followers for the selector forks.
The shift lever is linked to the shift module by a control cable for selection of the individual gears. A hydraulic central release bearing ensures smooth, maintenance-free operation of the clutch, whose operating forces remain constant throughout the lifecycle of the B-Class. In the B 180 CDI, B 200 CDI, B 200 and B 200 TURBO a dual-mass flywheel increases comfort even further.
Suspension: Dynamic experience
From the steering to the shock absorbers, from the brakes to the rear axle and from the Electronic Stability Program to the tyres – Mercedes engineers have rigorously tested all the components of the suspension system and employ the latest technology to achieve the best possible handling safety and high performance.
The McPherson strut principle which is so advantageous for front-wheel drive cars has been developed further: while the wheel is normally located by the spring strut, track rod and a camber arm with a transverse stabiliser, the front axle of the new B-Class features additional, rigid wishbones. These carry out the wheel location duties of the transverse stabiliser, which is connected to the spring struts by torsion bars and newly developed rubber bearings. This solution provides better suspension configuration possibilities – especially where elasto-kinematics and ride comfort are concerned – and also allow the castor angle and camber to be adjusted precisely. The wishbones consist of two welded steel shells and are attached to the integral member via large rubber bearings.
The electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering, which is standard equipment in the B-Class, is a new development. Here the steering servo action is produced by an electric motor which does not transfer it hydraulically as before, but directly to the rack-and-pinion steering gear by mechanical means. The technology has a number of convincing advantages: lower weight, more compact dimensions, greater efficiency, a lower energy requirement and the ability to network with the Electronic Stability Program. But the most important benefits are without doubt the additional functions which this up-to-date steering system makes possible:
The very safe, space-saving sandwich concept of the B-Class enables the steering gear to be located in front of the wheel centre. This further improves the responsiveness of the steering, which means that the Compact Sports Tourer is not only safe and easy to control, but also provides a high level of driving pleasure by virtue of its light, problem-free handling and safe understeering characteristics.
The steering column consists of an upper steering shaft housed within a jacket tube and a lower, two-piece steering shaft whose sections collapse during a frontal impact and prevent the steering column from penetrating into the interior. The two steering shafts are connected by a universal joint. The driver has various adjustment options for the attractively designed, four-spoke steering wheel (385 millimetres in diameter): pulling up the handle beneath the steering column allows the steering wheel to be infinitely adjusted for height (by +/- 20 millimetres), and adjustment for reach (by +/- 30 millimetres) is also available as an option.
The standard multifunction steering wheel is made from diecast magnesium and has been designed to deform predictably during a crash.
Rear axle: parabolic axle housing with Watt linkage
The rear axle of the B-Class a parabolic axle is a new development and already intriguing by virtue of its designation. It is the result of several years of painstaking development and testing activities by Mercedes engineers, and makes a major contribution to the exemplary handling dynamics and high level of ride comfort in the new B-Class.
The centrepiece of this intelligent design is an axle housing of parabolic shape which replaces conventional control arms and to which the wheels are attached. It is connected to the vehicle body by separately located springs and shock absorbers, the torsion bar stabiliser and a centrally located elastomer bearing. Wheel location and lateral support is provided by a special linkage which is named after the ingenious British inventor James Watt. The two arms of this Watt linkage are attached to the rear of the axle housing, while the middle is connected to the vehicle body by a pivoting coupling.
Precise wheel location and good anti-roll control are the major advantages of this newly developed rear axle. They are particularly noticeable in an innovative vehicle concept such as the new B-Class, whose specific centre of gravity would normally require a rather stiff suspension configuration. Thanks to this special axle technology, the springs and shock absorbers can however be configured much more softly without compromising the outstanding handling dynamics of the new Mercedes compact car. The wheel camber remains constant in any driving situation, which means that especially when negotiating bends, higher lateral forces between the tyres and road surfaces can be transmitted than with a conventional axle. This effect also improves the inherent understeering characteristics of the new B-Class and therefore contributes to the high level of handling safety. Thanks to this innovative axle technology, the precise, sporty handling of the B-Class is maintained even when the vehicle is laden and at the physical limits.
The combination of McPherson technology and a spherical parabolic rear axle allows favourable spring and damper ratios. At the rear axle of the new B-Class, Mercedes-Benz uses coil springs, single-tube shock absorbers and a torsion bar stabiliser. The springs and dampers are separately located. The large elastomer central bearing which connects the axle housing to the body also provides good structure-borne sound insulation and reduces vibrations to a minimum.
Damping system: shock absorber characteristics to suit the driving situation
As a further special feature the suspension system of the new B-Class has an innovative, selective damping system. In an equally simple and ingenious manner this resolves a conflict of aims which has taxed the brains of suspension engineers for a long time: should the shock absorbers tend to be stiffer in the interests of handling safety and dynamic performance, or should their configuration be softer for greater comfort?
Mercedes-Benz meets both requirements with the standard selective damping system. It operates hydro-mechanically and requires no complex sensors or electronics. Understanding the way this works requires a brief excursion into the inside of a modern shock absorber. In a conventional shock absorber, the damping effect is created when the movement of the road wheels causes oil to be squeezed through a valve in the shock absorber piston, with flexible valve discs providing the shock absorber’s resistance characteristics.
In the new selective damping system part of the oil flow is directed through an additional valve housing above the actual damper piston. Inside this there is a control plunger which divides the valve housing into two areas.
Brakes: internally ventilated front disc brakes
As a further contribution to handling safety and accident prevention, Mercedes-Benz equips the B-Class with disc brakes all-round. Brake lining wear is monitored by a sensor in the right brake calliper, whose signals are constantly evaluated. Once the lining thickness is about to reach a critical value, an indicator lamp lights up in the dashboard.
ESP: latest generation with STEER CONTROL
The latest generation of the Electronic Stability Program ESP® excels with even more precise and finely metered control intervention. It is standard equipment in the new B-Class, and its control unit also combines the functions of the anti-lock braking system, acceleration skid control and Brake Assist.
Moreover, the highly efficient ESP technology of the B-Class has great potential for new functions. One of these is the STEER CONTROL steering assistance system. This operates in tandem with the electromechanical power steering system, providing the appropriate servo assistance in critical handling situations to help the driver stabilise the vehicle. This auxiliary system intervenes for instance when the vehicle oversteers and the driver wishes to stabilise the B-Class by counter-steering. When braking on road surfaces offering less grip on one side than the other the new, additional ESP function also helps with steering corrections and provides the driver with better road contact.
Electronic networking of the steering, engine and the Electronic Stability Program creates the conditions for STEER CONTROL. When oversteering, for example, the individual control units exchange information about the steering angle, vehicle speed and yaw rate within fractions of a second, enabling the ESP computer to calculate the steering effort required for the relevant situation. The electric servo unit then carries out the corresponding command. For steering corrections during braking, information from the wheel rotation sensors on the wheels is also included in the calculation.
Another new, additional function of the Electronic Stability Program is a system which warns the driver of any significant loss of tyre pressure. For this purpose ESP uses sensor information about the wheel rotation speeds, which are mainly a function of the vehicle speed, load and tyre pressure. As the Stability Program continuously registers and compares the wheel rotation speeds, it is able to detect any significant deviations.
In addition the control unit automatically monitors other dynamic parameters such as the lateral acceleration, yaw rate and wheel torque in order to diagnose any pressure loss in a tyre reliably, though this system does not measure the actual air pressure in each tyre. If a loss of pressure is detected in a tyre, a warning appears in the cockpit’s central display: "Tyre pressure, check tyres."
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class has passed crash tests performed in accordance with the European NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) rating system with flying colours, receiving the maximum number of five stars from the independent examiners. Thus, the sandwich safety concept developed and patented by Mercedes -Benz, which has already proven itself on countless occasions since its launch in 1997, has demonstrated its effectiveness once again.
Thanks to the sandwich concept, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class occupies an exceptional position among its segment. The arrangement of the engine and transmission in a tilted position partly in front of and partly under the passenger compartment means the Compact Sports Tourer offers a larger front crumple zone than other passenger cars in its class. In a serious head-on crash the drive system unit does not move in the direction of the interior, but slides down the pedal floor panel, which also slopes downwards. This means the occupants sit around 200 millimetres higher and thus above the impact zone – an advantage in the case of a side impact. At the same time, the intelligent sandwich principle makes it possible to offer generous interior dimensions with compact external measurements. The B-class thus offers both typical Mercedes occupant safety and exceptional spaciousness and comfort.
Several further measures contribute to the exemplary safety performance of the Compact Sport Tourer from Stuttgart, for example, a body structure made from extremely firm steel alloys with innovative adhesive joints, which provide the front-end structure of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class with consistently high deformation resistance during the entire crash phase, thereby reducing the loads on the occupants.
The engineering of the interior restraint systems also meets the high standard of Mercedes-Benz top models. Adaptive, two-stage front airbags, belt tensioners for the front and outer rear seats, adaptive belt force limiters at the front, active front head restraints, ISOFIX child’s seat attachments and newly developed head/thorax front side airbags round off the standard protective system for occupants.
However, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class not only meets, it also surpasses standard crash test requirements. The Stuttgart-based automobile brand defines vehicle safety based on an analysis of actual accident occurrences as part of an integrated approach. In addition to occupant protection tailored to suit the severity of the accident, this involves ensuring the quickest possible rescue of the occupants following a collision and the avoidance of accidents using electronic assistance systems such as ESP and the braking assistant (BAS). For example, in critical road-holding situations, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class electronic stability program (ESP) works together with the electro-mechanical servo steering to adapt the servo support to assist the driver in stabilizing the car. This extra ESP function also aids steering correction and provides the car driver with an even better road feel when braking on different road surfaces. An analysis of official German accident statistics bears witness to the significant contribution the braking assistant, which was first launched by Mercedes-Benz ten years ago, makes to avoiding road accidents – in rear-end collisions the use of standard braking systems in Mercedes passenger cars reduced the accident rate by eight percent, while the percentage of serious pedestrian accidents fell by as much as 13 percent.
The high safety standard of the B-Class combined with ample space, exemplary comfort, fascinating design and intelligent variability has quickly established the Mercedes-Benz trendsetter as a successful model. More than 150,000 B-Class models have been delivered since the car’s market launch in June 2005.
Bodywork and safety: Solid workmanship
The sandwich concept developed and patented by Mercedes-Benz, which has been proving its worth in hundreds of thousands of cases since 1997, is the centrepiece of the safety concept in the new B-Class. Because the engine and transmission are installed in an inclined position partly in front of and partly beneath the passenger cell, this rigid drive unit is not moved backwards towards the interior during a severe frontal impact, but slides downwards along the likewise inclined pedal floor panel. Accordingly this concept resolves the conflict of aims between compact vehicle dimensions with short deformation zones and the need for a level of occupant protection which is typical of a Mercedes.
This is supplemented with other measures which contribute to the exemplary level of safety. Examples include the high-strength bonded connections in the bodyshell structure, whose stress-bearing capability has been significantly increased by this new joining technology. These high-strength bonded seams supplement conventional techniques such as spot-welding and interlocking joints, giving the bodyshell much greater stability. Moreover, around 67 percent of all the metal sheets used in the body structure are of high-strength or very high-strength steel alloys.
Thanks to a careful choice of materials and sophisticated joining technology, the front-end structure of the new Mercedes-Benz Compact Sports Tourer has a high deformation resistance which increases greatly after only a short deformation path and remains at a high level throughout the entire crash phase. This means that the occupants take part in the vehicle’s deceleration earlier and for a longer period during a frontal collision, reducing the loads acting on their bodies.
The most important features of the front-end structure are ...
If the front body structure is subjected to severe one-sided loads, robust cross-members ensure that the impact forces are dissipated over a wide area. This also activates deformation zones on the opposite side unaffected by the impact to absorb the crash energy. Such cross-members are for example located above the inclined pedal floor and beneath the windscreen. Their ends are supported by the A-pillars.
Floor structure: the reliable backbone of the passenger cell
Mercedes engineers have configured the crash-resistance of the passenger cell to complement the deformation resistance of the front-end structure. The floor structure – the high-strength backbone of the passenger cell – features a central tunnel and side members which create a robust structure together with the sectioned cross-members attached below them. The main floor consists of several metal sheets of varying thicknesses which are joined by laser-welding.
Side impact protection: seating position above the impact zone
The patented sandwich concept of the B-Class also shows its strengths in the event of a lateral collision. The occupants are seated around 200 millimetres higher than in a conventional saloon. During a lateral collision with a typical passenger car, the latter’s side members strike the body structure of the B-Class where it is strongest, namely at the height of the structural members. The impact is taken up by the robust side member, which consists of two continuous rolled sections of very high strength. The internal skins of the side walls likewise consist of several components and feature reinforced nodal connections between the roof pillars, the roof frame and the side members. The A-pillars are double-skinned and are supported by robust cross-members at several levels.
Rear-end structure: crash boxes and side members with large impact zones
During a rear-end collision two box-section rear side members help to absorb the impact energy and dissipate the resulting forces. Like their equivalents at the front end, they are offset outwards to create a connection with the side members which therefore also absorb forces during a severe rear-end collision. The fuel tank is located in front of the rear axle. The two rear side members are joined by a flexible transverse member of hot-formed, very high-strength steel which is capable of withstanding extreme loads. Like the two crash boxes in front of the side members, the flexible member is bolted in place. Mercedes engineers have positioned a further longitudinal member along the centre of the vehicle to which the parabolic rear axle is attached.
Restraint systems: two-stage airbag activation depending on accident severity
The technology of the restraint systems in the interior of the new B-Class corresponds to the high standard found in the top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz models. This means:
Service-friendly: bolts instead of welded connections
Energy-absorbing bumpers, bolted connections for the front and rear-end modules and crash boxes in the front-end and rear-end structures are the major components of a sophisticated concept which helps to reduce the cost of accident repairs. The components are specifically designed to absorb energy during a low-speed crash so that the body structure itself is protected against damage.
The plastic front bumper with integral foam elements absorbs impact energy at speeds up to approx. three km/h. The absorbent material automatically returns to its former shape after the crash. An extruded aluminium section supports the bumper and also acts as an energy absorber. Together with the crash boxes, headlamp mountings and radiator console it forms a robust front-end module which absorbs energy during accidents with impact speeds of up to 15 km/h. The crash boxes are bolted to the front side members and – like the complete front-end module – can be replaced without troublesome welding work.
The rear bumper has the same elastic deformation characteristics as its opposite number in the front, and remains undamaged after impacts at speeds up to three km/h. More severe impacts are taken up by robust, flexible members with crash boxes, which are bolted to the body structure and are therefore easy to replace. The members absorb crash energy at collision speeds up to approx. 15 km/h, leaving the forward body structure undamaged.
The bumpers and doors of the new B-Class feature plastic rub strips which protect the body against damage. Scratched or damaged rub strips can be easily repaired.
Perceptual safety: clean windows and efficient wipers
The fact that the exterior mirrors and side windows remain clean even in the rain is likewise the result of successful aerodynamic research work - and a major benefit in terms of driving safety. To achieve this, the trim strips on the A-pillars were designed to act as drainage channels, for example: rainwater striking the windscreen is collected in these channels and is conducted away with the help of the slipstream, across the roof and to the rear. It then flows into a drainage channel between the tailgate and the rear edge of the roof and is conducted downwards by side channels. The housings of the exterior mirrors are also designed in such a way that rainwater flows to the outside in an unobtrusive spoiler edge and drains away. Both these measures ensure that rainwater drains away at a very shallow angle and is carried to the rear by the slipstream. The side windows remain clear as a result.
To ensure good visibility through the windscreen in the rain, Mercedes-Benz has developed an efficient wiper system consisting of two opposed wiper arms. The wiper blades have a length of 650 and 580 millimetres, and clean 81 percent of the windscreen area. The modern aero-wiper technology employed has further advantages: instead of the articulated retention system used for conventional wiper blades, in which the rubber blades are claw-mounted, the aero wiper consists of a one-piece rubber section with an integral spoiler and externally mounted spring rails; these precisely follow the curve of the windscreen. The spring rails ensure an even distribution of wiper pressure along the entire length of the wiper blade, so that it always operates with the greatest possible contact pressure. The result is significantly better wiping quality, even in heavy snow.
On optional sensor system on the windscreen controls the wiper intervals according to the level of rainfall. This is available as part of the light and sight package.
Corrosion protection: fully galvanised, partly double-coated body panels
Mercedes-Benz has developed an effective package of measures for long-term anti-corrosion protection. This is based on fully galvanised body panels, some of which have an additional organic coating on both sides depending on their location, e.g. on the doors or on the front, side and rear longitudinal members. This coating also contains rust-inhibiting zinc pigments. Mercedes-Benz also protects the most vulnerable structural areas of the bodywork with a cavity-fill preserving agent, for example on the front side members, the upper side member plane, the door sills and the rear wheel arches. The Mercedes -Benz experts also weather-seal the welding seams in order to prevent the onset of corrosion. This seam sealing benefits not only the bonnet, doors, tailgate, rear wheel arches and flap over the fuel filler cap, but also a large proportion of the welded joints in the floor structure of the new A-Class, including the spare wheel and battery recesses.
Using plastic for a large area of the underbody panelling has allowed Mercedes engineers to dispense with conventional PVC underseal. In addition to its aerodynamic benefits, this underbody panelling protects the body from stone chippings, water and soiling. In keeping with all Mercedes passenger cars, the new B-Class is also protected by the 30-year MobiloLife warranty.
The bodywork is given a long-lasting sheen by an improved powder-based clearcoat which can be applied without the use of solvents. All the other paint materials are also water-soluble and as such largely free of chemical solvents.