The technology isn’t bad, though

The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class is here. If nobody remembers the previous generation, that’s okay, because Mercedes has made their new compact minivan crossover taller, longer, and more in-line with the current Merc styling trends.

The new B-Class just dropped at the Paris Motor Show while everyone’s looking at the new EQC and the brash-looking A35 AMG. But the B-Class doesn’t deserve to be overlooked - within its tight minivan-crossover class niche, only BMW’s 2-Series Active Tourer provides any real competition.

Some may argue that there isn’t much market left for these compact minivan crossovers, as people look towards SUVs of varying shapes and sizes as grocery-getters and family carriers. But Mercedes hopes there is. The problem with the B-Class is that it’s not particularly good looking - you can thank the headlights from the A-Class for that - but, at least, it looks better than the visual atrocity that is the 2-Series Active Tourer.

Was The Restyle A Success?

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class is Here and It's Still Ugly
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Mercedes takes the battle to BMW on any front, including this niche of the market.

The original B-Class launched little over a decade ago, was basically an A-Class with a much higher roofline and longer wheelbase, making it a compact crossover minivan. The new-for-2019 model, which will hit the showrooms as early as February, applies much the same recipe, but with some added size all around.

"More practical than ever, more chic than ever," is how Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales, characterizes the new B-Class. "In our portfolio of compacts, it’s the perfect vehicle for the whole family.” Mercedes also wants you to look at the B-Class and think it’s rather sporty. “The latest derivative of the new generation of compact cars from Mercedes-Benz, the B-Class writes a further punchy chapter in the success story of the dynamic Mercedes-Benz Sports Tourer," says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG.” The Germans talk about the infusion of the “Sensual Purity” design language in the B-Class’ lines, but there’s nothing remotely sensual about this people-and-luggage carrier.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class is Here and It's Still Ugly
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The front end of the basic B-Class features the typical Mercedes-Benz grille with the oversized three-pointed star in the middle and two horizontal crosspieces.

There’s also a frowny-looking grille just below and two additional fake angular inlets on either side sculpted in the bumper. The low-profile headlights are similar to those on the A-Class, although they aren’t that aggressive. The basic model comes with LED daytime running lights, and the higher-trim models have their own signature in the form of a double headlight.

You’ll notice from the side how short the rear overhang is in particular, Mercedes looking to keep the B-Class as compact as possible in appearance. That’s because the wheelbase itself is bigger than on the outgoing model, now measuring 107.4 inches. You can choose from 16-inch wheels all the way to 19-inch wheels if you really want your B-Class to exude any sort of sporty feeling.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class is Here and It's Still Ugly
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The rear end features the usual elongated taillights which get narrower towards the inside.

It has twin chromed exhaust tips which are retained even for the AMG-line styling package. That one, however, features a bigger lower grille as well as wider side grilles at the front with bigger wheels and black rear-view mirrors which accentuate the idea that Mercedes wanted to have the B-Class seem more muscular than its predecessor.

Has it all worked, though? Well, the headlights on these new, smaller, Mercedes-Benz models including the A-Class hatchback and the A-Class Sedan which will be available in the U.S. almost look silly to me. Their sharp edges and straight lines that push back to the edge of the fender make them look scowl, which isn’t, in this case, a good thing. Happily, the B-Class received a more pleasant face, but it isn’t a looker.

Granted, you can’t really have the absolute standard of beauty in a compact minivan, but they didn’t seem to concentrate on the exterior as much as they say they did, or as much as they took care of the interior. But, any way you look at it, the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer wins as the uglier of the two with its bloated headlights and overly rounded kidneys. The bad thing about Bimmers is that those kidneys are only getting bigger and harder to look at.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class is Here and It's Still Ugly
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As I said, the B-Class’ party piece is the interior which is packed with technology, has two big 7-inch displays on the dash which act as instrument cluster and infotainment control center, and three main air vents which look properly sci-fi. Mercedes also packed the B-Class with some gizmos from the S-Class, but we’ll give you a more in-depth look at everything tech-related and drivetrain-related that the B-Class has to offer in a separate article.

Further Reading

2019 Mercedes-Benz B Class
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Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

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