Single Speed Automatic
by Chris Wall
There's one area that most automakers are spending a fair amount of money in R&D – Electric vehicles. One of these cars comes from Mercedes-Benz in the form of the B-Class B250e, and it sees all the necessary bits fitted to make it reliant on batteries instead of planet-killing fuel. You'd expect a car wearing the Mercedes-Benz badge to be one of the better ones, especially with a price tag of around $40,000 for an average-sized car. The all-electric people carrier does offer a range of up to 87 miles in a car with all the usual top-quality Mercedes-Benz appointments and features.
Inside the Mercedes-Benz B250e you'll find a typically Mercedes-Benz interior with top quality materials and finishings throughout like Black Ash wood trim and leather with names like Hazelnut Brown, along with black plastics and brushed aluminum. There's the usual multifunction steering wheel, the dash-mounted infotainment screen that looks an afterthought, climate control and a center console – but this model is missing any kind of shift lever because there's no selections needed. You also get fiber optic ambient lighting that can be configured to match your mood. The instrument cluster loses the tachometer and instead features a power gauge relaying how much of the battery charge you're using or power you're recycling. Space is good in the B250e, 5 adults will fit well with good rear legroom, while the trunk is average but can be expanded to 51.5 cu-ft. if the rear 60/40 folding seats are set flat.
Electric vehicles take a bit of getting used to when it comes to driving. Firstly there's no engine noise alerting you to the fact that the car is actually running, and then depending on how sensitive the accelerator pedal is, the cars have a lot of torque low down and so feel explosive off the line. That's not the case in the front-wheel drive Mercedes-Benz B250e because there's a bit of a delay in response and so it feels sluggish. You can overcome this by using Sport Mode if you don't mind sacrificing your range before recharge, which is already lacking compared to some rivals. The suspension is stiffer than in similar sized cars thanks to added weight from the battery, and thanks to this the B250e offers handling that can feel rather sporty. The regenerative braking sensitivity can be adjusted via easily accessible paddles behind the steering wheel, and the same system changes the feel of braking too, max regeneration means no free coasting and faster stopping times.
Powering the front wheels of the Mercedes-Benz B250e is a front-mounted permanent-magnet synchronous all-electric motor that's rated to have an equivalent of 177 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. The battery chosen for this system is rates at 28.0-kWh, and when all work at an optimum results in a range of 87 miles. The B250e can hit 60 mph in 7.9-seconds and is limited to a top speed of 100 mph so that battery range can be conserved. When you use all the available power, just two hours ate a regular charging station will see enough charged added to cover 60 more miles. There are no gears, only a CVT-like 1-speed direct drive transmission.
Just because the Mercedes-Benz B250e is powered by an all-electric setup it doesn't mean anything else changes. Safety is paramount with 7 airbags fitted, active brake assist, and an electronic stability program. As is the norm with Mercedes-Benz, a lot of features are only available as options at a price, but you do get a central controller with a 7-inch screen, a hands-free Bluetooth interface and a CD player. You can option features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 450-watt Harman Kardon LOGIC7 audio system and advanced voice control that lets you easily access a host of functions and features.
The Mercedes-Benz B250e is an electric vehicle that features all the best qualities the automaker offers – brilliant fit and finish of top-quality materials, great standard features and available options and the usual great backing from the automaker. Having an equivalent of 177 hp on tap makes for a great daily driver, albeit it a little slow on the response, with good handling. The downfall of the B250e is the higher price than many rivals coupled to less range at just 87 miles, although some people will gladly sacrifice distance to have that 3-pointed star on the hood.