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Revealed: 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Mercedes-Benz has released details and photos of their newly redesigned 2012 B-Class before its live debut at Frankfurt.

Mercedes-Benz has just released official details and photos of their upcoming second generation B-Class just ahead of the Frankfurt Auto Show. The new B-Class is the first model to be based on the German automaker's new front-wheel drive modular front architecture (MFA) compact car platform. When it goes on sale in Europe this November, its main competition will consist of the Ford C-Max, Volkswagen Touran, and the Citroen C4 Picasso.

Unlike the outgoing generation, which had excellent safety levels but lacked some much-needed additional interior space, the new B-Class offers even greater levels of safety along with added space for both front and rear seat passengers. Designers have optimized the B-Class's aerodynamics in an effort to improve its overall fuel efficiency. At the same time, it's grown in size over its predecessor with it now being 3.5-inches longer, 0.4-inches wider, and 1.9-inches lower. This all translates into the aforementioned interior space increases as well as an additional 4.3 cubic feet of luggage capacity.

According to Thomas Weber, a member of the board responsible for R&D: "No model in the history of Mercedes-Benz has ever seen so many new developments introduced in one fell swoop." Other design features include distinctive headlamps with optional LED graphics, a wide twin-slat grille, high waistline, and heavy sculpting within the body sides. Power will be coming from a range of small-capacity four-cylinder direct-injection gasoline and diesel engines that have been taken from the existing Mercedes lineup.

Some of the new/modified engines include a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that's fitted to other Mercedes models as a turbocharged 1.8-liter unit. As such, it's been re-engineered to slot transversely into the new B-Class's engine bay. It produces 120hp and 147 lb-ft of torque in the base B180 and 154hp and 184 lb-ft in the B200 model. Mercedes will also be offering a new 1.8-liter version of their popular diesel engine, codenamed OM651. It's been reduced in capacity from 2.1-liters and has an output of 107hp and 184 lb-ft in base B180 CDI and 134hp and 221-lb-ft in the B200 CDI.

A new six-speed manual gearbox, delivering power to the front wheels, comes standard. Buyers can also opt for a new Mercedes-developed seven-speed double-clutch transmission. Each gearbox features automatic stop-start and brake energy recuperation functions. According to Mercedes-Benz, this new MFA platform has also been engineered to support optional four-wheel drive that uses a central multiplate clutch to channel reserves simultaneously to the front and rear wheels depending on grip levels. In the near future, Mercedes plans to offer an upgraded version of their hydrogen-based fuel-cell system in a limited production F-Cell model.

For now, however, the new 2012 B-Class will have its official live debut in just a few weeks at Frankfurt. In the past, the B-Class was never sold in the U.S, but judging by the massive engineering efforts put in, it's very likely Mercedes has firm plans to bring it stateside.

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