New Merc MPV could B-classier

Pity the poor automotive designer. When every marque performs well, starts first time and encourages us to be aspirational, there’s little room left for genuine unique selling points. Of course, a few icons stand out, like the new Mini, the Audi TT, or the celebrity footballer’s run-about of choice, the Bentley Continental.

The popular small MPV category – created by the Renault Scenic – suffers severely from me-tooism in design terms, with its near-vertical boots and short bonnets. Now Mercedes has added to this family with its latest offering, the B-Class. This one aims to appeal to activity-hungry young things. While a hatchback, it has the capacity of a family estate, so that the ‘boys’ can comfortably get their ‘toys’ in, whether skis or surfboards. Of course, the less glamorous driver might see the B-Class as a good vehicle for loading up at Ikea. Or as Karlheinz Bauer, director of design at Mercedes-Benz, would have it: ‘The B-Class successfully combines both the family and fun aspects in life.’

As far as aesthetics go, it has some nice cheekbone-style indentations down the sides – what Bauer refers to as part of its ‘feline’ character. The dashboard, meanwhile, smacks of early Bang & Olufsen: all black with flat square buttons and stainless steel trim. Fine for the target market, but probably not so hot for the more overtly design-aware.

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