It was a version of the not so successful A-Class, and it was built on the same platform.
The need for a premium car that could handle better the crowded cities made the Mercedes-Benz management take the decision to built a roomier A-Class. But the result was an entirely new vehicle that amazed by its long wheelbase when compared to its overall length. Not to mention that it had the same front-wheel-drive system as the A-Class. The B-Class was taller than the A-Class, and that allowed a roomier interior.
From the outside, the B-Class still looked like a pocket-size MPV. The big, 2.77-meter (109.3”) long-wheelbase allowed enough room for five adult passengers inside. The flared wheel arches suggested a wider vehicle than it actually was. The big windows on the sides and the wide, panoramic, windshield offered a sensation of a roomier interior.
Inside, the flat floor allowed a third passenger in the middle on the rear bench. The trunk was respectable and it could have been extended by folding the rear seats. For the driver, there was a new driving post, with the same controls as the other Mercedes-Benz products from that time, with most of the commands on the left of the steering wheel. The car featured some luxury amenities carried over from the C-Class. On top of that, a panoramic sun-roof was available as an option.
Under the hood, there were few engine options, designed mostly for fuel efficiency, especially the diesel version. The top model was the B 200 Turbo, which offered almost 200 hp. For the transmission, the B-Class was available with a 5 or 6-speed manual depending on the engine, or a continuously variable transmission, named AUTOTRONIC.