We’d hired a car from Europcar for our week in England. We’d expected a Mercedes A-class, and so were presently surprised to be directed to a brand new Mercedes B150. Over our eleven day stay we racked up the miles with high-speed driving on the motorway and some spirited blatting down country lanes. Here are our thoughts…
- Good quality seats and interior. A lot of plastic was used, but it was quality plastic and gave wipe-clean reassurance.
- Good suspension, comfortable at motorway speeds and on narrow lanes. Whether it was the throb of the motorway, or the potholes of rural Warwickshire, the ride was comfortable and the suspension offered the right trade off between controlled firmness and people carrier smoothness.
- Large capacity, a big boot swallows luggage, and the car easily seats 5 adults. Not huge from the outside but definitely a good family MPV.
- Rain sensitive wipers, a lovely surprise in a sudden downpour. These worked well, speeding up with heavy rain, then adjusting the intermittent wipe as the shower passed.
- Underpowered, the small engine makes pulling out, or overtaking, a rare and risky experience.
- Automatic gearbox; the 7 speed auto-box would be ideal with a powerful engine or if it worked the gears logically. All too often the car seemed to change gear early, leaving the car feeling tired and sapping what little power was there. In “semi-automatic” the car could be encouraged to perform but even then the auto-overide would jump in too often.
- Daft stalk layout; a single stalk controls turn signals, main beam, and windscreen wipers. The complex layout takes some getting used to if you are more used to a standard 2 stalk approach. Laura and I both had arguements with the controls when trying to turn on wipers, etc.
- Lack of full size cup holders and storage cubbies. I must have been in America too long, but if I am in an MPV I expect to be able to carry a couple of bottles of water and some sweets and maybe a box of tissues without having to resort to having them in footwells or sliding on the back seat. The mesh net on the wall of the passenger footwell was the ideal CD store though.
Overall I was happy with it for a rental, but would have wanted either a bigger engine or a six-speed manual gearbox if they’d wanted me to keep it!