Used 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive offers a new level of luxury and refinement in the small electric car segment, but real-world performance leaves much to be desired.
What's new for 2014
For many Americans, the Mercedes name has long been synonymous with large, powerful luxury sedans and SUVs. But you might have to rethink that image with the introduction of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric. This small, front-wheel-drive hatchback combines a U.S.-built battery-electric powertrain, a roomy interior and Mercedes' usual array of high-tech standard features and options. If you're searching for an EV but want something more upscale than what's traditionally been offered, the B-Class Electric could be an interesting option.
Built on a platform that's related to the new CLA entry-level sedan, the B-Class Electric is powered by a 132-kilowatt electric motor connected to a 28-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, both of which are supplied by electric car pioneer Tesla Motors. According to the EPA, that combo is good for 87 miles of range. Recharging with a 240-volt power source takes fewer than 4 hours, Mercedes says.
Inside, the 2014 B-Class Electric looks like a real Mercedes for the most part, with some premium materials and a suite of safety and multimedia features available on the options list. Unlike the cramped rear seating of the CLA sedan, the B-Class provides more headroom, and legroom for four adults. Luggage and cargo space are also good, as the battery pack is underneath the floor instead of taking up space inside the vehicle itself.
Despite its unique nature, though, the B-Class Electric has some clear shortcomings that are worth considering. There is a respectable amount of range by modern standards but it isn't very efficient in its use of power. On our Edmunds EV testing loop, a B-Class with the optional range-extension package went 105 miles before it ran out of power, but it used nearly 50 percent more power than a Volkswagen e-Golf along the same roads. Interior surfaces are an issue, too, as they may seem high-quality at first glance but the seats are stiff and many dashboard pieces are made from hard plastic. It's also worth noting that the B-Class is missing some standard equipment such as heated seats, navigation and a rearview camera.
Given the growing number of all-electric car models on the market these days, we think potential buyers would do well to check out some of the B-Class Electric's competitors. Its closest rival, the 2014 BMW i3, earns our recommendation for its superior performance and efficiency, cutting-edge carbon-fiber construction and futuristic interior. There are a few solid choices from mainstream brands, too. The 2014 Nissan Leaf and 2014 Ford Focus Electric lack the B-Class' upscale vibe but perform similarly in most other respects. We also recommend the Volkswagen e-Golf for its premium and roomy interior and pleasing driving characteristics.
While we like the concept of an affordable luxury EV, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric has too many drawbacks for us to fully recommend it.
Trim levels & features
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric is a four-door hatchback with seating for five passengers. It is offered in a single trim level.
Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, automatic wipers, air-conditioning, MB-Tex (premium vinyl) upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, 60/40-split folding rear seats, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5.8-inch display screen, Mercedes' COMAND interface, mbrace emergency communications, a navigation system and an audio system with a CD player, a USB port and HD radio.
Most options are grouped into packages. The Premium package gets you bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirrors, heated front seats and a premium Harman Kardon audio system with satellite radio and iPod integration. The Interior package includes leather upholstery and upgraded interior materials. The Multimedia package includes a rearview camera, an upgraded navigation system, a 7-inch display and an SD card reader.
A Range package includes a heated windshield, additional insulation in the roof and doors and an extended range mode that makes it possible to eke out a few extra miles between recharges.
Other stand-alone options include blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, an automated parallel parking system and a radar-based system that can adjust the B-Class' regenerative braking amount based on traffic conditions.
Performance & mpg
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric is powered by a front-mounted 132-kilowatt electric motor connected to an underfloor-mounted lithium-ion battery pack. Both are supplied by Tesla Motors. The motor's output, which translates to 174 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque, is delivered to the front wheels.
The EPA estimates the B-Class Electric can travel on average 84 MPGe combined (85 MPGe city/83MPGe highway) before running out of juice. When equipped with the optional Range package, the B-Class can go an additional 17 miles, but Mercedes recommends that you use this feature only occasionally.
Recharging can take anywhere from 30 hours on standard 110-volt household current to 3.5 hours with a 240-volt charging station. The EPA rates the B-Class Electric's efficiency at 40 kWh of electric power used for 100 miles of driving (remember: the lower the number here, the better.) For comparison, the BMW i3 has a 27 kWh/100 miles rating and the e-Golf checks in with 29 kWh/100 miles.
During Edmunds testing, a B-Class sprinted from zero to 60 mph in an impressive 6.7 seconds. That's about 2 seconds quicker than the average electric vehicle. The only two electric vehicles we've tested that are quicker are the BMW i3 (6.6 seconds) and the Tesla Model S (4.4 seconds).
Standard safety features on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag, active front head restraints, frontal collision warning and a driver attention monitor. The mbrace system includes automatic collision notification, roadside assistance, remote lock control and stolen vehicle location.
Front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and a blind-spot warning system are all available as options.
During Edmunds testing, a B-Class came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet, a few feet longer than average for an EV.
Like other electric cars, the B-Class Electric delivers sprightly acceleration around town. This is no small feat considering the fact that its powertrain is tasked with moving a vehicle that weighs in at over 3,900 pounds. Different driving modes and adjustable levels of natural-feeling brake regeneration give the driver a choice of more energy-efficient or sportier performance.
On the whole, the driving experience in the B-Class Electric is unremarkable. It's just as quiet as you'd expect it to be, with no engine to generate noise and plenty of insulation, but seating comfort and ride quality aren't as good as we'd expect from a Mercedes-Benz in this price range. The seats are a bit firm and so is the ride, which largely interferes with an otherwise serene and quiet driving experience.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric offers an interior that has the aesthetically pleasing ambience you'd expect, especially when done up in two-tone color schemes and real wood trim. Design cues are typical Mercedes, from the circular air vents to the COMAND display screen perched atop the dash, which admittedly looks a bit too indicative of the aftermarket. The quality of some of the interior plastics is disappointing, too.
Front- and rear-seat headroom is acceptable, but taller occupants will have to slouch a bit. Rear seat legroom is adequate for adults. There is plenty of cargo space, though, with a healthy 21.6 cubic feet behind the 60/40-split rear seats; fold down those seatbacks and, though they don't fold completely flat, you still have a generous 51.4 cubic feet of space to work with.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.