Mercedes-Benz’s B-Class is gearing up for post-people carrier life after an new generation model was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show.

Built on the same platform as the A-Class, Merc has tried to revitalise the runt of the range by giving it a more swoopy shape in an attempt to shift it away from the boxy MPV vehicles that have lost favour with families in recent years.

As a result, the new B-Class resembles a car that can realistically compete with BMW’s 2 Series Active Tourer and the VW Golf Plus. In fact, it resembles a larger, taller A-Class, with the B-Class borrowing many styling elements from its smaller sibling.

Even the cabin is massively inspired by the hugely popular hatchback, using the same MBUX infotainment system and cutaway dashboard with a ‘floating’ display.

The car’s wheelbase has been extended by around 30mm (now 2,729mm) to improve cabin space, and boot capacity is reliably ample with 455 litres, expanding to 1,540 litres with the  the second row folded down completely.

Around halfway through 2019, the B-Class will become even more practical, with a version offering a sliding second row of seats that can be moved forwards and backwards to prioritise boot space or rear legroom.

Under the bonnet will be one of five engines: two petrols and three diesels.

For the petrols, the entry-level 1.3-litre B 180 produces 134bhp and 200Nm, emitting between 124g/km and 128g/km of CO2, depending on trim level and wheel size. A more powerful version of the same motor churns out 161bhp and 250Nm, and roughly the same range of CO2 emissions.

Over in diesel land, there’s the 114bhp 1.5-litre B 180 d with CO2 emissions of 109-115g/km, as well as an all-new engine: the two-litre OM 654 diesel motor, offered as the B 200 d (148bhp, 112-119g/km) and the B 220 d (188bhp, 116-119g/km).

One Merc exec hailed the new B-Class as “more practical and more chic than ever” and the “perfect family compact”.

Gorden Wagener, chief design officer of Daimler AG, believes that the B-Class “writes a further punchy chapter in the success story of the dynamic Mercedes-Benz Sports Tourer”.

“With its emotional yet purist design, the new B-Class blends seamlessly into the design language of Sensual Purity,” he added.

Heather Stark, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, commented: “The B-Class looks more appealing than ever and it should provide a sound balance between a family hatchback and the kind of people carriers that have come to be perceived as stuffy in recent years.”

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