It should be no surprise that we’re humming along Sand Hill Road in pretty much total silence. It’s a Mercedes-Benz, so isn’t it supposed to be silent?
This is exactly the point with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. It is meant to be a Mercedes-Benz first, and everything else about it comes second. The B-Class EV does everything like a Benz, except you just happen to plug it into the wall when you park it for the night.
That is just the way that the people in the offices along Sand Hill Road, where you find the most influential venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, like it.
Take that, Tesla!
Well, we didn’t exactly make it all the way up Sand Hill Road in what you would call perfect silence, because when we stopped the 2014 B-Class EV at the light before Junipero Serra Boulevard, we switched off stability control and then nailed the throttle pedal to the floor when the light went green.
The B-Class lit up its front tires with a screech and kept them lit all the way across the slippery four-lane intersection. The guy in the Honda Civic next to us swiveled his neck like a crazy person, looked right at us, and kept looking around for the noise. After all, no one would suspect a Mercedes-Benz of such a demonstration, much less a Mercedes-Benz with an electric socket hidden behind its fuel flap.
As it turns out, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive (whew, say that five times fast), has a powertrain to which Tesla has contributed a substantial measure of technology, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that its 177 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque are enough to produce a little bit of antisocial behavior from what is meant to be a refined but innocuous people-mover.
The Romance of People Moving
You don’t expect much romance from a people-moving pod like the B-Class. As you look at the car’s profile, you think that “style” might be too strong a word to use here. Perhaps it’s to be expected that the B-Class has been Mercedes-Benz’s vehicle of choice for developing cars powered by alternative fuels, including compressed natural gas, hydrogen fuel cell, and now battery-powered electricity.
Nevertheless, the 2014 B-Class EV actually looks surprisingly good. Now in its second generation, this car shares its platform with the front-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz CLA, and it does family-style duty in a lot of countries. It has the profile of a utility vehicle, yet the interior reminds you of the CLA sedan. It feels warm and inviting, although it’s best to keep from rapping your knuckles against the CLA-spec plastic trim.
A 5.8-inch information screen occupies the center of the dash, the doors are wide and the floor is flat, and rear cargo space measures 17.7 cubic feet behind the 60/40-split folding rear seat and 51.0 cubic feet when the rear seat is flipped down. Measuring 171.6 inches long, 71.3 inches wide, and 61.3 inches high, the B-Class can make tall people comfortable, although perhaps not wide ones.
Electricity That Feels Natural
The B-Class has been stitched together with its electric powertrain so well that you’d almost never guess that it could be anything other than an EV. The 28 kWh package of lithium-ion batteries lies out of the way beneath the floor, and the electric motor is in the place up front where you’d usually find an engine. Mercedes-Benz engineers raised the B-Class on its suspension some 3.4 inches to make room beneath the car for the battery case, but then the designers added a little body cladding to the fender wells and rocker sills so you don’t really notice.
Read more: AutomobileMag