A difference in sizeTaking styling cues from the new A-Class, the Mercedes looks meaner and more dynamic than ever before. This can be seen in everything from the pointier nose to the redesigned front grille layout, narrower tail light cluster and roof spoiler. When you move up to the AMG trim level, the exterior gets even more sporty and aggressive, most noticeable at the front with the cleaner grille and flared air intakes. This brings the overall impression of the B-Class further away from the styling of an MPV towards the searing good looks of its smaller sibling. In many ways, the B-Class looks a lot like a taller, longer A-Class.
You probably don’t need to be told too much about the MINI’s design. The trademark hatch is a modern icon of the roads, but there’s an extra option compared to the Mercedes. You can choose between three or five doors, although the 5-door model’s likely to be at the forefront of your thinking if you’re weighing it up against the B-Class. There’s no getting away from the fact that the MINI’s smaller size means that it has sportier styling, which isn’t compromised too much by the extra doors. The low centre of gravity gives you wonderful handling, leading to the famous go-kart feel that the MINI Hatch is renowned for. The refreshed version includes design cues such as meatier wheel arches and LED head and tail lights, while there’s an added sense of precision to the exterior lines. And don’t forget about the array of customisation options to make your MINI truly unique.
Conclusion: B-Class styling has come on leaps and bounds, but the MINI’s smaller size could swing it for you.
Modern luxury vs retro-futuristicStepping inside the B-Class, the attraction of this model over the smaller A-Class becomes instantly apparent. There’s lots of space, with the taller roof giving passengers in the front and rear more headroom. This extends to the load space too, with promotional photos showing you can fit a canoe in the back when the rear seats are down. Don’t think that practicality compromises style though. The new Mercedes MBUX infotainment system takes pride of place in the cockpit, with a stunning dual display stretching across the dash. As well as the thoroughly modern touchscreen, you can also use voice control to navigate your multimedia system. From touch sensitive controls to turbine-style air vents and a 64-colour ambient lighting system, there’s a thoroughly premium feel to this car which will only be enhanced by the automated driving features borrowed from the S-Class.
The MINI’s retro-futuristic charm might make it feel a little less luxurious, but the interior is still a high-quality affair. You won’t feel remotely undersold if you’re after a premium hatch. The base model comes with a multi-function steering wheel, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a 6.5-inch infotainment display, while the Navigation Pack brings sat nav and the Navigation Plus Pack offers extra features such as wireless charging. You get air con, hill start assist, heated and electrically adjustable wing mirrors, and keyless entry and ignition as standard, but the Comfort packs bring extra perks like heated seats, park assist and a rear view camera. The infotainment system is a cousin of BMW’s excellent iDrive framework, while there’s a bit more space if you go for the 5-door version - 3cm of leg room and 1cm of headroom, to be precise. It’s no surprise that there’s less room compared to the B-Class though.
Conclusion: Inside the MINI is a lovely place to be, but the Mercedes trumps it if you’re after space. Don’t forget about the MBUX system too.
Vastly different engines
- The Mercedes B-Class will launch with a choice of five engines - three diesels and two petrols. Sizes range from 1.3 to 2.0 litres.
- The two petrol variants are both 1.3-litre units, with the entry level B 180 giving you 134hp and the more powerful version offering 161hp. Both engines have very similar emissions of just under 130g/km.
- The entry level diesel is the 1.5-litre B 180 d, which has 114hp and the lowest emissions rating. If you want more oomph, there’s a 2.0-litre with two different tunings - 148hp or 188hp, with minimal difference in emissions between the two.
- The big news with the MINI is that the Hatch will be available in a fully electric version in 2019. Final figures are yet to be released, but you’ll only be able to get the 3-Door Hatch with an electric motor initially. We can expect the 5-door version to follow suit though.
- In another big step, MINI have also stopped offering the Hatch with a diesel engine. This leaves three petrol powertrains to choose from.
- The MINI One and Cooper both come with 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder engines, with the higher spec Cooper boosting your power from 102hp to 136hp. This shaves over two seconds off the 0-62mph time, and while the emissions reading may be higher, there’s no compromise whatsoever on fuel economy.
- The third option is the 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder Cooper S, which delivers 192hp and a 0-62 of less than 7 seconds. Fuel consumption is higher, but the Cooper S delivers a seriously quick ride.
Conclusion: The Mercedes comes with a familiar engine line-up, whereas the MINI is breaking new ground by removing diesel and adding electric.
It all boils down to practicality with these two cars. If you want sportier looks and go-kart handling, go for the MINI. For added space and comfort, it’s the Mercedes. If you need some help deciding which model to go for, head to your local Inchcape Mercedes or Inchcape MINI and take them for a test drive.