2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive: Up Close

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class may look familiar to world travelers, but the all-electric B-Class Electric Drive version is new. The four-door hatchback is not a particularly large car, with overall exterior and interior dimensions similar to Ford's C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. The B-Class is sold internationally with gasoline and diesel engines but not in the U.S. That's about to change when an all-electric B-Class — the only variant — goes on sale here in early 2014 with an estimated range of approximately 115 miles.

More 2013 New York Auto Show Coverage

Mercedes' electric B-Class is a full-blown luxury car with a classy, light-colored interior and classic Mercedes appointments; its dashboard layout is similar to the recently introduced entry-level CLA-Class sedan. The B-Class' interior is a step up compared to electric hatchbacks like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. An electric gauge showing charge, power and boost readouts replaces a traditional tachometer. Interior roominess mirrors the C-max's cabin, where at 6 feet tall, I fit snuggly with enough head- and legroom to be comfortable, though there's not much room to spare.

It's hard to tell the B-Class is anything but an electric car with a nearly seamless integration of the lithium-ion battery under the floor. Many normal cars turned fully electric sacrifice cargo or passenger room to fit a big battery, but the B-Class has a nearly flat floor in the second row — there's just a slight floor hump. The second row has split-folding rear seats, but they don't completely fold flat; a ramped 3-inch-tall divider sits between the cargo area and rear seats.

The B-Class is a new breed of electric luxury car, and pricing will determine where it fits into the electric landscape. Luxury electric cars currently come at a price premium: an entry-level Tesla Model S starts at $60,800 with an estimated range of 160 miles. Non-electric small luxury hatchbacks have been a hard sell in the U.S., so it'll be interesting to see if the electric angle can attract buyers.


Mercedes-Benz 2012 2012 New York Auto Show 2013 New York Auto Show Auto Show Green Cars Luxury Vehicles New York New York Auto Show

Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.  Email Joe