• 2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e
  • 2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e

First Drive: 2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e

A Touch of Luxury Class in EVs

There’s an electric-powered Mercedes-Benz out there, but you can be forgiven if you haven’t noticed. Quietly, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz  is rolling around town, if you happen to be in

2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e,gauges

The full Mercedes treatment in front of you

California or other EV friendly locales.

The B250e is a five-door hatchback–not the shape you expect from Mercedes. The B-Class is sold in other parts of the world, including Canada, as a small, utility-minded gasoline-, diesel- or natural gas-powered car. However, in the U.S., B-Class cars are EVs only (labeled Electric Drive). Some of the last generation B-Class cars were also leased in California as fuel cell electrics.

It makes sense for the German giant to put an all-electric powertrain in a small vehicle. Roughly the size of a Nissan Leaf, it has less weight to labor the battery pack. With a folding rear seat, it’s spacious in the back. In the bright blue of my colleague Pam’s new commuter car, it has a friendly aspect to it.

An Opportunity at the Charger

I’ve been eager to test Mercedes’ baby EV, so when I saw one attached to the chargers at my building, I slipped my card under the driver’s side wiper and waited for the owner to respond. Pam did, and offered to show me around the car–and even let me drive it for a few miles.

2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e,interior,luxusty

The luxury’s inside

The B250e may look like a generic hatchback (despite its dramatic character line that rises up the side), but inside, it feels like a Mercedes-Benz. While not furnished in rare woods, and rich leather, it has dignity and mass—and an instrument panel that looks like a Mercedes-Benz should. It feels more upscale than other EVs I’ve tested. It can’t match a Tesla, of course, but it’s not priced as one, either.

Driving the car, judging from my brief test, is pleasant and, of course, silent. There are settings for S (sport), E (eco) and E+ (eco ), and, I think, a “normal” setting. If you set it to S, you get the full benefit of an electric motor’s instant torque and rocket ahead with a snap. In E or especially E+, the drivetrain feels anaesthetized, but that’s so you use less juice.

The Stats

Stats for the 2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e are: 132 kW electric motor with 177 horsepower, 251 lb.-ft. of torque, capable of 0-60 in 7.9 seconds. Pam, who stepped out of a reliable Mercedes-Benz M-

2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e,interior

A practical EV includes a hatch

Class SUV, has been getting about 83 miles per charge in her new B, which puts it in the realm of the original Leaf and other cars like the Ford Focus EV and Fiat 500e. Mercedes claims 87 miles. But the future is looming, with 200+ mile range EVs on their way, so I’m guessing that the Tesla-sourced engine/battery will be getting an upgrade before too long. Meanwhile, for a commute from southern San Jose to San Mateo, California, the little Mercedes-Benz EV is just the ticket. Pam has Level 2 (240-volt) charging at home and here at work, so she never has to run out of juice, as long as she doesn’t stray too far from the normal path.

Pricing is officially $41,450 (for 2016 models; 2017s list at $39,900), but as you might expect, leasing drops costs considerably. Pam leased hers for a little bit more than $300 a month with some money down. The federal rebate was applied directly to the lease, and her California state rebate is on its way. She relishes her white carpool-lane stickers, too.

A Luxury EV–Not a Lot of Competition

2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e, EV, electric car

A rare siting

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e is a natural competitor to the BMW i3, and, as these two German competitors go, it’s the more sober, elegant one, versus the radical BMW. But by all means, you should cross-shop.

I’m eagerly awaiting my chance to spend a week with this car, but for now, it looks like a winner to me–for the right driver and purpose.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

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Road Test: 2016 Ford Focus Electric

Road Test: 2016 Fiat 500e

Road Test: 2016 Kia Soul EV

Road Test: 2014 BMW i3

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About Author:

Steve Schaefer has written a weekly automotive column for 26 years, testing more than 1,250 cars. Now, he’s focusing on EVs and hybrids. Steve remembers the joy of riding in his father’s Austin-Healey. After discovering the August, 1963 issue of Motor Trend, he became entranced with the annual model change, and began stalking dealers’ back lots to catch the new models as they rolled off the transporter. Coming from a family that owned three Corvairs, Steve was one of the first Saturn buyers, earning him a prominent spot in their 1994 product catalogue. To continue the GM tradition, Steve now has a Chevrolet Bolt EV. Steve is a founding member of the Western Automotive Journalists. Recently, Steve became a Climate Reality Leader, trained by Al Gore, and is focused on moving to EVs and 100% renewable energy. Read his EV/hybrid blog at stevegoesgreen.com.

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