Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the UK prices and specification for its B-Class multi-activity vehicle, deliveries of which will start on 15 September. Starting at £16,995 on the road, the prices have significantly undercut the proposed pricing announced earlier in the year.

Five-speed manual transmission is standard on B 150, B 170 and B 200 models, with six-speeds featuring on the B 180 CDI, B 200 CDI and B 200 Turbo. AUTOTRONIC continuously variable automatic transmission is available for £1,390 on every model.

Comfort and luxury forms an important part of the equipment that is standard on every car. Air conditioning keeps the temperature constant throughout the spacious cabin, and its chilling capacity even extends to the glove box – perfect for keeping drinks and snacks cool in hot summer weather. Luxury climate control, which gives separate temperature settings for the front seat occupants, is a £410 upgrade.

With up to 2,205 litres of interior volume, B-Class packs a lot of practicality into its attractive compact dimensions. Numerous storage solutions feature on the car, including rear seats that are split one-third, two-thirds with removable cushions. The luggage compartment floor is on two levels, under which the rear seat base can be stowed.

Cubby holes, cup holders, the essential “takeaway hook”, sunglasses storage, load-securing rings in the boot and even a business card holder all mean it’ll be very difficult to lose anything in the B-Class. On all but those equipped with sports seats, the front passenger seat can fold forwards to allow loads of up to 2.54m to be safely stowed – ideal for ladders, Christmas trees, surf boards, flat pack furniture or other long items.

The Mercedes-Benz Audio 20 CD/radio system can be controlled from the multi-function steering wheel, which also gives information on the trip computer, outside temperature, tyre pressure loss and a range of other features.

Satellite navigation is available in two guises, both of which can direct drivers across Europe. The Audio 50 system comes with turn-by-turn directions at £900 whilst COMAND APS, which uses DVD technology to map the EU, will cost £1,665. For more entertainment on the move, an optional iPod integration kit can be fitted by the local retailer for £172 (plus fitting).

To ensure all drivers and passengers are comfortable as standard, the driver’s seat is height-adjustable, the steering wheel’s rake and reach can be changed, and the front seats feature active anti-whiplash head restraints, which move forwards and upwards in the event of a rear impact.

Those in the back get plenty of leg, hip and shoulder room, retractable head restraints, three-point belts all round, ISOFIX mounting and top tethers for child seats. Suitable Mercedes-Benz child seats up front will deactivate the passenger airbags – a real boon for safety. Visible and audible signals give the driver clear indications whether passengers have buckled-up.

Safety is standard on the B-Class, as with every Mercedes-Benz. ESP® Electronic Stability Program – proven by DaimlerChrysler research to reduce all accidents by 15 per cent, and those involving Mercedes cars by 30 per cent – is standard on every car in the range. ASR traction control, ABS anti-lock brakes with brake assist all keep things on the straight and narrow. Sophisticated passive suspension, with a parabolic rear axle, ensures excellent ride comfort whilst two-stage dampers keep an enthusiastic driver happy through the bends.

Six airbags – driver and passenger front and side bags, and front-rear curtain bags – are standard, as is STEER CONTROL. In extreme conditions, when the car starts to skid or slide, STEER CONTROL induces a resistance in the steering, encouraging the driver to steer away from the resistance and so, out of the skid or slide. At the same time as introducing this resistance, the steering effort required to turn the ‘right way’ to control the skid is reduced. As a result drivers instinctually correct the problem, further reducing the risk of accidents.

Front and outer rear belts have pre-tensioners, and force limiters also feature in the front. Rear side airbags are available as a £280 option.

B-Class has remote central locking as standard, with a factory-fit alarm and immobiliser, a visible VIN, automatic door locking when driving off – and, thanks to the storage areas – plenty of space to hide valuables away from prying eyes.

Available for just £950 is an SE upgrade. Standard on B 200 SE and B 200 CDI SE, a number of cosmetic and equipment enhancements are added, including: 16″ alloy wheels with locking nuts; chrome exterior trimmings; colour-coded side skirts; mirrors and door handles; rear electric windows, automatic headlamps with delayed switch-off; leather-trimmed steering wheel, handbrake surround and gear shift lever; rain-sensing windscreen wipers and failsafe lighting.  Failsafe lighting ensures that, in the event of a bulb blowing (which will be shown in the instrument display) another bulb temporarily takes its place.

At the top of the B-Class range sits the high-performance B 200 Turbo, costing £22,795. Its powerful pedigree is obvious from the subtle enhancements that feature on its exterior, and inside. Similar in specification to the SE models, outside the most obvious changes are: 18″ five-spoke AMG alloy wheels with 215/40 R18 tyres; twin stainless steel exhaust pipes; sports suspension (lowering the car by 10 mm) and chrome trim accents.

Inside, sports front seats are clad in ARTICO man-made leather substitute (side bolsters) and “Zandvoort” fabric (centre panel, headrests). Foot pedals (accelerator, brake, clutch) are stainless steel with rubber studs whilst the sports steering wheel is leather trimmed. Smoked rear light clusters add to the swift look.

Performance is spirited: the 0-62 mph dash takes 7.4 seconds for the manual (7.2 for AUTOTRONIC transmission), and combined fuel consumption is a respectable 34.9 mpg.

Some elements of this trim are available as part of a £495 sports package, available on SE models which includes lowered suspension and 17″ 10-spoke alloy wheels. A key highlight of the options is the sports seats package – costing just £100.

Every B-Class bought from an official UK Mercedes-Benz retailer comes with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty as standard, and with 30 year MobiloLife cover offering protection against breakdown or corrosion from the inside out for three decades.

Service intervals are variable, carbon dioxide emissions are from 146 g/km, and combined fuel consumption is up to 50.4 mpg (B 180 CDI manual). Add this to insurance groups starting at 7E for the B 150, and B-Class running costs look set to be low, too.

With all B-Class diesel engines being Euro 4 compliant, there is also a further saving in running costs for business and fleet users. A three per cent Benefit in Kind tax saving is available for the life of the vehicle on all Euro 4 diesel powered B-Class, providing they are purchased before the end of the year.