Consumer Reports rarely minces words when it comes to its car reviews, and it calls the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive hatchback the least-efficient electric car on the market. Ouch.
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive hatchback has a sticker price of around $41,350 and while the hatchback does offer abundant cargo space and a clear view of the road, it isn’t enough to earn high marks from Consumer Reports.
The electric B-Class has an 80 mile range, but also offers what Mercedes is calling an extended Range Plus mode which will push the Merc an additional 20 miles, offering a maximum of 100 miles of driving range. The extended Range Plus mode is done by selecting the option prior to charging the vehicle, which increases the charge from the cars normal 28 kWh to the full 36 kWh. Of course overclocking the battery will have a negative impact on the batteries lifespan. Unfortunately, the B-Class Electric also doesn’t offer a DC fast charge option like its main competitor, the BMW i3, so it takes a full 3.5 hours to charge compared to the Bimmer, which can top off in about 30 minutes.
While the Range Plus mode is interesting, it did not help once Consumer Reports took the B-Class for a spin. The results were the B-Class running at 2.9 miles per kWh, or the equivalent of about 98 mpg. While 98 mpg would be great for a gasoline powered car, it is a very poor score for an electric vehicle, and it’s even worse than the 3.2 kWh of the much older Nissan LEAF, which has been on the market for four years now.
Consumer Reports found other problems too. Even with a drive system coming from Tesla, the independent magazine said the car felt dated with a noisy cabin, stiff suspension, and dull handling despite a healthy 177 horsepower engine. Additionally, one of the largest issues aside from the Range Plus mode that Consumer Reports had with the B-Class was with the regenerative brake system. The B-Class offers two regenerative brake modes, one called Drive Minus which boosts regenerative braking but is tricky to use effectively. The other mode is Drive Plus mode, which allows you to coast, but brings down the range extending benefits of regenerative brakes.
Consumer Reports is not alone in their negative view of the B-Class as Car and Driver had some choice words as well. In any event, the B-Class Electric Drive is available in California only for now, but will be more widlely available across the U.S. in 2015.