2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive: First Drive Page 3

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Another goal of the Electric Drive was to bring a 200-kilometer (approximately 120-mile) range to this vehicle.

While that doesn't show in the Electric Drive's official 85-mile EPA rating, it might well be possible driving with some 'hypermiling' techniques, including very smart use of the climate control, gradual acceleration, and controlled speeds.

What we saw in the most ambitious portion of our first drive was promising. After driving very inefficiently, up to a ridge and through a series of winding roads, running the air conditioning the entire way, we still saw nearly half of our charge remaining after around 55 miles.

No fast-charging, but a trick or two

There's a little trick, however. If you check the box for the so-called Range Plus option, you open up an extra 3 kWh of battery capacity—temporarily raising it to 31 kWh, to allow an added range of approximately 15 percent (about 8 miles, although Mercedes-Benz says up to 18 miles under ideal conditions).

That added capacity is 'activated' by pressing a physical button on the dash before you charge the car.

The feature is meant for occasional use, Mercedes says, and it won't affect battery life or the car's efficiency; it also isn't included in the official range figures. As part of this package, the Electric Drive will also gain an electric windshield and increased thermal insulation in the doors.

Mercedes will offer a Battery Energy Plus warranty, which guarantees against defects and loss of capacity (no more than 30 percent lost here), and brings no-cost maintenance and roadside assistance—all for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Otherwise, you won't be taking any electric highways as you could with a fast-charging-equipped model like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S. The B-Class can charge fully in about 3.5 hours, or to 60 miles of range in less than two hours, on 240V. And if you dare charge it on 120V household AC, it takes roughly 30 hours.

A full Connected Car App will allow you to check on the charge status of your car, operate the climate control remotely, check a map regarding where you can go on available range, and see notifications from the car.

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