Mercedes B55 (2011) - a ballistic V8 B-classFri, 31 Dec 2010 00:00:00 -0800
Mercedes' tuning arm AMG has not yet ventured into sensible B-class territory, but a bunch of Merc trainees in Germany has come up with this: the B55.
It's a V8-powered B-class, complete with AMG-spec 383bhp 5.5-litre V8 mounted up front and driving an old W210 E-class rear axle. Sounds like a promising skunkworks special, derived from an old B200 CDI hack that was kicking about the training centre.
The minuscule diesel lump was ditched for the chunkier V8, which just about fitted on the original engine mounts, along with a seven-speed auto 'box. It sounds like a clever conversion, with the propshaft running in the B-class's sandwich floor.
Brakes from the old C32 AMG were fitted, along with 18in AMG alloys wearing tubby 255/35 ZR18 rubber at the business end. This maximum-attack B-class might even handle, as it has K&W coilover suspension.
You'll spot the bespoke Merc B55 from its white paint job, dark-painted radiator vents and smoked headlamp lenses. Inside, it's stock B-class save for Alcantara lining for the pillars and roof.
The 1620kg B55 is 180 kilos heavier than the diesel B200 CDI and, although no testing has been conducted yet, Merc estimates a sub-6.0sec 0-62mph time.
A dozen trainees and a couple of managers at the Rastatt training facility in Germany were behind the one-off Mercedes B55, which has no production intent at all.
Mercedes has sold more than 2.5 million A- and B-class models, but the current generation is living on borrowed time. A new compact range, aimed more directly at the VW Golf class, is due to be launched in 2011.
Training manageress Manuela Rascher, who worked on the B55, hints there may be more fast small Mercs in the pipeline. She said: 'We may have some surprises in store…'
By Tim Pollard