Mercedes-Benz creates monster B-class

Most extreme Mercedes-Benz B-class
yet - the 388bhp B55
Up until now Mercedes-Benz has decided to keep the B-class from the North American market. But here’s an extreme V8-powered version of its compact MPV that’s certainly worthy of consideration for the good 'ol US of A – if only the German car maker would build it!

Called the B55, the rapid new MPV has been created by a group of trainees at Mercedes-Benz’s Rastatt factory in Germany as part of a long term in-house engineering program.
The new car, which began as an ordinary B200 CDI, has been thoroughly re-engineered, with Mercedes-Benz’s trainees replacing its original transversely-mounted 2.0-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel engine producing 140bhp (103kW) and 221lb ft of torque (300Nm) with a longitudinally sited 5.5-litre V8 kicking out a rather more expansive 388bhp (285kW) and 391lb ft (530Nm).

But that’s not all! The B55 also dispenses with the standard B-class’s front-wheel drive layout, receiving Mercedes-Benz’s seven speed 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox, specially modified propeller shaft and rear axle assembly from the decade old E430 to turn it into a bitumen shredding rear wheel drive excess.

The new driveline and associated changes, including the adoption of  brakes from the old C32 AMG, adds 573lb (260kg) to the B55’s weight, taking it up to 3571lb (1620kg). Mercedes-Benz isn’t quoting any performance numbers right now but Andreas Wurz, the man credited with the idea to squeeze the new engine into the compact confines of the B-class’s engine bay, says it’s good for 0-62mph (100km/h) “in around 5.0sec” or half of that quoted for the B200 CDI.

Remarkably, all of the B55’s various mechanical modifications have been achieved without any alterations to the standard B-class body, although accommodating the V8 up front has brought some changes to the steering, with the rack adopted from the first-generation A-class, and the new rear axle has forced a reduction in size of the fuel tank.

The B55 rides on a heavily reworked suspension; MacPherson struts are retained up front but the B-class’s torsion beam rear end has been replaced by a multi-link arrangement from the old E-class. It all sits much lower than the standard B-class, giving the B55 a sportying, hunkered down appearance that's further ascentuated by a set of 18-inch wheels wearing 235/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires and a pair of centrally mounted tail-pipes.

Sadly, Mercedes-Benz says there are no plans to place the B55 to production. “It’s just a bit of fun,” says Wurz.

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