Mercedes-Benz is expected to counter rival BMW's forays into both the softroader and subcompact markets with two fresh derivatives: the B-class and SUT.

Mercedes-Benz is expected to counter rival BMW's forays into both the softroader and subcompact markets with two fresh derivatives: the B-class and SUT.

CARtoday.com reported last year that BMW hoped its 6 Series, 1 Series and X3 would present more new segments in its drive to eclipse Mercedes-Benz as Europe's top premium car company by 2008. The Munich manufacturer recently launched the new X3 soft-roader and will shortly venture into the subcompact category with the 1 Series, but Mercedes-Benz is expected to counter via two clones of the next generation A and C-class.

The B-class will be based on the new A-class chassis, whilst the SUT (sport utility truck), will be honed from the next generation C-class.

The SUT styling apes much of the current ML's grille, whilst the B-class carries the silhouette of a stretched A-class. Under the skin suspension systems are said to incorporate self-levelling rear damper arrangements and an optional rear differential lock on the SUT.


Benz insiders make no secret of the SUT being heavily on-road biased. Although power will be transferred to all four wheels, torque bias is expected to be towards the rear wheels. Transmission specifications are expected to encapsulate all Benz's automatic transmissions, including the new 7-speed geartronic. The B-class will offer five- and six-speed manual gearboxes.


Both ranges are expected to carry over much of the larger Merc's technological wizardry and gadgets. The B-class is said to offer exceptional packaging efficiency, with more space than the C-class.


Petrol power plants will start with 2,5 and 3,0 litre V6's, with a 4,7-litre, 243 kW V8 range topper. Diesel power will feature the 2,2 litre common rail diesel featured in the current C-class range, as well as two 3,0 litre V6's, producing 141 kW and 162 kW respectively.


The entry-level B-class will be powered by a 1,7-litre, 86 kW four cylinder petrol motor. A 143 kW, turbocharged 2,0-litre will power the top of the range petrol model, with a 100 kW turbo diesel available for the more environmentally friendly minded.


The larger SUT is only expected to make production somewhere in 2008, whilst the B-class should roll around together with the new A-class towards the middle of the year.