First, this model B-class is not for sale, nor is there any known intent to sell it anywhere. This B started life as a standard European market front wheel drive 2-liter four-cylinder diesel. It was a B200 CDI. Now? It's something very different.
The original drivetrain was ditched. In its place is a raucous five point five liter M273 V8. Since the M273 would rip through the FWD transaxle like a body builder through wet Kleenex, the Killer-B dons a seven-speed rear wheel drive automatic. The rear diff is from an E430 wagon. Since coming to a stop is handy, AMG brakes from a C32 were adopted.
Ladies and gentlemen, the B55.
The downside is it doesn't have traction or stability control. An easily overlooked upside is the drivetrain mass is more equally distributed. The results? The first thing that comes to mind is death and destruction. That's if the police don't intervene and send everyone involved to jail. However, that's not the case. According to Greg Kable of AutoWeek, "there is sufficient balance and grip to allow you to attack corners with real gusto".
The engine transplant forced the steering linkage to be moved, resulting in the loss of steering self-centering. Other than that, the steering is precise and the ride is surprisingly comfortable. Equally remarkable, the B55 is free of the usual annoyances that accompany projects such as these.
As expected, this is a lot faster than a standard B-class. The B200 CDI has 138 horsepower and 221 pound feet of torque. A B200 CDI takes over 9 seconds to reach 60 MPH. With 382 horsepower and 390 pound feet of torque on tap, the B55 can hit sixty in the low 5-second range. That's provided the driver can modulate the throttle. For those who find themselves scratching their head and wondering why the B55 is slower than a new E550 Coupe, the B-class is no lightweight. It tips the scales at over 3500 pounds. That, and the E550 Coupe is fast. Did I mention the B55 is lacking traction control? And that comparing human modulation against Bosch traction control is akin to a person who flies a kite and the guidance system for a Tomahawk cruise missle?
In addition to the powertrain improvements, this B has a self-assertive stance. The body itself hasn't been modified, but the ride height has been lowered and the wheel wells have been filled. This B has 18 inch wheels wrapped with 235/40 tires up front, and 255/35s in the back.
A normalized version of the B-class is scheduled to go on sale in North America next year. We'll probably see lowered variants with supersized wheel and tire packages, but "V8" probably won't be on the option sheet.