Mercedes would have you believe its new B-class hatchback – official photos and first details just released – is a “compact sports tourer”.

Puhleaze, “sports tourer” in my mind conjures up something like a Bentley Continental, roofed or not, according to buyer choice, or a sleek and swishy BMW 5 series wagon, not some dumpy little hatchback straddling the B- and C-segments, looking like a VW Golf Plus competitor, albeit the new one is a bit lower and a lot more stylish with a more upright seating position than its predecessor.

Whatever. There are new engines, transmissions and a host of new electronic gizmos and items like radar-based collision warning system as standard.

A new four-cylinder petrol engine has direct injection and turbocharging, there’s a new diesel, a new dual clutch transmission, a new manual transmission and new assistance systems.

“No model change in the history of Mercedes-Benz has ever seen so many new developments introduced in one fell swoop,” claimed R&D chief Thomas Weber.

The redesign meets public gaze at Frankfurt next month and right hand drive sales start in UK in March.

The B- is the first of what will eventually be a new series of cars on Mercedes’ new front-drive architecture which will also spawn a new A-class hatchback, a coupe, and SUV and possibly a sedan which may be sold in the US. The current B isn’t, though it is available in Canada.

At 1557mm, the new car is 50mm (two inches) lower than its predecessor and seat height in relation to the road is down 86 mm in order, Mercedes said, “to facilitate getting in and out of the car easily, while maintaining a clear overview of the vehicle’s contours when driving”. The more upright sitting position is a response to customer request, it added. A lower rear floor gives claimed segment-leading legroom exceeding that of the S- and E-class.

The new four-cylinder petrol engines (coded M270) are the first of a completely new series. The combustion process is based on the third-generation direct injection system which was introduced last year with the BlueDIRECT V6 and V8 engines. Launch motors are 1.6 litre, in models badged B180 (122 hp) and B200 (156 hp).

The new four-cylinder diesel engine is a further development of the OM651 deployed in the C- to the S-Class, a 3G common rail direct-injection engine. This is the first time that this diesel has been mounted transversely. The B180 CDI has 109hp and th B200 CDI 136 hp.

Also new: the 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission with seven ratios and an electric oil pump for start/stop capability. The six-speed manual transmission is also new.

As a claimed world first in the compact segment, the B-Class has a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive brake assist as standard, which lowers the risk of rear-end collisions. Other features, many migrated down from larger Mercedes models, include adaptive headlamp assist, blind spot assist and lane keeping assist, attention assist, speed limit sign recognition, active parking assist, brake hold with the 7G-DCT, hill hold, reversing camera and a pre-crash occupant protection system.