The new Mercedes-Benz GLB, the eighth model in the compact car family from Stuttgart, recently made its world debut in the United States after a near production-ready concept model was displayed at the Shanghai Auto Show earlier this year.
Designed as a more rugged, off-road orientated luxury SUV the GLB is positioned to fill the gap between the GLA-Class and GLC-Class in size and despite being slightly smaller than the GLC, the GLB has the option of three-row seating due to better space distribution. In terms of design, it takes more after the GLK-Class, discontinued in 2015 in favour of the GLC.
Production of the new compact model family member will commence from this month in the Aguascalientes plant in Mexico (for the United States and European markets) and in Beijing for the Chinese market but, it will not be available in South Africa before mid-2020.
The newcomer, based on the same platform as the new A-Class and soon-to-be introduced B-Class, has powerful proportions with an “off-road orientation”: reduced lines and precise seams, an upright front section with striking headlamps, short overhangs at the front and rear, and all-round protective cladding dividing the overall proportions.
With a length of 4,634 mm, width of 1,834 mm, and height of 1,658 mm the GLB is slightly shorter than the GLC but it is wider and higher, and at 2,829 mm it has a 10 mm longer wheelbase than the new B-Class. This gives it best in class headroom in the first seat row and 967 mm of effective legroom in the rear of the five-seat derivative.
The third row of seats can accommodate passengers up to 1,68 m tall, according to Mercedes-Benz, and the load compartment can be stretched from 560 ℓ to 1,755 ℓ in the five-seater. The second row of seats can also be longitudinally adjusted on request, enlarging the load compartment by up to 179 ℓ.
Inside, the single-piece instrument panel has a widescreen cockpit with control and display via MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). A robust aluminium look rounds off the lower section of the instrument panel and houses the three round centre air vents. Along the doors, the SUV character is underlined by a horizontal grab-handle on higher specced models.
The Off-Road Engineering Package from Mercedes-Benz is available on GLB 4Matic models and in combination with Multibeam LED headlamps these models offer a special off-road light function. By continuously switching on the cornering light to give wide and bright light distribution immediately in front of the vehicle, this system makes it easier to see obstacles in rough terrain in the dark.
The 4Matic permanent all-wheel system has fully variable torque distribution and three driving modes (Normal, Eco/Comfort, and Sport) with optional driving assistance systems. This enables the GLB to “see” up to 500 m ahead on the road and it also has all the technology for partial autonomous driving. The GLB is also equipped with the intuitively operated MBUX infotainment system with augmented reality, learning-capable software, and voice control.
The GLB is available with two four-cylinder petrol and two diesel engines, all coupled with automatic transmissions. Sporty derivatives, such as the GLB 35 and GLB 45, is set to follow, as well as a plug-in hybrid and an electric version. The entry-level petrol engine is the 1.33-litre M282 in the GLB 200 delivering 120 kW and 250 Nm of torque, mated with a 7G-Tronic transmission. The top-line GLB 250, with 8G-Tronic auto ’box, is powered by a two-litre petrol turbo engine, good for 165 kW and 350 Nm.
The diesel derivatives are powered by the same two-litre OM654 engine but with different power levels (110 kW/320 Nm or 140 kW/400 Nm) in the GLB 200d and GLB 220d models, coupled with the 8G-Tronic dual-clutch transmission and combined CO2 emissions (g/km) of less than 170 g/km.
Text: Ferdi de Vos | Images: Mercedes-Benz AG