Roadtest: Mercedes GLB

10 Nov 2020 | 02.22 pm

Roadtest: Mercedes GLB

Pack the luggage — or the kids?

10 Nov 2020 | 02.22 pm

The new GLB is the first Mercedes-Benz in the compact SUV segment that offers the option of seven seats, writes Mark Gallivan

The new Mercedes-Benz GLB has a trick up its sleeve within the compact SUV segment. Land Rover’s Discovery may offer up to seven seats but the GLB’s more obvious rivals like Audi’s Q5 and BMW’s X3 have five seats. BMW sold 407 new X3s last year and Mercedes plans to steal a march on rivals by offering the €1,427 option of a third row of seats, usually available only in larger SUVs.

The downside in choosing the 7-seater option is how much it robs the boot of luggage space. In standard form with rear seats upright, the GLB has 570 litres of cargo space. This plummets to 130 litres when the third row of seats is in place, though if you fold both the second and third row of seats flat the cargo space rises to 874 litres. 

Families need to choose whether packing in seven people or cargo space takes priority. Headroom offers generous space for taller adults. I tried the third row of seats and they really only suit children or small adults due to the sloping rear roof.

All GLB models come with an automatic gearbox as standard. The GLB has 17 model variants, and Mercedes has priced the GLB 180 from €42,350. That model has a 136hp 1.4 litre petrol engine. My test car was the GLB 200d eight-speed auto and the 2.0 litre engine offers respectable performance and positions the GLB as a decent cruiser, with fuel burn of c.50mpg. I’d have preferred the 220d diesel with 190hp, probably the better choice for families. That model is priced from €47,675.

Buyers can choose from two specification grades. The Progressive line offers LED headlights, chrome trim and five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, two 7-inch digital displays with Merc’s latest MBUX with voice activated commands. It’s worth upgrading to the optional 10-inch screens as the smaller displays look a generation behind in this segment. 

The GLB range-topper is the 306hp AMG 35 4Matic (€66,915), which comes with 19-inch alloys, AMG exterior trim and the signature diamond dotted grille. Inside, the higher quality of the AMG’s cabin is evident, but limited to the sports seats and trim. Options to increase the alloy wheels up to 20-inch is available on both trim grades. 

Mercedes clearly wanted to differentiate the GLB from the pack with a more upright appearance that looks similar to the classic Mercedes G-Class than the more curvaceous GLE. The GLB is largely based on the B-Class and is shorter and less tall than the BMW X3. Mercedes has done a commendable job of maximising the interior cabin space, and this compact SUV is class leader for clever space utilisation.

Fitted as standard is Multi-Collision Brake and the increasingly useful Speed Assist that reads and displays current speed limits. Active Lane Keeping Assist is activated between 60km and 200km/h, and Active Brake Assist activates autonomous emergency braking in the event of an impending collision. 

The GLB is typical Mercedes with a smooth ride and decent suspension suppression over bumps. It’s not as sporting to drive as an X3 but the GLB displays a solid maturity. While no mild hybrid option is available at launch, the fully electric EQB version arrives next year.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Mercedes GLB 200d A/T Progressive
Price: From €45,025 (as tested €52,230)
Motor Tax: €270
Performance: 0-100km/h 9 seconds, top speed 204 km/h
Verdict: Offers more versatility than BMW X3 and Audi Q5. A premium effort.

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