If you want a Mercedes-Benz-built crossover or SUV, you’re spoilt for choice. As if the GLA, GLC, GLE, GLS and the fantastically excessive G-Class weren’t enough, there’s another on its way to Merc showrooms.
It’s called the GLB, and as fans of the alphabet will be keen to point out, it slots it neatly between the GLA - soon to be replaced by a new one based on the current A-Class - and the GLC. It’s actually taller than the GLC and almost as long, but a little narrower.
The GLB looks tall, ever-so-slightly utilitarian and almost a little boxy in places. It reminds us of the old GLK, and that’s no bad thing. The intended targets are the likes of the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, which arguably the GLA is already having a pop at. We shouldn’t be surprised - Mercedes seems determined to fill every perceived gap in its range, even if that means creating cars that overlap a little.
A big selling point over the GLA is the seat layout: it’s possible to buy the GLB with a third row of seats. The caveat is you can’t have anyone particularly lofty back there - Mercedes says the sixth and seventh seats are only useable for anyone up to five and a half foot tall.
Stick to the five-seater and you’ll have 560 litres of boot space to play with. Fold the second row of seats down, and that jumps to 1755.
The GLB is based on Mercedes’ transverse, predominantly front-wheel drive ‘MFA II’ architecture, although it is possible to spec a GLB with four-wheel drive. The 4Matic-branded system has an 80/20 split generally, shifting to 70/30 in Sport and 50/50 in Off-Road mode.
The GLB200d and GLB220d are both powered by the same 2.0-litre diesel unit, the former producing 148bhp/236lb ft and the latter 187bhp/295lb ft. The GLB200 uses a 1.3-litre inline-four which is good for 161bhp and 184lb ft of torque, and finally the GLB250 has a 2.0-litre four-banger punting out 218bhp and 258lb ft of twist.
The GLB250 is the quickest, dispatching the 0-62mph sprint in 6.3 seconds. It’s only available in front-wheel drive though - if you want to opt for a 4Matic system, you’ll need to go for one of the diesels. The GLB200 sends it power through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, while all other models run an eight-speed version.
The interior features lots of familiar-looking bits and pieces like Merc’s twin-screen MBUX infotainment/instrument binnacle setup, but with some chunkier design elements. It’s all about giving the cabin a “robust character,” Mercedes says.
Stuttgart’s newest crossover will be built in a facility in Aguascalientes, Mexico jointly run by Mercedes and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and in Beijing for the Chinese market. It’ll go on sale in the UK later this year, and yes, we’re fully expecting AMG GLB35 and GLB45 derivatives.