With the launch of the new GLB, which arrives here early next year, Mercedes-Benz has raised its SUV range to a new level of desirability, made greater with the availability of a seven-seater version that will be attractive to families with children to transport.
The GLB is one of 22 newcomers from the luxury carmaker that are set to arrive here in 2020.
While remaining within the current eight-strong Mercedes-Benz compact car family – alongside the A-Class, A-Class saloon, B-Class, CLA coupé, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA – the new GLB blows open the definition of a compact car by offering exceptional levels of spaciousness and passenger capacity not naturally associated with its category.
The first Mercedes-Benz in its class to offer a third row, seven-seat option, the additional two bucket seats, both fully retractable, provide comfortable seating for passengers up to a height of 1.68m. Second row seats split 40:60.
In the same spaciousness vein, the GLB has plenty of room in all dimensions. At 2,829 millimetres, it has the longest wheelbase of Mercedes-Benz’s current compact generation. Front headroom is 1,069mm, and at 967mm, rear legroom in the five-seat version is said to be "especially comfortable".
Poised to become a potent contender in its segment, the new GLB is helped by its many attractive characteristics – not least a pedigree that has energised the sales of Mercedes-Benz generally and led to some seven million vehicles in its class being delivered since the A-Class was introduced 22 years ago.
Powerful in its proportions, the GLB comes with a distinctive exterior that points to the off-road focus of its design. This is evident in its upright front section, striking headlamps, and short front and rear overhangs. Optional is 4MATIC all-wheel drive and a special off-road light which helps detect obstacles in front of the vehicle at low speeds.
Available in three design and equipment lines, Style, Progressive and AMG, the various GLB model options also include a night package in which high-gloss black highlights are applied give it a distinctive allure. An exclusive boldly coloured Edition 1 model is also available in the first year after market launch.
Inside, GLB will have a distinctly high-quality interior whose off-road design influences are reflected in its instrumentation and controls elements, steering column, aluminium-look dashboard, doors and centre console highlights.
Fitted with the acclaimed MBUX user experience system, its various other features include two seven-inch instrument cluster and media displays with touch screen facility; a sports steering wheel with touch control buttons, and a USB port and Bluetooth connection for telephone and audio. Optional feel-good comfort elements include lighting, musical moods and seat massages features.
Driver assistance systems include camera and radar systems that can scan the road up to 500 metres ahead and drive in semi-automated mode whereby, in certain situations, speed can adjust ahead of bends, junctions or roundabouts aided by map, navigation and distance information data. Optional lighting and adaptive main beam features enhance the offering, especially in off-road and rough terrain driving.
No prices are available at the time of writing, and the company says that GLB models and prices likely to form the range offering in Ireland will be announced closer to the arrival date. However, according to Ciaran Allen, sales manager for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, with "every third Mercedes-Benz now an SUV, and every fourth a compact car, the intention will be to launch GLB with the most competitive package possible, tagging affordable prices to high-level specifications in a way that will appeal to families”.
The GLB is equipped with comfort suspension with steel springs as standard. Optionally available is adaptive damping whereby a valve in each of the four shock absorbers can be electronically actuated to control oil flow and enable the driver to choose the preferred damping characteristics.
The new GLB is powered by updated four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, all characterised by increased power, improved efficiency and reduced emissions.
Petrol models – all with 7G/8G automatic transmission – are: GLB 200 (1332cc/Nm250 torque/ ), GLB 250 (1991cc/Nm350 ) and GLB35 4MATIC AMG (1991cc/Nm 400 ).
Diesel models – all 1950cc with 8G automatic transmission – are: GLB 180d (Nm280 torque ), GLB 200d (Nm320 ), GLB 220d 4MATIC (Nm320 ) and GLB 220d 4MATIC (Nm 00 ), all certified to Euro 6d and geared to meet RDE (real driving emissions ) stage two requirements.