All-new second-rung SUV Mercedes GLB is different, enticing

Perhaps the star of Mercedes-Benz’s monster six-SUV launch last week were the all-new GLB twins. Not only do these newcomers slip between the all-new the GLA and the CLC as the second rung, but it finally completes Mercedes-Benz’ diverse Sport Utility Vehicle ladder.

Merc’s first compact SUV is optionally available as seven-seater. It’s powered by completely updated four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines that offer a combination of economy and performance. And Benz says that GLB is set to redefine the versatile compact SUV market. At first stab, we tend to agree…


The GLB’s biggest plus point it that it is quite different. See, rather than just being another sausage of a different length squeezed out of that Stuttgart factory, this one is nothing like the GLA below and GLC above. Much more utility looking than its closest siblings, GLB takes on more of a classic squared-off G Class look. It also brings a cavernous and spacious cabin that’s sure to set the cat among the compact SUV pigeons.

GLB’s powerful proportions, unique LED headlights and short overhangs set it apart as a spacious and versatile family car that speaks to a whole new Mercedes-Benz audience.

“There’s a growing interest in SUVs and compact cars are also becoming popular again,” Mercedes-Benz South Africa boss Johannes Fritz explained over a shot of grappa Wednesday evening. “Our compact SUV blends all those aspects into an exciting new package. It has some special features that we have not previously offered to our customers in this segment. Like seven seats and more than enough cabin room.”

“GLB also has powerful and efficient four-cylinder engines with the latest driving assistance systems and our intuitively operated MBUX infotainment system MBUX. Our new family member brings all the Mercedes-Benz strengths to the compact SUV class.”


Let’s start with those modernised, more powerful, torquier, thriftier and cleaner-burning four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines and their drivelines. The 165 kW 350 Nm front-wheel drive GLB 250 is quick — Merc claims a GTI-chasing 6.9 second 0-100 km/h acceleration time and 236 km/h top speed. It sips 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres and emits 168 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometre driven.

The 140 kW 400 Nm permanent all-wheel drive two-litre turbodiesel GLB 220 d 4Matic can rush to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds and top 217 km/h. Its strong suit is however miserly fuel economy at just 5.1 l/100 km and 144 g/km.

Both cars come with Merc’s 8G-DCT automatic transmission. The GLB 220d 4M adds that 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive with fully variable torque distribution. The 220d also comes standard with an Off-Road Engineering Package. That includes an additional off-road driving mode to adapts power delivery in easy off-road terrain.


GLB’s off-road-focused G-wagon-inspired design features an upright nose, a rising waistline and muscular haunches. Stylised skid plates front and rear and protective cladding emphasise that off-road character. GLB’s wide-opening doors reach down over their sills for easy access. 4634 mm long, 1834 mm wide and 1658 tall, it rides on a 2829 mm wheelbase and is 100 mm longer than the new B-Class.

GLB has class leading 1069 mm front row headroom and especially comfortable 967 mm rear legroom in five-seat get-up.

The 40:20:40 split folding second row bench can be moved fore and aft to add an extra 190 litres to GLB’s handy 570-litre boot. It expands to 1805 litres to deliver the versatility of a true estate car. The load cover shield can fold and stow in the sizeable extra compartment under the height-adjustable boot floor.

The 7-seat option’s third row adds two individual seats with a pair of drinks holders between them. There’s a rubberised stowage compartment complete with a USB port on each side. The third row seats can comfortably accommodate 1.68 metre tall people. And flip down to create a flat luggage compartment floor.


GLB comes with Merc’s full state-of-the-art widescreen MBUX infotainment, which offers powerful computing, brilliant screens and graphics, customisable presentation and full-colour head-up display. Options include augmented reality navigation with learning software and voice activated ‘Hey Mercedes’ prompting.

Driving assistance systems are drawn from the S-Class, with improved camera and radar that allow the GLB to see up to 500 metres ahead and drive in semi-automated mode in certain situations.

All in all, the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLB proved the biggest surprise in a stellar line-up on Wednesday’s launch. It’s an interesting car that fills a few yawning voids, both within Merc’s range and in general in the market. And probably it’s biggest plus is how different it is. Expect to see plenty of these on the road — seems Benz has hit the sweet spot again.

Mercedes-Benz GLB Pricing
GLB 250             R831K
GLB 220d            R841K
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