The new Mercedes-Benz GLB on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Mercedes-Benz GLB on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Mercedes-Benz GLB.

The Mercedes-Benz GLB debuts in 2020 as a new compact SUV for the German brand.

Mercedes-Benz’ compact line-up has expanded rapidly in recent years with spin-offs such as the CLA, A-Class, B-Class and the GLA designed to attract younger buyers to the brand.

But SUVs are a particularly lucrative venture. Did you know one in three Mercedes-Benz cars is now an SUV, and one in four a compact model? So the GLB combines all the success factors of the company’s highest-volume segments.

What a package it is. The GLB is already establishing itself as one of the hottest models in the line-up, eclipsing the GLA and the B-Class for character and style. In fact it offers buyers even more space and practicality but in a classic SUV shape that makes the GLB reminiscent of Mercedes’ legends like the G-Wagen and GLS. That’s not bad for a compact SUV with a starting price of €42,350. Short overhangs, boxy silhouette, upright front end and plastic body cladding all bestow the GLB with irresistible off-road character.

The new GLB is available as a 5 or 7 seater family SUV
The new GLB is available as a 5 or 7 seater family SUV

What’s the Mercedes-Benz GLB range like in Ireland?

At launch the GLB goes on sale with a range of petrol and diesel engines, and is available with 5 or 7 seats. In Ireland it is marketed in two trim lines – Progressive and AMG Line – with the latter adding an attractive set of 19” alloys, chrome studded diamond grille, aluminium roof rails and larger air intakes at the front.

The interior of the new GLB also brings the strengths of the current compact-class generation from Mercedes-Benz. This is contemporary luxury at its best with lots of high quality soft touch materials and a design that balances style perfectly with functionality and the latest technology features. The driver faces a widescreen cockpit, with control and display via MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), which responds to commands of ‘Hey Mercedes’. A new feature is the characteristic off-road tubular element in an aluminium look which rounds off the lower section of the instrument panel and houses the three round centre air vents.

Other equipment on the AMG Line test car included Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, stainless steel sports pedals, AMG multifunction steering wheel in Nappa leather, cruise control, powered tailgate, heated front seats, parking sensors, reversing camera, and automatic climate control.

Inside the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB
Inside the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB

How practical is it?

The GLB has ten centimetres more wheelbase than, for example, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class MPV, so offers a slightly roomier cabin and the option of an additional two seats in the rear for an extra €1509 on the sticker price. These seats are only suitable for children, and when in use boot space is dramatically reduced. However many families will enjoy this extra flexibility on board.

The rear bench can also slide forward and back, while the backrests have a number of different positions also. When the rear bench is slid back, you have a particularly roomy feeling SUV with a generous boot of over 500 litres. However when the the two extra seats in the rear are in use, some cabin space for passengers in row 2 will be compromised. But what a fashionable way to travel! When not in use the two extra seats fold neatly into the boot floor, with a separate space to store the parcel shelf too.

The GLB gets all the technical highlights of the current compact-class generation from Mercedes-Benz. The four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines were updated to relaunch the compact model series with more power, improved efficiency and lower emissions.

The GLB is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines
The GLB is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines

What are my options?

The GLB is front wheel drive as standard but four wheel drive is available, to live up to those rustic good looks. In Ireland the GLB 180 (136 hp) and GLB 200 use a 1.3-litre four cylinder petrol engine with different power outputs. In the GLB 200, it puts out 163 hp and this was the model we had on test for Changing Lanes.

This engine is a real marvel, and never feels under pressure in the GLB, while also been smooth, quiet and refined. All engines come with an automatic gearbox, 7 or 8-speed depending on engine. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 7.1 litres per 100 km while motor tax is €390 per year. So for the best economy or for drivers who spend a lot of time on the motorway, you will need to take a look at one of the diesels. The most popular will be the GLB 180d and GLB 200d, which use a 2.0-litre diesel engine.

The Mercedes-Benz GLB has the option of two extra seats
The Mercedes-Benz GLB has the option of two extra seats

Driving the new GLB

On the road the GLB brings classic Mercedes values of comfort and refinement to the compact SUV class. Despite the origins in the brand’s compact line up of cars, the GLB feels like a bigger machine on the road and settles right into the line-up as one of the best. The GLB is not too far removed from the GLC with arguably more distinction and character.

Mercedes-Benz has done a fine job bringing the GLB to market. It takes one of the best interior concepts of the compact class and ‘roughs it up’ beautifully to bestow it upon the more rugged GLB. We love this car’s boxy looks and it’s a genuinely practical car. Family buyers will love the option of two extra seats though we personally prefer it as a more spacious five seater.

There is a familiar line-up of engines with the GLB 200 being a fun and robust partner to this car, though it won’t be the most efficient in this considerable brute of a car.

We expect the GLB will be a huge success for Mercedes-Benz Ireland and deservedly so.

The Mercedes-Benz GLB on sale now from €42,350
The Mercedes-Benz GLB on sale now from €42,350

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz GLB AMG Line Automatic
Engine: 1.3-litre turbo petrol
163 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h: 9.1
Top speed: 207 km/h
Fuel economy: 5.9-6.2 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 134-141 g/km
Motor Tax:  €390 per year