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GLS mini-me should be practical and surprisingly rugged

Mercedes-Benz GLB SUV (19 on)
Enlarge 30 photos

PROS

  • Wide range of engines available
  • Seven-seat option boosts practicality
  • Should have a spacious and techy interior

CONS

  • Third row best suited to children
  • A lot of high-tech kit likely to cost extra

At a glance

New price £33,990 - £45,740
Fuel economy 45 - 56 mpg
Road tax cost £145 - £465
Insurance group 27 - 36 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • Wide range of engines available
  • Seven-seat option boosts practicality
  • Should have a spacious and techy interior

CONS

  • Third row best suited to children
  • A lot of high-tech kit likely to cost extra

The Mercedes-Benz GLB is a compact off-roader filling in the gaps in the German company’s small car range, which is made up of the A-Class hatchback and saloon, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, B-Class MPV and GLA crossover.

It’s arguably the most practical of the lot, available with seven seats – making it the only seven-seater in its class, at least according to Mercedes.

Speaking of its class, the GLB goes up against rivals such as the Peugeot 5008 and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace at least in terms of its exterior dimensions and the availability of seven seats, falling between the two in terms of length, but sitting much lower to the ground in comparison – it looks a bit more like a jacked-up estate, but Mercedes has certainly given it a look of shrunken GLS with the tall body and boxy shape.

What Merc has managed to do here is cleverly carve out another niche for itself, with no direct rivals from the usual suspects of BMW and Audi, although in five-seat form the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 are its main targets.  

Mercedes-Benz GLB AMG Line rear - blue

How big is it?

At 4.6m long, the GLB is longer than the B-Class MPV, with more length between the wheels as well. This should translate to more impressive interior space as well, which bodes well as the B-Class is already a fairly practical option. However its looks may deceive you – it sits surprisingly low to the ground.

That length should mean there’s a decent amount of space for rear-seat passengers, however Mercedes quotes the third row is comfortable for those up to 1.68m in height, which is 5ft 5inches. Best for the kids, then.

Still, it’s a useful feature to have in a compact SUV, making it likely to appeal to young families in particular. Especially as the next SUV in the line-up offering seven seats is the far larger and far more expensive GLE. The rear seats also come with Isofix points as well as the two outer in the second row row, meaning up to four child seats can be fitted to the GLB in total.

In five-seat form, the boot offers 560 litres of space, which is around 100 litres more than a C-Class Estate. Plus, the middle row can tilt to free up extra space if you require it, while that boxy body helps contribute to the GLB’s overall luggage capacity of 1,755 litres with all the seats folded down. Finally, buyers will be able to specify a folding passenger seat if you intend to carry particularly long loads, but we suspect the boot will be fairly dinky when all seven seats are in place.

Mercedes-Benz GLB AMG Line profile - blue

What engines are available?

A familiar selection of engines will be available in the GLB, with several petrol and diesel options to choose from. It’s likely the range will expand as the car’s life goes on too, as with many other models in the company’s line-up.

The petrol line-up at launch will be made up of the GLB 200 (163hp, 250Nm with seven-speed DCT) and GLB 250 (224hp, 350Nm with eight-speed DCT), while the diesels consist of GLB 200 d (150hp, 320Nm with eight-speed DCT) and GLB 220 d 4Matic (190hp, 400Nm with eight-speed DCT). The GLB 200 d comes with a choice of front- or 4Matic all-wheel drive.

Is it a proper off-roader?

Mercedes-Benz GLB off-road

Mercedes certainly thinks so. Spec a GLB with 4Matic all-wheel drive and it comes with the Off-Road Engineering Package. This comes with a more advanced LED headlamp cluster with an off-road light function. In essence, this permanently activates the cornering lights at low speed so more of the terrain in front is lit up in the dark.

Also included in this pack is an animation on the media display showing the angles of the terrain and technical setting of the car, as well as hill-descent control.

In reality most buyers are unlikely to be venturing off-road, and so most models come with front-wheel drive only. A selection of drive modes are available to flick between via the Dynamic Select function – taking in Eco, Comfort and Sport modes. There’s an additional Off-Road mode for cars with the Off-Road Engineering Package to adapt to the conditions, while models with this will likely do without the lower, sportier bumpers of AMG Line cars.

What’s it like inside?

Mercedes-Benz GLB interior

If you’ve been inside the A-Class or B-Class, you’ll find the interior of the GLB very familiar, just with a couple of subtle tweaks to make it seem a bit more rugged.

There’s the same modern design with two large, crisp screens for the instrument panel and media information (you’ll have to pay extra for the bigger screens for the company's latest MBUX system), attractive, detailed and illuminated air vents, an abundance of ambient lighting and a good amount of storage.

Differences over the other small Mercs are limited to the door handles which are designed to look like aluminium tubes, with similar design on the dashboard ahead of the passenger, and on either side of the centre console. According to Mercedes this makes the car look and feel more rugged. Overall though, the GLB’s interior remains a thoroughly modern Mercedes that looks plush and tech-heavy.

The good news is that, thanks to styling that looks like Merc left a GLS in the tumble dryer a bit too long, there’s a large amount of glass. That tall body and big windows should make the GLB feel spacious inside, with higher-spec models coming with a panoramic sunroof too. That’s a refreshing change from cars with slim rear windows in the pursuit of style. We’ll let you make your own mind up about whether its looks are a success or not.

Mercedes-Benz GLB rear static