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Mercedes-Benz reinvents the compact family MPV

Mercedes-Benz GLB SUV Review Video
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At a glance

New price £35,080 - £51,185
Lease from new From £402 p/m View lease deals
Used price £25,785 - £43,435
Used monthly cost From £644 per month
Fuel Economy 32.5 - 49.6 mpg
Road tax cost £150 - £475
Insurance group 27 - 41 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Impressive, tech-laden cabin
  • Rapid AMG performance version
  • Decent standard equipment levels

CONS

  • Third row best suited to children
  • A lot of high-tech kit costs extra
  • Not as flexible as more traditional MPVs

Mercedes-Benz GLB SUV rivals

Written by Keith WR Jones on

In this review

  1. Introduction 
  2. Practicality
  3. Interior
  4. Comfort
  5. Running costs and mpg
  6. Reliability
  7. Engines and driving
  8. Handling
  9. Safety
  10. Verdict

One of the latest additions to the Mercedes-Benz SUV range is the GLB, which, despite being based on a modified version of the A-Class hatchback's underpinnings, is available with seven seats.

Inevitably, this means it’s smaller than most other seven-seat SUVs, such as the Peugeot 5008, SEAT Tarraco and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, to name a few, sitting in its own niche segment of the market. BMW’s 2 Series Gran Tourer is the only other upmarket seven-seater around this size and price range, yet even then it doesn’t have the SUV bodystyle of the GLB.

A Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic performance version adds to the appeal, with only the Skoda Kodiaq vRS coming close as a true sporty seven-seater rival. However, just because the GLB’s unique it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth your cash.

Trim levels detailed

The GLB is available with four trim levels, aside from the AMG GLB 35, ranging from entry-level Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus. All versions get sat-nav, a reversing camera, heated half leather front seats, dual-zone climate control and cruise control as standard, yet we reckon the spec to aim for is AMG Line Premium or above. With this, you get the larger 10.25-inch central infotainment screen and digital cockpit display, both of which help to lift what is already an exceptional cabin.

Standard safety features are also extensive, and include Active Brake Assist (a form of autonomous emergency braking), Active Bonnet (improves pedestrian safety), Active Lane Keeping Assist, Attention Assist, Speed Limit Assist and the eCall emergency call system, capable of automatically alerting the emergency services if you’re involved in an accident.

Mercedes-Benz GLB practicality

  • Seven-seats as standard on almost all versions
  • Vast amounts of room for second row passengers
  • Suite of safety tech, plus more available as options

Up front, the Mercedes-Benz GLB delivers a spacious cabin area that drivers and passengers of all sizes should be able to get comfortable in. Storage space is also ample, thanks to large door pockets, a sizeable locker under the centre armrest, a place to put your phone forward of the centre console and a reasonably proportioned glovebox.

All standard fare for a car of this size, yet it’s when you climb into the second-row seats that the GLB really begins to impress. The feeling of outright space is considerable – certainly far, far more than you get in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class with which it shares much of its underpinnings.

Footroom, kneeroom and legroom are all very generous and allow plenty of space for those in the outer rear seats. Of course, it’s not quite as generous as, for example, a Skoda Kodiaq, yet it feels much bigger than an Audi Q3.

The GLB’s second-row seats can also recline and slide forwards and backwards independently of one another, allowing greater legroom for those in the third-row seats in the case of the latter. Space in said seats is tight, but usable nonetheless. An average height male should be able to sit in relative comfort for around 30 minutes, however those any taller will find both head and legroom lacking. Climbing into the third row requires a certain amount of dexterity, too.

However, it’s important to note that in order to have any legroom in the third-row seats, the second-row bench must be slid forwards. This is the major differentiator from a larger seven-seat car, where those in the third row can be accommodated with little effect on those in the second.

Storage space in the back is workable, with large door pockets, nets behind the front seats, cupholders in the centre armrest and USB-C ports available. Meanwhile, those in the third row also get a small storage space on either side (with more USB-C connectivity) and cupholders in the middle. Isofix points are fitted as standard on the outer second row seats and third row seats.

As for bootspace, the GLB delivers a variety of measurements depending on whether you go for five or seven seats, and what configuration said seats are in. For example, opt for the latter, as most UK buyers will, and with all seats in place there’s 150 litres of luggage capacity on offer.

Fold the third-row of seats down and there’s 700 litres of space when loaded to the roof. Meanwhile, with both the third- and second-row seats down, 1680 litres become available. Measurements for the five-seat version are 770 litres with all seats in place and 1,805 litres with the second row down. Note that bootspace can also be increased depending on how far forward the second-row seat base and seat backs are adjusted.

Mercedes-Benz GLB interior

  • Design is largely copied from Mercedes-Benz A-Class
  • Some subtle nods to the G-Class SUV, however
  • Twin screens still feel like the centre point of the cabin

The GLB’s interior is very similar to the A-Class's (and others based on the same basic structure), therefore, the order of the day is crisp, modern, mostly high quality materials, plus plenty of high-end technology on offer. However, certain elements of the cabin, such as the brushed metal grab handles on the doors, and more substantial facia directly in front of the passenger feel like nods to Mercedes’ G-Class SUV.

Much of the cabin’s look also depends on which trim level you go for. As well as cosmetic changes (AMG Line models upwards will get a chunkier sports steering wheel for example), the two dashboard mounted screens (arguably the centre point of the cabin) vary in size.

Mercedes-Benz GLB (2020) interior view

For example, Sport and AMG Line versions make do with the 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster and 7.0-inch infotainment screen, while AMG Line Premium models upwards get the full 10.25-inch monitors. And while both iterations run the same MBUX software, it’s clear that the GLB cabin has been designed to work best with the larger screens.

MBUX is becoming more familiar throughout the Mercedes-Benz range, with its sharp graphics, speedy processor and seemingly endless functionality – not to mention ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice activation (like Siri, but in your car) and Mercedes me connect. Smart as it is, however, we still reckon that equivalents systems from Audi and BMW are easier to navigate with simpler controls.

All GLBs come as standard with :

  • Cruise control
  • Two-zone climate control
  • 180-degree reversing camera
  • Heated front seats
  • Light and sight interior lighting package
  • Sat-nav
  • Artico man-made leather and Albury fabric upholstery
  • 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster and 7.0-inch infotainment screen
  • Apple CarPlay/Android auto

How comfortable is the GLB?

  • Comfortable standard fit half-leather seats
  • UK cars won’t get air suspension…
  • Worth waiting to see our review of how the car drives in the UK

Naturally, both the driver and passenger sit high up in the GLB’s standard driving position. There’s a broad range of adjustment in both the seat and steering wheel, too, meaning occupants of all heights shouldn’t have any problem getting comfortable. Visibility is decent too, with the car’s boxy profile allowing a mostly uninterrupted view out from all angles.  

We’ve only driven the GLB on the international launch thus far, with every car we tested running on Mercedes-Benz’s adaptive suspension that won’t be available on UK cars (apart from the performance A 35). Instead, all regular variants will have fixed, or passive, suspension. We reckon this could be a cause for concern as the GLB runs on 18-inch wheels as standard, with 19- and 20-inch variants available.

Without adaptive suspension to smooth out the bumps – which it did reasonably well on our European test cars – ride comfort could be on the firm side. That said, we wouldn’t bet against air suspension being quietly introduced as an option on the GLB further down the line, so it’s worth waiting for us to drive a passive suspension car in the UK before considering an order.

Engine refinement is in line with other Mercedes-Benz vehicles – good, but not quite as smooth-sounding as BMW and Audi equivalents, while wind noise in the GLB is a notch up on the A-Class, but still largely unintrusive.  

Mercedes-Benz GLB running costs and mpg

  • Impressive claimed fuel economy
  • Competitive BIK tax ratings – 30% for 200 d AMG Line
  • Pricier servicing and parts than non-premium manufacturers

The GLB delivers impressive claimed fuel economy figures across the range, with the most frugal being the 200 d version that delivers a claimed average of 49.6mpg on average. Even the petrol variants, 200 and AMG 35 4Matic, return between 38.7-40.4mpg and 32.5mpg respectively, under the more rigorous WLTP testing method.

If you’re considering the GLB as a company car, BIK (benefit-in-kind) tax rates vary depending on trim and engine size. The lowest rating belongs to the 200 d in AMG Line and AMG Line Premium specs (30%), while the GLB 200 petrol variant comes in at 31% but only in entry-level Sport trim. Both fuel economy and BIK ratings compare favourably with the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, a 220d Sport version returning between 50.4 and 54.3mpg and a 30% BIK tax rating.

In the real world, you can expect to get between 6.9 - 10.0 mpp (miles per pound), which is more than acceptable for an SUV of this size. Unsurprisingly, the diesel will go a lot further for your money than the petrol version.

Being a Mercedes-Benz, servicing and parts will be pricier than a non-premium manufacturer, however you should expect a higher standard of customer care at the dealership. Residual values for the GLB are yet to be confirmed.

Is the GLB reliable?

  • Too early for a definitive verdict
  • Shares parts and platform with big-selling A-Class
  • Unlimited-mile, three-year warranty on all new GLBs

It’s early days so we can’t give a definitive verdict on GLB reliability, yet. However, since it shares many parts (and a platform) with the big-selling Mercedes-Benz A-Class, logic dictates it should have plenty of time to iron out any issues.

In fact, the cars we drove on the launch felt more heavy duty than the A-Class, with a pleasing solidity to most buttons and controls – the cheap and tacky feeling stalks on the steering column being a notable exception. Like all new Mercedes-Benz models, the GLB comes with an unlimited-mile three-year warranty.

Mercedes-Benz GLB engines and driving

  • Two petrol and two diesel engines on offer
  • Front- and all-wheel drive available, all versions are auto
  • Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic delivers hot-hatch performance

From launch, the Mercedes-Benz GLB will be available with a range of engines – two petrols and two diesels – with a choice of either front- or all-wheel drive. All models will come as standard with either an eight- or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

If you want a petrol, there’s the choice between the entry-level front-wheel drive GLB 200 (1.3-litre four-cylinder) and a range-topping AMG GLB 35 4Matic (2.0-litre four-cylinder), the latter of which we’ll discuss in more detail further down the page.

Opt for the GLB 200 and the figures are 163hp and 250Nm of torque, good for 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds and a top speed of 129mph. Note that this is the only GLB variant to come with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, as opposed to the rest that use an eight-speed.

For performance fans in need of seven seats, the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 is almost in a class of its own, thanks to the dearth of obvious alternatives. Packing a 306hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, there’s always a strong turn of speed when required despite the 1.7-tonne kerb weight.

Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 5.2 seconds, with top speed rated at 155mph. The gearbox can be a little slow to respond sometimes, yet you can learn to work around it and adapt the drive modes settings accordingly. It makes a decent sound, too, with an induction whoosh from the turbocharger when accelerating in gear.

Diesel variants, meanwhile, consist of the GLB 200 d and GLB 220 d – both 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. The former is available with both front- and all-wheel drive, and produces 150hp and 320Nm of torque, enough for 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds and a top speed of 127mph. If that’s not enough and you fancy the 220 d, output is increased to 190hp and 400Nm of torque, bringing the 0-62mph time down to 7.6 seconds and top speed up to 135mph. 4Matic all-wheel drive is also standard with the 220 d.

We’ve driven the 220d and reckon it does everything you need in a seven-seat SUV. Power and torque is plentiful, with performance feeling brisk even when loaded up with occupants and luggage. Granted, it’s a touch noisier than you might expect – especially when revved ­–  yet the GLB’s sound deadening does a reasonable job of drowning out the worst of it.

How does the GLB handle?

  • Safe but enjoyable handling
  • GLB 35 is impressively capable
  • Wider and longer than an A-Class – and it feels it  

Seven-seat cars aren’t usually the most exciting to drive as the emphasis is on safety and predictability. With this in mind, the GLB does a decent job of combining the two. It’s obviously heavier and taller than the A-Class on which it’s based, yet there’s still a pleasing amount of agility on offer – both at high and low speeds.

Optional 4Matic all-wheel drive also allows for strong traction on wet roads, with the standard power split being 80% of drive sent to the front and 20% to the rear, however this does automatically adjust depending on grip levels. Various drive modes also mean you can adjust the weight of the steering from light (ideal for city driving) to heavier (better for motorways and twisty country roads).

Measuring up at roughly 4.63 metres long and 1.83 metres wide, it’s noticeably bigger than the A-Class, so you won’t enjoy the same nimble feel in narrow urban streets and multi-story car parks, yet the view out is improved and allows you to see the end of the long bonnet.

A 180-degree rear view camera is fitted as standard, as is a handy spread of parking sensors around the car, plus you can build on this with Parktronic Active Parking Assist – allowing a full camera view of the car’s surroundings and automatic parking.

If you want to take the GLB off-piste, the optional Off-Road Engineering Package (standard-fit in the UK) brings an additional drive mode for the rough stuff, gradient and inclination angle info on the media screen and downhill speed regulation that helps retain control when driving down steep hills.

Also fitted – in conjunction with the Multibeam LED headlamps – is the off-road light that’s permanently switched on up to 30mph and helps highlight obstacles in the rough terrain. Like most ‘off-roaders’ of this ilk, the GLB does have its limits, however they’re likely to be far higher than most customers will ever need.

Opt for the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic and handling is largely the same as the regular car, but with a few bits sharpened up. The brakes, for example, do an excellent job of scrubbing speed off into corners, while body control is tighter (where the body of the car leans less on the chassis through corners) and the steering feels a touch more direct. It’s not as much fun as an A 35, yet it is surprisingly capable and the idea of hurtling along in a seven-seat ‘off-roader’ is a childishly amusing one in itself.

Mercedes-Benz GLB safety

Given Mercedes' enviable safety record, it was no surprise that the GLB scored a full five-star rating when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2019. This is because the GLB shares a platform with the A-Class and B-Class, both cars that have achieved the maximum score.

Standard safety equipment on the GLB includes:

  • Active Brake Assist (a form of autonomous emergency braking)
  • Active Bonnet (improves pedestrian safety)
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist
  • Attention Assist (monitors the driver for drowsiness)
  • Speed Limit Assist
  • Cruise control
  • eCall emergency call button (built in SOS button, also capable of automatically contacting emergency services and alerting them to the vehicle’s location in the event of a serious accident)
  • Four Isofix points (two on five-seat models)

The optional Driving Assistance Pack (also standard on AMG Line Premium Plus) includes:

  • Active Distance Assist Distronic (similar to adaptive cruise control)
  • Active Steer Assist in conjunction with Active Lane Change Assist (automatically changes lane when Distronic is activated)
  • Active Speed Limit Assist in conjunction with Traffic Sign Assist (recognises road signs and optionally adjust the speed limit accordingly) and route-based speed adjustment (for example, reduces speed when Distronic is activated and vehicle is approaching a roundabout)
  • Evasive Steering Assist (vehicle is capable of automatically performing an evasive manoeuvre)
  • Active Blindspot Assist
  • Pre-Safe Plus (capable of detecting imminent rear collisions and applying brakes to reduce risk of injury)

Watch: Mercedes-Benz GLB Euro NCAP crash test

Verdict: should you buy a Mercedes-Benz GLB?

Yes, if you’re looking for a seven-seater that’s a little bit different to the rest. The Mercedes-Benz GLB is a convincing, if pricey, option, though. Space in the third row of seats is tighter than with a Skoda Kodiaq or Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, yet in return you get a car that’s nicer to drive, has a better interior and features the all-important Mercedes-Benz badge.

There’s also the small matter of the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic performance version. The novelty factor of a seven-seater that’s as fast as a hot-hatchback will be lost on many, yet for those interested it’s in a class of its own – even if the price might be rather eye-watering on paper.

One word of warning, however, it’s worth waiting to see our review of the GLB when fitted with standard passive suspension, as all international press drives were done on the adaptive suspension that won’t be available in the UK.

We reckon that you should be aiming for at least the AMG Line Premium model, as this comes as standard with the 10.25-inch infotainment display and digital cockpit, both of which make the cabin feel far more special than the standard 7.0-inch versions. Other goodies such as augmented reality sat-nav and upgraded sound system also come with AMG Line Premium.

As for engines, the 200 d will do everything you’re likely to require, although the 220 d may be better suited if you want that bit more flexibility.

Further reading:

Mercedes-Benz GLB (2020) rear view

Mercedes-Benz GLB SUV rivals