Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • 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.

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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.