GLB plugs a rare hole in Benz’ range

Looking at Mercedes-Benz’s GL line-up and taking into consideration its A, B, C, E and S nomenclature, one would not be mistaken that there was a hole in that area of the GL line-up between A and C. Lo and behold, no more — witness Mercedes’ all-new GLB compact SUV set to rival BMW's X1, the Audi Q3 and Land Rover Evoque on SA streets later this year.

Expect a 120kW 250Nm 137g/km CO2 turbo petrol 1.3-litre GLB200, a 160kW 350Nm 169g/km 2-litre turbo petrol GLB250, 
and two 2-litre four-pot turbodiesels — the 110kW 325Nm 137g/km GLB200d and an all-wheel-drive 140kW 400Nm 169g/km GLB220d 4Matic. GLB200 gets a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, while rest have an eight-speed gearbox.

GLB220d 4Matic comes with an optional Off-Road Engineering Package including Multibeam LED headlamps, hill assistance and an additional off-road driving mode including an infotainment display showing gradient, incline angle and technical settings. An AWD plug-in hybrid with electric rear drive and ‘a significant’ electric-only range and the electric EQB will follow.

The eighth new model in Benz' compact range will come in both five and seven-seat layouts and its maker promises class-leading family versatility. Based on Mercedes’ MFA II platform, the newcomer retains the upright lines of the Shanghai Concept GLB shown in April, albeit a little softer in some respects.

21mm longer, 56mm narrower and 20mm taller than GLC, the GLB has a 100mm longer wheelbase than the B-Class MPV and boasts McPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension with optional adaptive damping, the GLB retains a square, angular style inspired by the larger G-Class, including short overhangs at the front and rear, and a new headlight design. Multibeam LED headlights and LED for lights are both available as options.

Inside, Mercedes-Benz’ widescreen cockpit gets a unique aluminium lower element with a single digital panel housing instruments and infotainment controlled by the latest MBUX interface. Offering best in class front seat headroom and rear legroom and a significantly larger boot than both Q3 and X1 expandable to 1,755 litres via 40:20:40 folding second-row seats in five-seat form, the 7-seater gains two easy entry last row seats that can be folded into the floor.

Expect GLB in SA in time to plan your annual holiday around it this year...