Mercedes-Benz’s small seven-seat SUV is one of Singapore’s hot cars for 2020 – here’s everything we know about it so far
Malaga, Spain –
UPDATE: 27 November 2019: We’ve test driven both the GLB 200 and AMG GLB 35 models, read the reviews for a more in-depth info – or watch our video review that sums it all up.
Mercedes-Benz is on track to be the best-selling luxury brand in Singapore, and third best-selling brand overall, in 2019, but it already has some ammo in the breach for next year.
Watch More: Check out our video review of the GLB 200 and GLB 35 AMG below, where we cover everything a prospective buyer is wondering – and we answer the question of whether it can fit seven real adults too!
The GLB, a small seven-seat SUV, looks to be its next big seller, since it combines the fashionable crossover bodystyle with the flexibility of a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), with the coveted three-pointed star on the front.
CarBuyer’s now at the international debut of the GLB in Malaga, Spain, and while the final review is on embargo and will only be out November 27, 2019, here is all the other information we have on the GLB at this time.
It’s Mercedes-Benz’s eighth compact model (after the A-Class hatch, A-Class saloon/LWB, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA) and also its eighth SUV (after the GLA, GLC, GLC Coupe, GLE, GLE Coupe, GLS, G-Wagen).
Mercedes-Benz GLE – two sizes up from a GLB, but notice the familial resemblance?
Like the new CLA and A-Class, it’s based on the updated MFA small-car platform. As a small seven-seat SUV from Mercedes-Benz, it looks dead set to be a strong seller in Singapore and around the world.
“SUV models and compacts are important volume segments for us: Every third Mercedes-Benz is now an SUV, every fourth a compact car. A compact SUV like the GLB therefore combines all the success factors of our two highest-volume segments. The GLB also boasts some special features which we have not previously offered our customers in this segment, for example seven seats,” says Britta Seeger, the Daimler Board of Management member responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing and Sales.
Mercedes-Benz Singapore has confirmed that we’ll be getting two gasoline models, the GLB 200 and semi-hot AMG GLB 35 model, scheduled for a launch in the first half of 2020.
The former has the now familiar 1.33-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine (seen in the A 200 and CLA 200, for two examples) with 163hp, and the latter, the 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine with 306hp as seen on the A 35 AMG.
Since the GLB slots in between the GLA and the GLC we reckon the price will be at least S$180,000 with COE. The GLA starts from around S$170k with COE, while the GLC begins at approximately S$215k with COE, so a S$180-190k with COE price for the GLB seems likely. For the AMG 35 model, a price in the mid S$200k with COE bracket is our guess.
The official trim lines offered overseas are Style, Progressive, and AMG Line.
As usual it’s too early to confirm exactly which trim variants and what standard equipment will be coming to Singapore, but we expect, in Mercedes-Benz Singapore’s usual fashion, for us to skip the Style models, and for the base model to be the Progressive version, and the sportier, more expensive variant to be the AMG Line model.
The Progressive model will have the front and rear aluminium ‘bash plates’, contrast fenders and plastic lower door guards with a chrome strip, a dual-louvre grille and 18-inch wheels, chrome inlays, aluminium roof rails, ‘spiral look’ interior trim panels, leather-and-fabric seats.
An Edition 1 package is also offered – it looks similar to the Progressive model but has orange stripe wheels in 20-inch size, more black gloss elements all around, and an interior with ‘Bahia brown’ theme.
The AMG Line model is recognisable by the diamond-pattern grille, additional body styling elements in gloss black (front and rear), and larger wheels (19-inch 5x twin spoke), AMG pedals, a nappa leather sport steering wheel, sport seats in leather and microfibre, carbon-styled interior trim.
Internationally, the GLB is offered in both five- and seven-seat models, but only the latter will be available in Singapore.
The interior will replicate the newest compact Mercedes models – for Singapore that means all the trimmings including the dual 10.25-inch display screens, MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) with extensive voice control capabilities.
As the chart shows, the GLB is significantly larger than the GLA in all aspects, and that’s reflected in the styling as well. The GLB takes plenty of cues from its bigger brothers – the seven-seat GLE and GLS models – in terms of silhouette and outright boxiness, in contrast to the lower, almost hatchback-like GLA.
Mercedes-Benz itself notes that at 2,829mm the GLB’s wheelbase is the largest of its current crop of compact models, and it also claims that people of up to 1.68-metres tall are able to fit in the third row of seats.
We’ll update our story again soon when we’ve had a look at the car itself, but from the photos and dimensions, it looks like the GLB will only be able to fit adults for short journeys.
UPDATE: We’ve test driven the GLB 200 and GLB 35 AMG and found that the car can indeed fit seven, regular-sized adults. Check out our review links for more!
Mercedes isn’t making a seven-seat version of the B-Class to head off BMW’s successful 2 Series Gran Tourer, and the GLB is the reason why.
Mercedes claims plenty of daily usefulness with GLB, and not just because it can hold seven. The second row has 40/20/40 split folding with eight-stage adjustable backrests, they can also be shifted forwards and aft by up to 140mm – 90mm forwards for more cargo space or third-row space, and 50mm backwards for more legroom.
The seven-seat model has boot space of 500 to 1,055-litres, which is marginally less than the five-seat model at 570 to 1,155-litres, and it can fit objects of up to 2.66-metres long (2.67 for the five-seater).
Mercedes does claim that the GLB has lots of kid-friendly features built in. It can fit four child seats, while the rear of the centre console, facing the second row has a 230V socket and USB-C ports, even for the third row. There’s an optional tablet holder available too.
Its MBUX voice control system, activated by ‘Hey Mercedes’ recognises the last voice used – so kids shouting the keyword from the back for kicks will be ignored.
Then the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 model is for you. It has essentially the same drivetrain as the A 35 and CLA 35 models.
It’s recognisably more aggressive looking than the standard AMG Line model because of the big, toothy AMG-style grille with vertical slats, although the aero/body kit looks almost identical in front and rear – the other key difference is round tailpipes, rather than ovoid-rectangular ones. Bigger four-pot front brakes with 350mm discs are the other giveaway.
A 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo engine with 306hp and 400Nm and an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the car does 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds with a 250km/h top speed. The ‘AMG Performance 4MATIC’ all-wheel drive system allows torque to be shifted from 100 percent to the front wheels (during normal, efficient driving for example) to 50:50.
You might wonder: Mercedes-Benz already has a small-segment SUV, the GLA, so where does the GLB fit?
Notice how much less boxy and upright the GLA is compared to the GLB
The GLA won’t be replaced by the GLB, and there will be a new, second-gen model out soon. But it will be the stylish, more lifestyle-oriented small SUV, while the GLB will be slightly larger and with a more practical focus.
“In future, the family of compacts from Mercedes-Benz will comprise eight models, because there will be a successor to the current GLA. The two complement each other perfectly: The GLB is the most functional and most spacious representative of our compact class family, whereas the new GLA will be positioned as the sporty brethren for lifestyle-oriented customers,” says Seeger.
It’s not an unprecedented move – Audi has done exactly the same thing with its Q2 and Q3. The new Audi Q3 has grown larger, more spacious, and gained practical features such as adjustable second-row seats. The tradeoff is that, like the Q2, the GLA may become less expensive in comparison.
As you’ve seen, the GLB is almost the same length as the GLC, which is Mercedes-Benz’s medium-large SUV that competes with the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. However, Mercedes itself notes that despite the size similarity, the GLC is still technically a class above the GLB.
“The GLC and GLB might not be all that different, but they certainly are in terms of the wishes of their respective target audiences, they are mid-sized SUVs, that is to say, they’re positioned a whole segment higher. In this segment, customers place even more value on smooth running and ride quality,” says Seeger.
The GLC, like the C-Class and E-Class, is based on the MRA platform where the engine is longitudinally mounted, and refinement is a step higher than the MFA compact car families – this is true even of the new MFA2 cars as well.