Like many SUVs now, the second row slides fore and aft on its own set of rails, so if the third row is folded flat and not in use, you can get plenty of legroom for the backseat passengers.
Once you deploy the two third row seats by pulling up on the straps from the boot however, you’ll need to slide the second row forwards to gain some semblance of legroom at the very back.
On hot days, it can also feel quite warm at the rear end of the car as there are no supplementary aircon vents for the third row. Also in the right rear seat, the second row’s seat rails mean slightly awkward foot positioning.
Mercedes’ official line is that people taller than 169cm should use the second row, but you can fit people taller than that if they don’t sit bolt upright.
In other words, it’s a car that’s fine for five adults and up to seven for short trips. But if there are only two occupants in the car, all the back seats can be folded flat and you get a very spacious ‘van’.
Boot space with the third row stowed is a big 570 litres, and in van mode it stretches out to 1,805 litres. Mercedes doesn’t quote a capacity with the third-row deployed, but it’s tight, certainly less than 200-litres by our reckoning.
This class of car is highly versatile without feeling staid and conservative, and we think that’s their real appeal.
The GLB 200 is powered by a 1.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine with 163 horsepower. When driven conservatively with a light right foot, we found that it’s actually very economical, and on expressway cruises the GLB 200 came very close to matching the claimed average fuel economy of 6.4l/100km according to the gauges.
This is rarer than you might expect, as the fuel economy specifications of every car are set under controlled conditions and almost always record better figures than out in actual real world use.
The car does feel quite punchy at low engine speeds but at higher revs it can sound strained. But there are seven gears in the automatic transmission, so there’s very little reason for the car to rev hard, especially since peak engine torque of 250Nm comes on at just above idle and holds up to 4,000rpm. The 0 to 100km/h sprint is accomplished in a modest 9.1 seconds, which is fair enough for a car of this calibre.
It may not be very fast in a straight line, but it does drive very well and is capable of blasting through turns with more speed than you might at first think possible. It’s no appliance car that’s for sure, and the ride is so well tuned that it’s comfortable over bumpy roads yet still very stable while carrying speed through corners. It soaks up speed bumps without complaint too.
Curiously, it feels slightly clumsy to reverse park, in the way that the rear end doesn’t swing around as much as you’d expect for a car of this size. It’s either the steering geometry or longer wheelbase that’s causing this effect, but the parking camera is so good that it matters little in the grand scheme of things.
At $182,888 with COE, the GLB isn’t mainstream affordable for sure, but in the lux segment there’s no denying that this is a very well-priced car, especially if you really like the idea of owning a car with a three-pointed star on the nose.
The slightly larger BMW X3 starts from around $200k, but crucially, doesn’t have the option of seven seats. BMW has a seven-seat MPV, the 2 Series Gran Tourer. It’s been on the market for some time, but that also means it’s far less expensive than the GLB.
To talk of Kia’s new Sorento in the same breath as a Mercedes-Benz may seem odd, but the South Korean brand is really that good these days. It’s larger, more powerful, costs less, and packed with astonishingly good tech.
The Mazda CX-8 is in a similar vein, and drives in a distinctively Mazda-like fashion, which means it’s engaging enough for the keen driver but still mighty comfortable.
Yet, there’s no escaping the fact that the GLB 200 is hitting all the right notes for the current car buying climate in Singapore, with its economical but powerful engine, configurable seven-seat cabin, reasonable size and road presence. The third row does have compromises, but we suspect most buyers will happily overlook that due to the gleam of the star on the front.
|Engine||1,332cccc, inline 4, turbocharged|
|Power||163hp at 5500rpm|
|Torque||250Nm at 1620-4000rpm|
|Top Speed||9.1 seconds|
|VES Band / CO2||B / 145g/km|
|Agent||Cycle & Carriage|
|Price||$182,888 with COE|
|Verdict||A Mercedes badge, seven seats, tough looks, and priced under S$200k, it’s a near unbeatable combo for family-sized motoring|