A extra reasonably priced three-row luxurious SUV with a Mercedes badge on its nostril – may this be the right recipe for India?
Three years in the past, we have been in Utah within the USA to drive the then-new Mercedes-Benz GLS. The towering 7-seater was going to be, fairly actually, the subsequent massive factor for the German model, and that may be very true in India, the place, regardless of its Rs 1 crore-plus price ticket, it stays one of the vital fashionable fashions. It even set a new gross sales file this 12 months.
That’s not a shock, although, is it? It employs a successful combo of SUV highway presence, 7-seat practicality and a shiny three-pointed star on the nostril. So, what occurs whenever you scale that formulation down a few sizes, and a few worth factors? Not solely ought to it work; it ought to work even higher.
Bluff, sq. fascia provides it that conventional SUV attraction.
It was solely becoming, then, that Mercedes selected the identical occasion in Utah to take the wraps off its first-ever GLB – an extended, taller, boxier, bolder, 7-seat spinoff of the GLA compact luxurious SUV. It virtually appeared like an entry-level Mercedes SUV made with India in thoughts. So, you possibly can think about our shock once we learnt it most likely wouldn’t be launched right here in any respect.
However generally good issues take time, and on December 2, higher three years late than by no means, we’re lastly going to get the GLB in India. And to get an early style of what’s in retailer, we’ve come to Abu Dhabi to pattern the tiny three-row.
Mercedes Benz GLB: Exterior design
Having had a poke across the freshly unveiled automobile in 2019, and seen it evolve into the electrical EQB we drove in July this 12 months, we have already got a reasonably stable concept of what to anticipate from the GLB, however there are nonetheless some attention-grabbing issues to notice. For one, although it’s primarily based on the A-Class and GLA’s compact, front-wheel-drive MFA2 structure, that is by far the most important automobile in that household. Actually, at 4,634mm, it’s virtually so long as the higher-positioned GLC, and it’s even taller, at 1,662mm, which bodes effectively for inside house.
The GLB is predicated on the identical front-wheel-drive MFA2 structure as the present GLA and A-Class
There’s an virtually G-Wagen-like bluffness to the nostril (not like its EQB counterpart that switched to a smoother, extra aerodynamic entrance finish), with a flat bonnet, sq. headlamps and the signature Mercedes SUV grille with the large star at its centre. Even on this AMG Line spec, with its sporty bumper garnish and 19-inch alloy wheels, there’s a enough quantity of ruggedness to it.
19-inch AMG wheels shared with GLA look good and sporty.
In profile and on the rear, the GLS connection is most obvious, with a glance that’s stretched, however not van-like, thanks in a giant option to the large, plastic-clad wheel arches, the kink within the big window space on the C-pillar, and the upright tailgate. It’s the right antidote for individuals who really feel the GLA’s look errs too far on the facet of crossover.
Excessive-res, twin-screen MBUX infotainment is among the slickest round.
Step inside and the dashboard is much extra just like that of the GLA, however even right here they’ve made a delicate change within the type of chunky metallic trim items on the dashboard and door grabs that give off a harder look. These apart, you get the identical well-crafted dashboard, with twin 10.25-inch MBUX screens serving your infotainment and instrumentation wants. Beneath them, the metallic, turbine-like AC vents return with vibrant ambient lighting hidden of their body; in reality, there’s ambient lighting on virtually each seen fringe of the inside. And if you happen to’re questioning the place the traditional Mercedes door-mounted seat controls are, our take a look at automobile had guide seats, however we’ll get powered seats in India.
Mercedes Benz GLB: Inside and options
Talking of seats, it’s those aft of the driving force that outline the GLB. It’s value noting that that is nonetheless a comparatively compact automobile, so packaging needed to be extraordinarily well-thought-out to conceivably match three rows in right here. The center row is good and excessive set, providing you with view ahead, headroom is greater than ample right here because of the tall roof, and sure, that can probably embrace a panoramic sunroof. Seat consolation is fairly good too, with beneficiant cushioning, however expectedly it’s not the widest, and the bottom is sort of brief, that means thigh assist isn’t nice. The center passenger may even should cope with a slight hump within the backrest, because it split-folds in a 40:20:40 configuration.
However this must also provide you with a clue to how versatile issues are right here. The center row, after all, split-folds, nevertheless it additionally slides forwards and backwards; extra on that in a second. You possibly can even recline the backrest to various levels for added consolation, and totally reclined and pushed all the way in which again, the house on supply is greater than sufficient to maintain the chauffeur-driven pleased.
Panoramic sunroof actually accentuates the GLB’s size.
As you’ve most likely guessed, with the second row set this manner, the third row is rendered just about ineffective, however we’re pleased to report that, with a little bit of adjustment, you’ll find a cheerful compromise. Slid to its center place, a six-footer can nonetheless match within the second row with affordable consolation, whereas a small grownup (like myself) or a baby, can sit behind them. Headroom and width within the final row will not be a lot, and also you’ll be in a knees-up place, however there’s place in your toes below the second row, and knee room is just not as unhealthy as you may suppose; I had virtually two inches between my knees and the seat again. There’s even USB-C ports and cupholders again right here.
Nonetheless, stepping into and out of the third row is a little bit of an effort, as a result of whereas the second row slides and folds, it doesn’t tumble ahead totally like in, say, a Toyota Fortuner. This leaves you with a really slender house for ingress and egress, and a tall, awkward step up from the skin. Like many 7-seaters, boot house with all three rows up isn’t a complete lot – simply 130 litres on this case, so actually, it’s a alternative between passengers or baggage. You get a sizeable 500-plus litres with the final row folded, so an airport run for 5 shouldn’t be a difficulty.
Mercedes Benz GLB: Engine, gearbox and driving impressions
Regardless that it’s a CBU import, Mercedes-Benz can be launching the GLB with the identical powertrains because the GLA. This implies the 220d diesel in 2WD and AWD guises, as effectively a 200 petrol with 2WD, which is what we’re driving at this time. It’s value remembering, nevertheless, that the ‘200’ on this automobile isn’t the two.0-litre engine as within the GLC, nor 1.5-litre mild-hybrid as within the C-Class, however as an alternative the 1.3-litre unit discovered within the different MFA automobiles.
163hp 1.Three turbo-petrol shared with GLA; is refined however not the strongest.
Its 163hp and 250Nm, very similar to they did within the GLA and A-Class, really feel enough within the GLB too, if not outright sturdy. It’s a really refined engine, supplied you don’t rev it out too laborious, and at metropolis speeds, at the very least, it really works effectively. Serving to is the 7-speed DCT that, once more, works effectively in relaxed driving. It may be a bit hesitant if you happen to push it laborious, and you’ll really feel the engine’s lack of displacement at freeway speeds. What we didn’t get to check, and that is value contemplating given the GLB’s added practicality, is the way it works when the automobile is totally loaded up. All in all, except your utilization is primarily city, we suspect the 190hp, 400Nm diesel can be higher suited to the job.
Tall form, longer wheelbase lend it a extra relaxed method than low-slung GLA.
You’ll instantly discover that the driving place is increased and extra historically SUV than the low-slung GLA’s, and that routinely places you in a much less racy driving mindset. Compact it might be, however its lengthy, tall proportions name for a bit extra restraint. After all, it’s way more agile and manoeuvrable than a full-size SUV like a GLE or GLS, with a steering that’s gentle and direct, and physique actions which are saved in examine. The roads within the UAE are largely straight and easy, so a full analysis of the experience and dealing with must wait, however we are able to let you know the 19-inch wheels and tyres (the identical ones as on the AMG Line GLA) do trigger a little bit of a thunk within the cabin over sharp pace bumps and lane markers.
Mercedes Benz GLB: verdict
As we stated up entrance, the GLB formulation appears so good, not only for India however a variety of markets, that it’s shocking different luxurious carmakers haven’t carried out a small 7-seat SUV but. The closest we’ve had is the Land Rover Discovery Sport, and that’s a complete section above. However then, one factor that would derail this successful formulation is the value. Since it’s being introduced in as a CBU import, the GLB’s worth is prone to be significantly increased than the present established section of ‘compact’ luxurious SUVs, at round Rs 60 lakh-65 lakh, ex-showroom. This makes it a full Rs 15 lakh greater than the GLA, and virtually as a lot as at this time’s GLC. Nonetheless, we hear the next-gen GLC coming to India in 2023 will transfer up in worth significantly, giving the GLB a bit extra respiration room.
On account of it being a CBU, the GLB can be significantly costlier than the GLA in India.
Nonetheless, there’s no escaping the very fact it will likely be a really expensive SUV and that, together with the small volumes it’s prone to be imported in, will make it a distinct segment providing. At its core, the GLB is a really interesting product, with a high-quality, well-equipped inside, nice refinement and good-looking seems to be, and for some, the added practicality of seven seats may simply make it definitely worth the stretch.