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The all new Mercedes-Benz GLB may be a compact SUV, but it has ample presence on the road that's befitting of a bigger and more hardcore vehicle.

27 Nov 2019


If this car - Mercedes-Benz's all new compact boxy SUV - doesn't leave you with a pile of feel-good emotion, then the car may well be destined for failure.

Simply because the new GLB, given its three-row bench setup, a luxurious badge and a spacious interior, has the best route to success. It possesses traits that are obviously endearing enough to justify any of its shortcomings, if any worth reporting about.

What about the drive then?

From tip to tip, the GLB measures 4,634mm long
So for the sake of digging deeper, I find myself behind the wheel of the GLB200, cracking the throttle wide open on the narrow roads of Andalusia, Spain, wondering to myself if the SUV can handle late braking before making the turn into the corner.

I decide to be sensible, of course. At 4,634mm long, 1,834mm wide and 1,659mm tall, the GLB qualifies to be a compact SUV, rivalling the likes of the Audi Q3, the BMW X1, the Range Rover Evoque and the Volvo XC40. But even then, the new Merc cannot defy the laws of physics.

Body roll is evident. No matter if you're going round long sweeping bends or short stubborn corners, you'll feel the need to go slower than you should, just to be safe.

That said, complaining about something like that about the GLB would be similar to lamenting how frustratingly cold Europe can be in November. There's nothing we can do about it, really. After all, the GLB200 is a boxy SUV that's focused on cruising, not bruising.

Cruiser, not a bruiser

The 1.3-litre engine shoots out 163bhp and 250Nm of torque to the front wheels
On that note, it's oddly amusing and satisfying to pilot the GLB200 at legal speeds. The humble 1.3-litre engine puts out 163bhp and 250Nm of torque to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which means it'll take some 9.1 seconds before it hits the 100km/h mark. But, seriously, who's counting?

Buyers of the GLB probably won't be, since their priority will be the comfort of their occupants - a trait the GLB won't disappoint. Thanks to its comfortable and forgiving setup, the Merc manages to just glide over broken tarmac and speed humps without sending all the unnecessary report back to the cabin.

Beauty is skin deep

Cabin is a modern and nice place to hang out in
Inside, you can expect the same two 10.25-inch screen layout as any of the carmaker's current compact-class models, such as the A-Class, B-Class, CLA and GLA.

It's a thing of beauty, the cabin. Not only is it modern and sleek, it makes you feel like every dollar you're paying for the Merc is well worth. Apart from the larger-than-life twin-screen layout, the cabin tops it off with high-quality materials and appealing aluminium finish on surfaces.

Oh, and you can talk to the car via the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) voice-activated interface. Need to make a phone call to your mother? Mentioning "Hey Mercedes, call Mum" would do the trick.

And it's functional too...

With a wheelbase of 2,829mm, there's sufficient legroom for second and third row passengers
Speaking of tricks, engineers of the Mercedes-GLB seem to have pulled off a trick of their own as well. Not only does the new SUV sport the longest wheelbase of 2,829mm in its segment, it comes with three-rows of seats, which puts Merc at the lead considering the GLB is currently the only compact SUV in its class to come with a three-row configuration.

But more than just about being a leader in its segment, the benches are all rather functional, with the last row being able to fit adults up to 1.68m tall. And because of its boxy dimensions, headroom is ample for the seven Asian adults.

In five-seater configuration, you'll get a deep 570 litres of hauling capacity, which is 40 litres and 65 litres more than what you'd get in the latest Audi Q3 and BMW X1 respectively. Fold the seats down and the space will significantly increase to 1,805 litres.

The 'Baby G' looks

The rear of the GLB has to be the nicest work from Mercedes-Benz yet
It's quite an intelligent move, this whole seven-seater thingamajig. As the industry starts filling itself up with SUVs, crossovers and electric vehicles, buyers are slowly swaying from looks to practicality. Even so, that's not to say the GLB looks bad.

The 'Baby G' as we would like to call the new Merc, puts on a boxy rugged design and an angular style inspired by its larger G-Class brethren. It's also decked out with an upright front end, an angular two-louvre grille and a set of modern-looking oblong headlights that wouldn't look out of place at an off-road gathering.

But, it has to be the back that's absolutely appealing. With a pair of nicely-designed oddly-angled taillights, sunken in tailgate and squared-off twin tailpipes, the GLB has a rear end that looks like nothing in its lineup. It manages to retain its strong-feathered character without having the need to lose any of the modernity needed to keep up with the strong pack.

The best of both worlds

There's ample feel-good quotient behind the wheel of the all new Mercedes-Benz GLB
As cliche as it may sound, the Mercedes-Benz GLB is the sort of compact SUV that embodies the luxury and practicality of larger models in its lineup and, likely, the price of smaller models.

In short, this car is the best of both worlds.

Yes, it may not be as hardcore yet timeless as the G-Class, but when push becomes shove and it comes down to price versus practicality, the GLB is one vehicle that strikes the perfect balance between rugged good looks and real-world advantages such as space and comfort.

So, really, if this car - Mercedes-Benz's all new compact boxy SUV - doesn't leave you with a pile of feel-good emotion, then the car may well be destined for failure.
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