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The all new Mercedes-AMG GLB35 is the carmaker's latest hot and spicy compact SUV that has the driving dynamism and handling abilities of a hot hatch.

01 Dec 2019

The car you're looking at right now is the all new Mercedes-AMG GLB35. Like all AMGs, it's essentially a souped up version of the regular Mercedes-Benz GLB200 that we drove - the compact SUV that resembles its bigger and brawnier G-Class brethren.

That said, no, this car won't be winning any Dakar Rally races, even if it's off-road worthy and quick enough to get your license revoked in less than six seconds.

So yes, in case you're wondering, the GLB35 is strategically aimed at those who desire power and performance with a dose of practicality.

Is it as capable as the G-Class, then?

Behind the wheel is where you'll realise that the GLB35 is a car that's qualified to leave its own mark
While it can be said that the GLB isn't anywhere as capable as its bigger G-Class sibling, it's a car that is more than qualified in leaving its own mark. You see, the car you see here is Mercedes' latest attempt in creating a seven-seater high-performance compact SUV which, in this case, leaves the GLB in a segment where there are no proper competitors.

Still, if a comparison must be made, the peers that come closest to the GLB35 are the BMW X2 M35i and the Porsche Macan.

Does it drive as well?

The GLB takes 5.2 seconds to hit the 100km/h mark
While the two aforementioned cars are the best in business when it comes to driving dynamism and handling, the GLB35 doesn't lose out.

On the go, thanks to its 2.0-litre powerplant that shoots out 306bhp and 400Nm of twisting force, the Merc manages to complete the century sprint in a respectable 5.2 seconds. More than just figures, the GLB35 is able to go from corner to corner in a manner that comes across as a hot hatch rather than a compact SUV.

2.0-litre engine is capable of 306bhp and 400Nm
Of course, body roll is still inevitably evident, even if it's well-controlled. But where it falls short, it more than makes up for it with an accurate and precise steering that will convey whatever there is on the tarmac to the driver.

And when you decide to take it down several notches, the car manages to soak up all but the harshest road conditions, which should make it quite a comfortable car to haul your family around Singapore roads. Only a local road test will be able to confirm this assumption when the GLB35 arrives on our shores in the second half of 2020.

Clear, concise cabin

Steering wheel is the first thing that catches your eye
Enter the cabin and the steering is the first thing you'll notice. Big, sporty and grippy, it comes with two circular knobs that allow you to change between five driving modes - Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual - toggling through them affects throttle response, gearbox performance, steering weight and suspension settings.

The other knob on the left of the steering wheel alters between AMG Advance and Basic, the former allowing the car to drive with more dynamism without compromising on safety.

570 litres of boot space is available when the last row of seats isn't in use
Elsewhere, the cabin is sporty yet modern place to be in. Much like the regular GLB200 that we tested, it comes with two 10.25-inch MBUX infotainment screens that are controlled by the central touchpad, easing up space around the central console area.

Space wise, it's also much like the regular GLB model. In five-seater configuration, you will enjoy 570 litres of boot space. Knock them down and you'll be able to transport Ikea items via the 1,805 litres of hauling capacity with absolute ease.

It does look more aggressive, though

Two blacked out tailpipes at either end enhance the car's sporty disposition
The GLB will also transport you from point to point - in style, no less. It distinguishes itself apart from the GLB200 with what Mercedes dubs the Panamericana grille (vertical slats up front), larger 21-inch shoes (GLB200 has 19-inch) as well as a pair of black chrome round tail pipes.

Rear diffuser and spoiler round up the entire sporty package that's deserving of the '35' moniker.

Seems like it's the best of the lot

In a bid to close up the gaps between segments, many will argue that the GLB35 comes across as a redundant model, since the difference in size between this and the GLA and GLC seems negligible.

It may not be the fastest car to finish the century sprint in its lineup, but the GLB35 has several strong points that make it hard to fault
What's more, both the GLA45 and the GLC43 are faster cars, with the former being smaller and has better body control and the latter being bigger and more spacious.

However, the GLB35 is currently the only high-performance compact SUV that's available in the market right now that seats seven. Judged on its own, it has ample merits that far supersede the fact that it's not the fastest in its lineup of cars, which is really a small quibble.

With its good looks, unyielding dynamic on-road behaviour and a dose of practicality, the GLB35 is one car that's indeed hard to fault.

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