Mercedes-Benz GLB review, first drive - more than a 3-row GLA?
Mercedes-Benz India is on a roll, sales are at an all-time high, their new business practices are working in their favour and there is a slew of new products being unleashed at regular intervals. Mercedes currently has the largest portfolio of products available to Indian consumers compared to anyone else in the market. And their latest spans both ICE and EV in the form of the GLB and the EQB respectively. First off the GLB, as that forms the base for the electric powertrain as well.
The GLB will be available in both petrol and diesel powertrains. The petrol is the 1.3-litre 4-cylinder mill that is widely used not just by Mercedes but also by other manufacturers that co-developed the M282 engine, namely Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi. Housed in the GLB 200, the petrol delivers 163PS of peak power with 250Nm. Mercedes claims this engine is good to do a sub-10-second 0-100kph run, and I presume this is simply to cater to the NCR market where diesels aren't as popular anymore because of the 10-year regs.
The OM 654 DE 20, one of the most powerful 4-cylinder diesels that can be found anywhere is the showstopper. With 190PS of peak power and 400NM of max torque, this is a powerful diesel, the twin-scroll turbo adding more juice good enough for a scorching 0-100kph time of just 7.7 seconds. A 4-cylinder diesel, that quickly, boggles the mind. Mercedes have yet to reveal what the efficiency numbers are but I guess this will come up at the time of launch. Though from what I saw on the live efficiency meter, the GLB can easily cover over 620kms on a full tank. The one drawback to this engine is that it is quite audible inside the cabin. This is probably because the GLB sits just above the GLA, and its luxury trappings aren't as noise-smothering as in the GLC. This engine is matched with the 8-speed automatic transmission and you have paddle shifters behind the steering wheel if you like manual mode and 4 drive modes to choose from.
I drove the diesel, and sitting above the front axle, it does provide some advantages to the GLB. One of those is the weight on the front end, which helps the tyres up front stay glued to the tarmac. You do feel the weight when you're steering, there is a slight ponderous feeling at slower speeds, but slip the GLB 220d into sport mode and keep the revs high and things get a lot more interesting. The GLB despite being a 7-seater, with a wheelbase slightly shorter than the GLC, can manage to carve corners with a lot of confidence. The all-wheel drive powertrain can take full credit for bringing in the cornering confidence. That however is not its only skill, Mercedes claims the GLB will be quite competent off-road too. The suspension though isn't very stiff, you feel it bounce, especially when you roll off narrower low height speed breakers but it controls roll and pitches quite nicely when on the move. Ride quality is par for the course, you don't feel much inside the cabin and it's a calm comfortable space to be in.
Talking about space, the GLB as I mentioned has a slightly shorter wheelbase than the GLC, and yet space is better managed inside the cabin. The GLB houses three rows of seats inside the cabin, and with the middle row split 40-20-40 it can also be adjusted for length. However, no matter how far ahead you take the middle row, space in the third row is exclusively for children, under 10 preferably. For most times though when you don't require all three rows, its best to fold the last one and utilise the 400 plus litres of boot space.
Upfront the cabin is well specced, but in the interests of keeping the costs within check, you get far fewer features than you would in a Hyundai. One of those is the lack of ventilated seats, a feature that's quickly spreading across vehicles much, much more affordable than the Merc. Nonetheless, you get connected tech, a 5-star NCAP safety rating, 7-airbags and all-wheel drive. That would be good value but since the launch is still a couple of days away, I'll reserve my opinion.
Overall the GLB is exactly what larger families looking for a premium luxury 3-row, 7-seat SUV is. It's also a solid SUV to drive and with Mercedes upping the residual values for all of its products, this makes the purchase even more attractive. That said, I'd suggest you click the link here to read about the EQB, the GLBs electric-powered sibling. It's quite unlike the GLB and brings a whole new dimension to the segment.
Starts Rs 42.1 Lakhs
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