Mercedes-Benz GLB Review

Andrew Brady

Written by

Andrew Brady

Mercedes-Benz GLB
Mercedes-Benz GLB

1/10

1 / 10

00/10
heycar rating
"Practical yet desirable premium SUV"
  • Launched: 2020
  • Crossover
  • Petrol, Diesel

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Quick overview

Pros

  • Trendy little SUV
  • Upmarket interior is very versatile
  • Diesel engines are efficient

Cons

  • Quite pricey compared to mainstream competitors
  • Only an occasional seven-seater
  • Seven-speed auto in GLB 200 is annoying

Overall verdict

On the inside

Driving

Cost to run

Prices and Specs

Overall verdict

"Unless you’re willing to spend mega money on a larger model, we don’t think there’s a more desirable seven-seat SUV on the market. The GLB has got a superb interior and - provided you avoid the AMG model - shouldn’t cost a fortune to run."

Mercedes GLB front

The Mercedes-Benz GLB is yet another SUV, but its clever packaging means it’s significantly smaller than seven-seaters like the Volvo XC90 and Mercedes-Benz GLS.


It’s based on the latest Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class. That’s good news as they’re two of our favourite hatchbacks, with superb interiors and strong engine line-ups. 


The GLB has showroom appeal in the bucketload. It looks really cool, almost like a miniature G-Class (the firm’s old-school Land Rover Defender alternative). There’s a huge three-pointed star on the grille, while high-spec models look particularly classy with big wheels and chrome trim.


Its boxy design translates to a load of interior space, too. Adults will be extremely well looked after in the front, enjoying comfortable seats and a high seating position. There’s loads of head and legroom, too, and it feels like a much bigger SUV.


Things are equally good in the middle row. A pair of adults won’t have any cause for complaint with regards to headroom, and the bench slides backwards and forwards should you need more legroom.


Most Mercedes-Benz GLB models come with seven seats but, if you really need to carry seven people regularly, you’d be better looking for a people carrier (however dull that sounds). The back seats pop up from the boot floor, meaning there’s basically no boot space with them in use. As a five-seater, the GLB’s a very practical SUV.


The engine range is made up of the usual petrol and diesel choices, all paired with a seven- or eight-speed automatic gearbox. We think the diesels suit the GLB well, with the 200d being our engine of choice. The more powerful 220d is tempting but isn’t available with seven seats.


Annoyingly the petrol GLB 200 is let down by its tardy transmission, using the seven- rather than eight-speed ’box. For that reason it’s best avoided. The Mercedes-AMG GLB 35, however, is a lot of fun - with enough pace to challenge the BMW's sporty X2 M35i SUV, and a great soundtrack to boot.


AMG model aside, the GLB refreshingly focuses on comfort rather than being fun to drive. That means it rides very well and feels composed in the corners, although there is a little more lean than you’d get in the A- or B-Class.


Ultimately, the Mercedes-Benz GLB is a very appealing family SUV. It’ll be practical enough for a lot of buyers and it feels extremely premium inside. The biggest issue is the price - the most desirable models cost more than £40,000 when new and, as it’s still a relatively recent model (and it’s in demand), we’re yet to see huge savings on the used market.

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLB right for you?

If you’re looking for a classy car that has room for all the family but don’t want (or need) a massive SUV, the Mercedes-Benz GLB should be high on your shortlist.

What’s the best Mercedes-Benz GLB model/engine to choose?

All GLB models come with seven seats as standard and even the entry level Sport model comes well equipped with 18-inch alloys, a digital instrument display and keyless go as well as Mercedes' Artico artificial leather seats. While this offers all most people will need, the sportier looking AMG Line is only £1500 more so that's the one we'd choose.  The extra equipment such as rear privacy glass and a 180 degree reversing camera make it worth it. 


The engine line-up is small but we'd go for the GLB 200 petrol unless you're covering big miles, in which case the GLB 200 d is best for economy.

What cars are similar to the Mercedes-Benz GLB?

The GLB is unique in that it has seven seats - you usually have to go for a bigger SUV for this. Competitors come in the form of five-seat premium SUVs like the BMW X1, Volvo XC40 and Audi Q3 as well as more mainstream alternatives like the Peugeot 5008 and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

On the inside

"Mercedes-Benz continues to knock it out of the park with its interiors. The GLB feels like a class act inside, with an abundance of soft-touch materials. It’ll look very familiar to anyone who’s sat in the beautifully appointed A-Class hatchback."

Mercedes GLB interior

There's also Mercedes-Benz’s excellent MBUX infotainment system, comprising two digital displays, each seven- or 10.25-inches in size depending on specification. It's a clear system to use with sharp graphics and lightning-quick responses. 


You can control it via touchscreen (it’ll take pinch and swipe gestures like a smartphone), or using the touchpad between the seats. We particularly like the augmented reality navigation, which will display graphics over an image of the road ahead to make it clear which direction you need to go in.


The cabin feels fairly spacious, thanks to its 100mm longer wheelbase compared to the A-Class. There’s loads of space for passengers in the middle row, thanks in part to a bench which can be slid backwards and forwards. Most models come with seven seats, but the third row really is for occasional use only. Adults will raise eyebrows at the idea of clambering into the back seats. Kids will love it.


If you do use the rearmost seats, there’s practically no boot. They’re easily dropped, though, and when used as a five-seater the GLB is a practical crossover with 570 litres of luggage space.


Driving

"While diesel is out of fashion at the moment, we reckon the GLB’s at its best with a diesel engine. The entry-level diesel is the 200d, and this’ll be sufficient for most. It’s a 2.0-litre engine with 150PS, which accelerates the GLB to 62mph in 9.0 seconds flat. Opting for the same engine with four-wheel drive adds a third of a second to the acceleration time, but you’re unlikely to notice the difference in reality."

Mercedes GLB rear

If you’d like a bit more power, the GLB 220d is a 2.0-litre diesel packing 190PS and covers 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. This feels pretty quick and well up the job of hauling seven passengers along in comfort.


For those who cover mainly urban miles, you’d be better with the front-wheel drive GLB 200 petrol. It uses a 1.3-litre petrol which, although it sounds small, provides a useful 163PS. It does need working harder than the diesel to make progress, but it’ll cover 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds. Its seven-speed automatic gearbox lets it down slightly, though - it hesitates more than the eight-speed transmission used in the rest of the range.


If you want a petrol with a bit more oomph, look for the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35. This is quite pricey (and you’ll want to take out a loyalty card for your local petrol station), but it’s a lot of fun. It’ll accelerate to 62mph in 5.2 seconds which is hot-hatch quick, and has a great soundtrack to boot. 


No matter which engine you go for, the GLB is easier to fit in tight parking spaces than most (bigger) seven-seat SUVs, and that high seating position helps with visibility. Ride comfort is very good, and the GLB 35 comes with adaptive suspension which means - even with its big wheels - you can select a softer drive mode which isn’t too jittery.


You’ll notice the GLB’s high centre of gravity in the bends, particularly if you try to drive the 35 AMG in the same manner you would an A 35 AMG. But it feels assured, and the steering is well judged - not too heavy around town; not too light out of it.


How much does it cost to run?

"If you cover lots of miles and want a frugal GLB, look for one of the diesels. The GLB 200d is the most efficient, returning up to 49.6mpg in official fuel economy tests. This drops to 47.9mpg with 4Matic all-wheel drive. The GLB 220d 4Matic matches this figure."

Mercedes GLB on road

For mainly urban drivers, we’d recommend the GLB 200. This is pretty economical, returning up to 40.4mpg. And if you want the performance of the GLB 35 AMG, you’ll pay for it at the pumps - expect to see up to 32.5mpg.


You’ll pay a flat rate of £150 a year in car tax, but pricier models are subject to an extra £325 a year in premium tax. This lasts for the first five years (after the first year’s registration fee). It applies to all models with a list price of more than £40,000 - so even if you paid less than this, you may have to fork out each month.


Prices, versions and specification

"The Mercedes-Benz GLB range starts with the Sport model. Buy one of these and you’re unlikely to feel like you’ve missed out. Highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats (in part-Artico leather), a reversing camera and two seven-inch digital displays (one the touchscreen infotainment system, the other a digital instrument display). It also gets a long list of driver-assist systems, including Attention Assist, Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Assist. That’s a lot of assists."

Mercedes GLB side profile

The AMG Line looks a bit fancier, with its 19-inch AMG alloy wheels, various bodywork flourishes and privacy glass. Inside, the part-(faux) leather seats now get contrasting red stitching, and there’s some fancy carbon-effect trim. The steering wheel is finished in Nappa leather with galvanised gearshift paddles, while you get stainless steel pedals. There’s also an armrest fitted in the rear.


Above the AMG Line is the AMG Line Premium. This comes with keyless entry and ambient lighting with no fewer than 64 colours to choose from. The Parking package is standard (with a reversing camera, Active Parking Assist system and front/rear parking sensors), as is the fancy augmented reality navigation. There’s a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, a premium sound system, wireless charging and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.


As its name suggests, the AMG Line Premium Plus with Driving Assistance comes with the Driving Assistance package. This includes features like Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Braking Assist, Active Distance Assist, Active Steering Assist and the exit warning function. Basically, it can do pretty much anything but drive the car for you.


Other features of the AMG Line Premium Plus with Driving Assistance (yes, that’s its full name) include multibeam LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof and electrically adjustable front memory seats with lumbar support.


Topping the range is the sporty Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 Premium Plus. The exterior features 20-inch AMG alloy wheels painted in matt black, AMG Night package, multibeam LED headlamps with Adaptive Highbeam Assist and a panoramic sunroof. The interior is defined by sport seats in leather, and an AMG Performance steering wheel in nappa leather as well as AMG brushed stainless steel sports pedals with rubber studs. Keyless start, the Driving Assistance package and the MBUX multimedia system all come as standard.


Mercedes-Benz GLB cars for sale on heycar

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