New model would become Mercedes’ sixth crossover/SUV

When it comes to crossovers and SUVs, Mercedes already has a handful of them, from the GLA, GLC, GLE, GLS, and G-Class 4x4. That’s five different models, each with its own set of variants. But even if that amounts to more than 15 different versions, the German automaker is still adding one more model to the family, and according to Auto Express, it’s going to be called the GLB.

Predictably enough, the GLB will slot between the GLA and the GLC and will be offered as a small crossover that will eventually compete against the likes of the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3. The model will also fall under the B-Class family much the same way that the GLC is related to the C-Class and the GLE is a part of the E-Class. That lineage could play a part in how the GLB is packaged, although recent spy shots taken of the crossover appear to also show some styling similarities with the GLA. The close link between the two models shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially if the GLB ends up using an extended version of the GLA’s front-wheel drive platform.

Mercedes hasn’t offered any specifics on the matter, but the company’s R&D chief, Dr. Thomas Weber, made it clear at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show that the company isn’t shying away from building another crossover or SUV if there’s enough room for it within the company’s existing lineup. Given how in-demand these vehicles are on a global scale, the decision to add another to the family isn’t going to be hard to make.

Should the GLB get the green light from Mercedes, look for it to have its own variants, including gasoline, diesel, and a plug-in hybrid versions. A high-performance model, likely to be called the GLB 45 AMG, could also be included. A production timetable has not yet been made, but look for Mercedes to spend a few years developing it before launching it for public consumption. 2018 seems like a safe estimate for the car’s debut, although it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Mercedes holds off until 2019 or maybe even 2020 before officially launching the newest member of its ever-growing crossover/SUV family.

Note: Mercedes GLA pictured here.

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Why it matters

While this is somewhat unexpected news, those who know the inner workings of the auto industry shouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that Mercedes-Benz is adding yet another model to its growing lineup of crossovers and SUVs. The more accurate question would be if Mercedes is planning on using the entire alphabet to grow these models further. All joking aside, it’s easy to see why the German automaker is doing this and it all boils down to consumer demand.

The crossover/SUV segment is one of the most important segments in the auto industry these days. One can even make a case that it’s the most important one given how popular these models have become. This popularity isn’t even a regional thing. It’s a global phenomenon that doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of slowing down. Whether you’re in the U.S., Europe, China, or the rest of Asia, crossovers and SUVs have become the preferred vehicles of a lot of people for their appealing sportiness and all-around versatility. Consider that even premium brands like Bentley, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin are all joining the party. That speaks to the popularity of the segment and the potential for these companies to make huge sums of money off of it.

That’s why Mercedes is confident of rolling out another crossover/SUV into its own fold. If you think about it, the German automaker already has a lot of them. But with customers becoming more discerning with their choices, it’s imperative to give them more options to choose from, even if it means that a model like the GLB won’t have too many differences from the GLA other than a few bits like increased interior space and a more functional and usable trunk. A few decades ago, no automaker would’ve even bothered creating two different models knowing that it already had one that functioned almost similarly to the other.

But this is a special time for the crossover and SUV segment. Rationality takes a back seat to the promise of profit and you can’t blame companies like Mercedes for taking this approach. As long as there’s incredible demand for these cars, more models might as well equate to more chances of financial gains.

Source: AutoExpress

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