Merc’s baby G-Class is almost as big as the GLC

The Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB is a concept vehicle that previews a new crossover from the German company. As the name suggests, the GLB is the SUV equivalent of the B-Class compact; thus the production model will slot between the existing GLA and GLC, corresponding to the A-Class and C-Class, respectively. The concept vehicle was unveiled at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show in near-production-ready form.

Notably larger than the GLA, the Concept GLB is actually almost as big as the GLC. But the crossover stands out through its boxy design cues. Although it’s not the baby G-Class it was rumored at first, it’s notably boxier than the coupe-styled GLA, and it also feels more utilitarian than the GLC. The concept features a production-ready design, it’s equipped with technology already available in Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and comes with a production four-cylinder engine under the hood. Let’s find out more about it in the review below.

Exterior

  • G-Class-inspired features
  • Boxy design
  • Rectangular headlamps
  • Vertical tailgate
  • Rising beltline
  • Off-road tires
  • Conceptual wheels
  • Flood lights
  • Mostly production-ready
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The B-Class is almost as boxy as the G-Class, Mercedes' most iconic SUV

The Concept GLB is a familiar sight, mostly because we’ve seen most of its design cues in spy shots of the production model prior to the show car’s debut in April 2019. Originally described as a baby G-Class, the B-Class is indeed almost as boxy as Mercedes’ most iconic SUV.

While larger SUVs like the GLC, GLE, and even the GLS have streamlined headlamps and engine hoods, the Concept GLB features rectangular LED lights up front and a hood that looks like a plain lid. Although not as simple as the G-Class’, it reminds me of early SUVs defined by angular lines. The front grille and bumper look very familiar though, borrowing from existing Mercedes-Benz SUVs. The grille features the already trademark horizontal slats on each side of the star emblem, the fog lamps in the bumper are placed in fake vents with a honeycomb pattern, while the center grille is thin for a sporty look. The chrome under guard is unique though, and I don’t think it will make it on the production model.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB
- image 835226
Onto the roof, the Concept GLB features LED spotlights

Onto the sides, the Concept GLB borrows a bit from the GLC, especially from the nose toward the C-pillars. Things change radically beyond this point though, as the GLB’s rear section is boxier than any other Mercedes SUV save for the G-Class. It also has a slightly rising beltline that features a notable kink toward the rear, which results in a narrower rear quarter window. The wheels are obviously conceptual, featuring intricate spoke designs and BF Goodrich all-terrain tires. Onto the roof, the Concept GLB features LED spotlights in the front and in the rear, black roof rails, and a roof box.

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This compact crossover is 182 inches long, which places it well above the entry-level GLA

The GLB’s rear end is very generic, as it sports Merc’s latest horizontal, two-piece taillights and a bumper design we’ve seen on other vehicles. The tailgate is a bit different though, mostly because it’s almost vertical, a notable departure from the GLA and GLC. Again, it’s not as boxy as the G-Class, but the GLB looks more utilitarian than any other crossover from Mercedes-Benz from behind.

But how big is the GLB? This compact crossover is 182 inches long, which places it well above the entry-level GLA. Specifically, the GLB is 8.1 inches longer, three inches wider, and a whopping 16.2 inches taller. By comparison, the GLA looks like a sporty hatchback. This massive difference isn’t surprising when we compare the GLB to the GLC. The concept is only 1.3 inches shorter and only 0.4 inches narrower. The GLB’s wheelbase is also only 2.1 inches shorter. On the flipside, the GLB is 10 inches taller than the GLC, which speaks volumes of its boxy, G-Class-inspired look.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLB vs. GLA vs. GLC
Mercedes-Benz GLB Mercedes-Benz GLA Mercedes-Benz GLC
Length 182 173.9 183.3
Width 74 71 74.4
Height 75 58.8 64.5
Wheelbase 111 106.3 113.1

Interior

  • Based on existing model
  • Familiar dashboard
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Big infotainment display
  • Open-pore walnut trim
  • Nappa and Nubuk leather
  • Classy brown upholstery
  • Perforated leather seats
  • Three-row seating
  • Folding rear seats
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The dashboard looks very familiar as it borrows heavily from existing models

The Concept GLB’s interior is far from conceptual. The dashboard looks very familiar as it borrows heavily from existing models. Mercedes says the dashboard design is based on the B-Class, but this is only true for the center section. The passenger-side dash is unique to this model thanks to carved-in section and the aluminum insert above the glove compartment. The center stack, the displays for the infotainment system and the instrument cluster are indeed similar to the B-Class, and other Mercedes-Benz model and the Concept GLB even features the company’s latest MBUX infotainment system.

But there are plenty of cool and unique features to talk about, starting with the tubular elements in milled aluminum on the lower dashboard and the analog-look of the lower center stack. The latter also includes buttons that look as if they were milled from a solid aluminum cylinder. More tubular aluminum elements can be seen on the center console and the door panels, but these have a brushed finish.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB
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Both the dashboard and seats are covered in Nappa and Nubuk leather

While the design is far from conceptual, the upholstery is unlike anything else you can buy in a production Merc. Both the dashboard and seats are covered in Nappa, and Nubuk leather in a classy Chestnut Brown finish and feature orange stitching for a striking contrast. There’s also orange trim on the dashboard, center console, and door panels, as well as orange accents on the A/C vents. The seats feature two vertical stripes of perforated Nubuk leather through which you can see the orange-colored fabric layer underneath. This cool feature extends all the way back to the third-row seats!

The wood trim is also special. Made from open-pore walnut, usually available only with expensive models, it features a chiselled honeycomb pattern that fades out toward the edges. You can see them on the passenger-side dashboard, the center console, and the door panels, and they blend really well with the Chestnut Brown color of the upholstery. The same honeycomb-patterned walnut adorns the pedals, but with high-gloss metal, edges to prevent damage.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB
- image 835204
The GLB comes with three rows of seats that can carry up to seven people

But by far the most interesting thing inside the cabin is the three-row layout. A premiere for a compact vehicle from Mercedes-Benz, the GLB comes with three rows of seats that can carry up to seven people. The third row includes only two seats, so it’s supposed to be comfortable as far as shoulder and elbow room go. Legroom is usually an issue in compact vehicles, but the GLB should be comfortable for long trips thanks to a second row that’s fore-and-aft adjustable by 5.5 inches. By moving it forward, it creates an additional 3.5 inches of legroom for third-row passengers or extra room of luggage.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB
- image 835205

As you might have already guessed, the third-row seats fold completely for increased trunk space, but so do the 40:20:40 split second-row seats. Both rows can be folded flat to create a level surface for long items. Unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz didn’t say how much luggage you can stuff behind the front seats.

Drivetrain

  • Engine shared with A-Class
  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • 221 horsepower
  • 258 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed dual-clutch
  • Permanent AWD system
  • Variable torque distribution
2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
- image 765040
The engine is identical to the one in the A-Class and delivers the same 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque

While some concept vehicles feature upcoming drivetrains that are usually hybrid or fully electric, the Concept GLB has a production unit under the hood. The SUV is powered by Mercedes’ M260 engine, a unit it launched in 2017 as a replacement for the M270. Specifically, this is the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder that the German firm launched in the latest A-Class hatchback for the 2018 model year. The unit is actually identical to the one in the A250 model, as it delivers the same 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

The turbocharged mill mates to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and a permanent 4Matic all-wheel-drive system with variable torque distribution. The latter features the company’s Dynamic Select configuration, which includes three setups. When driven in "Eco/Comfort," it enables an 80:20 distribution biased to the front axle for optimized comfort and fuel consumption. When driven in "Sport" mode, 70 percent of the torque is routed to the front wheels, while 30 percent goes to the rear axle. Finally, "Off-Road" mode enables a balanced 50:50 split from enhanced climbing capability.

This setup should become standard in the production model, most likely in a trim called GLB250. The production GLB should also arrive with a couple more units, including a smaller-displacement gasoline engine and a diesel mill.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLB Concept - drivetran specifications
Wheelbase 111 Inches
Length 182 inches
Width 74 inches
Height 75 inches
Engine M260 four-cylinder gas
Horsepower 224 HP
Torque 258 LB-FT
Transmission 8-speed-DCT dual clutch

Final Thoughts

2019 Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB
- image 835197
The production version of the Concept GLB will probably arrive by the end of 2020

The Concept GLB might not be as futuristic as the "concept" badge suggests, but it’s a cool looking crossover that steps away from the usual sporty design of current Mercedes-Benz SUVs. Its G-Class-like stance and compact dimensions make it unique in the lineup and even among other SUVs in its class. The production-ready status is good news as well because it means that the production GLB will arrive in less than a year.

The GLA, for instance, needed less than 12 months to make the transition from concept vehicle to showroom model. The Concept GLA was shown in April 2013, the production model arrived in November 2013, and deliveries began in March 2014. Based on this, the production GLB should arrive by the end of the year, and we should see it on public roads in early 2020.

Granted, the production version will lack some of the features seen above, like the tires, the roof lights, and the expensive wood trim and leather, but it might feature an optional three-row layout. And that will be a segment-first features.

  • Leave it
    • A bit too fancy inside the cabin
    • Some features won’t make it into production

Further Reading

2019 Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB
- image 835190

The 2019 Mercedes GLB Concept Is A New Boxy Compact SUV

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB
- image 762614

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA High Resolution Exterior
- image 700280

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
- image 827003

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.

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