A shrunken G-Class?

The Mercedes-Benz GLB is an upcoming crossover that will slot between the company’s smallest SUV offerings yet, the GLA and the GLC. The GLB is based on the new platform underpinning the latest A-Class and B-Class, and it was spotted testing on public roads since 2017. The crossover was previewed by the Concept GLB at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show, and it should arrive in production form by the end of the year. The GLB will stand out compared to the GLA and GLC due to a much boxier design. The crossover is often referred to as the baby G-Class.

Rumors about a new compact SUV surfaced all the way back in 2012 when Mercedes unveiled the Ener-G-Force Concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Created by the company’s Advanced Design Studio in Carlsbad, California, it looked like a futuristic version of the G-Class and had a hydrogen-powered drivetrain. The rumors turned into certainty when a small but boxy crossover was spotted testing on public roads, but the hydrogen drivetrain was dropped in favor of conventional engines. Let’s find out more about the GLB in the speculative review below.

Exterior

  • Boxy, G-Class-inspired design
  • Unique styling for a small crossover
  • Angular lines
  • Generic profile
  • Almost as big as the GLC
  • Taller than the GLC
left right
The front grille features the trademark horizontal slats on each side of the star emblem

While the Ener-G-Force Concept was quoted as the main inspiration behind the GLB, the production Concept GLB confirms that this crossover won’t look as radical. The GLB is indeed boxier than the GLA and GLC, but it retains a familiar look. Specifically, it takes some angular lines from the G-Class, but it combines them with familiar cues seen on other production SUVs from Mercedes-Benz.

The front grille, for instance, features the trademark horizontal slats on each side of the star emblem, while the fog lamps in the bumper are encased in black plastic elements with fake honeycomb vents. The A-shaped center grille is also based on the production unit seen across the entire lineup and gives the SUV a sporty look. The concept features a silver element with big openings on each side, but this feature won’t make it into production.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB
- image 762597
The two-piece taillights are borrowed from other SUVs, as is the clean bumper

The Concept GLB’s profile looks pretty generic from the nose to the C-pillars. It borrows a lot from the GLC, but it becomes boxier toward the rear. The rising beltline ascends toward the taillights and creates a narrower quarter window. All these features will be on the production model with minimal changes. The same can’t be said about the big two-tone wheels and their off-road tires. Mercedes will go with friendlier wheel designs, likely similar to the GLC. The concept’s LED spotlights, big roof rails, and roof box will disappear too.

The GLB’s rear end will be almost identical to the concept model. The two-piece taillights are borrowed from other SUVs, as is the clean bumper with exhaust pipes at the lower corners. The almost vertical tailgate design further contributes to the GLB’s boxy, G-Class-inspired look.

left right

It’s safe to assume that the production model will retain the dimensions of the concept. This means that the GLB will be almost as big as the GLC. Specifically, the concept is only 1.3 inches shorter and 0.4 inches narrower than the GLC. On the other hand, it’s a full 10 inches taller. Compared to the entry-level GLA, the GLB is 8.1 inches longer, three inches wider, and 16.2 inches taller. Its wheelbase is 4.7 inches longer than the GLA’s and 2.1 inches shorter than the GLC’s.

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 B-Class
  • Large infotainment display
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • MBUX infotainment system
  • 64-color ambient lighting
  • Unique passenger-side dashboard
  • Possible three-row layout
  • Seven-seat capacity
  • Big trunk
left right
The dashboard looks very familiar as it borrows heavily from existing models

The Concept GLB’s interior is also ready for production, so we can expect the SUV to feature the same design. The dashboard looks very familiar as it borrows heavily from existing models. The dashboard design is based on the B-Class for the most part, but the passenger-side dashboard is unique to this model thanks to the 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, but it looks a lot like other Mercedes-Benz models as well. The round, turbine-look A/C vents, the big displays set next to each other, and the thin control cluster on the center stack make appearances in the A-Class, C-Class, and E-Class models too.

The 2019 Mercedes GLB Concept a New Boxy, Compact SUV
- image 835200
Mercedes will drop the conceptual upholstery made from Nappa and Nubuk leather

But the concept also has features that won’t make it in the production model, like the tubular elements in milled aluminum, the aluminum buttons on the center stack, and the brushed aluminum inserts in the door panels. Mercedes will also drop the conceptual upholstery made from Nappa and Nubuk leather. Sure, the more expensive trims will have leather and Alcantara, but the entry-level model will come with cloth upholstery. Don’t expect the open-pore walnut trim with the chiselled honeycomb pattern to make it into production either.

The 2019 Mercedes GLB Concept a New Boxy, Compact SUV
- image 835204
Will Mercedes keep the concept's three-row layout for production

The big question here is whether Mercedes will keep the concept’s three-row layout for production. The crossover features two additional seats in the third row for a seven-seat capacity. This is the first time when Mercedes offers three rows in a compact vehicle, and if it goes into production, it will be the first SUV in this class to have such a feature. Legroom will suffer with three rows of seats, so the GLB won’t be too comfortable for rear-seat passengers on long trips, but this layout will be useful for shorter trips.

Both the second- and third-row seats fold completely to enable a long trunk section. There are no specific figures yet, but Mercedes is probably aiming for a segment-leading capacity. The BMW X2, for instance, can take up to 50.1 cubic feet of luggage with the seats folded flat.

Drivetrain

  • MFA2 platform
  • Four-cylinder engines
  • 221-horsepower unit in the U.S.
  • Diesel options in Europe
  • Eight-speed dual-clutch
  • Standard AWD in the U.S.
  • AMG version possible
2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
- image 765040
The turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine cranks out 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque

The Concept GLB was unveiled with an M260 engine under the hood, the same unit found in the latest-generation A-Class. The turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine cranks out 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the same rating as the A250 hatchback. This engine will be offered in the production GLB too, likely with the GLB250 badge in the United States.

The mill should mate 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 for enhanced climbing capability.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB
- image 802423
On the diesel front, it could get the 1.5-liter four-cylinder that Mercedes borrows from the Renault Nissan group

In Europe, Mercedes-Benz could also offer an A200 version, powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder that generates 163 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Transmission options for this engine should include a six-speed manual and a seven-speed automatic.

On the diesel front, it could get the 1.5-liter four-cylinder that Mercedes-Benz borrows from the Renault Nissan group. This mill generates 116 horsepower and 192 pound-feet in the A-Class, but it could be retuned for more power in the GLB.

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

Prices

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB
- image 811986

While logic suggests that the GLB will be placed between the GLA and GLC (which cost $33,400 and $40,050, respectively, it could actually cost almost as much as the GLC. My bet is on a sticker set around the $38,000 mark.

Competitors

BMW X2

2018 BMW X2 - Updated
- image 740705

The X2 is BMW’s newest crossover, and it should be the perfect competitor for the GLB. Slightly bigger than the popular X1, the X2 is a pretty unique vehicle in the lineup. Despite wearing an even number next to the "X" in its badge, the X2 isn’t a coupe-style vehicle like the X4 and X6. It’s slightly boxier than the X1, and even though it’s not as utilitarian as the GLB, it has a somewhat massive look thanks to the big grille and the tall bumper up front. The interior comes from the X1, and while it looks modern and comfortable, it’s not as fancy as the GLB, so Merc might win this one. Drivetrain options are diverse and start off with a 2.0-liter gasoline four-banger rated at 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. A more powerful version, also offered in the U.S., sends 228 horses and 258 pound-feet to the ground. A 2.0-liter diesel rated at 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet is already available, but more oil burners will be launched in the future. Pricing starts from $36,400.

Read our full story of the 2018 BMW X2.

Audi Q2

2017 Audi Q2 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 667707

The Q2 is nowhere near as imposing as the GLB, but it’s a cool design exercise and the first Audi crossover that strays from the big Q7. It has quite a few unique features of its own, and it feels boxier than other Audis out there. The interior is based on the A3 hatchback and looks rather bland, but it has all the modern technology, including a fully digital instrument cluster, a seven-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB, navigation a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Just like the X2, the Q2 is available with a wide array of drivetrains in Europe. The gasoline range begins with the 1.0-liter three-cylinder unit rated at 116 horsepower and 148 pound-feet. This engine mates to a six-speed manual standard and a seven-speed DSG optionally and comes in a front-wheel-drive configuration only. Next up is the familiar 1.4-liter TFSi, a four-cylinder that’s available 150 horses and 184 pound-feet and comes standard with FWD and the six-speed manual, but Quattro AWD and the seven-speed DSG can be selected from the options list. The 2.0-liter TFSI engine pumps 187 horses and 236 pound-feet of twist through a seven-speed DSG and Quattro all-wheel drive. The Q2 is not yet available in the U.S.

Read our full review of the 2018 Audi Q2.

Conclusion

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB
- image 811980

Judging how all crossover niches have expanded in recent years, the GLB is a necessary addition to the Mercedes-Benz lineup. With BMW and Audi already present in this segment, Merc needs to step up and offer a solid competitor. The fact that the GLB will have a boxy, G-Class-inspired design could play an important role here, as it will allow drivers access to a more affordable, more city-friendly version of the military-style SUV. That’s something BMW and Audi can’t offer right now. And the only option available is the Jeep Renegade, which won’t be a match for the GLB in terms of premium features and technology.

  • Leave it
    • Will the most expensive in its niche
    • Not available until 2020

Further reading

The 2019 Mercedes GLB Concept a New Boxy, Compact SUV
- image 835190

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLB Concept.

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.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: