Mercedes GLB (2019-present)

The Mercedes GLB is a family-size SUV that prioritises space and practicality over style

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Interior space
Optional third row of seats
Economical engine options

Weaknesses 

Boxy styling an acquired taste
Limited boot space in seven-seat mode
Large-screen dials and media system likely to be pricey

Where most rivals are sleeker and curvier - making them look like hatchbacks on stilts - the Mercedes-Benz GLB is resolutely tall and boxy. Decked out with rugged wheelarch mouldings and aluminium skid plates, it looks much more like a heavy-duty off-roader than what is currently available on this busy SUV market.

The GLB slots between the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Mercedes-Benz GLC SUVs but actually looks more like a scaled-down GLS, Mercedes’ largest and most luxurious SUV. Direct competition will come in the form of the Mazda CX-5, BMW X3, Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40, but the Volkswagen Tiguan runs it closest of all in terms of styling - it too is rather sqaure. Like the Tuguan, it's possible to get the GLB equipped with seven seats, although you have to buy the extended Tiguan Allspace to get them, while they are an option in the GLB.

Mercedes says the GLB is intended to give customers a much more practicality-focused offering alongside the more stylish lifestyle choices currently provided by the GLA or GLC. To that end, it’s taller than the GLC and only 22mm shorter. The result is good headroom for all (it’s claimed to be class-leading in the front) and a large boot, though it’s smaller than the one you’d get in the shorter VW Golf Estate unless you drop the seats and load to the roof.

It also means the optional third row of seats is not as cramped as might be feared with Mercedes claiming that occupants up to 5ft 5in can fit in them, although genuine comfort levels remain to be seen. Crucially, these extra seats, plus the two outer ones in the middle row, have Isofix mountings for safely fitting child seats which should appeal to families with three or four young children. Smartphone storage areas in the boot wall that become USB charging points on seven-seat models are another very handy feature.

There’s a choice of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines in the GLB but no hybrid. All but the cheapest model, the 200 petrol, have eight-speed automatic gearboxes (the 200 has seven gears, though you’re unlikely to notice any difference in reality).

Most versions of the GLB are two-wheel drive, but you have the option of getting the 200d with 4MATIC four-wheel drive. The more powerful 220d is four-wheel drive as standard. This certainly gives the GLB an extra string to its bow, especially since it has an off-road mode that changes the throttle and steering to suit rough terrain and also adds hill descent control for safely dealing with steep slopes.

It’s the 200d in two-wheel drive form that looks to be the best balanced in terms of economy, performance and likely price, although the entry-level 200 petrol could be a wise choice, too, as it should be the best value.

The GLB’s dashboard features the same ‘MBUX’ media system as you’ll find in the Mercedes A-Class with the option of twin displays, including a central touchscreen, and effective voice controls that let you set the sat-nav destination or change the radio to name a few functions, with simple voice instructions. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both supported, too.

Last Updated 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 10:15

Key facts 

Warranty: 
3 years
Boot size : 
560 litres
Width: 
1834mm
Length: 
4634mm
Height: 
1658mm
Tax: 
£210 in the first year, £145 thereafter

Best 

Mercedes GLB 200 d
With up to 57.6mpg possible from its 2.0-litre diesel engine, the two-wheel-drive 200 d is the most economical GLB.
Mercedes GLB 220 d 4MATIC (seven seats)
This version may be expensive but offers a great blend of performance, economy, on and off-road capability, with optional seven-seat versatility.
Mercedes GLB 250
The 220 d is likely to be stronger through the gears thanks to its superior low-engine-speed muscle, but the 250 petrol is the quickest from 0-62mph.

History 

2019 (July) First orders taken with deliveries expected from the end of the year.

Understanding names 

  • Engine
    200 d
  • Drive
    4MATIC
  • Gearbox
    8G-DCT
  • Engine
    The first number alludes to the amount of power the car has - in this case it also refers to the engine size, as this has a 2.0-litre unit (thought the GLB 200 petrol has a 1.3-litre engine) and ‘d’ refers to the fact it's a diesel. The petrol engines have no identifying letter.
  • Drive
    This is Mercedes’ term for its four-wheel drive system that is offered on more expensive versions of the GLB.
  • Gearbox
    All versions of the GLB have a dual-clutch (DCT) automatic transmission. Most have eight gears (8G) but the entry-level 200 petrol has seven (7G).

Engines 

200, 250, 200d & 220d

The GLB’s size and weight plus the availability of 4MATIC four-wheel-drive editions means that most engines are 2.0-litre units, apart from the entry-level 200 petrol. The entry-level 200 petrol has a 1.3-litre engine, meanwhile. It’s two-wheel drive and the only version to be paired with a seven-gear dual-clutch (DCT) automatic gearbox. The other models have eight-gear gearboxes, though you’re unlikely to notice the difference in reality.

DCT automatic gearboxes like the GLB’s are typically very fuel efficient and this, coupled with the car’s lighter, two-wheel drive set-up means that the 200’s economy figures are impressive. Performance isn't bad either.

The 250 petrol, also a 2.0-litre and in two-wheel drive, is noticeably more powerful but much thirstier, too. It’s likely buyers would be more tempted by the 220d which, although it’s only offered only in four-wheel drive form, is not only more economical but likely to be quicker through the gears when overtaking.

In between them is the 200d diesel. Available with two or four-wheel drive, it appears to be the most rounded GLB in terms of performance and economy and, no doubt, price.
Meanwhile, there are rumours that a more powerful Mercedes-AMG 35 version or even an AMG 45 will follow in due course, offering very strong acceleration at the expense of fuel economy.

Trims 

At the time of writing, there is no word on trims but we expect the GLB to follow existing Mercedes models in having SE, Urban Edition, Sport and AMG Line trims.

Reliability and warranty 

In common with all new Mercedes cars, the GLB has a three-year warranty. Save for a few notable exceptions including Kia, whose warranty is seven years, that’s standard across the industry.

Perhaps because owners expect nothing but the best from their Mercedes, the brand doesn't perform that well in the annual Auto Express Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. That said, its highest ranked model in the 2019 survey is the GLB’s sister car, the GLC.

The GLB shares many tried and tested components with other Mercedes models, so we don't expect there to be any serious reliability issues.

Used 

Being a Mercedes and a compact SUV that’s reasonably priced, the GLB should hold its value at least well as any premium rival - meaning high used prices, but potentially strong value finance rates.

It’s roomy and practical, too, where rivals balance style over practicality, often at the expense of interior space and functionality. On that point, a GLB with the optional third row of seats promises to be quite rare in the sector and should be a desirable used car.

The best used value is likely to lie with the thirsty 250 petrol model, as we’d expect this to drop in value comparatively fast, making it a more affordable used buy. A used 200 petrol will be an affordable entry point for buyers on a budget. Of the diesels, a two-wheel-drive 200d should be plentiful and available at a wide range of prices.