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Shanghai show: GLB expands Mercedes-Benz SUV range

Mercedes-Benz fills another small-SUV niche with rugged Concept GLB seven-seater

15 Apr 2019

MERCEDES-BENZ has found another niche to fill in its burgeoning SUV line-up, taking to the Shanghai motor show this week to reveal the near-production Concept GLB that is both rugged and – surprisingly – a seven-seater.


Slotting in between the small GLA and mid-size GLC wagon, the Concept GLB rests on a 2829mm wheelbase and measures 4634mm long, 1890mm wide and 1900mm tall (with an integrated roof box), making it almost identical in size to the GLC, despite what its positioning may suggest.


While a production model based on the Concept GLB is all but confirmed, Australian timing is yet to be locked in, but given the market’s appetite for SUVs the new model is almost a certainty to head Down Under soon.


Compared to the couple-style GLA, the Concept GLB features a much more upright look, making for a traditional SUV silhouette with a large glasshouse that instead prioritises substance. In many ways, it channels the German brand’s other seven-seater, the upper-large GLS.


To emphasis its off-roading intent, the Concept GLB features chrome under-guards, short overhangs, wheelarch cladding and side mouldings.


The accessorised Concept GLB builds upon its rugged styling with bi-colour 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tyres, front and rear LED spotlights, and an integrated roof box.


Inside, the GLB’s connection with the new-generation A-Class small car, B-Class small hatch and CLA mid-size sedan – all of which are based on the same platform – is apparent with their cockpit designs shared, although its upholstery is unique.


The big cabin news, of course, is the third row’s two individual seats that can be folded flat into the boot floor to increase cargo capacity.


According to Mercedes-Benz, “these seats are far more than emergency seats and offer comfortable seating for two medium-sized occupants”.


Crucially, the 40/20/40 split-fold rear bench in front of the third row has 140mm of slide adjustment, either 90mm forwards for extra storage space or rear legroom, or 60mm backwards for additional middle legroom. It also has eight-stage inclination adjustment.


As with all of the German prestige brand’s new models, the Concept GLB features its MBUX infotainment system that powers a digital instrument cluster and a central touchscreen.


While several variants of the production GLB are expected, the Concept GLB is motivated by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine that produces 165kW of power and 350Nm of torque.


While this powertrain is shared with the A250 and CLA250, the Concept GLB stands apart with its eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that has one more gear than is currently used in its siblings.


The Concept GLB features Mercedes-Benz’s front-biased 4Matic all-wheel-drive system that can be controlled via the Dynamic Select driving modes, with the Eco/Comfort (80/20), Sport (70/30) and Off-Road (50/50) settings varying the front-to-rear torque distribution.


“We asked ourselves whether there is still space between the GLA and GLC in our successful SUV range,” Daimler AG member of the board of management responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars sales Britta Seeger said.


“The Concept GLB is the answer to this question. With it we are demonstrating the creative ideas we have for this segment, too.


“The Concept GLB is a durable and practical SUV with nonetheless compact dimensions. Whether it is a generous seven-seater family vehicle or a versatile leisure-time companion, we are certain that this concept will be of great interest to our customers.”

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