Some time back Mercedes-Benz SA introduced an all-new SUV range referred to as GLB. We’ve not managed to get our hands on a test unit until this Mercedes-Benz GLB250 was recently loaned to us.
Mercedes-Benz was once renowned as a producer of luxury sedans. From the little (190E and later C-class) to the uber-luxury large S-class, the Three-Pointed star had you covered. But times, and people’s tastes have changed. This means that Mercedes now offers more SUV options than it does sedans.
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First Of Its Kind
The GLB nameplate is new for SA. Mercedes-Benz produces an SUV that corresponds with each passenger car line-up. The GLA is an SUV version of the A-class range, the GLC is the C-class’ higher riding sibling. So it follows that the GLB partners with the B-class.
The GLB doesn’t quite share the same swoopy lines of the GLA or GLC. Instead, it has a far more boxy appearance. From the chunky headlamps to the squared off roofline, the GLB seems as though it was penned by a different design team. However, the appearance drew a few interesting comments. One person referred to it as more ‘butch’ than its siblings and another onlooker said that it looked more like older Mercs than newer ones, a trait which he appreciated.
Mercedes-Benz models of late all have a similar interior aesthetic. Twin digital screens dominate the facia. Ahead of the driver is a customisable instrument cluster. A touchscreen infotainment screen sits in the middle of the dashboard. The latter is the interaction point for Mercedes’ MBUX system.
There is plenty of room in the cabin of the GLB. The front seats feel quite upright, feeling very much like an SUV, as opposed to the car-like sensation of some rivals. The sense of space continues into the rear of the cabin. The rear accommodation has plenty of headroom. The seat backs can be reclined independently
GLB models can be optioned with an additional pair of seats, though our test unit was a five-seater. As a result it has a massive boot, made to feel even more voluminous thanks to a low loading lip and square lines. Oh, and the tailgate is electrically operated.
There are three GLB derivatives to choose from. There is a 220d and a GLB35 AMG, both of which are all-wheel-drive. Our test unit was the entry-level Mercedes-Benz GLB250. This is the only front-wheel-drive option in the range. The Mercedes-Benz GLB250 is powered by a 2,0-litre petrol engine.
The turbocharged unit produces a healthy 165 kW of power along with 350 N.m of power. Power delivery from the turbocharged unit is linear. The eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission is well in tune with the 350 N.m of peak torque. In over 500 km of travel we only reached for the paddle shifters once, and that was to make a very speedy overtake on a single-lane arterial road.
The Mercedes-Benz GLB250 on review was not an extremely high-spec car, which is refreshing. It was not adorned with a sporty body kit or oversized alloys. The standard wheels with chunky tyres made for a comfortable ride. The steering action is light, which is how most people will prefer it.
There were two gripes we have to report about with the GLB. The first is that there seems to be a bit of wind noise in the cabin. Perhaps that is a function of the square lines. The other is a minor squeak from the second glass panel in the roof. We heard it after travelling over a rough section of tar in the Swartland area.
The Mercedes-Benz GLB250 is an ideal family car. It is comfortable, spacious and has enough power. We imagine that it will be a good long-distance/cross-country tourer. However, it does cost a shade under a million rand, which simply cannot be ignored.
With that in mind we feel that it should come with more standard specification as well as that extra pair of seats. As standard it has manually adjustable seats, without heating, single-zone climate control and a few other items that should be ‘upgraded’. At that price point there are many options to choose from, they may not be from traditionally ‘premium’ brands but they certainly offer better value for your hard-earned money.
Model: Mercedes-Benz GLB250
Price: R990 950
Engine: 2,0-litre 4-cylinder turbopetrol
Transmission: eight-speed, DCT FWD
Max power: 165 kW
Max torque: 350 N.m
0-100 km/h: 7,1 sec
Top speed: 240 km/h
Fuel consumption: 6,6 km