Frankly it’s a wonder to this writer what it must feel like to be properly cramped in a car. At 160cm it’s difficult to imagine what that must be like, given that there are no issues faced even in properly-compact cars, sans perhaps when full-up with people. But the compact range of cars from Mercedes-Benz have certainly posed no problem even for 5 adults, though it’s said that that might not be an accurate representation for the majority of buyers.
For Mercedes-Benz, being presented with the problem of people wanting to buy but failing to fit in their compact cars was merely another niche that they’ve yet to fill and so with little difficulty, they’ve fielded the all-new GLB-Class. Built on the same modular architecture as the existing compact range, you can see the GLB in one of two ways: It’s either an embiggened GLA, or a shrunk G-Wagen. Mercedes would rather you think of it in the latter respect but let’s be honest, they bear little relation.
The more generous proportions of the GLB (squarer body, higher roof, longer & wider footprint) means that there’s now room for up to 7-seats (though the final two are optional), with Mercedes-Benz claiming that people of up to 168cm can fit in the third most row. We’re guessing that’s only really achievable with the second row pushed as far forward as far as they can go (if not removed). But with 7-seats up there won’t be much room for luggage, though if you forget about your extra two children, you have 560L, but if you forget all your children, you have as much as 1755L of room. Impressive.
Those less concerned about outright practicality can revel in the architecture of the cabin itself, which is (predictably) headlined by the MBUX system that powers the two widescreens on the dashboard. There’s the trio of trackpad inputs (two on the steering wheel and one laptop-style thing in the middle) but of course the party piece is the ability to say ‘Hey Mercedes,’ and let the car sort out the climate control/media input/navigation/interior ambient lighting system.
Under the bonnet you get the same range of mills as the compact cars, meaning a GLB200 & GLB250 for the unleaded fans, and a couple of 2.0-litre diesels. 4Matic all-wheel drive is available at launch for those who need it, but knowing that it’ll likely be optioned by urbanites afraid of puddles, it is also able to split the torque up to 70-30 depending on which drive-mode you’re in.
For the delusional you can get an ‘Off-Road Engineering Pack’ which will throw in hill-descent control, additional off-road telematics, and even a mode for the LED headlamps that improves visibility.
Mercedes’ press release describes the GLB’s looks as a “muscular and sensuously-contoured” machine though that is something we’ll leave to the people who behold it. Frankly we’re less impressed as Mercedes had promised a G-Wagen-made-smaller, which this most certainly is not. Maybe it has annoyingly-loud door locks.