Bridging the Gap: With Its Concept GLB, Mercedes-Benz Wants More Passengers in the Small CUV Space

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
bridging the gap with its concept glb mercedes benz wants more passengers in the

Not everyone’s attention is on New York City this week. Half a world away, Auto Shanghai presents another stage for automakers to show off their upcoming models.

For Mercedes-Benz, Shanghai serves as the venue for a new concept that appears almost ready to enter production: the Concept GLB. A quick perusal of MB’s naming strategy points to this vehicle slotting between the entry-level GLC crossover and the popular GLC. Looking at its measurements, it seems the GLB sits just a few microns below its larger sibling, with room for more passengers, to boot.

While the automaker claims the GLB “shows what SUV ideas on the company’s compact car platform might be realized alongside the GLA as a sporty all-rounder,” spy photos and various reports from recent months suggest the GLB will most certainly enter production, appearing as a 2020 model.

It’s an upright vehicle designed for maximum spaciousness, sporting the three rows of seating its slightly larger GLC sibling lacks. An interesting strategy for MB. And yet gap-filling is all the rage these days, as buyers have shown they’re ready to fling cash at any automaker who dares to bridge classes. Narrow slivers of white space are everywhere.

Those three rows are made possible by an 111-inch wheelbase, the automaker claims, and the GLB’s overall length undercuts the GLC by just 1.3 inches. Its width is just 0.4 inches shy of its larger sibling, but in terms of height, the GLB got the basketball player genes. This concept stretches 10 inches further from terra firma, though the cargo carrier nestled between the roof rails surely makes up that additional height. Don’t expect a production version to keep the concept’s roof-mounted lights.

“We asked ourselves whether there is still space between the GLA and GLC in our successful SUV range. The Concept GLB is the answer to this question. With it we are demonstrating the creative ideas we have for this segment, too,” said Britta Seeger, Daimler AG board member responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars sales, in a statement.

“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.”

Power comes by way of a turbocharged 2.0-liter making 224 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Permanent 4Matic all-wheel drive with three torque distribution settings (80:20, 70:30, 50:50) comes standard.

Clearly, Mercedes-Benz is interested in capturing buyers who’d prefer to shell out (presumably) a little less than a GLC, but might find themselves hauling a couple more occupants. For these buyers, a GLA isn’t even in the running. (A second-generation GLA, currently nearing completion, is said to be roomier and more traditional than its predecessor.)

As for those third-row seats, MB says they aren’t just for show. Folding flat into the cargo floor, the automaker claims these chairs “offer comfortable seating for two medium-sized occupants.”

Stay tuned for more news on a GLB that leaves the “concept” moniker behind.

[Images: Daimler AG]

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  • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on Apr 15, 2019

    The materials which constitute the seats look very interesting. It looks like some kind of high-end cloth or the classic 1970s Mercedes ‘Alcantara’ material.

  • Sigivald Sigivald on Apr 15, 2019

    "A quick perusal of MB’s naming strategy points to this vehicle slotting between the entry-level GLC crossover and the popular GLC" GLA and GLC, maybe?

  • MRF 95 T-Bird The hideaway headlamps on these and other Ford vehicles of the era could have issues mostly vacuum related. Usually the vacuum hoses that ran to the actuators would deteriorate. The “coffee can” reservoir which was mounted in the front header was rarely an issue because it was protected from the elements. The other coffee can reservoir used for the HVAC controls and actuators and mounted under the passenger side wheel well had a tendency to rot away. I once replaced one on my 70 Mustang when I noticed that the vents were acting janky. Later model Fords like Fox bodies used a durable plastic globe shaped one. The radio on these 69-70 full-size Fords mounted on the left side of aircraft style instrument cluster within the drivers touch probably disappointed many young people. “Mom will you change the station?” “Andy Williams is so square”.
  • MichaelBug For me, two issues in particular:1. It can be difficult for me to maintain my lane on a rainy night. Here in southeastern PA, PennDOT's lane markings aren't very reflective. They can be almost impossible to make out when wet.2. Backing out of a parking space in a lot with heavy pedestrian traffic. Oftentimes people will walk right into my blind spot even if I am creeping back with my 4-way flashers blinking. (No backup camera in my '11 Toyota Camry.)Michael B 🙂
  • Tagbert When you publish series like this, could you include links to the previous articles in the series so that we can follow through? Thank you. Edit: now I see a link embedded in the first paragraph that goes to the previous story. It wasn’t clear at first where that link went but now I understand.
  • DungBeetle62 When you're in one of these, you life in a state of constant low-level nervous about 90% of the time. But that other 10% kinda makes up for it.
  • Garrett Instead of foisting this problem on the car companies and the people who buy cars, make those who possess liquor licenses and those who purchase alcohol take on the economic cost of this problem.
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