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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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?

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