2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250: Pint-sized Practicality
There’s a new occupant in Mercedes-Benz’s cavernous utility vehicle stable, and, like so many vehicles debuting in 2019, it’s a tweener. As the name implies, the 2020 GLB fits between the subcompact GLA and compact GLC, offering tidy proportions and the versatility that comes with optional third-row seats.
Three-row seating is not something you’re likely to find in this small class of vehicle, and it’s a feature Mercedes-Benz is counting on to drive interest and sales.
A global model, the GLB unsurprisingly bears a remarkable resemblance to the Concept GLB that appeared in Shanghai earlier this year. Beneath the vehicle is the front-drive platform found under the new A-Class and CLA sedans.
While the “B” in the model’s name signifies its position in the brand’s SUV lineup, it may as well stand for “boxy.” An upright stance and blunt front end greets customers, with M-B clearly attempting to avoid a cute ute label while maximizing interior volume. The GLB’s 111.4-inch wheelbase falls much closer to that of the GLC, with only a 1.7-inch difference between the two. The GLA’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches shorter.
Overall, the GLB is only an inch shorter than its larger stablemate.
Until AMG’s tuners get their hands on the thing, your only engine choice is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder borrowed from the CLA 250, mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Power is unchanged at 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. 4Matic all-wheel drive is an option, and buyers who spring for that can expect to tailor their torque delivery via three drive modes. As the company’s Off-Road Engineering package comes standard on AWD models, hill-descent control will be there to tempt owners away from the beaten path.
Of course, off-roading will not be high on most buyers’ to-do lists. Space is what M-B wants to talk about. In five-passenger guise, the GLB’s reclining rear seats can move forward and aft by six inches, with the rear cargo hold measured at 20 cubic feet. Move the seats forward, and cargo volume expands to 26 cubes.
In the absence of cargo figures for the seven-seater, we can safely assume buyers will be able to fit a pizza back there if they stand it on its edge.
Elsewhere, the GLB’s cabin continued the upright theme seen on the exterior. The dash is mainly flat, adorned by a trio of vents in the center stack, a thick slice of aluminum over the glove box, and a dual-screen setup. Not over-and-under screens, mind you — side by side, replacing the traditional gauge cluster. Twin 7-inch screens come standard, with 10.3-inch units optional, each running M-B’s MBUX operating system.
Pricing remains a mystery, but the model’s tweener status demands a comfortable gap between it and the GLC’s $40,700 entry price. The 2020 GLC 250 heads to dealers by the end of the year.
[Images: Daimler AG]
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