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Sunday / 23 June 2024
HomeFeaturesMercedes-Benz GLB review – An all-rounder with style

Mercedes-Benz GLB review – An all-rounder with style

The Mercedes-Benz GLB is the automaker’s entry-level family SUV, and it quite possibly offers everything you will ever need in a car.

With its three-pointed star badge and GLS-esque styling, it’s as home in front of a Sandton high-rise as it is at a camping ground.

But it’s not the looks that made this Mercedes a car we’d spend our own money on, rather, it’s everything you can do with it while still looking good.

An all-rounder with style

The GLB seemingly takes inspiration from its much bigger brother, the GLS, in the styling department, with a compact blocky body, straight lines, and broad-shouldered proportions.

The squarish shell is a blessing for cabin space and in reality, it’s much more spacious than it looks once you’re inside.

At close to 2 metres tall, I had the driver seat in my usual position with an adult passenger in the backseat, and there was still a fistful of knee room available. The seating position is low, however, and the doors come up rather high next to you, even so, with its square footprint you always know where the corners are when steering the luxurious crossover.

Additionally, it has a huge 570-litres of boot space and a sliding rear bench that further heightens the practicality factor, and in fact, I moved half my house with the GLB during the weekend I had it, and it swallowed just as much cargo, if not more than the larger VW Touareg that was helping me.

Then you get to the features, the many many features.

The MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system is probably the best in the business, being easy to operate and boasting a raft of convenient and just plain cool capabilities.

It’s operable in three ways – using a small touchpad on the steering wheel, a big touchpad on the middle console, or by touching the screen itself – and brings built-in navigation, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, multi-colour ambient lighting, Mercedes Me online services, and various driving info such as in-the-moment power usage and fuel consumption.

It can also be customised with various themes, such as Lounge, focusing on music and reducing the amount of info displayed on the driver’s screen, Journey, focusing on maps and assistance features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, and Experience, focusing on sportiness by bringing up a performance monitor on the centre display and turning all the dials yellow and carbon.

The GLB’s seats stood out for being outstandingly comfortable, too, and the highly-configurable instrument cluster displayed a remarkable amount of information in an easily-digestible format.

Because the SUV uses a stalk for its gear lever, Mercedes even went through the trouble to install a faux shifter on the centre console that acts as a comfortable handrest when using the touchpad.

However, I was a little surprised that at a smidge under R1 million, the GLB in Progressive guise has manual seats and uses cheapish black plastic buttons for the air-conditioning controls.

The stalk-mounted gear lever is also something to get used to. On the first day, I accidentally switched to neutral when attempting to turn on the indicator and was startled when the revs started picking up rapidly but the car seemed to lose power.

These are but small quibbles for an otherwise excellent SUV, and I’m sure most owners will happily look past them after spending a few days in their GLB.

Sprightly performance

The GLB250 gets a 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol block between the front wheels that churns out 165kW and 350Nm.

Power is managed through a smooth eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and directed to the front axle, good for claiming 0-100km/h in 7.1 seconds and a top speed of 240km/h.

The setup is quick to respond to pedal and steering wheel inputs but is paired with limber suspension and 135mm of ground clearance, meaning that while the Mercedes is capable of being sporty in the right scenarios, it always exhibits a bit of body roll when doing so.

It’s still manageable, though, and as a result the sprightly petrol-powered GLB sipped 10.3l/100km throughout the few days it spent in the garage.

Also included is an electric tow hook that lends the Mercedes a maximum towing capacity of 2,000kg for the occasional trip to the coast when trailers are needed.

It’s worth noting that if you prefer four-wheel drive, you’ll have to get the diesel model as the petrol only pulls the front tyres.

Verdict

The GLB plays somewhat in a league of its own as there are not many crossovers with these physical dimensions that are able to compete with it.

It’s certainly not cheap, the entry-level model selling for R965,437, but it’s more unique and practical than similarly-priced SUVs and still brings the build quality, brand presence, and premium feeling you’d expect from Mercedes.


Mercedes-Benz GLB 250


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