The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.2
Available new from £36,945
A further spin-off from the A-Class hatchback family, the Mercedes GLB is both a compact SUV and a seven-seat family car in one. Where its GLA brother aims for the younger, crossover crowd the more upright GLB goes out and out for practicality and usability. Rivals would include the Peugeot 5008 on one side and the Land Rover Discovery Sport on the other.
Reasons to buy
- Premium looks inside and out
- Adaptable seven-seat cabin
- Class leading tech
At a glance
- Running costs for a Mercedes-Benz GLB Class ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Reliability of a Mercedes-Benz GLB Class ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Safety for a Mercedes-Benz GLB Class ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How comfortable is the Mercedes-Benz GLB Class ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Features of the Mercedes-Benz GLB Class ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Power for a Mercedes-Benz GLB Class ★★★★★ ★★★★★
Running costs for a Mercedes-Benz GLB Class
Families love SUVs, especially ones with premium badges. And the Mercedes-Benz GLB goes straight to the heart of what mainstream buyers want out of their cars, combining status, practicality and tech into one appealing package. Derived from the A-Class hatchback it has – by Mercedes standards – relatively humble roots but is priced above its GLA brother. In terms of equivalent seven-seater rivals it’s more expensive than a Peugeot 5008 but slightly cheaper than a like for like Land Rover Discovery Sport. A Hyundai Santa Fe offers more space for similar money but, worthy or not, can’t match a Mercedes for prestige.
Running costs will, meanwhile, depend on your choice of engine, Mercedes offering various options in both petrol and diesel and front- or all-wheel drive. Unlike the GLA there’s no hybrid in the GLB range. None of the engines are spectacular for CO2 emissions or fuel consumption, though if you’re buying as a company car and need to keep a lid on these you’re better off with the less powerful engines and front-wheel drive. Unless you’re doing mainly town driving diesel probably remains your best bet for all-round fuel costs.
At the other end, there’s even a high-performance GLB35 AMG model for those who want to have fun when the rear seats aren’t stuffed with screaming kids, though in purchase and running costs this is an expensive indulgence. Still, if there’s only space on the driveway for one car and you want a family SUV with the heart of a hot hatch…
Reliability of a Mercedes-Benz GLB Class
If you’re paying for a premium badge you have the right to expect premium levels of reliability but, like many of its high-end competitors, Mercedes struggles on the various studies and rankings. On the respected JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study it is at least better than Audi and BMW and (only just) ahead of Land Rover, which is pertinent given the Discovery Sport is likely on your shortlist too. You may consider Peugeot as some way down the prestige pecking order compared with Mercedes but the French brand is streets ahead in its reliability rating, which makes that considerably cheaper 5008 alternative look even more appealing in comparison.
Safety for a Mercedes-Benz GLB Class
The A-Class family from which the GLB is derived is a very modern design, and Mercedes puts a lot of emphasis on its sophisticated safety and assistance technology, which will score well with family buyers. As standard the GLB comes with a pop-up bonnet to protect pedestrians, lane-keeping assistance, plenty of airbags, a driver fatigue detection system, top tether Isofix child seat mounts for the second and third rows of seats and automatic emergency braking. However, while a reversing camera is standard on all models parking sensors aren’t even available as an option on cheaper trim levels. And if you want the full suite of active driving assistance features you have to pay a chunk more, either as an optional package or by upgrading to a higher trim.
How comfortable is the Mercedes-Benz GLB Class
We criticised the GLA for its harsh ride quality and, thankfully, Mercedes has tuned the GLB’s suspension to be softer and more accommodating in keeping with its family role. That makes it a much more pleasant car to drive all round, in fact, and is helped by the more upright stance and improved visibility. Where the GLA seems like a jacked-up hatchback the GLB feels decisively more like a traditional, grown-up SUV and is all the better for it. Sure, the steering is lighter and slower to respond but it’s more relaxing and entirely appropriate for a car of this type.
Mercedes excels in its seat comfort and ergonomics, too, and drivers of all sizes will find it easy to adjust the seating position to suit them, all models getting heated front seats as standard. The real attraction of the GLB and reason it scores over rivals like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 is, however, its ability to carry as many as five passengers in the two rows of back seats. The middle row slide back and forth to let you tune legroom according to the size and number of people you’re carrying and, with the third row folded, the rear seat space is perfectly fine. However, you’ll need to move them forwards a little if you’re using the third row and, by this point, the space starts getting a little limited. Boot space is also miniscule as a seven-seater but it’s easy to stash the rearmost seats when you need the luggage room for a run to the shops.
There’s no escaping that the GLB is on the small side for a true seven-seater and those with older kids may be better served with a Discovery Sport or classic MPV like the Citroen Grand C4 Space Tourer we’ve enjoyed as a long-term test car. For occasional use or moments when you need the flexibility to carry a few extra bodies the GLB’s extra seats are a real boon, though.
Features of the Mercedes-Benz GLB Class
While the GLB might appear reasonably priced at the outset Mercedes is still a premium brand and if you want the good stuff you’ll have to be prepared to spend more and move up the range. This isn’t helped by the word soup model designations but you get the gist pretty quickly. All models get MBUX voice-activated infotainment, a powered tailgate, LED headlights, switchable driver modes, climate control and two 7-inch digital displays for instrumentation and standard-fit navigation, which is a decent start.
You need to go a couple of levels up, however, before the GLB starts to really show its class and the tech and functionality feel worthy of that premium badge. By this stage you get the paired, frameless displays for instruments and infotainment in Mercedes’ signature ‘widescreen’ format. The systems are complex and a little hard to learn but there’s tons of functionality and it all looks great, features including ‘augmented reality’ navigation that overlays real-time video of the road ahead with animated arrows and instructions. It’s only at this level where you get the option of CarPlay or Android Auto smart phone integration, though.
Power for a Mercedes-Benz GLB Class
The distraction of performance flagship tuned by Mercedes hotshoes AMG is an amusing cherry on top of the range, the GLB35 featuring a 306hp turbocharged engine, specific suspension, special tuning for the 4Matic all-wheel drive chassis and a flavour of the A35 AMG on which it is based. We haven’t driven it yet but look forward to doing so!
Safe to say, though, the majority of buyers will be more interested in the regular petrol and diesel models. Other than the GLB35 there’s just one petrol option in the shape of the front-wheel drive GLB200, this equipped with a seven-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
The diesels are two versions of the same 2.0-litre engine, the 200d available in front- or 4Matic branded all-wheel drive. Both also use automatic gearboxes as standard, in this case an eight-speed. We drove the 220d 4Matic and found its 190 horsepower and 400Nm of torque more than up to the job of moving the GLB along at a brisk pace, the motor proving responsive and refined for a diesel.