100 miles in the Mercedes GLB
Here at Rivervale we often have the opportunity to put new models through their paces so when the latest offering from Mercedes popped up and happened to be a 7 seater I thought it was a perfect opportunity to take the family for an extended weekend test drive.
The GLB is the German manufacturers latest addition to its SUV line-up which if you are not familiar with the range can be quite confusing to remember which model is which. You have GLA, GLC, GLE and now GLB. The first thing you will notice about the GLB is that by appearance it is more of a crossover with an MPV than an SUV and has some resemblance in places to the B class. In typical Mercedes fashion, however, the vehicle is eye-catching, elegant and holds some real curb appeal with the trim and alloys in the AMG spec.
The model I drove was the GLB200 petrol which has 161bhp 1.3 litre turbocharged engine. I must admit when I first heard it was a 1.3 seven-seater, I was little underwhelmed thinking we would be slugging around the countryside of Sussex struggling up hills and slow off the standing start. It is in all scenarios the complete opposite. The seven-speed DCT twin-clutch transmission offered a smooth interchange between gears that was both seamless and efficient, however, what really impressed me was the handling. The grip is sturdy and the car just feels eager to change direction and speed.
The car for lack of a more elegant description is a box on wheels, nice 20inch wheels but still. The way it took on cornering and handled city driving with lots of angles was really smooth. As expected for a ‘box on wheels’ parking was exceptionally easy which is not always the case for a vehicle of that size, to me, that is something the sets the GLB apart from others and offers it a real competitive edge for those looking for a family wagon.
If you’re looking for a high, commanding driving position the seating position in the GLB is fairly upright, however, you don’t actually sit particularly high off the road as you would in a traditional SUV.
It's spacious, however like most manufacturers who offer 7 seaters with foldable boot seats, you have to make a choice. Carry 5 people and have a boot or carry 7 and don’t have a boot. Furthermore, at 6ft4 I am hardly a candidate for the middle row of seats let alone the 2nd row of seats, however even if that were required there's no chance I would fit in the 2nd row of seats and I doubt that anyone 5ft11 or over would want to be in those seats for more than a very short drive. It does raise the question of the practical use of the 2nd row seats however if you have a young family, these seats would be sufficient for the average 5 to 10 year old.
The widescreen dash provides that classy feel that others struggle to match and I must admit it's one the biggest areas of improvement from Mercedes across all new models. When I first got in the driver's seat I thought I was in the new A Class.
The five brushed-metal air vents give a sporty look and most of the materials feel of high quality. You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard.
As standard, you get a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and DAB radio. Upgrading to AMG Line Premium expands the screen size to 10.25in. The visual quality of the screens is second to none. A really cool feature my 3 year old was impressed by was the ambient mood lighting inside which seemed to whizz through a rainbow of colours whilst driving.
The GLB gets a 5 out of 5 NCAP safety rating, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance are standard on every GLB.
All GLBs come with a Thatcham-approved alarm with immobiliser, but it has yet to receive a safety rating.
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