2019 Mercedes GLB: rugged new BMW X1 rival hits the Nürburgring
Mercedes-Benz’s new compact SUV is described as a road-biased G-Class sibling, and will sit above the GLA in the range when it arrives next year
Due to arrive in showrooms next year, the GLB mixes old-school G-Class influences, including a boxy profile and upright rear-end, with contemporary details such as the brand’s softer front-end design and LED headlights.
The GLB’s engine line-up will feature an updated range of Mercedes and Renault/Nissan-sourced four-cylinder petrol and diesel units spanning 160bhp in the entry-level model to more than 300bhp in the AMG-badged flagship. Also planned is a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid variant with a modest pure-electric range.
The AMG model will likely mirror the A-Class and come in AMG 45 form, with a warm mild hybrid-powered AMG 35 variant to match that of the upcoming A-Class.
Development of the long-mooted GLB has been accelerated in order to bring the car to market in 2019.
The move is part of Mercedes’ plan to retain sales momentum in the lucrative premium compact car class.
The GLB will be part of a future eight-strong family of compact models announced by Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche at the Detroit motor show in January. The new high-riding model will slot into the line-up above the existing GLA and below the GLC. Its likely starting price will be around £32,000 when it goes on sale in 2019.
The GLB is one of three additions to the existing Mercedes compact car line-up of five. It joins a new four-door A-Class saloon, which will be previewed as a concept car at the Shanghai motor show in April, along with an as-yet-unknown model – one possibility is a dedicated coupé in the mould of the Audi TT. The new line-up will kick off in the coming months with the launch of the fourth-generation A-Class.
The GLB is known under the internal codename X247 and is said to draw heavily on the well-received Ener-G-Force concept seen at the 2015 Los Angeles motor show.
It combines styling cues inspired by the tough military vehicle design of the 38-year-old G-Class with more contemporary flourishes from the 2014 G-Code concept, although latest shots of the development model suggest a lower, boxy appearance of the GLK, the GLC predecessor that never made it to the UK.
Buyers will be able to choose between a series of optional styling packages, including a rugged-looking off-road appearance, with extra cladding and increased ride height, according to insiders privy to the final design.
Chosen by Mercedes board members over an alternative long-wheelbase B-Class, the standard GLB earmarked for sale in the UK is set to be around 4600mm in length, making it 180mm longer than the recently facelifted GLA.
The GLB is based on a version of Mercedes’ MFA platform that will be reworked to have greater production flexibility and lower weight than today’s structure. It will be offered with a choice of two wheelbases, with either a five-seat or seven-seat layout, in a move mirroring that of the Q3, X1 and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Details remain scarce with production a year away, but sources suggest the long-wheelbase variant, which extends to almost 4800mm, may be sold only in selected markets, such as China and the US.
Inside, the GLB is expected to share its dashboard and appointments, including a new Comand 6.0in touchscreen infotainment system, with other new compact Mercedes models, including the fourth-gen A-Class, third-gen B-Class, second-gen CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, as well as the new A-Class saloon.
Source: Autocar Online