The new Mercedes Benz GLB combines the best of technology in a mid-size SUV shape that’s now a match for some of the mainliners in terms of affordability. This is an SUV that’s impressive to drive while giving the benefits of more cost-effective pricing for Mercedes Benz buyers in Ireland, writes Michael Moroney.
I’ve driven many of the mid-range SUV’s on the market and they all offer some unique features in an attempt to give them an edge. For many car buyers the reliability that goes with the Mercedes Benz badge is a bonus in itself, and shines true with the car delivers in areas such as economy, comfort and versatility.
That’s where this new Mercedes Benz GLB scores highly. The Mexican built German brand SUV comes with impressive features, even if one of them is not very modern external styling. For me this SUV compared with the Volkswagen Tiguan and I’ve looked at both in terms of a seven-seat SUV comparison among the German car brands.
The Tiguan comes to mind because of the seven-seat option in the AllSpace version and similar engine specification. Mercedes Benz GLB buyers might consider their options to be higher, while a price comparison will almost but both cars in the same affordability league around the mid €40,000 bracket.
The Mercedes Benz GLB leaves no doubt about its design heritage. The Mercedes Benz is strong and prominent on the front grille giving a slight commercial look to the SUV. That’s soon forgotten on the inside where the features are luxury, the driving is comfortable and the space is impressive.
The test car was powered by a 1950cc turbo-diesel engine that delivered on its economy promise. Over 800km of a test drive I achieved a figure very close to the Mercedes Benz rated economy of 19km/litre (5.3l/100km or 53mpg). That means that with the 60 litre fuel tank there potential for a range of over 1,000km and that to me is economical motoring.
The smooth eight speed automatic gearbox facilitates this economy driving as you cruise on the motorway speed limit of 120km/hr at just over 1600rpm engine speed. Few others can match that economy performance, making the Mercedes Benz GLB a very affordable SUV to run. While the Volkswagen Tiguan comes with a slightly better rating, the smooth performance of the Mercedes Benz GLB gives it the edge.
You would have to be impressed with the internal styling of the Mercedes Benz GLB. The cockpit and dash are modern and digitised with large screens that run one into the other to give a clear view of all of the controls.
The new Mercedes-Benz User Experience infotainment system is included and it can be controlled via voice and touch input. The system features as standard two 7-inch displays for the instrument cluster and media display with touchscreen (optionally: 2 x 10.25-inch), sports steering wheel with Touch Control buttons on the left and right, USB port (Type C), Bluetooth connection for telephony and audio sources. Setting the car to take my iPhone was easy and the functionality of the system was effortless to get used to.
You very quickly get used to the column shift control of the automatic gearbox while the electronic parking brake is simple to use. So much of the car’s system controls are on the steering wheel with touch effect doubled across on the large central screen. The centre mid-seat control unit is comfortable to use and becomes easily instinctive after a very short time behind the wheel.
Another outstanding feature is the comfort and quietness of the driving experience with the Mercedes Benz GLB. Across almost any road conditions, including some more testing than others, this SUV takes the Irish road bumps in its stride. Limited off-road driving during August was not going to be a challenge, but field driving was easy even with the relatively smooth Pirelli road tyres.
This SUV has a seven-seat option and that was featured in the test car. The third row of seats are solid and appear to give a little more space than some of the competition. Seat folding is easy and you get a large capacity flat floor as a result.
The boot area compares well with the Volkswagen Tiguan AllSpace, being slightly smaller with all seven sets in use and bigger when just five are used. The second row of seats has a sliding feature that delivers more boot space if needed and also adds to comfort for third row passengers. Electric boot door opening is included for ease of use.
The Mercedes Benz GLB lacks the towing ability of the Volkswagen Tiguan, which at 2,000kg is 200kg stronger than the GLB. Rear window visibility is good for parking and the rear view reversing camera is very good quality and stayed relatively clean for longer but doesn’t have the hidden eye appeal of the new Volkswagen Golf.
The entry price for the version that I had on test was €44,294 which is comparable with the price of a similar specification Volkswagen Tiguan AllSpace. That’s why these two are seen as competitors in my comparison. The Mercedes Benz GLB takes the lead in terms of interior features, driving comfort and styling and it’s also very economical.
Where the price difference is so marginal, the Mercedes Benz GLB temptation is very strong and this time, it’s well worth giving in to it.
Mercedes Benz GLB 200d – specifications
Engine 2.0 litre
Engine power 150hp
0 – 100km/hr 9.3 seconds
Economy 19km/litre (5.3l/100km or 53mpg)
Fuel Tank Capacity 60 litres
CO2 emissions 121g/km
Road Tax Band B1 €270
Main Service 20,000km/12 months
Euro NCAP Rating 5 Star 2019
Towing rating 1800kgs
Warranty 2 years
Entry Price €44,294