Ignore the ‘concept’ tag and the fancy detailing – what you’re looking at here is a very lightly conceptified version of the upcoming Mercedes GLB SUV.
The GLB is spun off from the same front-wheel-drive platform that underpins the latest A/B/CLA-Class, sitting between the GLA – based on the previous generation of A-Class – and the GLC – based on the current C/E-Class platform. That’s as clear as mud, then.
We’ll put it another way – the GLB is about the same size as a Land Rover Discovery Sport and, like that car, has seven seats and a chassis set up as much for off-road capability as on-road comfort. Which gives it some breathing room to the more style-led, five-seat GLC – which is only a few centimetres longer – and yet more space to the smaller, coupe-like GLA.
Actually, we’re not sure that does clear things up. But Mercedes is the master of micro-niching, so a bit of confusion is to be expected. Regardless, we can be sure that Mercedes will have no trouble selling GLBs by the shipload.
Anyway, what of the car itself? Remove the GLB concept’s mountaineering-spec wheels and tyres, the roof box and built-in spotlights, and it’s safe to say the styling is exactly as we’ll see on the production-spec car. Which is no bad thing, as it’s quite good looking, as these things go.
Likewise, the interior is more-or-less identical to that found in high-end A-Class models, albeit trimmed like the strap on an expensive, ruggedised watch. The second row of seats fold 40:20:40 and the third row folds away into the boot floor. The entirety of Merc’s toybox has been crammed in, include the MBUX voice-activated ‘assistant’.
The GLB concept as we see it here is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine producing 224hp and 258lb/ft of torque, driving all four wheels via an eight-speed, dual-clutch gearbox. That powertrain is already found in about 2,500 other Mercs.
Under normal conditions, the 4Matic four-wheel-drive splits the power 80:20 front-to-rear. In Sport mode, 30 percent goes to the rear wheels, while 50 percent goes to each end in Off-Road mode.
The production-spec GLB will likely be unveiled later this year and go on sale some time in 2020. The concept is on show at Auto Shanghai 2019.
By Graham King