Mercedes-Benz GLB

220 d 4MATIC AMG

Line Premium

Mercedes-Benz GLB, front
Mercedes-Benz GLB, dynamic
Mercedes-Benz GLB, rear
Mercedes-Benz GLB, dashboard
Mercedes-Benz GLB, boot
Mercedes-Benz GLB, interior, rear
Mercedes-Benz GLB, interior

SHOEHORNED in between the GLA and GLC, the GLB is the most recent addition to the Mercedes-Benz SUV stable and yet another car aiming to cash in on the current craze for compact crossovers.

With one third of its total sales now being SUVs and a quarter compact cars, the premium German car maker argued that combining the two for an extra model in their already extensive range made perfect sense.

After driving the GLB it is difficult to argue. This is a smallish SUV that is good to drive and combines great space and practicality with the usual high-end trappings that are expected of the brand.

In fact, with prices starting at £36,930 for an entry-level petrol model, it will also be within reach for plenty of prospective buyers and could well be the pick of Mercedes' SUVs.

Prices rise to more than £50,000 across four trim levels, topped off by the performance-focused Mercedes-AMG GLB 35, with two petrol and two diesel engines available mated to smooth seven or eight-speed automatic transmissions.

The GLB is also the first compact Mercedes to offer seven-seat versatility, a couple of fold away perches in the boot being standard across the range, while all-wheel-drive is available as standard or an option on all diesel versions as well as the GLB 35 and offers genuine off-road potential.

Reflecting these adventurous possibilities the GLB has a more traditional 4x4 design than the GLA and GLC, with an upright, boxy stance - albeit with rounded edges which seek, with some degree of success, to soften the bluff form.

A muscular nose and similarly powerful looking vertical rear end give it real presence, while AMG bodystyling adds a bold grille, extra chrome detailing, a rear splitter and twin tailpipes. Actually, the latter are decorative fakes - but they look good.

Our mid-range AMG LIne Premium all-wheel-drive test car was powered by the more potent of the diesel engines - a 190ps, 2.0-litre unit - mated to the eight-speed automatic gearbox, which offers an attractive blend of punchy performance and reasonable fuel economy.

It'll shift the GLB from 0-62mph in a brisk 7.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 135mph while still returning up to 47.9 miles per gallon on average.

Power is delivered promptly and smoothly with the 4x4 system offering plenty of grip and traction while the ride is comfortable and surprisingly refined for an oil-burner, even under sharp acceleration.

Motorway miles are eaten up in a relaxed manner while the GLB is equally at home in town, where its well-weighted steering and relatively compact proportions mean it is easy to manoeuvre.

The interior offers plenty of familiarity for anyone who has driven other compact Mercedes models. Twin screens - infotainment touchscreen and configurable driver display - are housed behind a single glass panel dominating the dashboard, while turbine-style rotary air vents are a stylish touch.

Setting the GLB apart though, is the tubular, aluminium effect detailing to the dashboard, doors and centre console which complement the rugged exterior styling.

There's just about room for an adult to squeeze into the rearmost seats, with a little mild contortion, but these are really best left for the kids. The same is true of any seven-seat SUV though, and the option of the extra passenger space is useful for larger families or those who find themselves on regular taxi duty for all the kids' friends.

Passengers in the very back are not left wanting for the basic creature comforts available to those in the permanent seats either, with all three rows getting their own USB ports, cup holders and air vents.

The extra seats rise or collapse easily from the boot floor and when they are not in use there is 500 litres of load space, which rises 1,680 litres by folding down the 40-20-40 split middle row seat backs.

Typically of premium German brands, plenty of kit is confined to a long options list but standard equipment is still generous.

FAST FACTS

Mercedes-Benz GLB 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Premium

Price: £44,180

Mechanical: 190ps, 1,950cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 135mph

0-62mph:7.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.9

Insurance Group: 36

C02 emissions: 157g/km

Bik rating: 34%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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