These days, it seems like having an extra row of seats has become a make or break feature for car buyers, more so for those looking for an SUV or a crossover. For automakers, it could be the difference between a sale or an extended stay in the stockyard.
In a bid to bring in more crossover shoppers to their showrooms, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a vehicle like never before. They call it the GLB, and it's their first compact crossover with seven seats.
That said, Mercedes-Benz is saying that it is available with seven seats meaning the extra accommodations are an option. Nonetheless, the German luxury automaker is perhaps the first one to offer it in its segment. They're also saying that the third-row seats are good for people up to 1.68 meters tall, which translates to about five feet, six inches.
As for the vehicle itself, it remains faithful to the Concept GLB shown about two months ago. Its design is on the boxy and upright side with its tall windows. The front end is of particular interest. While there are key Mercedes-Benz styling cues, it's unlike any other crossover from the brand with its relatively flat nose.
There's another noteworthy design characteristic on the side. The tall, upright windows are complemented by a kink on the lower window line, giving it a bit of a 'coke bottle' appearance. On to the rear, the tailgate is almost vertical, keeping in tune with the rest of the GLB's body. Tail lights on the other hand are signature modern Mercedes-Benz with a slim, wraparound look.
Despite having underpinnings from the A-Class, Mercedes-Benz gave the GLB its own unique interior design. The top of the dashboard is nearly flat while the fascia itself is upright. Door panels, on the other hand, have chunky handles, giving the impression of a larger crossover. Of course, present is Mercedes-Benz's MBUX infotainment screen which spans a good length of the dash, while the fully digital instrument cluster is an option.
Upon launch in the European market, there will be four engines on offer with five variants. For the gas range, it there's the GLB 200 with a boosted 1.3-liter mill (1.33-liters as Mercedes-Benz insists) making 163 PS and 250 Nm of torque. It's then followed up by the most powerful option in the GLB range, the GLB 250 4Matic. The range-topper makes 224 PS and 350 Nm of torque from its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, and it only comes with all-wheel drive.
For those who prefer diesel power, the two options consist of the GLB 200d and GLB 220d. The 200d version, along with the all-wheel drive 200d 4Matic, makes 150 PS and 320 Nm of torque. As for the 220d, it can only be paired with all-wheel drive, making it a 4Matic model. That one makes 190 PS and an impressive 400 Nm of torque. Both diesels use a 2.0-liter block.
On paper then, it should sound like a winner. For comparison basis, its prime competitors, the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, do not offer third-row seating. Mercedes-Benz may just be on to something here.