In recent years, there is a growing number of SUV and MPV buyers. After all, we are a nation that considers the extended family when it comes to buying a car. But before the boom of crossovers, SUVs, and MPVs, it wasn’t always the case. Growing up, we had sedans or station wagons, and if there was a need to travel as a big group a van was the option.
While there were a few of them available back then, they were either too expensive or too utilitarian in nature. It was only in recent years did manufacturers start mixing the two body styles, resulting in what I like to call MPV crossovers.
While the first adapters were the mainstream brands, the luxury brands saw market (and profit) potential and followed suit. This brings us to the car I'm writing about, The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 AMG Line.
So what makes this new model significant? Well, the GLB is Mercedes-Benz's most "affordable" 7-seater. Of course, it's not priced like, say, a Mitsubishi Xpander or Honda BR-V. This is still a Mercedes-Benz, hence the air quotes. But before we get to that, what is it like?
You’ll immediately notice that it's part of the Mercedes-Benz family due to the enormous diamond-patterned grille upfront that’s adorned with an equally big three-pointed star on the center. The front end also features square-ish headlights that house high-performance LEDs and Daylight Running Lamps (DRL’s). The hood has sculpted lines, making it look more muscular and sporty. Since this is the AMG Line, the bumper features a chrome-accented splitter.
The chrome continues over to the side where a strip runs below the beltline, The GLB also comes with roof rails, and over at the rear, you get a spoiler with a 3rd brake light and a rear diffuser. Finally, to round out the whole AMG line package, the GLB’s boots are 19-inch AMG alloy wheels.
Overall, the GLB is a handsome-looking vehicle. Its squarish design motif makes it look distinct from the rest of the Mercedes-Benz crossover range. Although, I’d say the design is friendly to the feminine side given that smoothed out most of the edges to alleviate any notion of it looking too aggressive.
It also blends well in traffic. The GLB doesn't shout “Look at me!” everywhere you go. It’s distinct looking enough to turn some heads, but not showy enough to earn judging stares. It's just what a Mercedes-Benz should be.
The interior though is a different story altogether. The combination of leather, chrome, and contrast stitches is a sporty dad or mom's dream. The door panels even feature faux Alcantara and Carbon Fiber panels to make you feel like you’re in a truly sporty vehicle.
As for the features, this being a modern Mercedes-Benz you get a whole host of them. It starts with a fully digital instrument panel. The instrument panel is fully customizable too – from the design of the cluster to what specific vehicle information you want to be displayed, you name it, and the GLB’s got it.
The infotainment system is as expected a digital screen as well, it houses all your entertainment and media needs. Android Auto and Apple Car Play are standard, as well as the redesigned MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). Its best feature though is the new “Hey Mercedes” function, which is essentially its own “Siri”. Once the words “Hey Mercedes” are uttered, the system replies and asks you what you need. Neat right?
The GLB being a modern vehicle means it also has a lot of standard equipment seen in cars today. It has multiple cameras that aid in parking and maneuvering, engine start-stop function, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, cruise control, keyless-go starting function, and a host of USB-C ports.
Of course with a great number of features and screens, ergonomics are immediately put into question. However, Mercedes-Benz gives you a plethora of access points, namely 2 “Blackberry” type buttons on the steering wheel, the left controls the digital cluster, and the right controls the infotainment. That’s not all though, the infotainment can be toggled by either its touch screen or the newly designed trackpad just below the climate control.
It might be confusing to use at first, but after a while, you get a hang of it. I personally used the steering wheel-mounted buttons and the trackpad. Both are tactile and responsive enough for daily use.
The interior can best be summed up as ample, there’s just enough luxury to remind you it's a Mercedes-Benz while being normal enough that you wouldn’t mind your kids or other people being in it.
Before we dive into its performance, it's important to highlight its safety features especially since it’s Mercedes-Benz’s current advocacy. The GLB is no exception as the car is peppered with a boatload of safety technology such as adaptive brake lights, adaptive braking with ABS, Hill Start Assist, ISOFIX child-seat mounts, Electronic Stability Program, and 8 airbags. It's not all about the passengers as the GLB features what's called the Active Bonnet. In the event an errant pedestrian walks onto the road, the hood pops up to further mitigate any additional injuries as a result of the accident.
Powering the GLB is a 1.3-liter turbocharged engine. While that may seem like a travesty, Mercedes-Benz made sure to give it enough oomph. It produces 163 PS and 250 Nm of torque, and shifting is taken care of by a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The GLB has 4 driving modes to choose from, Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual. The latter being your own personal preference with regards to steering and engine responsiveness.
Taking it all into account, the GLB is actually a great car to drive. It’s deceptive in the way it shows its size, and it drives much smaller than I expected given that it's a 7 seater. The steering is also very responsive and light despite the bulk. Meanwhile, engine response is adequate even on Eco and Comfort mode. Most impressive though was its dual-clutch transmission. Dual-clutches tend to be jerky at low speeds or stop-and-go traffic. But in the GLB, it wasn’t the case. Using the paddle shifters was also a breeze, and responsive when I engaged them.
About fuel economy, In the three days that I drove the GLB, I averaged at best 8.5 kilometers per liter in mixed conditions. This isn’t bad considering its size, but it isn’t spectacular either. Maybe the fact that it's summer and I had the A/C at full blast and lowest temperature contributed to that figure, nonetheless it's decent enough.
As good as the GLB is to drive through, its shortcomings present themselves when you’re a passenger. My chief complaint is the ride. As a passenger, it was stiffer than I thought it was going to be especially over the pothole-filled bumpy roads of Metro Manila. Admittedly, it was jarring at times. I think it has something to do with the massive 19-inch rims and low-profile tires. Upon further research, we found out that the GLB is already equipped with a comfort package. Imagine what the ride would be like without it.
I won't say the ride’s unbearable, but given what the GLB is I think it should lean more towards comfort rather than sporty. You could say ride quality might improve with more load on board, but at the time there were already four passengers, as well as our shooting equipment in the trunk.
Let's move on to the highlight of the GLB, its third row. I have to commend Mercedes-Benz for making the third-row seating deployment a breeze, one must simply pull a black strap to lift the seat, and a red strap to put it back down. It's simple enough that anyone can do it. Accessing the third row isn’t hard either. There’s a tab on top of the second-row seats that when pulled, reclines and slides it forward.
The only problem with the third row is its legroom, which when we tested was tight, to say the least. Yes, the second-row seats can move forward to give more room at the back, but even when doing so the legroom was bearable at best. On the bright side, the GLB does come with cupholders and even charging ports for third-row occupants, which should make long rides more comfortable.
Finally, we come to the price, the GLB 200 AMG Line is the lone variant available in the country and it retails for Php 3,890,000. While it is quite pricey and the ride isn't the comfiest, the GLB is nonetheless a solid choice. It's well suited for a person who typically drives alone and rarely has more than five passengers. Don't forget it also comes laden with a lot of safety features. Unlike typical crossovers, it is fun to drive as well.
With that, the GLB provides a compelling package for dads or moms who want to have a little prestige, luxury, and sportiness in their daily commute. And the best part? The rest of the family can come along for the ride too.