Mercedes AMG GLB 35 review
There aren’t many small cars out there that are fast, stylish and have space for seven, but the Mercedes-AMG GLB ticks all these boxes – albeit at a price.
What's not so good
Mercedes AMG GLB 35: what would you like to read next?
If you compare Mercedes-AMG’s range of smaller -35 and -45 cars to a rock band, the A45 is the long-haired frontman, while the GLB 35 is the burly roadie who always ends up carrying the gear. He might not have quite the same sex appeal (unless you’re into that sort of thing) but he can bash out a cracking rendition of Purple Haze if you give him a guitar.
That said, despite not coming with quite as many wild aerodynamic fins and wings as its hatchback siblings, the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 still packs bucketloads of street cred, thanks to its aggressive AMG GT-style grille, huge alloy wheels and gaping air intakes.
Step inside, and the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq vRS completely outclassed in the style stakes. You get plenty of plush materials, some gorgeous metal-effect air vents, super-supportive sports seats and Mercedes’ signature dual-screen infotainment system.
This is pretty easy to use, comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and gets a simple-to-program sat-nav, but the voice-controlled personal assistant system isn’t quite as good as the one you can get in many BMWs.
What you don’t get in any small SUVs from BMW are the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35’s seven seats. The two in the front come with plenty of adjustment as standard and those in the middle are roomy enough for six-footers to stretch out, but the rearmost seats are difficult to climb into and only large enough for kids to sit comfortably. Bootspace is pretty minimal with all seven seats in place, but flip the rearmost row down and you’ll have plenty of room for some bulky suitcases.
The Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 takes the small-yet-practical GLB and adds much more power and four-wheel drive. Just don’t go thinking passengers in the back will enjoy any full-bore starts…
More interesting than how much you can squeeze into the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35’s boot, is what’s going on under its bonnet. Instead of the standard GLB’s 1.3-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines, you get a 306hp 2.0-litre petrol engine that drives all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
This grippy setup means the seven-seat AMG GLB 35 can sprint from 0-60mph in close to five seconds flat – that’s as fast as some serious hot-hatches. Unfortunately, while the AMG GLB 35’s outright pace and burbling soundtrack make a good first impression, its high seating position dulls your sense of speed and the car’s gurgling engine note is actually a synthesised noise piped through the car’s speakers.
Put the standard adaptive suspension into Sport+ mode, however, and the way the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 tackles a series of twisting corners will put a smile back on your face. It feels remarkably sure-footed for a seven-seater SUV and the eight-speed automatic gearbox feels more responsive than the seven-speed unit you get in the AMG A35 hatchback.
It’s still a little jerky around town, but at least the AMG GLB 35’s suspension irons out bumps pretty well in comfort mode. Sadly, no tweaking of the car’s settings can help muffle the rather loud wind and tyre noise you’ll hear at motorway speeds.
Don’t let this put you off the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35, however. If you’re looking for a sporty SUV that’s relatively small yet still able to seat seven, there are few cars like it. If, however, you aren’t too bothered about how fast your next car is and just want it to look sporty, stick to the standard GLB in AMG Line guise, instead.
The Mercedes-AMG GLB 35’s cabin looks fantastic, but it isn’t dramatically different from the standard GLB and some of the infotainment system’s voice controls aren’t all that reliable.