Mercedes GLB review
The Mercedes GLB is a small, stylish SUV with a posh cabin and seven seats, but alternatives are more practical, cheaper and come with a greater choice of engines.
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The Mercedes GLB is a family SUV with enough space inside for seven. It looks a little like the lovechild of Mercedes’ boxy brute the G-Class and its largest SUV the GLS, making the GLB come across as quite the little upstart with attitude.
Unlike the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Skoda Kodiaq, the Mercedes GLB is quite small for a seven-seater. But, there’s still enough space on its boxy body to pack plenty of chrome, loads of plastic faux-air vents and a whopping great front grille. Combined, these features make it look more like a baby GLS than an overblown hatchback.
It’s not just good-looking, though. The GLB is such a good car, it won the Best Family SUV in the 2021 carwow Car of the Year Awards.
Step inside, and you’ll be greeted by an equally posh-looking interior. The Mercedes GLB’s cabin looks a bit like it was drawn by someone copying the A-Class’ homework, but with enough changes to make sure they avoid getting put in design detention. The familiar five brushed-metal air vents look fantastic and most of the materials feel nice and yielding.
Unfortunately, the entry-level infotainment system lets the side down – you’ll definitely want to upgrade to the larger 10-inch screens instead of the standard car’s weedy 7-inch units.
You do at least get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard, but it’s a shame that only top-spec cars come with electrically adjustable seats. There’s plenty of room in the front five seats for adults to get comfy, but the sixth and seventh seats are only big enough for kids and the Mercedes GLB’s boot can’t match that in a Discovery Sport or Skoda Kodiaq.
If you mainly drive around town, go for the 200 petrol, but we think the 220d diesel in AMG line trim will suit the majority. Head to our deals page for the best price!
The Mercedes has the edge over these cars when driving in town, however. Its smaller size makes it fairly easy to manoeuvre and it’ll soak up the thud of large potholes pretty well, too.
Other SUVs are quieter to travel in at motorway speeds, however, and the Mercedes GLB doesn’t come with a great many engines to choose from. That said, the 200 petrol model is perfectly suited to pottering around town and the 220d makes a good motorway cruiser.
Neither, however, makes the Mercedes GLB particularly good fun to drive on a twisty back road, and you’ll have to pay extra for a top-spec car if you fancy a full suite of driver assistance systems.
If you’re happy to fork out for a few optional extras and want your practical SUV to be more comfortable and stylish than it is sporty, you should consider the Mercedes GLB. Sure, alternatives are cheaper and more practical, but few small SUVs can transport seven people as stylishly as the GLB.
The Mercedes GLB is one of the very few small SUVs that come with the option of seven seats, but those rearmost perches are cramped at best and leave almost no space left in the boot.
The Mercedes GLB’s boxy body and large front doors mean it’s a doddle to climb into the front. Like other seven-seat SUVs, you step up, rather than down, into the driver’s seat and the large windows give you a decent view out.
It’s easy to find a comfortable seating position too, thanks to the standard electric driver’s seat adjustment and a steering wheel that can be moved for height and reach. Although, it’d be nice if this was done electrically – like in many other Mercedes models – rather than with an old-fashioned lever.
On a similar note, you don’t get electric passenger seat adjustment as standard – for that you’ll want to pay extra for a high-spec AMG Line Premium Plus model – and even then you can’t lower the seat quite as far as you can in the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport if you prefer to hunker down behind the steering wheel.
At least this means there’s always space under the front seats for tall passengers sitting behind to slide their feet. Speaking of which, there’s ample space for a six-footer in the back and you get sliding and reclining seats as standard to give knee- and headroom a helpful boost.
Wherever you position these seats, you’ll find there’s plenty of headroom to go round – even in cars fitted with a sunroof – and there’s just enough space in the GLB’s cabin to carry three adults side-by-side. Although, the central seat isn’t quite as softly padded as the outer two.
The same can be said for the rearmost seats that come as standard in Sport, AMG Line and AMG Line Premium Plus models. These fold away under the boot floor and can be raised by pulling on a fabric tether attached to the seat base; although it’s a shame you can’t reach these from the back doors. The middle seats flip forward and slide out of the way when you pull a tab beside the outer headrests, but taller kids will find it a bit of a struggle to squeeze through this tight gap.
There’s a decent amount of space for children to get comfy once they’ve climbed in – if not as much as you’ll find in a Land Rover Discovery Sport – and the Mercedes GLB’s relatively large side windows mean that the third row of seats doesn’t feel too cramped or claustrophobic.
If you need to carry very young passengers, you’ll find it a doddle to lift a bulky baby seat through the Mercedes GLB’s wide rear door openings and the exposed Isofix anchor points help make it dead easy to lock it in place.
There are plenty of handy cubby spaces dotted about the Mercedes GLB’s interior to help you keep it looking neat and tidy. The glovebox is a decent size, there’s space for you to tuck a small flask under the centre armrest (which also has a couple of USB C ports) and you get two generous cup holders under a sliding cover in the centre console behind a storage tray for your phone.
Each for the four door bins can hold a large water bottle, and there’s a dedicated slot for storing a high-vis jacket in each door, too. Although, you could put these in the boot and use the slot for holding a drinks can, instead.
There’s a small fold-out storage tray between the front seats facing backwards and the centre portion of the middle seat folds forwards to form an armrest with two built-in cupholders. In the very back, there’s another pair of cupholders with another two USB C-type sockets. Unfortunately, there aren’t any traditional USB ports anywhere in the GLB’s cabin.
With all seven seats in place, you’ll have barely enough space in the Mercedes GLB’s boot to carry a couple of soft bags. Flip the third row of seats down, however, and you’ll open up a 570-litre boot.
That’s big enough for a few suitcases and a baby buggy, but you’ll be able to carry much more in the Land Rover Discovery Sport’s 689-litre boot and the Skoda Kodiaq’s 720-litre load bay.
That said, at least the Mercedes GLB’s boot is easy to load thanks to its flat load lip, and it has a few shopping hooks and tie-down points to help keep everything secure. There’s also a handy slot under the floor for storing the load cover – something you’ll have to do each time you want to use the rearmost seats.
Flip the middle row of seats down – using levers beside the outer headrests – and the Mercedes GLB’s boot grows to 1,805 litres. That’s big enough for a bike or a good-sized Ikea haul, but still significantly less than you can fit in the 2,065-litre boot of a Skoda Kodiaq.
That said, at least the Mercedes GLB’s flat boot floor means it’s dead easy to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.
The GLB is comfortable and easy to drive, but alternatives are more fun, quieter at speed and come with a wider range of engines.
You can get the Mercedes GLB with one petrol and two diesel engines, and with either front- or four-wheel drive – depending on which model you pick.
The entry-level 1.3-litre four-cylinder 200 petrol with 163hp is ideally suited to pottering around town. It’s smooth, fairly quiet, and reasonably punchy – although accelerating from 0-60mph still takes the best part of nine seconds. Mercedes claims it’ll return close to 40mpg, which you should be able to get close to in normal driving conditions.
If you do lots of long journeys, one of the two diesel cars will be a better choice. The more affordable 2.0-litre four-cylinder 200d model comes with 150hp and returns close to 50mpg (so Mercedes claims). It’s slightly faster to reach 60mph from rest than the 200 petrol but isn’t quite as smooth when you accelerate hard.
The more powerful 190hp 220d version of the same engine has less trouble getting up to speed – thanks in part to its standard four-wheel-drive system – and reaches 60mph from rest in around 7.5 seconds. Despite this, it only loses out to the 200d by around 5mpg.
You can get the 200d model with the same four-wheel-drive system as 220d versions, but it blunts both performance and fuel economy so is only worth considering if you’re planning to take your GLB off-road.
At the top of the range sits the GLB 35. This has a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with around 300hp and is by far the quickest version, although also by far the costliest to run. Eventually, a GLB 45 will join the range, too, with around 400hp and therefore even more impressive performance figures.
The Mercedes GLB’s raised body and large, square windows give you a reasonably good view out. The pillars beside the windscreen don’t produce too many blindspots at junctions and it’s dead easy to check over your shoulder before changing lanes on motorways.
However, the large rearmost pillars can make parking a little tricky and the upright windscreen design can block your view of high-level traffic lights if you’re tall and prefer to sit quite far back.
That said, the Mercedes GLB is still fairly easy to drive in town, thanks to its light controls and standard automatic gearboxes. The eight-speed unit you get in all but petrol-powered models are smooth and responsive, but the petrol’s seven-speed ’box can be a bit ponderous at times.
This is less noticeable when you head out of town and cruise along at motorway speeds. But, here, you’ll hear quite a bit of wind and tyre noise as a result of the Mercedes GLB’s bluff, boxy body and large alloy wheels. Thankfully, these large wheels don’t hurt how the Mercedes GLB deals with bumps and potholes.
Head down a twisty country road, and you’ll find the Mercedes GLB leans a little more than many similar-sized SUVs, but not to the extent that passengers in the back will have any great reason to feel car sick. If you’re looking for a small-yet-sporty seven-seater SUV, there’s always the AMG-tuned GLB 35 to consider, after all.
If you’re more interested in your new SUV being safe rather than sporty, you should check out the driver assistance systems that come as standard in AMG Line Premium Plus models. These include blind-spot warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and evasive steering assistance to help keep your safe and take the sting out of long stints behind the wheel.
The Mercedes GLB’s interior looks and feels great, but the infotainment system in entry-level models looks pretty dated compared with the top-spec bells-and-whistles unit.