Making its debut at the 2019 Shanghai auto show recently, Mercedes –Benz new GLB Concept is the go-anywhere, sporty middle brother to the smaller GLA crossover slotting under the GLC.

Preview By Veeno Dewan

Making its debut at the 2019 Shanghai auto show recently, Mercedes –Benz new GLB Concept is the go-anywhere, sporty middle brother to the smaller GLA crossover slotting under the GLC. As a front-drive-based compact Mercedes model, it shares a platform with the A- and CLA-classes, as well as the next-generation GLA. Thankfully the GLB looks different in the M-B lineup with its own rugged look, there is pleasing muscularity to the Crossover with its design-forward visage. Compared with the GLA and GLC, the Mercedes-Benz GLB Concept has a more square   shape, with short overhangs for off road approach and departure angles. A daring new grille, unique lower bumper design and the various protective claddings all add to the new look. It’s an inch shorter than the GLC, two inches narrower, and less than an inch taller. It wears a boxier design characterized by a more upright front end with rectangular headlights. The concept featured an integrated roof box, big off- road BFGoodrich tires and LED spotlights at the front and rear. It is however hard to say if some of these features will make it to future production model, of course.

“We asked ourselves whether there is still space between the GLA and GLC in our successful SUV range. The concept GLB is the answer to this question. With it we are demonstrating the creative ideas we have for this segment, too,” said Britta Seeger, member of the board of management of Daimler AG. “The GLB is a durable and practical SUV with nonetheless compact dimensions. Whether it is a generous, seven-seater family vehicle or a versatile leisure-time companion, we are certain that this concept will be of great interest to our customers.” Needless to say, despite it being called a concept, the GLB will reach production.

The cabin features atypically luxury look with features such as open-pore walnut wood trim, Nappa and nubuck, unique chestnut brown leather features and special trim elements like open-pore walnut and contrasting orange trim and accents. Despite its compact dimensions the GLB offers a third-row seating option, a first for Mercedes-Benz in this size class.  Mercedes claim the third-row seat is comfortable enough to accommodate two medium-sized occupants, and  stows  flush into the cargo floor to increase load capacity.

The middle row features a 40/20/40 split and can be moved forward by 90 mm to create more space for occupants in the rear or moved backwards by 40 mm to make room for a five-seat configuration. The seatbacks recline for more comfort and flexibility. They can be slid fore and aft through a range of 5.5 inches, and features backrests that recline through eight positions of tilt. To make access to the third row easier, the second-row seats fold forward and flip up. A total of four child safety seats can be fitted to the second and third rows.

There is a widescreen cockpit for the driver with extra-wide, high-resolution screen that replaces the instrument cluster and the infotainment system’s display. The right side of it displays the cutting-edge, customizable Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system. Mercedes’ next-gen MBUX infotainment system set up with latest in navigation, entertainment, and AI-based assistance operates the huge dual display in the dash. Motivation is supplied by a M260 four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine rated at 224 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, hooked up to a an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The GLB will of course offer Mercedes excellent 4MATIC atic all-wheel drive with variable torque distribution and three different configurations: Eco/Comfort (80/20), Sport (70/30) and Off-road (50/50).

Chances are the GLB will enter production later this year as a 2020 model, in both FWD and AWD configurations, as the GLB 250, equipped with the 2.0L turbo four. There may be a monster 400-plus-hp model tuned by AMG a little later during the model’s production run.  A   plug-in hybrid variant and an electric model may also be on the cards. The Mercedes-Benz GLB will go on sale before the end of 2019. Pricing to be announced.