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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Review: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 AMG Line


Nothing screams “Made for Europe” more than the Mercedes-Benz GLB. With SUVs now the prevalent choice of car shoppers even in a region known for its affinity towards wagons and hatchbacks, Mercedes-Benz had to step in, and fast. At the same time, they still can’t ignore the tight city streets where their new SUV was meant to be driven in. The result is the 7-seater GLB—a segment-blurring SUV that’s small on the outside, yet big on the inside.

As the eight, yes eighth car to ride on the brand’s Modular Front Architecture—basically the bones of every compact Mercedes-Benz car—the GLB is just a tad shorter than the C-Class-based GLC, but longer than the Land Rover Discovery Sport. It is, however, narrower than the Discovery Sport too. Segment-blurring, indeed.



Equipped with the AMG Line package, the local Mercedes-Benz GLB does well in disguising its sensible packaging. The upright, squared-off face, angular body lines, and twin-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels aren’t out of place in something that’s way sportier. The only clue that it has three rows of seats? The greenhouse that extends almost all the way to the hatch. In a lot of ways, the GLB even looks better than the 5-seater GLA and its jellybean styling.

Based on exterior footprint alone, there are apprehensions whether seven adults can fit in post dessert in the GLB. Open the door though, and you’ll find an abundance of space. It’s almost a given that the front row space is excellent, so the surprising aspect here is how the second- and third-row seats remain accommodating for as long as occupants agree to share knee room. The second-row is definitely better of the two thanks to its theater-style arrangement (they’re mounted higher than the front seats). The third row, however, is like flying economy. Still, at least Mercedes-Benz remembered to save room for feet beneath the seats in front.



Opening the tailgate reveals a square-shaped cargo area. With five seats in use, the GLB can easily fit large suitcases or strollers. Once all seven seats are put in play though, there’s just enough space for a row of shopping bags, and that’s it. Still, at least there’s a handy parcel shelf under the cargo floor which can accommodate small items including the tonneau cover when not in use.

In front, the GLB is basically a copy-and-paste of Mercedes-Benz’s other compact cars. There are two 7-inch screens—one serving as the gauges, and the other, the infotainment connected by a large piece of shiny black plastic. It looks impressive at first, but admittedly, over time, it does start to look somewhat cheap. Ditto the materials which are a mix of plush, soft-touch material and run-of-the-mill hard plastics.



Dispensing traditional gauges for all digital ones (in a hoodless binnacle no less) is gutsy, but the result is one that’s highly configurable and legible. The steering wheel touchpads (ala BlackBerry) can be frustrating—swipes and prods aren’t registered the first time around—so thankfully, it’s a set-it-once-and-leave-it affair. Meanwhile, the infotainment system is controlled by either the touchscreen or touchpad. The latter method is less distracting for the driver, but passengers may want to stick with fiddling with the screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but as a bit of a warning, only USB Type C ports are present so owners of older phones may need to purchase new, compatible cables.

Locally, the Mercedes-Benz GLB is available in two engine variants—the GLB 200 and the GLB 35 AMG. For this test though, the focus is on the more pedestrian GLB 200. Now, despite the ‘200’ designation, this variant actually uses a turbocharged 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. This raises some eyebrows given it’s supposed to pull 1,480 kilograms plus seven people, potentially. Well, engineers do seem to realize that and as a result, it makes a respectable 163 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque.



It’s a fine enough engine for those who’ll use their GLB mainly around town or with just two people. But because it relies mostly on boost for power—and it arrives high up the rev range—it does tend to struggle on faster roads, particularly during overtaking. It’s not hard to think how it’ll be when seven people are actually on board. The powertrain itself is quiet, but once the turbo spools up, you can actually hear the whooshes and psssssts from the wastegate. Meanwhile, the 7-speed dual clutch is smooth for as long as it’s not prodded and poked too much, but once it’s asked for a burst of acceleration, it can be slow to react.

The same can be said with the rest of the car. The GLB rewards sensible drivers who’re generally smooth behind the wheel. For these people, they’ll find the handling to be progressive with consistently weighted (but light) steering. The ride though is on the firm side with bigger potholes tending to send jolts and thumps into the cabin.



Priced at P 3.590-million, the Mercedes-Benz GLB isn’t exactly affordable, but versus its comparably-sized rivals—the BMW X3 (P 3.990-million) and the Land Rover Discovery Sport (P 4.490-million)—it’s the most attainable. Yet, at the same time, you can’t shake off the feeling that certain compromises have been made to achieve that price. It’s not noticeable at first, but it’s the little things that add up over time. The smaller dual screens aside, this supposedly premium SUV doesn’t have a power tailgate nor does it have smart keyless entry despite the push-button starter. The driver seat has a built-in massager along with power adjustment, but the passenger seat is all manual. The backup camera also looks low-res (but it does have active park assist), and the side mirrors fold manually (but the position is tied into the driver’s seat memory). In short, the feature set is a weird hodge-podge that doesn’t make sense.

Sensible money says you should go for something else, and there are a lot of choices in this particular price range. But for some, there’s still some panache in owning a car with a three-pointed star upfront. That said, the GLB doesn’t just rely solely on that. It’s a well thought off family SUV. The specs feel like they’re all over the place, but at least it gets the fundamentals right. The standard seven seats and compact exterior size is certainly appealing to buyers who’d otherwise feel intimidated driving a land yacht. Plus, it’s got reasonably good tech and road manners as well.



2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 AMG Line

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Ownership 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 AMG Line
Year Introduced 2020
Vehicle Classification Luxury SUV
Warranty 2 years / Unlimited mileage
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.3
Aspiration Turbo
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 163 @ 5,000
Nm @ rpm 250 @ 1,620-4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Unleaded / 95~
Transmission 7 DCT
Cruise Control Yes, w/ Limiter
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.62 km/L @ 11 km/h,
9.61 km/L @ 18 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,634
Width (mm) 1,834
Height (mm) 1,659
Wheelbase (mm) 2,829
Curb Weight (kg) 1,555
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Pirelli PZero MO 235/50 R 19 W (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3 (2nd row),
3-pt ELR x 2 (3rd row)
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Attention Assist
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Nappa Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual
Seating Surface Fabric/Leatherette
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40 (2nd row),
50/50 (3rd row)
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Rear View Mirror Manual, Day/Night
Proximity Key No
Climate Control Auto, Dual Zone, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
USB Type C
Bluetooth
GPS
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

4 comments:

  1. that infotainment, at this price, is a joke, but of course, taxes

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a Mitsubishi Expander GLS 7Seater and they are almost identical dimensions with this GLB though My Expander is cheaper but less equipped. I'm wondering why doesn't have Sunroof for a 3.6M price?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ang dahilan kung bakit less features less specs ang lahat ng dumadating sa pinas especially mga european luxury brand, ay ang ating taxing system, pagdating ng pinas natriple ang prices then less specs pa sya

      Delete
    2. GLB's overall dimensions are not almost identical with the Expander. Medyo malayo esp the width and length.

      Delete

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