Home / Reviews / First Drive / Mercedes-Benz GLB 220d 4MATIC First Drive Review — Reasonable Merc for Seven

 

Seating seven people in a Mercedes-Benz is now possible without burning a huge hole in the pocket. We drive the top-end diesel GLB in Kodaikanal.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 220d 4MATIC

Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Mercedes-Benz currently have the largest number of luxury sport utility vehicles (SUV) on sale in India and the most popular of the lot is the GLC or so they say. They also said that there are many customers who would like a Mercedes that seats seven and the manufacturer has answered that by adding two more SUVs to the line-up: the GLB and the EQB. We went to Tamil Nadu to sample these cars on the twisty roads of Kodaikanal and the highways of Madurai. First, join me as I walk you through my experience with the GLB. The car is offered in three variants: the 200, the 220d, and the 220d 4MATIC. Of these, I drove the top-of-the-line 220d 4MATIC.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 220d 4MATIC

Mercedes claim that the GLB’s styling is based on their flagship GLS and the similarities are easy to spot. There are elaborate design elements that are unique to the GLS which make it stand out as a luxury SUV. These have been tastefully modified to fit into the GLB’s smaller footprint, giving the car a purposeful stance without losing any of its larger sibling’s charm and class. The 220d 4MATIC further gains in attractiveness because it exclusively features the star-studded grille at the front and a few details from the AMG line, including stunning 19-inch wheels.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 220d 4MATIC

In spite of being a little more than 4.6 metres long, the GLB does not look like a stretched-out SUV and that, we believe, is its biggest virtue. The car stands proudly as a seven-seater in a luxury segment where not many manufacturers offer such versatility, exuding style and function in equal measure.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 220d 4MATIC

Once the doors are closed, the outside world gets shut out; such is the Mercedes treatment. The opulence of the three-pointed star is indisputable in the first row of this car. The electrically adjustable sport seats offer a good balance of lateral support and luxury, making them uniformly comfortable for fast cornering and long-distance cruising. A slender tablet runs across two-thirds of the dashboard and the two 10.25-inch touchscreen displays within relay details to the driver and handle infotainment duties through a crisp display and seamless interface. In addition to the touchscreen, one could also use the steering-mounted controls or a touchpad on the centre console to navigate through the menus. Furthermore, the quality of materials used in the cabin leaves one without complaint and in a favourable position to appreciate the other luxury items the GLB offers. These include wireless smartphone charging, MBUX capabilities, automatic air-conditioning, and ambient lighting. Even so, I feel Mercedes should have offered wireless smartphone connectivity and ventilated seats in a car like this.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 220d 4MATIC

The second row of the GLB has a bench seat that can accommodate three adults in reasonable comfort. Plus, it also receives its own air-conditioning and device charging outlets. It is without a doubt a comfortable place to be but “luxurious” was not the first word that came to mind when I settled in. Although there is ample adjustment for leg-room and reclining, it falls below expectations in terms of under-thigh support for most tall people. Meanwhile, the third row is best reserved for children and pets. Both rows can be folded completely flat for maximum boot space but ingress and egress into the third row could have been easier. Also, the lack of separate air-conditioning and charging points in the third row seems odd for a car of this calibre.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 220d 4MATIC

From the driver’s seat, the GLB does not feel like a seven-seater SUV. The flat-bottomed steering wheel hints at its sporty attribute and the car is well equipped to deliver on that front. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine that develops 190 hp and a peak torque of 400 Nm. The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic is calibrated according to driving modes and does step up to the challenge in good form when flicked into Sport mode. The GLB’s driving dynamics are a notch higher than what one would expect from a seven-seater. Its responsive steering, stability around corners, and nimble handling make one believe that the GLB shrinks a bit when you drive it fast—a characteristic that made it just as easy to drive along the narrow and congested roads of Kodaikanal town. As enjoyable as it was in Sport mode, the car switched easily into cruiser duties in Comfort mode and that is where it feels most in its element. The ride quality is excellent over most urban roads and it is only over the worst surfaces that there is hint of the compromises made for nimble handling. Nothing that warrants a complaint, though. With disc brakes all around backed by a suite of electronics, deceleration is rapid and stable. Prospective buyers will also be glad to know that the GLB was awarded a five-star NCAP rating and comes equipped with airbags across all three rows.

The drive from Kodaikanal to Madurai was completed with no stress and no fatigue whatsoever. At the end of the journey, the car proved to be a capable tourer, one that is easy enough to handle in town as well. Of course, with an endless list of features and a cabin that is rich in attention to detail, I was not left wanting for anything either. The GLB’s real test will be conducted when all seven seats are occupied but that will have to wait for a later date.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 220d 4MATIC

By the way, the GLB arrives in India as a completely built-up unit (CBU), so one may expect a fairly hefty price tag. However, for the kind of versatility it offers, this car serves as a bridge for a customer who wants something between the GLA and the GLC with more seats and there are not many options in that segment. It slots in between the Škoda Kodiaq and the Land Rover Discovery Sport. So, pricing is going to be a crucial aspect for this car’s success in India. Although the price was not announced at the time of publishing, we expect it to be upwards of Rs 60 lakh (ex-showroom).

Watch the full review video here:

Launch Update:

GLB 200: Rs 63.80 lakh
GLB 220d: Rs 66.80 lakh
GLB 220d 4MATIC: Rs 69.80 lakh

These are introductory ex-showroom prices.

Also Read: Mercedes EQB 300 4MATIC

 

About the author: Joshua Varghese

 

Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight

 

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