With the current competitive popularity of SUV/Crossover segments, you’d think there wouldn’t be room for another model to fill an untapped niche product. But never underestimate the power of smart design and marketing.
To wit, we feature the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35. It possesses all the important features many SUV buyers demand, plus a noteworthy (potentially) polarizing style that’ll attract or repel with a good measure of sporty capabilities. I honestly love it.
The Mercedes-Benz GLB adds to the already abundant family of its GLA, GLC, GLE, GLS and G siblings. Yet, I predict it will be a popular option given its cool retro boxy silhouette. All at a price that begins at $39,000 (base 250) or $49,000 for the AMG version.
The AMG GLB35 exterior is a splendid combo of boxy, beefy and sinister in Mountain Grey Metallic paint with just enough black trim. It brings a front splitter, roof spoiler and chunkier rear bumper, including two black tailpipes. Get the optional AMG Night Package ($720) to include quad exhausts.
It might look like a Crossover, but I’d say think hot hatch. The AMG-added sports facia delivers a bolder stance than anything else in this crowded category.
The front includes the AMG-specific grille with cool LED headlights and illuminated Star badge. Pronounced roof rails make the AMG version look like a baby G-wagon at a much lighter cost. Optional 21” AMG Multi-Spoke rims set off the cool brawny persona. I liked it immediately.
The AMG version of their tamer siblings brings ample oomph to the party. While the engine isn’t hand-built, it still delivers surprising power and acceleration from the perky AMG tuned 2.0L Inline-4 Turbo delivering 302hp/295 lb.ft. torque. A responsive AMG 8-speed 4MATIC Performance transmission is all-wheel drive, albeit front-wheel bias, unless you need full traction. 0-60 is an admirable 5.1 seconds. Choose between Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual drive mode settings. In Comfort, the GLB cruises like a champ but can transform into a giddy rambunctious ride in the Sport settings.
The adaptive suspension soaks up the bumps nicely even with the enlarged 21” wheels. Body lean in turns is surprisingly subtle given its high center of gravity. Plus, there’s a giddy growl when pushing the engine and the paddle shifting is instantaneous in Sport modes. For a sports car buff, this ride is not only fun but practical as well with the added storage capacity. There’s even a fun launch mode when the mood strikes.
Gas mileage is a decent 21/26 with a 365-mile range.
Mercedes-Benz continually delivers luxury appointments inside – even in their more economical rides. The GLB’s fit and finish are excellent. The Black MB-Tex with DINAMICA leather heated (optional ventilated) seats with contrasting stitching are supple and supportive. Seat positioning is easy to dial in, but I wish you could lower the driver’s seat height.
Back seat room is generous – and they recline! The GLB offers a third row (only one in its class), yet it’s not workable for adults. Yet, the boxy design allows for extraordinary storage of 24 cu.ft. and 64 cu.ft, when the 60-40 split rear seats are folded down.
The heated square-bottom sporty AMG steering wheel feels perfect and houses many controls at your fingertips via dials and mini-track pads. Two lovely 10.25” digital displays for instrumentation and infotainment are seamlessly combined for an upscale techy look. Both are programmable with various motifs to fit your preference.
Seat adjustments are conveniently placed in the doors. I’m a big fan of the gearshift on the right steering wheel stalk that frees up valuable room on the console. Lighted kick plates and up to 64 ambient lighting choices are a welcome touch.
Numerous large drink holders are handy, along with optional wireless charging ($200) and enough USB-C ports. Large round turbine vents cool and heat the cabin quickly.
360-degree Surround View cameras help maneuver the GLB Coupe into tight confines. A double-pane panoramic roof ($1,500) illuminates the interior. Standard AMG Carbon Fiber trim adds to the sporty elegance. More options, including Head Up Display ($1,100) and AMG Drive Units ($400), are worthy additions.
The twin displays with the MBUX touchscreen infotainment screen are gorgeous. Drivers have the choice managing the plethora of settings via a track pad sitting on the console or utilizing the touchscreen. An impressive 12-speaker 540watt Burmester Surround Audio system is plenty good for audiophiles.
The mindboggling MBUX technology possesses more tech toys than you’d probably use, but isn’t it always nice to have choices? Bluetooth voice transmission is crystal clear, as well, and Apple Car Play and Android Auto are standard.
This brawny beast also delivers the latest reassuring safety features, including the handy Driver Assistance Plus and Parking Assistant packages. It will also gently remind you to stay in your lane.
The 2021 AMG GLB35 4MATIC is a superb blend of cool looks, grin-inducing performance, sumptuous luxury and impressive technology. At a base price of $49,500, this spirited people mover will deliver its inhabitants in creature comfort while effortlessly barreling down the road whenever the mood strikes.
Golf Bag Storage: A bunch – depending on how many seats are folded down
Curbside Appeal: A retro cool presence
0-60: 5.1 sec.
MPG: 21/26 Observed 21.5 in spirted driving
Must-Haves: Driving/Parking, Multimedia and Premium packages
Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
Base Price: $49,500
Price as Tested: $61,655
Who Buys It: Those desiring cool looks, generous storage and fun performance
Finish Line: A must-drive when separating yourself from the herd
Test-drive the 2021 AMG GLB35 4MATIC at Park Place Motorcars in Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington and Mercedes-Benz of Plano.