2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 Review


Intro
It is hard not to take note of the SUV craze that is dominating the automotive industry at the moment. Many companies are taking full advantage of the market trend, and Mercedes-Benz is the best at it. In order to capture all potential luxury crossover shoppers, the company has introduced a new crossover, the GLB-Class, for 2020.

The GLB is slotted between Mercedes’s subcompact SUV, the GLA, and compact SUV, the GLC. Its wheelbase is 4” longer than the GLA, and the overall length is 0.9” shorter than the GLC. Despite the smaller footprint, the boxy, rugged looking GLB offers more maximum cargo space than the latter. It also can seat up to seven with the optional third row bench seats, albeit those two seats are best suited for small children only. 

So the GLB sounds like a great alternative to the GLA and the GLC if the buyer seeks more practicality in a luxury compact SUV. Thanks to Mercedes-Benz Canada, we were given the 2020 GLB 250 for one week to find out. Below is our unbiased review.

Exterior
The exterior of the GLB 250 looks a lot like the larger GLS 450 that we have recently reviewed. Compared to the smooth exterior of the GLC, the rugged two-box design of the GLB is more off-road friendly. It features standard aluminum roof rails, chrome simulated underguards, and short overhangs at both front and rear end of the car for better attack and departure angles. 

Our tester comes with the $1700 Sport Package and the $1600 Technology Package. They provide the car with AMG style front grille, 19” 5 twin-spoke aero wheels, and multibeam led headlamps. The side of the GLB is dominated by a large greenhouse with chrome surrounds. The muscular shoulder line is reinforced by the raising beltline and the chiseled door panels. 

From the back, the GLB250 looks quite sporty for a SUV. The large roof spoiler and dual chrome tailpipes play a big role in it. The tailpipes are surrounded by a chrome looking rear apron that sits atop a large rear diffuser. The LED taillights are striking. They feature unique LED highlights for a distinctive light signature.

Interior
For anyone who has been in a Mercedes-Benz A-Class recently, the front dash of the GLB would look very familiar. It features the same dual screen infotainment system and the same jet turbine style air vents. The GLB however, looks slightly more rugged with beefy metal trims along the deck, door handles, and the center console. The optional ambient lighting system provides the wow factor that is expected of a Mercedes-Benz interior. Users can select from 64 different colors and various animated effects via the MBUX infotainment system. Below the center air vents is a roll of climate control buttons. The buttons are made of real aluminum and provide solid tactile feedback. Unfortunately there are also quite a bit of hard plastics in the cockpit. At least they are textured to look more premium, and strategically located out of sight. 

The front seats are very comfortable with beefy side bolsters and heated surfaces. The heated steering wheel is not standard. For that you will have to pay an additional $250. It really should be a standard piece of equipment for the Canadian market. It comes standard in most mainstream vehicles nowadays. Thanks to the large windows and two-piece panoramic sliding sunroof, the outward visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent. The cabin is also very quiet on the road. Part of it can be contributed to the hefty doors. Not only do they open wide for easy entry, but they also make a satisfying thud when you slam them shut. 

The rear seats provide a good amount of head and legroom, but they are not as padded as the front seats. The ability to recline and slide the rear seats forward by up to 6” gives the owner options to optimize the ratio between cargo space and rear cabin space. The back of the center console features two dedicated air vents for the rear cabin. It also hosts two USB C ports and a household 120VAC socket. Our tester did not come with the optional 3rd row seats, but given the amount of space left in the trunk, I can’t imagine it being too comfortable sitting in them. On the other hand, it is nice to be given the option when you need to pick up a couple extra kids from soccer practices.

Infotainment
The GLB 250 comes with the same excellent Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system we saw in the A-class. The MBUX consists of a few different components. First, the twin optional 10.25" (7” standard) displays that are positioned right next to each other to appear as one giant screen. The left screen sits right in front of the steering wheel and displays important vehicle information such as the speed, fuel economy, and engine rpm. The right screen, which is a touchscreen, sits right on top of the center console. It is multi-functional, and has an extensive, yet intuitive user interface. Android Auto and Apple Carplay are available with the premium package, but they really should be standard in 2020.

The second part of the MBUX system are the touchpads on the steering wheel. They are similar to the small touch pads we used to see on older Blackberry phones. The left one controls the left display, and the right for the right, simple. I love the fact that you never have to take your hands off the steering wheel to access all functions of the infotainment system.

There is another way you can control the many functions of the car without taking your hands off the wheel. This is accomplished via the LINGUATRONIC voice assist. It is a natural language smart assistant that functions like the Apple Siri or Google Assist. Simply say "Hey, Mercedes", or press the voice command button, and you can ask the GLB 250 to make a phone call, plot a new navigation route, close the roller sunshade, or change the interior light. The voice assistant can control basically anything that is not safety related. The system is smart enough to understand natural language commands like "I am cold" or "I am hungry", and responses by raise cabin temperature, or to find the closest restaurant.

The final part of the MBUX system is the track-pad that is located in the center console. There is a padded resting place for the wrist, which allows your fingers to scroll through the display menu effortlessly. 

One cool optional feature of the new infotainment system is the virtual reality style navigation system. When you are close to a junction, the center display would pull up the video feed from the front camera, and superimpose arrows to show you exactly where to turn. It is a very cool technology but does require you to take your eyes off the road to see. If you don’t want to take your eyes off the road while driving, the $1500 optional head-up display provides all of the same information directly onto the windshield in front of the driver. 

Standard GLB comes with a 6-speaker 100-watt audio system. For $700 more, you get a Burmester surround sound system that comes with 12 high-quality speakers and a 590-watt 9-channel digital amplifier.

Safety and Driver Assistance
The GLB 250 comes with the following standard safety features:

  • Active Brake Assist
  • ATTENTION ASSIST
  • Adaptive braking technology
  • Tire Pressure Loss Warning System
  • One-touch SOS calling 

The following features are optional:

  • MULTIBEAM LED headlamps
  • Adaptive Highbeam Assist
  • Blind Spot Assist
  • Vehicle Exit Warning
  • Traffic Sign Assist
  • Active Parking Assist
  • Active Blind Spot Assist
  • Active Distance Assist
  • Active Lane Change Assist
  • 360 camera

It is worth mentioning that the adaptive cruise control system of the GLB is one of the best I have used. It provides a very natural driving experience. The system doesn’t fidget like some other ones I have used, and keeps the car in the center of the lane without wandering from edge to edge. 

The GLB 250 has yet to be rated by NHTSA and IIHS at the time of writing.

Driving
In Canada, all of the GLB 250 models come equipped with a 2.0L inline-4 turbocharged engine that provides 221 hp of power and 258 lb.ft. of torque. The engine is coupled to a 4matic all wheel drive system that features an 8 speed dual clutch transmission. The drivetrain provides a good amount of low end torque and is capable of accelerating the 3891lb car from 0-100km/hr in 6.9 seconds. 

The dynamic drive selector allows you to choose between Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual mode. I like to leave the car in Sport mode as I find the transmission slightly lagging in Comfort mode. The drive selector also dictates how much power can be sent to the rear wheels through the 4matic AWD system. 

On the road, the GLB 250 feels surprisingly spirited (especially in Sport mode). The car is composed through fast corners, but glides through road bumps without waking up your butt. If you are looking for a more engaging ride, there is also the GLB 35. With an AMG-enhanced 2.0L turbocharged engine, The GLB 35 can go from 0-100km/hr in 5.2 seconds. That should be fast enough for most people, right?

Cargo Space & Storage
The GLB 250 offers great cargo capacity due to the boxy design. There is 560L of cargo space behind the second row seats. Folding the 40/20/40 rear seats down, the cargo capacity is increased to 1755L. Under the trunk floor is a tire inflation kit. The trunk also features mesh pockets and elastic straps to hold smaller items. Unfortunately you can’t fold the rear seats from the trunk. The pull strings that allow the rear seats to be folded forward can only be accessed through the rear cabin. The power tailgate can be foot activated, but that function is of course, optional. 

In cabin storage options are plentiful. The front side door pockets are wide and deep, but the rear ones are smaller. The glove compartment is decently sized, so is the center console storage bin. The front cup holders have integrated folding tabs to hold smaller diameter cups. You can also find additional cup holders in the rear folding armrest. 

Verdict
The GLB 250 is an interesting proposition by Mercedes-Benz. While its exterior may not be as sleek as the GLA and its interior may not be as luxurious as the the GLC, the GLB offers more practicality and better off-road ability than the both of them. It is surprisingly fun to drive and the ride quality is befitting of a luxury crossover. If you opt for the $3600 Premium Package, the interior of the GLB still delivers that wow factor expected of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle with fancy ambient lightings and large dual-screen display. 

If you are in the market for a luxury crossover with good interior space and a manageable footprint, or if you need occasional 3rd row seating, than the GLB deserves to be on the top of your list. You will need to be careful when you spec for your GLB though. The optional packages add to the total price quickly. 

Test Vehicle
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250

MSRP
Starting at $46,500 CAD, Price as tested at $55,540 CAD

Color
Cosmos Black Metallic

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