What's the news?
This is just a concept car for the Auto Shanghai show in China, due to be held at the end of the month, but are we looking at an all-new, seven-seat (believe it or not) SUV contender in the compact premium marketplace? Possibly - and it's called the Mercedes GLB.
Due to fit into the German manufacturer's range between the incoming new GLA and the existing GLC, the Concept GLB leverages the idea that the GLA Mk2 - which will be curvier and more coupe-like this time around - will be the one that focuses on driving fun, leaving a potential GLB production version able to be the supremely practical alternative.
This is no different to the A-Class and B-Class split that takes place in the regular car ranges, whereby the B is more pragmatic and spacious than the A. So the GLB, which is based on the same underpinnings as the A-Class, nevertheless manages to cram seven pews into a body that is 4,634mm long, 1,890mm wide and 1,900 tall, thanks to a 2,829mm wheelbase.
As you can see from the images, while the Shanghai-bound GLB is called a concept, it looks nearly production-ready. The styling fits the current Mercedes template, with Multibeam LED headlamps up front, short overhangs front and rear, contoured shoulder-lines and broad rear lamp clusters. Underbody protection and cladding gives the Concept GLB a rough-and-tumble look, while a 'designo Cashmere White Magno' paintjob makes it look urbane and sophisticated.
Inside, Mercedes is claiming that those third-row chairs are accommodating enough to accept 'two medium-sized occupants', whatever they may be, while the middle row's seat-backs split-fold in a 40:20:40 configuration. Those middle seats slide forward and backward by up to 140mm, too, shifting forward by 90mm and allowing for either a bigger boot in five-seat mode or more legroom for passengers six and seven otherwise, or sliding back by 50mm to make the five-seat configuration particularly generous for legroom in the second row. Chestnut Brown leather and wood trim are used on the Concept GLB show car, to give the cabin an upmarket air, while the MBUX infotainment system is in evidence.
At the moment, the engine used is the one from a Mercedes A 250 - which is to say the 'M260' four-cylinder petrol turbo, with 224hp and 350Nm. Power flows through an eight-speed 8G-DCT dual-clutch gearbox, to all four wheels via the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. This can split torque 80:20, 70:30 or 50:50 front-to-rear, according to whether the GLB is in Normal/Eco, Sport or Off-Road modes accordingly.
Britta Seeger, member of the board of management of Daimler AG for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales, said: "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. The Concept 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."