Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The entry-level 1.3-litre petrol (badged GLB 200) has a seemingly healthy 161bhp and is fine for just pootling around town or when you’re by yourself. However, because most of its power arrives high up in the rev range, you’ll find it struggles on faster roads, and particularly when seven people are on board. It doesn’t help that its standard seven-speed automatic gearbox is slow to react when you ask for a burst of acceleration.
The gutsier diesels have a more responsive eight-speed auto 'box and are altogether better suited to the GLB. We prefer the 187bhp 220d over the 148bhp 200d (both are 2.0-litres), because its muscularity is a perfect fit for the GLB’s bus-like accommodation. It can get from 0-62mph in 7.6sec, which is quite a bit quicker than a Land Rover Discovery Sport D200 can and is on a par with the BMW X3 20d. It pulls strongly between 1500rpm and 4000rpm and can tow a caravan along without much difficulty, too.
The AMG 35 comes with its own adaptive suspension, which you can soften or firm up on demand. It's wafty enough in Comfort mode, but really firms up if you switch to Sport.
If you’re searching for outright fun behind the wheel, an Alfa Romeo Stelvio or BMW X3 would serve you better.
Still, the GLB has enough composure that it's not alarming to drive spiritedly, and the steering, while slow, is accurate and weights up with enough conviction to inspire confidence. There's more outright grip than a Discovery Sport generates, too.
The lowered and stiffened AMG 35 disguises its height better than the standard GLB, but it's not as agile or as hunkered down as the best sporty SUVs.