Mercedes GLB review

Category: Large SUV

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:diesel, petrol
Available colours:
Mercedes GLB 2020 RHD rear tracking
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  • Mercedes GLB 2021 RHD
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  • Mercedes GLB 2021 RHD boot open
RRP £36,945What Car? Target Price from£34,788
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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 most powerful engine is the 302bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol in the AMG 35. That can hit 0-62mph in just 5.2sec, aided by its standard-fit launch control system and four-wheel drive.

Suspension and ride comfort

This is one of the GLB’s weakest areas. Most versions jostle you around over uneven road surfaces, and tend to really thump over potholes, whereas the rival Discovery Sport is very comfortable, aside from a bit of float over undulations.

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.

Mercedes GLB 2020 RHD rear tracking

Handling

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.

Noise and vibration

All of the engines are hushed when you're cruising along the motorway, but the 200 petrol is coarse when you work it hard, which you often need to do. The diesels aren't as screechy at high revs, but they do rumble away in most situations; not in an irritating way, but more so than a Q5 40 TDI.

The AMG 35 is deliberately noisier, although it isn't particularly entertaining to listen to, in part because some of what you hear on the inside is augmented via the speakers and sounds fake.

There's quite a bit of suspension noise in the GLB, and its door mirrors whip up wind noise at high speeds. Road noise on coarse surfaces is also fairly pronounced so, overall, if you like a bit of peace and quiet, you'll enjoy a Q5, X3 or Discovery Sport rather more.

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