Shanghai concept previews upcoming production SUV, complete with MBUX and three rows of seating.
Mercedes-Benz has revealed the Concept GLB ahead of its public debut at the Shanghai motor show later this week, giving us a clear indication of what to expect from the upcoming production model.
While dubbed a ‘concept’, the Concept GLB looks achingly close to production specification, though the show car has a few off-road bits that may not be fully indicative of the final production.
Measuring 4634mm long, 1890mm wide and 1900mm tall, the Concept GLB’s dimensions are in the ballpark of something like a Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, known as the Tiguan XL in China. There’s a hefty 2829mm between the axles too, really appealing to the Chinese market’s obsession with rear seat space.
What’s really news is the fact the Concept GLB features three rows of seating, confirming recent rumours that Mercedes-Benz’s new crossover will offer up to seven seats.
In terms of the exterior design, the GLB takes on a bit of a ‘mini me’ look inspired by the larger GLC and GLE, with muscular proportions combined by signature LED lighting cues that bear a strong resemblance to its aforementioned siblings.
Unlike its bigger stablemates, though, the GLB has a more boxy aesthetic, particularly at the rear, no doubt maximising headroom for those in the rearmost pews. Adding to this is the tall glasshouse, aiding outward visibility for the driver and passengers.
The concept also features “extra show car elements” to equip it “for expeditions”, including LED spotlights mounting on the roof, and off-road tyres wrapped around the bi-colour 17-inch alloy wheels.
Complementing these elements are rugged off-road-styled bumpers front and rear, with skidplate-like inserts.
Inside, the Concept GLB properly reveals its links to the Mercedes-Benz compact vehicle line-up, which already includes the A-Class hatchback and sedan, the B-Class MPV, along with the CLA four-door coupe and Shooting Brake.
Up front the driver and passenger are treated to a familiar dual-screen setup that incorporates the driver’s instruments and central infotainment interface, running the MBUX connected software with ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice recognition functions.
The overall design of the dashboard and centre console is pretty much identical to that of the new-generation B-Class, with a minimalistic approach to physical switchgear augmented by three large circular air vents and plenty of storage cubbies.
Unique to the Concept GLB is the eye-catching chestnut brown nappa leather and nubuk leather suede upholstery, which extends to just about every touchable surface include the dashboard and steering wheel, accented by open-pored walnut wood inserts, orange stitching and ambient interior lighting.
As mentioned earlier, the GLB’s party trick is the foldable 50:50 third row of seating, which the company describes as “more than emergency seats”.
Mercedes-Benz says the rearmost pews can accommodate “two medium-sized occupants” in relative comfort, and also fold completely flat to increase luggage space.
In the second row, there’s 40:20:40 split folding seat backs with 40:60 slide adjustment (140mm fore and aft), also incorporating an Easy-Entry fold function to access the third row.
Touting the GLB’s family-friendly nature, Mercedes-Benz claims up to four child seats can be attached in the second and third rows of seats.
Power in the Concept GLB comes from a 165kW/350Nm turbocharged petrol engine, paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The ‘M260’ 2.0-litre turbo unit is the same one used in the A250 4Matic. Like the all-wheel drive A-Class, the GLB sends drive to both axles.
In the Concept GLB, the 4Matic system has several drive modes, including Eco/Comfort, Sport, and Off-Road.
Opting for Eco/Comfort distributes torque 80:20 front to rear, while Sport adjusts that to 70:30. Finally, Off-Road uses the all-wheel drive clutch as an inter-axle diff lock, and balances the torque 50:50 between the front and rear.
Mercedes-Benz is remaining tight-lipped about when it plans to launch the production version of the new GLB, though given how close to production the concept looks, we’d wager it isn’t far off.
Expect the GLB to be revealed in its final form later this year, perhaps at the Frankfurt motor show in September, before a staggered sales rollout in the months after. Australia will likely get its first deliveries in 2020.
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