April 21, 2021 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 AMG Line

Breaking New Ground

With the departure of the BMW 2-Series Gran Tourer (F46) model in our market, the much-awaited all-new Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class (X247), courtesy of the AUTO NATION GROUP, the exclusive country distributor, is now the only premium compact luxury 7-seater crossover available. The GLB is positioned in between the 8-inch shorter GLA and just short of an inch longer GLC crossovers featuring 7-passenger capability for the first time for the 2nd generation MFA2 (Modular Front Architecture) platform. It joins the larger GLE and GLS SUV models with the extra passenger capacity at a more attainable price. The only other premium luxury vehicle that competes directly with the GLB is the slightly smaller Range Rover Discovery Sport with retail pricing beginning at P4,490,000.00.

Thus far, for our market, the solo variant offered is this fairly comprehensive GLB 200 AMG Line model. Our Digital White test unit may have very modest figures for dynamic measures; however, as the sum of the culmination of all the parts, the end result is surprisingly quite exemplary. The GLB is packaged with different engines and trims in other markets which include the variable torque all-wheel-drive 4MATIC system, turbodiesels, plug-in hybrid and a fully electric version, more potent 2.0-liter gasoline turbos, and the 8-speed DCT transmissions.

The GLB 200 uses a new and very compact all-aluminum 1.3-liter transverse inline-4 direct injection turbocharged engine that was co-developed with Renault which also has the cylinder shutoff system for more efficient operation in the partial-load range (between 1250 rpm and 3800 rpm, the intake and exhaust valves of the second and third cylinder are closed by valve clearance adjustment) to help reduce emissions and extend range. Interestingly, aside from the engine, the Alliance Group of Renault-Nissan applies the MFA2 platform to the Infiniti QX50 and QX55 albeit in a shorter wheelbase compared to the Mercedes-Benz GLB. The other well-known co-development was with the Nissan Navara-based X-class pickup truck which has been discontinued. The engine powers only the front wheels and is mated to a 7-speed DCT automatic transmission so despite its appearance and unique packaging, the GLB 200 is defined as a luxury multi-passenger crossover and not a full-fledged SUV with off-road ability. What is more important for our market though is ground clearance and the GLB has a healthy 8.4 inches (213 mm) of it which consequently allows it to have a wading depth of a foot (300 mm) of water.

Compared to the less powerful and slower BMW 218i Gran Tourer, the more spacious Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 has a 49 mm longer wheelbase, 78 mm longer body, is 34 mm wider, and 17 mm taller. Despite having a longer wheelbase than a fully-fledged ladder-chassis SUV like the Toyota Prado Turbodiesel or even the Toyota Fortuner, the Mercedes-Benz is still smaller but its optimized dimensions allow considerable latitude and versatility with seating configurations which makes the cabin feel almost as spacious but with a sublime ride consistent with the brand’s characteristics. The third-row seating is still best offered to young small children for long distance trips but if the second row is set forward to its maximum rail position, adults can fit in the back for short urban jaunts while they keep their smartphones charging on their own dedicated rear USB-C port. With the third-row folded, trunk capacity is 623 liters but with both rear rows folded flat that number swells to 1,756 liters.

I wouldn’t describe the GLB as stunning but it is attractive in its own unique way. The AMG Line packaging significantly helps with the exterior aesthetics and interior creature comforts. The Carbon-structure trim combined with the aluminum-look tubular elements on the dashboard and center console are very tasteful. The ARTICO /DINAMICA synthetic seats are very comfortable for the front and second rows. The most obvious interior feature aside from the very cool climate control vents are the 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster and 7.0-inch infotainment screen run with the MBUX system (higher variants get the full 10.25-inch monitors). MBUX uses the intelligent ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice activation system similar to ‘Siri’ and ‘Alexa’ to operate desired car functions. For the asking price, I wish the standard audio system was the optional Burmester® Surround Sound system.

As a tall wagon, the .32 cd drag coefficient is commendable. The low interior cabin noise when travelling is excellent thanks to that, the build quality, and the generous high-quality materials used. The ride and handling on distinctive 19-inch AMG® alloys featuring a twin 5-spoke design with recessed Titanium Grey ribs wrapped with Pirelli P Zero 235/50R19 99W tires are remarkable. There is no spare so Mercedes-Benz provides a TIREFIT kit with tire inflator. The GLB uses McPherson front struts, while the rear use acoustically and vibrationally decoupled multi-link axles with compression springs. The chrome diamond-block grille, the unique full-LED lighting, authentic dual rear exhausts, and the very stylish interior all help to make the newest Mercedes-Benz in our market very compelling. The brakes are very strong, 13.0-in vented and cross-drilled discs up front with 12.6-in vented discs at the rear which proves how much faster the more powerful variants are but don’t be discouraged because that also means you can sustain more controlled pace when you are on the move, making up for the modest power. The success of the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 AMG Line is really only held back by its retail pricing. The expert synergy and real world results of the modest drivetrain more than makes up for the size of the engine. It is actually the sweetest, most practical and most compelling model in the entire domestic roster of Mercedes-Benz Philippines today.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4
Displacement 1332 cc
Cylinder Head dohc 16V
Fuel Injector Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 161 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 184 lb-ft @ 1620-4000 rpm
Transmission 7-Speed DCT

Performance

Top Speed 210 km/h (130 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 9 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 6.1 L/100 km Overall

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 3,890,000.00
What's Great The lone wolf in the genre, excellent build-quality, nice ride and handling, very smooth and efficient, well appointed.
What's Not So Price. Does not have the 64-color ambient lighting with illuminated dash vents. The GLB 250 4MATIC variant is the sweet spot in the range. Front-wheel drive only.
C! Editors Rating 9.5/10
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