Mercedes-Benz's trademark of offering niches within niches has continued on into more SUV territory, with the new-to-Australia GLB seven-seat compact SUV now on sale at local dealerships.
Somewhat inspired by the design of the old boxy-shaped GLK-Class (which was never offered Down Under) but with an added row of seats, the GLB has now touched down as a tow-strong line-up, but will be joined by a new flagship.
Read next: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB revealed
As far as rivals go, there are not too many other players for the GLB to compete with, except the Land Rover Discovery Sport which can also seat seven people in a luxury cabin.
Read next: Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e 2019 review
"We’re extremely excited to launch the GLB and add an all-new nameplate to the Mercedes-Benz range in Australia," product communications manager Ryan Lewis told WhichCar.
"The GLB’s unique combination of attributes makes it well-suited to our market, and initial feedback locally has been very promising."
Third-row seats in the GLB
GLB pricing starts at $59,900 for the GLB200, bumping up to $73,900 for the mid-tier GLB250 4Matic and topping out with the AMG-fettled GLB35 4Matic at $88,900 (all prices before on-road costs).
Read next: Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 review
All cars will receive the third row as standard, which Mercedes-Benz says is good for passengers up to 168 centimetres tall.
Verifying those claims will have to wait until a first drive, but other models that pertain to accommodate as many in a similar-sized vehicle have failed to provide for people much larger than children. We're looking at you Peugeot 5008 and aforementioned Land Rover.
Safety hasn’t been forgotten for the littlies up the back, with retractable head restraints, seat belt pre-tensioners, side window airbags and ISOFIX anchor points for baby seats.
A drink compartment splits the two rearmost seats, while two outboard storage spaces contain a USB port each.
The GLB's boot can expand from 560 litres (with the second row in place) to 1755 litres (second and third rows stowed), and when the third-row seating is lowered, the seatbacks are flush with the boot floor for easier loading.
Standard safety features across the range include active parking assist, adaptive high beam headlights, blind spot assist, lane-keeping assistant, active brake assist and nine airbags.
The GLB200 kicks off the new range with a 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that sends 120kW/250Nm via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic to the front wheels.
It gets the dual 10.25-inch widescreens that comprise the MBUX infotainment system (above), Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, wireless phone charging, keyless entry and start, an automated boot hatch, comfort seats in leatherette, illuminated door sills and a set of 19-inch multi-spoke wheels.
The range then steps up to the GLB250 model which is powered by a 165kW/350Nm version of Merc's popular 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine.
It uses an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic to send power to where it’s needed using the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
Over and above the GLB200’s spec, the GLB250 gets a panoramic sunroof, electric and heated front seats with memory, adaptive damping suspension, 19-inch wheels and an off-road package.
READ NEXT: Mercedes-Maybach raises the luxe SUV stakes
Beyond that, specification edges into the red zone with the AMG GLB35, which uses an AMG-tuned 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine for an output of 225kW/400Nm sent to all wheels via an eight-speed AMG dual-clutch automatic.
A swathe of AMG-specific bits and pieces permeate the GLB35’s equipment list, such as the AMG exhaust system that can start up quietly to keep the neighbours happy, speed-sensitive steering, sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, Nappa leather steering wheel, leather sports seats, stainless steel pedals, carbon interior trim, rear privacy glass and 20-inch AMG alloy wheels.
Drop into any Mercedes dealership from this week to meet the small-but-big GLB200 and GLB250, but their high-achieving sibling will turn up to the party stylishly later.
An Aussie touch-down is slated for later this year and WhichCar will be hands-on with the new GLB soon so stay tuned for our Australian-specific impressions in June.
Mercedes-Benz GLB Australian pricing
- GLB200 - $59,900
- GLB250 - $73,900
- AMG GLB35 - $88,900