Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a rugged concept of its upcoming GLB SUV at the Shanghai motor show, previewing what we can expect from a production version of the new compact people-mover and its potential as a weekend warrior.
Sitting between the GLA and GLC in Mercedes’ SUV hierarchy, the GLB is a five-seat SUV with optional third-row seating. The concept car measures 4634mm long, 1890mm wide and 1900mm tall, with a 2829mm wheelbase.
Dimensionally smaller than the five-seat-only BMW X3 and Audi Q5, the GLB occupies a unique space where it could appear as a compact, premium seven-seat SUV. Mercedes-Benz says the two optional seats, which fold flush into the boot floor, “are far more than emergency seats and offer comfortable seating for two medium-sized occupants.”
The GLB Concept revealed in Shanghai is a spin-off based on the production vehicle that is tipped to start hitting roads in the US in late 2019. Sitting on black 17-inch alloys wrapped with burly 265/65 profile BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tyres, the GLB Concept looks like a G-Wagen-lite. It features gloss-black mud flares around each wheel arch, cladding around the lower bumpers, underbody protection for practical off-roading, roof rails, and a storage box with high-lumen LED spotlights.
The concept car houses what looks like a 1960s Danish interior design-inspired cabin, with tan napa and nubuck leather stitched around open-pore walnut panels and bright orange highlights.
The three-pointed star says “the Concept GLB feels right at home on rough farm tracks”, giving its off-road-ready SUV the feel of a contender for Land Rover’s upcoming Defender (site link: 4x4 Australia Defender Spy pics story). Mercedes is not giving away any further details yet, but in a dealer preview event held in the US last year, it was reported that the GLB will sit on the new MFA2 platform which underpins the new A-Class hatch and sedan, and with boxy styling that is comparable to the shape seen on the defunct GLK – and which also happened to debut at a Chinese motor show.
"We asked ourselves whether there is still space between the GLA and GLC in our successful SUV range,” said Daimler board member Britta Seeger, responsible for Mercedes-Benz car marketing and sales.
“The Concept GLB is the answer to this question. With it we are demonstrating the creative ideas we have for this segment, too", she added, hinting that the ‘baby G-Class’ could see reality as a production car.
"The Concept GLB is a durable and practical SUV with nonetheless compact dimensions. Whether it is a generous,seven-seater family vehicle or a versatile leisure time companion: we are certain that this concept will be of great interest to our customers."