Make: Mercedes Benz
Variant: 250 4Matic+
Engine / Transmission: 2.0 litre – 8 Speed DCT automatic
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 7.7L/100km combined
Price: From $73900 plus on road costs
When Mercedes Benz’s GLB 250 first arrived at EFTM HQ, I couldn’t help but comment on it’s, er, unusual looks. To be honest, from some angles, the GLB is just plain weird – like an off road, German Nissan Cube. Luckily, within just a mile or two all was forgiven because this is a cracking little SUV.
Based on the MFA2 platform, shared with the A Class hatch and sedan, B Class hatch, GLA mini SUV and, now the GLB seven seat soft roader, the flexibility of this chassis is being fully exploited by the engineers in Stuttgart. And why not? It has been the foundation of some excellent cars and the GLB is no exception.
The ability of Mercedes Benz to present cutting edge technology in a way that is easy to access, in multiple ways, is unparalleled. In keeping with this commitment, the GLB is equipped with MBUX – Mercedes speak for their version of electronic voice assistant.
Mercedes will insist that MBUX refers to their entire infotainment program, including the twin 10.3 inch digital screens (one with touch function) and fixed mouse controller, but the voice assistant ‘Hey, Mercedes’ is the hero of the system.
EFTM was first introduced to MBUX at CES Las Vegas back in 2018. It has since migrated to the entire passenger car range, including the GLB, and allows the driver to access all of the vehicle’s electronic functions by voice command.
Not content with just fitting voice activation to it’s cars, Mercedes has ensured that the MBUX system uses artificial intelligence to predict what you want based on regular patterns of use. MBUX can help you with news, weather, flights, turn on the massaging seats and even access Wikipedia. Cold? Just call out “Hey, Mercedes. I’m cold” and the cabin temperature will increase.
Is it better than Apple CarPlay? Probably, but given that I am often in different makes and models, I will always choose CarPlay. If I was an owner and I wanted to access vehicle features in addition to normal iPhone features I would definitely give Siri a much needed break and say ‘Hey, Mercedes’ more often than not.
Like others in the Mercedes range, the multi LED Active High Beam Assist PLUS is fantastic and the active and passive safety suite completely comprehensive. Strangely, for a vehicle so obviously lacking true off road ability, the GLB is fitted with a Off-Road Engineering Package – a rather advanced collection of features designed to get the GLB far more off road than it has any right to be.
With Off-Road Engineering selected, the driver has access to a power map and ABS modulation more suitable for loose surfaces, illuminated turn lights, acting like small spotlights, a downhill speed controller, rather useless inclinometers for side and fore and aft angles and a much more useful control panel allowing access to 360 degree camera and front or rear cameras with either a wide lens or a narrower field of view. Personally, I can’t see a time when I would use these features in a soft-roader. Still, I guess it’s nice to have.
The most impressive aspect of the GLB 250 is its ability to combine a usefully compact SUV body style with a seriously comfortable interior. This is an immensely comfortable car and it rides and turns far better than a car of this type should. It is painfully clear to see where other manufacturers cut costs to present similar cars at a lower price point.
The seven seat layout is an example of this clever thinking. If you’re doing your best to repopulate the nation, this isn’t your seven seater. If you rarely ever need a seven seater and hate the bulk that comes with this configuration, the ability of the GLB to squeeze seven people in for the occasional trip from cricket training or school pick up is seriously handy.
Not So Impressive:
As mentioned above, from some angles, the GLB is a challenging looker. Luckily, this is mostly addressed by spending a few more shekels at the problem. Simply selecting the optional 20” or 21” matt black AMG wheel package goes a long way to fixing the GLB’s strange stance. Better still, opt for the GLB 35 and gain the wheels, a body kit, the odd bit of carbon fibre and a hotter state of tune (225kw vs 165kw) and not only will your GLB look better, but it will go even better too.
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
Make sure you compare your chosen GLB with the GLB 35 4matic. The blend of the practicality of the GLB platform with a good dose of AMG spirit is a killer combination in my opinion.