Model Details


  • Brand: Mercedes Benz
  • Body Type: SUV
The AMG GLB35 does everything according to Mercedes, appealing in a similar manner to the much larger and more expensive performance SUVs it tries so hard to emulate.

The premium performance SUV – a car designed to hit all the notes, a do-everything no-compromise machine for those whose lifestyle no longer supports exclusive use of a sports car.

For a time the genre was limited to high-end models such as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo or BMW X5, with equally high-end price tags, but trickle-down economics means it’s now available in the compact premium SUV niche. For Mercedes-AMG, the result is the GLB35 - a compact, seven-seat, all-wheel drive performance SUV.

In reality, we’ve seen Mercedes-AMG do compact performance SUVs before with the old GLA45, but the new GLB is something rather different, as this more spacious SUV has been designed to sit alongside the incoming second-generation GLA rather than replace it. What about the GLC? Mercedes still builds that too, but for reasons we go into below, Mercedes says that’s a different prospect altogether. 

The GLB takes this premium performance SUV to the next niche along, adding a small, but usable third row to make this a truly unique proposition in the market. So, this is a compact, premium performance SUV with a third row. Makes sense? Us neither.

Engine, transmission and 0-60 time

The core difference between the AMG GLB35 and its lesser siblings is the powertrain. It’s identical to other 35-moniker AMG models found throughout Mercedes’ compact ie. transversely-engined range, so rather than boasting AMG’s volcanic new M139 four-pot, it makes do with the decidedly more demure M260 2-litre unit. Still, the GLB35’s figures are strong, with a peak power of 302bhp between 5800-6100rpm, with torque peaking at 295lb ft, lower down the rev band at 3000-4000rpm.

Where the GLB35 differs from other 35s is in the drivetrain, switching to Mercedes’ new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which aside from the extra ratio for the sake of fuel economy, should sharpen the shift speed and response of the rather tardy seven-speed unit. With this combination, the GLB35 will reach 62mph in an easy and consistent 5.2sec, with the top speed pegged at 155mph.

Where the mechanical package starts to look somewhat limited is its efficiency, or lack thereof. Over two days of admittedly spirited driving, we barely managed 20mpg 17.8mpg to be precise and although a more gentile driving style will unlock a more reasonable number, it’s still a rather shocking amount of fuel to use considering the performance output. Official figures quote a higher 31mpg rating; we suspect this will be hard to match.

Technical highlights

The GLB is partly an attempt to offer a more affordable family-friendly SUV package to market, and partly diversification of its compact car platform. It’s within 2cm in length of the GLC, but while that car borrows its longitudinal layout from the C-class and other large Mercedes saloons, the GLB’s transverse-engine compact car roots unlock much more space in the cabin.

Space is so vast that Mercedes offers an optional third-row of seating, but rather than lift the floor to reinforce the SUV-ness of it all, Mercedes chose instead to lift the roofline and open up the glass area with large upright windows emphasised by that kink in the windowline. The bizarre proportions haven’t been hidden underneath a swooping curvaceous body though. Instead, the design seems to double-down on its upright stance, with blocky rugged elements borrowed from the teutonic G-wagen, sprinkled with the usual AMG jewellery.