By Cars.com EditorsAugust 18, 2021
About the video
What the heck is a GLB, and what does it mean that it's been AMG’d? Watch our video to find out.
(bright happy music) First off, what the heck is the GLB and what does it mean that it's been AMGed? Well, the GLB is Mercedes' smallest true SUV. Yeah, there's the GLA, but that's more subcompact and it's a high-riding hatchback.
The GLB is actually quite sizable. It's got the footprint of a Volkswagen Tiguan and it's roomy inside. It's got a roomy backseat. There's a decent amount of cargo room and it's big enough that Mercedes actually offers a third row in this. And so what happens when you inject the GLB with steroids is the AMG GLB35. The AMG gets a 302 horsepower turbocharged, 4 cylinder. And that's up from 221 horsepower in the regular GLB250. The GLB35 also gets the 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, standard all-wheel drive. And Mercedes says it can do 0 to 60 miles an hour in 5.1 seconds. Now this looks significantly different than the regular GLB. It has a slam stance. And this one has the night package with a bunch of dark and trim. I sat outside and I looked at this and I thought, is it cool? Is it hot? Is it not? Is it $64,000 worth of cool because that's how much this one costs with $15,000 in options over the base AMG version. My takeaway wasn't solidified until I got inside the car. And that's where it is pretty cool. And a lot of that isn't necessarily specific to the AMG version of the GLB. Some of that is just inherent in the GLB itself. Now what catches your eye as soon as you sit inside, are these dual screens, but they look like one continuous screen. It's a Mercedes thing. In this car they're 10 and a quarter inches each, and you have a digital instrument panel and a digital touchscreen. The instrument panel, I absolutely love. The clarity, the resolution, the vibrancy of the colors, it's just a lot of fun. There are different drive modes and the screen is highly customizable. I really liked this Super Sport driving mode for the display here that has a large center tachometer with the gear selector right in the middle, super cool. It looks very techie and fun and performance oriented. I'm less thrilled with the multimedia touch screen. And that's primarily because I use Apple CarPlay as my primary navigation, audio, podcast, voice to text. And it's limited to a size that is actually just barely bigger than my phone itself. Now, if you don't use Apple CarPlay, not a problem, the navigation uses the full screen, so does everything else. But if you're an Apple CarPlay user, you are gonna be let down by how much of the screen is dedicated to CarPlay. The steering wheel is also a mix of ups and downs. Now, any performance car, I absolutely love having a drive mode selector on the steering wheel. And this does it in just the coolest way. I reviewed the GLE63 AMG and it had the same controls and that was $130,000 SUV. Now, basically there's a digital display for the drive mode and it's a dial switch. So when you move the dial, the screen changes to the mode. And then on the left side, you have controls for the AMG dynamics driving mode and the stability and traction control, super cool. The not as good are these capacitive touch controls, they're little thumb pads. On the left side that controls the instrument panel and the right one has functions for the multimedia screen. And like most capacitive controls, it's not a guarantee a hundred percent of the time that it's going to work. And even when it does work, it doesn't really give you any feedback on, on what you're doing or whether it's moved. And sometimes you can accidentally swipe these too. That's not unique to the AMG version of the GLB, the GLB250 and other Mercedes have that too. Interesting way to approach the controls of the vehicle, but not quite sold on that. The GLB does a really good job of tricking you into thinking it's nicer than it is. So this carbon fiber inlay here, it's actually not called carbon fiber, it's called carbon structure. And if you're just looking at it with a glance, it looks like legit carbon fiber. The way that Mercedes does in their more expensive SUV's, it's got a sheen to it. It's got some depth to it. It looks really good, but once you get up close, you can see that, wait, that's not carbon fiber weave. But the colors match and from a distance, it really does trick you. And also the aluminum like brushed trim here, yeah, that's also fake, it's plastic, but it looks real. A lot of luxury automakers, try and give you some wild patterns that don't look like anything you would see in cars or nature or anywhere, but here, the, the fake stuff is done well. And the real stuff is done even better because these optional leather seats, the red and the black look really good. They feel and smell good too. If you add it all up, along with the ambient lighting, that's piped here on the console and on the dashboard and you get a car that feels like $70,000. Well, well for $64,000. I want to run through what options cost on this car because some of them are head scratchers. The black paint, yes, it's a little sparkly in direct sunlight, but it's really hard to tell otherwise, $720. The steering wheel in Nappa leather, $400, but that doesn't get you the drive mode selector, that's another $400. Heated and ventilated front seats, $950. The panoramic moon roof is 1400 bucks, but it's very good. It's large, it opens and there's still plenty of headroom even with the panoramic roof. And this car has a USB C adapter that's $25. Now this car only has USB C outlets. So the adapter lets you use your regular USB A with the car. And I guess that's only 3 times more expensive than what you could get off of Amazon. But here's the thing, yes it's expensive, but at least it feels worth it. There was something familiar about driving the GLB35 and it wasn't from driving and reviewing other AMG SUV's like the GLA45 or the GLE63. No, this was much more like driving a Golf R for example, 300 horsepower, dual clutch, all-wheel drive. It's quick, but it's not that fast. This is the 35 after all, it's not a 45, which would be a more intense version. This is still the mild version of an AMG. Still, it's got some attitude to it. It blaps on upshifts and there's the wooshing of air rushing into the engine that you can hear with the windows down during acceleration. It's spunky, it's fun to drive, it's spirited. And that's even with the winter tires that this car has. The GLB35 has an adaptive suspension with 3 adjustable firmness settings. Now in sport plus mode, which is the most aggressive mode. You do feel the difference, but it's still pretty livable. Now some of that could be from the winter tires here. I would imagine the road feel, would feel different with sportier summer tires, but here, it's livable and especially in comfort mode. It's still very apparent that this is the sporty version with a decent amount of road feel there, but you're not getting those jarring hits over rough roads. Also with the winter tires comes road noise. There's a lot of it here. The car handles fairly flat for an SUV, but these tires make the handling a little squishy. There's not as much grip as I would imagine with the summer tires. And also, it doesn't have that hunkered down race car vibe of the GLA45, but like I said, this is the lesser 35 anyway, and feels appropriately less racy. Though it's not considerably less expensive. So that's unfortunate if speed is what you're looking for. But the GLB obviously has that advantage in room over the GLA. So who does the GLB35 appeal to? Yeah, I kept thinking, yeah, this drives more of like a hot hatch than a refined performance SUV, so I really think if you love your GTI or want something like a GTI, but with more room, you know Volkswagen isn't bringing the Tiguan R to the US, so this might be your best bet. If you want a GTI, but want to spend twice as much. So is it hot or is it not? I, I don't know. I like driving it. $64,000, there are actually more ridiculous things out there for that much money, but whether it looks good? Well, that's up to you.