Mercedes-Benz introduced the concept version of its rugged GLB compact SUV at Auto Shanghai 2019 this week, announcing plans to launch sales in China and then make it available in the U.S. and other global markets.
The production version of the GLB, as its name suggests, will fit between the GLA and GLC crossovers in Mercedes’ lineup. Although Mercedes will sell the GLB globally, it was heavily influenced by the demands of the Chinese market, said Steffen Schierholz, a Mercedes spokesman.
It will have a longer wheelbase – 111.3 inches – than other Mercedes compact vehicles, along with an available, but cramped, third row of seating.
‘A CAR FOR THREE GENERATIONS’
The two third-row seats are only meant for “medium-sized occupants.” The seating arrangement in the GLB makes it “a car for three generations,” Schierholz said.
“The GLB is the most important car for China next year, because they want a car like this with a compact length outside but really spacious inside,” Schierholz said.
Mercedes will reveal the U.S. version of the GLB this summer, but all the GLB models sold globally will be “roughly the same,” Schierholz said.
The production version of the GLB will go on sale in China by the end of this year, with manufacturing occurring at a local factory. Production for the rest of the world will take place in Mexico.
The initial concept version of the GLB has an overall length of 181 inches. Although some dimensions may change slightly, Schierholz said, the concept model is very close to what the production vehicle will look like.
The Concept GLB uses Mercedes’ M 260 turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. It provides 224 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. The production GLB will offer the same engine lineup as Mercedes’ other compact cars, but every GLB can also be outfitted with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive option, Schierholz said.
The Concept GLB looks to be adventure-ready. It has protective cladding and a rear underguard for off-road trails. Features that are expected to remain concept-only include the all-terrain BF Goodrich tires, integrated roof box and dedicated leather upholstery in the interior.