Mercedes-Benz has just unveiled a compelling new prototype vehicle at the Shanghai auto show. Why compelling? Because for one thing the vehicle doesn’t duplicate the brand’s design signature which is so prevalent on other models from the automaker. Like the GLK (since replaced by the GLC), the Concept GLB definitely stands out esthetically.
Nor is the new model just a design study, intended to showcase the brand’s technological innovations. The GLB is scheduled to debut commercially next fall. As per the nomenclature, the SUV will slot into the lineup between the GLA and GLC.
The raison d’être of the GLB is clearly to draw in buyers looking for a vehicle with bolder styling and a low stance that signals a more rugged character. It’s still not alluring on the level of the G-Class SUV, but it’s far more distinctive than its stablemates.
The exterior styling is marked by 17-inch wheels designed for off-roading, plastic edges for the wings and the lower bumper, and LED lights integrated in the roof rails. That last is a particularly original detail.
Inside, the GLB borrows much of the A-Class’ styling. Somehow, Mercedes-Benz has managed to fit three rows of seats in the cabin. Overall, the vehicle is about 5 cm longer than a Honda CR-V, for example.
The Concept GLB is powered by a 224-hp 4-cylinder turbo engine with 258 lb-ft of torque. The standard transmission is an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic unit, and it delivers power to all four wheels via the company’s AWD system.
"We asked ourselves whether there is still space between the GLA and GLC in our successful SUV range. The Concept GLB is the answer to this question. With it we are demonstrating the creative ideas we have for this segment, too."
- Britta Seeger, Member, Board of Management of Daimler AG
Mercedes-Benz has not given the official green light to bring the concept to production, but it is not hiding its desire to make the model commercially available later this year.
There’s no word yet on whether the GLB production version will make it to the North American market.