Mercedes-Benz will unveil the Concept GLB at Auto Shanghai (18 to 25 April 2019), to showcase what SUV ideas might be realized alongside the GLA on the company’s compact car platform. While the GLA offers progressive driving enjoyment with its coupe-like lines, the Concept GLB places emphasis on spaciousness. With its long wheelbase (2829 millimetres), the Concept GLB (length/width/height: 4634/1890/19001millimetres) has room for up to seven occupants as a result. The Concept GLB boasts a variety of features that make it just as comfortable off-road as it is on the road.
“We asked ourselves if there is space between the GLA and GLC in our successful SUV range. We answered that question with the Concept GLB. With it, we are demonstrating the creative ideas we have for this segment,” says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales. “The Concept GLB is a durable and practical SUV with compact dimensions. Whether it is a generous, seven-seater family-hauler, or a versatile leisure companion, we are positive that this concept will be of great interest to our customers.”
The Mercedes-Benz SUV and compact car portfolio is already popular with consumers. In Canada, close to 54% of sales in 2018 were SUVs, with 1 in 5 cars sold being a compact model. To date, more than six million customers worldwide have purchased a Mercedes-Benz SUV. In 2018, with more than 820,000 units sold, the SUVs were the strongest segment for Mercedes-Benz.
SUV genes on display: Exterior design
With its muscular proportions, the Concept GLB has a distinctive presence in the world of compact SUVs from Mercedes-Benz. Clear, surface-accentuated contours, in combination with reduced lines and precise joints convey an effortless superiority and modern look. The upright front section with its striking MULTIBEAM LED headlights is a clear nod to the SUV’s off-road genes, as are the short overhangs at the front and rear of the vehicle. The long wheelbase and the functional greenhouse provide a generous amount of space, which allows seating for up to seven people.
The muscular and sensuously contoured vehicle shoulder dominates the side view — an effect reinforced by a rising waistline. Contiguous doors improve ease of access and keep the door openings free from excessive dirt. Protective claddings featured throughout the vehicle divide the overall proportions and emphasize the vehicle’s off-road character.
The contrasting colour concept on the exterior pairs paintwork in designo cashmere white magno with high-gloss black mounted parts (the claddings or integrated roof box). The radiator grille and lettering on the outside mirror housings are painted in an orange accent.
Extra show car elements: equipped for expeditions
The Concept GLB is adorned with a series of distinctive elements that contribute to the vehicle’s robust character. At the front and rear of the vehicle, two ‘shrouds’ emerge from the roof frame and accommodate LED spotlights that act as ambient lighting and orientation aids when driving off-road.
The black roof rails end in a curve at the front and rear. A roof box is fastened towards the rear of the vehicle. The Concept GLB sits on 17-inch bicolour wheels with rough-treaded off-road tires.
High quality and spacious: the interior
The Concept GLB’s interior integrates many of the design features commonly found in the Mercedes-Benz compact car family, but as a show car and SUV, it also incorporates unique leather features and special trim elements. Another feature that sets the Concept GLB’s interior apart is the third row seating – a first for any compact model from Mercedes-Benz. The third row seating can be stowed flush into the load compartment floor to increase load capacity. These seats are far more than emergency seats, and offer comfortable seating for two medium-sized occupants.
Flexible seats to make space
The Concept GLB offers a flexible seating arrangement in the second and third row. The backrest of the middle seat row is 40:20:40 split folding, and can be folded down to create a level load surface. The seat surfaces have a 40:60 division. The second seat row can be moved forward by 90 mm to create space for occupants in the rear and can be moved backwards by 40 mm to make room for a five seat configuration. The backrest of the second row of seats can be adjusted in eight-stages of inclination, which allows for more flexibility based on the current space or comfort requirements.
For easier access to the third row of seating, the seats in the second row have an EASY-ENTRY function: when the unlocking lever on the top outer edge of the backrest is operated, the backrest folds forward and the entire seat can be pushed forward. A total of four child seats can be attached to the second and third seat rows.
Exclusive leather and open-pore walnut trim elements
The seats, fittings and door panels of the Concept GLB are lined in nappa and nubuck leather, featuring a prominent colour tone of “chestnut brown”. Orange trim strips and seams inthe interior trim echo the exterior design highlights. The centre sections of the front seats feature two parallel rows of perforations in their woven nubuck leather covers, revealing the orange-coloured fabric sub-layer. These extend from the front edge of the seat cushion to the upper edge of the integrated head restraint.
The wood trim elements on the dashboard and centre console are of open-pored walnut. The walnut panels have a chiselled honeycomb pattern that fades out towards the edges. The pedals in the foot well feature decorative inserts in the same material within a high-gloss metal surround, with an identical honeycomb pattern.
Dashboard: MBUX and off-road elements
The architecture of the dashboard in the Concept GLB is similar to that of the A-Class, with a widescreen cockpit for the driver, and functions controllable via the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) Infotainment system. Off-road type tubular elements in milled aluminum are just some of the off-road design elements that have been incorporated into the Concept GLB dashboard. The air conditioning control panel was created with an intentionally analogue look, the buttons on this control panel create the impression that they have been milled from a solid aluminum cylinder.
The robust character of the interior continues throughout the centre console. Additional tubular aluminum elements featured throughout the interior are incorporated into structures such as the front passenger grab-handle, and lend solidity to the design of the vehicle’s components and controls.
A four-cylinder turbo powertrain with 221 hp
The Concept GLB is powered by the M 260 four-cylinder gas engine featured in many of the compact product offerings from Mercedes-Benz. Combined with an 8G-DCT dual clutch transmission, the Concept GLB can reach a maximum output of 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
The engine block of diecast aluminum with cast iron cylinder liners has CONICSHAPE® technology. Also known as “trumpet-honing,” the cylinder bore is widened at the lower end of the cylinder liners to further minimize piston friction and lower fuel consumption.
An innovative low-friction oil and optimized piston rings also reduce friction and mitigate losses. The pistons feature cooling ducts to account for the higher specific output. This ensures more efficient combustions. The balance shafts for smooth engine-running are located in the lower section of the crankcase. A centrifugal pendulum damper in the powertrain enhances comfort even further.
A variable valve timing system, CAMTRONIC, is housed within the aluminum four-valve cylinder head, and allows for two-stage adjustment of the valve lift on the intake side of the valve assembly. In the partial-load range, this variable valve lift adjustment allows less air to be fed to the combustion chamber with a smaller valve lift, which leads to lower gas cycle losses. In higher load ranges the system switches to the higher valve lift to achieve the engine’s full power delivery.
All-wheel drive: 4MATIC with three selectable characteristics maps
The Concept GLB is equipped with permanent all-wheel drive with fully-variable torque distribution. This sporty all-wheel drive configuration allows the driver to use the DYNAMIC SELECT switch to influence the characteristics of 4MATIC. Three characteristic maps are available to control the all-wheel drive clutch, though the system responds to the current driving situation in any mode. In regular driving operation, the drive program “Eco/Comfort” is based on an 80:20 distribution, while in “Sport” it is 70:30. In off-road mode, the all-wheel drive clutch acts as an inter axle differential lock, with the basic distribution balanced at 50:50.
4MATIC components include the power take-off to the rear axle, which is integrated into the automated dual clutch transmission, and the rear axle differential with an integrated multiplate clutch. This is electro-mechanically operated. Via a crown wheel and a ball ramp, an electric motor exerts an axial force on the clutch pack to open or close the plates. The rear axle differential compensates the different paths and rotational speeds of the rear wheels. The main advantages of this control system are non-rpm-dependent operation across the entire actuation range, pilot control of the clutch while stationary, and higher efficiency as a result of the ball ramp concept.
A look back at Shanghai 2013: world premiere of the Concept GLA
This is not the first time a compact SUV concept has celebrated its world premiere at the Auto Shanghai show. On April 18, 2013 the Mercedes-Benz Concept GLA drew public attention. As a sporty, coupé-like evolution of this vehicle class, the showcar pointed to a new direction in the compact SUV segment. It combined a sporty spirit with the all-around qualities of a robust recreational companion.
The multitalented GLA became orderable from Spring 2014, and deliveries began in Summer 2014. Since then the GLA has become a major contributor to the success story of the compact Mercedes-Benz models. In 2018 over 609,000 customers worldwide took delivery of their new Mercedes-Benz compact car. This means that in 2018, one in four cars sold by Mercedes-Benz was a compact model.