Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB: This is how spacious and robust a compact car can be

With the Concept GLB at Auto Shanghai (18 to 25 April 2019), Mercedes-Benz shows what SUV ideas on the company’s compact car platform might also be realised alongside the GLA as a sporty all-rounder. While the latter promises progressive driving enjoyment with its coupé-like lines, the Concept GLB places the emphasis on spaciousness and robustness. The concept car (length/width/height: 4634/1890/1900[1] millimetres) has space for up to seven occupants thanks to its long wheelbase (2829 millimetres). A number of sturdy features signal that the Concept GLB feels right at home on rough farm tracks.

“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”, 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 nonetheless compact dimensions. Whether it is a generous, seven-seater family vehicle or a versatile leisure time companion: we are certain that this concept will be of great interest to our customers.” Customers highly appreciate the varied SUV portfolio of Mercedes-Benz. 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 skilfully brought to the fore: Exterior design

The Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB has a distinctive presence in the world of compact SUVs with its muscular proportions. The clear, surface-accentuated contours with reduced lines and precise joints convey effortless superiority and modernity. The upright front section with its striking MULTIBEAM LED headlamps is clear evidence of off-road genes, as are the short overhangs at the front and rear. The long wheelbase and the functional greenhouse are the decisive factors providing generous spaciousness for up to seven occupants.

The muscular and sensuously contoured vehicle shoulder dominates the side view, an effect reinforced by the rising waistline. The contiguous doors improve ease of access and keep the door apertures free of soiling. All-round protective claddings divide the overall proportions and emphasise the vehicle’s off-road character.

The harmonious colour concept has exterior paintwork in designo cashmere white magno with high-gloss black mounted parts (e.g. the claddings or integrated roof box) as a contrast, plus discreet orange highlights in the radiator grille and as lettering on the outside mirror housings.

The chrome underguard at the front with integral air inlets in a stainless steel look emphasises the off-road qualities. The rear underguard echoes this theme, creating a balanced overall picture.

High-quality finish and very spacious: the interior

In design terms the interior of the Concept GLB reveals its membership of the new Mercedes-Benz compact car family, but as a showcar and SUV it has a special leather features and special trim elements. And for the first time in a compact model by Mercedes-Benz, a third seat row with two additional single seats that can be recessed 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.

Make space: flexible seat 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 is fore-and-aft adjustable by 140 mm – by 90 mm to the front to increase luggage space or legroom for occupants right in the rear, and by 50 mm to the rear if particularly generous legroom is required in a five-seat configuration. Eight-stage seat backrest inclination adjustment in the second seat row also facilitates adaptation according to the current space or comfort requirements.

To facilitate access to the third seat row, 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 in the second and third seat rows.

Contrast in chestnut: exclusive leather and open-pored walnut

The seats, fittings and door panels are partially lined in nappa and nubuk leather, the predominant colour tone being “chestnut brown”. Echoing the exterior highlights, there are orange trim strips and seams in just a few places. The centre sections of the front seats have two parallel rows of perforations in their woven nubuk 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 footwell 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 basic architecture of the dashboard corresponds to that of the B-Class, with a widescreen cockpit facing the driver and the functions and displays controlled via the Mercedes-Benz User Experience – MBUX. New features are the off-road-type tubular elements in milled aluminium which round off the dashboard at the lower end. These give the dashboard support an impression of robustness, power and a certain fun factor. Below the three round centre nozzles is the air conditioning control panel with an intentionally analogue look, whose buttons create the impression that they have been milled from a solid aluminium cylinder.

The robust character of the interior continues in the centre console. Aluminium tubular elements with a brushed structure in a grab-handle look lend solidity to the design of the components and controls. Along the doors, the SUV character is underlined by the horizontal grab handle that forms a robust part of the door panel structure as a machined aluminium tube.

All-wheel drive as a matter of course: 4MATIC with three selectable characteristics maps

The Concept GLB is equipped with the permanent all-wheel system 4MATIC, 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 flexibly to the current driving situation in any mode. In regular driving operation, the drive programme “Eco/Comfort” is based on an 80:20 distribution (front axle:rear axle), 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 a balanced 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/rotational speeds of the rear wheels. The advantages of this control system are above all non-rpm-dependent operation across the entire actuation range, pilot control of the clutch while still stationary and higher efficiency thanks to the ball ramp concept.

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