Mercedes Benz AMG GLB35: First Drive Review

The GLB, which was introduced last year, is a proper, boxy SUV that replaces the GLA’s rally racer profile with something akin to a lower-case GLS, complete with extensive black cladding and integrated roof rails. With a front splitter, a more prominent roof spoiler, and a chunkier rear bumper that houses two black round tailpipes, the AMG edition adds more sinister touches.

The tester was equipped with 20-inch black alloy wheels instead of 19s ($1,050), which glistened with four-piston silver AMG brake calipers. Despite its small stature, the GLB35 looked like a pit bull with the Cosmos black metallic coat ($720). It was striking in its muscularity and had a foreboding presence.

Mercedes Benz AMG GLB 35
Mercedes Benz AMG GLB 35
  • A ratcheted version of the 2.0-liter turbo-4 found in the GLB250 powers this pittie. It produces 302 horsepower, a significant increase over the GLB250’s 221 horsepower, but a far cry from the AMG GLB45’s expected 382-hp turbo-4.
  • The turbo-4 lacks the punch of larger AMG engines, but launch control is simple: select Sport+ mode on the steering wheel, mash the brake, rev until the boost gauge reaches halfway, then launch into grins on the way to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to Mercedes.
  • The GLB’s cockpit has a youthful vibe to it. The upper and lower dashes are separated by large turbine vents, with 64-way ambient lighting rimming the vents and highlighting the dashboard. When touched, the wood and metal trim pieces appear to devolve into fancy hard plastic, but Mercedes’ technology would be amazing even if the materials were actual.
  • A 10.3-inch touchscreen sits atop the dash, next to a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster that can be customized like an app library on a smartphone. It’s both normal and brilliant. There are five different display types to choose from, and the cluster can access pretty much everything on the touchscreen, including readouts for the G-meter, turbo boost, and power bars.

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