Mercedes has a new compact SUV in its stable that combines a luxurious interior with available

third row seating for up to seven in a boxier cage than most of its siblings. It’s staged between the company’s subcompact GLA and compact GLC.

Pros:

Mercedes build quality

Digital cockpit

Blind spot monitor standard

Cons:

Rivals have better warranty

Cramped third row

Becomes pricey in a hurry

The GLB is available in three turbocharged four-cylinder base models; 250 – $38,050, 250 all-wheel-drive -$40,050 and AMG GLB35 AWD – $49,500. All can be further dressed in a plethora of options driving the cost up substantially and that may lead to some head-scratching up against rivals’ BMW and Audi.

Our tester for the week was the AMG inspired GLB 35 4Matic, Mercedes speak for all-wheel drive, mated with an eight-speed automatic dual-clutch setup that bullets through the gears with 302-horsepower.

Our independent testing from a dead stop to 60 miles per hour clicked in at just over five seconds, said to be nearly two seconds quicker than the GLB 250 with its 221 ponies. Large paddle shifters can be clicked for more of a human touch.

AMG Dynamic Select, standard fare on GLB 35, offers drivers five drive programs to match their penchant for speed – Sport Plus, Sport, Comfort, Slippery and Individual, each addressing acceleration, maneuverability, gearing, comfort level and overall ride quality.

On interstate roadway, the GLB35 maneuvered traffic with ease and its 295 lb. ft. of torque quickly located the precise gear for passing maneuvers while keeping body roll to a minimum. Steering is precise with some feedback and braking is strong.

While its boxy stance may be a turn off for some, it does increase usable cabin space making room for an available third row seat, albeit suitable for small frames. There is generous room upfront and for second row passengers with headroom, leg and shoulder space and ample cargo space.

Digital displays are 20.5 inches combined, stretching across the dashboard while monitoring engine vitals and cabin amenities. Front and rear color camera views are helpful while approaching navigation turns and for backing into parking stalls.

Our tester was equipped with 21-inch multi-spoke wheels, up from standard 19-inch paws. While they add to racing performance and that is important, we recommend pocketing the $2,050 option in exchange for being able to hear occupants speak on road trips. With more rubber touching the pavement they create a loud roar.

While blind spot assist is standard equipment across the lineup, other safety features standard on many of today’s cars and SUVs are in the options column on the GLB including adaptive cruise, rear cross traffic alert, pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist and a garage door opener.

Even with its few deficiencies, the GLB offers a spunky ride with a segment leading digital cabin that is unsurpassed in quality and elegant features.

With that said, there are some competitors that should be considered in your test drives and they include the Audi Q3, BMW X2 M35i and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at lenscarcorner@comcast.net

2021 AMG GLB35 4Matic

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder – 302 horsepower, 295 lb.-ft. torque

EPA rated mileage: 21 city, 26 highway, 23 combined.

Assembly: Full production of the AMG GLB35 is completed at a Mercedes facility in Aguascalientes, Mexico, U.S. / Canadian parts content – 5 percent. Major source of foreign parts, Germany – 44 percent and Mexico – 40 percent. Country of origin – engine & transmission – Germany

Crash Test Ratings: The AMG GLB35 had not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as of this writing.

Warranty: 4 year/50,000 Limited and Powertrain coverage. No scheduled maintenance.

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