In-depth reviews

Mercedes GLB SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The Mercedes GLB isn’t exciting to drive but it is smooth and refined

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

Engineers had a wide selection of engines to put in Mercedes' eighth SUV, but for now at least they've kept things pretty sensible and family-focused, offering a turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel to UK buyers. This helps set it apart from the similarly-sized Mercedes GLC, which is available with bigger, six-cylinder engines and plush air suspension.

The GLB does enjoy a smooth automatic gearbox (there's no manual option), that's keen to shift up quickly to keep progress quiet and unruffled. Sport mode allows the revs to climb higher but, in the diesels at least, this doesn't feel as natural.

Despite conventional steel springs and dampers as opposed to more luxurious air suspension, the setup on the GLB does a good job of soaking up bumps, but a fair about of body lean in corners only adds to the more relaxed driving style. Even given this comfort-orientated brief, we'd like some more feedback through the light steering, but at least the lack of weight makes the GLB easy to drive.

Mercedes GLB diesel engines

Despite a consumer-driven shift towards petrol in recent months, Mercedes thinks diesel will still be more popular in its SUV range for the time being. To this end it offers the GLB 200 d and 220 d, both with the same 2.0-litre diesel but tuned differently to produce 148bhp and 187bhp respectively. This is a familiar engine that's fitted in bigger models than the GLB, so here it feels plenty quick enough.

In range-topping form, the GLB comes with 4MATIC four-wheel drive as standard (it's optional for the GLB 200 d), and gets from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. That's almost two seconds faster than the Discovery Sport D180 and is competitive with the D240. It's a pretty refined engine too, only making itself known at higher revs.

Petrol engines

It might be small, but the GLB 200's 1.3-litre petrol engine packs a reasonable 161bhp, with 250Nm of torque on tap from 1,600rpm. It gets the GLB from 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 129mph. At the other end of the scale is the high-performance Mercedes-AMG GLB 35, with a 2.0-litre petrol, four-wheel-drive and 302bhp. Despite having seven seats as standard, you’ll hit 0-62mph in just 5.2 seconds.

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