Auto review by Veeno  Dewan

The GLB-class is a new Crossover SUV model for the Mercedes – Benz lineup – and arrives as the GLB250 4MATIC along with  the AMG  GLB 35, an upgraded, high-performance version. The GLB has the same underpinning  platform as the A-Class and will come in two trims for the Canadian market: GLB 250 4MATIC and GLB 35 AMG 4MATIC. The GLB 250 uses a transversely mounted 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 221 horsepower powering all four wheels.

We  tested the GLB AMG 35 model, the three-row crossover SUV is many things with its added AMG cool stuff,  302 Horsepower 2.l Turbo four-cylinder engine – part family cruiser , part hot hatchback   with real performance chops. There are the AMG body mods with a jazzed up-front splitter and  roof spoiler, Pananamerica style vertical slat grille and a more aggressive rear bumper. Black alloy  wheels in sizes ranging from 19 to 21 -inch. Silver AMG script brake calipers  complete the purposeful look. The engine is hooked up to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

The GLB 35 4MATIC uses an upgraded four-cylinder unit that delivers 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, with enough grunt for a  0-100 km/h dash  in a very quick 5.2 seconds. AMG also added  a specially tuned dual-clutch gearbox and suspension system, adjustable dampers, launch control, and a variable all-wheel drive system that can send up to 50% of power to the rear axle if required. To handle the increased power AMG increased front-end structural rigidity with strut tower braces and underbody bracing.

The interior cabin of the GLB 35 is a masterclass in design. The cool jet turbine  engine style air vents draw the eyes and separate the upper and lower dash. 64-way ambient lighting highlights metal, chrome and wood in the dash  console  and doors.  The showstopping widescreen dash display with five different styles of display is a must have. The  reconfigurable digital gauge display blends seamlessly with the  infotainment system behind a single glass panel. Mercedes wonderfully easy to use MBUX infotainment software allows for voice recognition as well as touchpad and gesture-controlled interactions with the system. Simply say ‘Hey Mercedes’ and the voice assistant feature will follow  commands quickly and easily. Onboard Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are all standard. Optional with the new Multimedia Package is navigation with augmented reality.  The chunky AMG flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in Nappa leather is another thing of visual and tactile beauty with its optional suspension tuning and drive mode set in the steering wheel as buttons. The individual settings can also be adjusted on the center console or through the digital cluster.

The cabin features comfortable  front and rear seats and even an optional third row of seats in the compact interior. The reclining 60/40-split middle rear seats slide 5 inches backwards and forwards and offer an impressive 1,805 litres maximum in the five-seater, and 1,680 litres in the seven-seater GLB.

On the road, the turbo-4 engine delivers its 302 horsepower with aplomb.  The launch control feature allows  for beautifully exuberant off the line dragster like acceleration while the  8-speed dual-clutch automatic shifts quickly, with a satisfying feeling. Use the steering wheel mounted  paddle shifters and you wring a fraction more in reactions.

Depending on terrain and driving style, the standard all-wheel drive 4MATI C system is skewed to the GLB’s front wheels but can divert up to 50% of the torque to the rear axle based on speed, steering angle, and acceleration parameters. Despite being a tall boxy SUV, the tuned  suspension system, adjustable dampers, and more  rigid structure mean body roll is  well controlled with just a hint of understeer when pushed hard . The GLB 35 reaches its true nadir  in Sport mode+.  The engine and transmission seems to operate at  warp speeds on empty highway stretches, the engine screams, things blur past, yet  the GLB35 remains poised, stable, and confident. So much fun!

To sum up, the  GLB 35 is lithe, and agile with Sport car reflexes despite it being a SUV.  the seven- seat option is fantastic on a SUV of  this size and yes some may complain the third row is kids only, but even then, it can traffic adults for short runs if need be.  I would rather have the flexibility of having seven-seats rather than five in any case. A wonderful addition to the Mercedes  -AMG lineup and destined for great sales and a lot of happy performance drivers and their families!

2021  Mercedes – AMG GLB35 priced from:  $57,500/

Price as tested with all options: $72,230

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