2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35: Fills niche, who knew?

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Mercedes-Benz doesn’t make it easy for luxury crossover and sport utility vehicle buyers. It’s not because the German automaker doesn’t offer quality vehicles. It does.

But where does a shopper start with three levels of offerings, including the brand’s AMG and Maybach relationships.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35, is a small entry-level luxury sport utility vehicle, and it’s a worthy choice.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has a sporty newsexterior design.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has a sporty new exterior design. Images © Mercedes-Benz

For drivers with a penchant for sportiness in their SUVs, the AMG GLB 35 is optimal. It expands on its GLB 250 siblings’ 2-liter, 221-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine. It’s matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive or 4Matic, the all-wheel-drive option.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35: Sensitive sensors

Seating for five is standard in two rows. An optional third row isn’t much more than an afterthought; the rear seats are only appropriate for tiny people.

Technology is state-of-the-art, although the variety of front, side and rear traffic and obstacles sensors are too sensitive. The notifications, while overall beneficial, engage too often. The safety benefits can be overshadowed by too-frequent alarms when potential hazards aren’t particularly close.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has a boxy, rugged exterior design.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has a boxy, rugged exterior design.

Numerous option packages and single-time extras like a panoramic sunroof, multi-contour front seats, adaptive suspension, heated steering wheel, head-up display, satellite radio and a Burmester surround-sound system — all sharply boost the price.

The voice-activated interface engages with the command, “Hey, Mercedes.” Navigation system directions, changing the cabin temperature and getting a weather report, among other commands, are all doable. The MSRP is $49,500, the final tally $60,135.

The Mercedes AMG GLB 35 provides strong competition for the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Lincoln Corsair, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Volkswagen Tiguan. It uses a high-performance version of its siblings’ configuration, but with 302 horsepower and an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. All-wheel drive is standard.

Double tailpipes help give the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 a sporty appearance.
Double tailpipes help give the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 a sporty appearance.

The top-line choice also has a substantially higher price for its position as a high-performance SUV. It advances from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. Gas mileage ratings are 21 miles per gallon in city driving, 26 mpg on the highway.

As a top-liner, the AMG GLB 35 is equipped with many of other trims’ features, but the sporty look is accentuated in several areas. The rear bumper has dual exhaust tips and a roof spoiler and front splitter are included.

The interior is appointed well with microfiber and leather. A few futuristic upgrades are added, like a non-intuitive touchscreen and digital gauge system. Shifting is accomplished by the small arm behind the steering wheel. It can be confused the windshield wiper indicator but it works well after a learning adjustment.

As a swift SUV, the AMG GLB 35 seems odd with three rows of seating. The back seats are easy to access and configure, but seven-passenger seating stretches the parameters unless the five occupants in the second and third rows are jockey-sized or smaller.

What’s also odd, but in a good way, is the GLB’s boxy exterior. It looks suited for off-road treks but its astute maneuvering and acceleration are signature qualities and best for traditional driving. The flat-bottom steering wheel further adds to the SUV’s driving fun.

As the newbie the Mercedes expansive SUV lineup, the GLB is positioned, as its lettering designates, between the GLA and the larger GLC. Why a third option is necessary is an easy-to-understand thought. How many more SUVs could the industry possibly need?

The AMG GLB 35 is an aggregate of many things in one vehicle — sporty, refined and family-oriented. It all meshes into a so-called entry-level luxury vehicle.

On the open road, it defines Mercedes-AMG. The ride is quiet, the car is in command. The manufacturer’s reputation as offering luxury without pretentious is defined.

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