The Affalterbach firm is developing two four-wheel-drive versions of the GLB, in both 35 4Matic and 45 4Matic trim. The 35 version, which will feature the same 302bhp 2.0-litre mild hybrid petrol engine found in the A35 hot hatch, is set to be revealed at Frankfurt, with sales starting later this year.
The Mercedes-AMG GLB has previously been spied undergoing development work in both variants. It is differentiated from standard versions by its reduced ride height, larger brake discs, multi-pot calipers and four tailpipes, as opposed to the twin-exit arrangement of the less powerful GLB 35 4Matic prototypes we’ve seen previously.
The GLB 45, due on sale next year to rival the Audi RS Q3, is among a number of new Mercedes-AMG models set to run a newly developed four-cylinder engine based on Mercedes’ turbocharged 2.0-litre 'M260' unit.
Also due to appear in the A45 4Matic, CLA 45, CLA 45 Shooting Brake and GLA 45, the new powerplant is claimed to develop 382bhp in standard guise and 416bhp in a higher state of tune.
In the GLB 45, the new engine will be mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a new four-wheel drive system developed in a partnership between AMG and Austrian engineering specialist Magna Powertrain. It uses electrohydraulic actuation instead of the electromechanical operation of the four-wheel drive system by transverse engine models built by AMG up to now.
Among the developments incorporated on the new four-wheel drive system is a rear differential featuring two separate clutches. They allow it to apportion up to 100% of power to each of the individual rear wheels in a so-called drift mode that AMG sources have revealed to Autocar will feature on all upcoming 45-badged models.
The GLB 45 is set to crown the upcoming GLB line-up when it goes on sale in 2020. It will be positioned above the GLB 35, which runs a milder 302bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and is set to form part of the initial GLB line-up that's planned to be launched in early June.
The GLB is the eighth member of Mercedes’ compact car line-up. In standard guise, it offers the choice of either five or seven seats.