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With seven-seats and a Mercedes badge on its nose, the new GLB is gunning directly for the Land Rover Discovery Sport. How does it stack up in the UK?

What is it?

With the launch of its new GLB compact SUV, Mercedes-Benz has trained its guns directly on Land Rover and its formidable Discovery Sport. For a long while now, the baby Disco’s seven-seat layout and unrivalled off-road ability has allowed Land Rover to enjoy a monopoly of sorts in the premium family SUV market. The GLB, it seems, is here to make the SUV from Gaydon sweat a little.

Beneath the GLB’s boxy, baby GLS exterior lies Mercedes’ MFA2 platform - essentially the same architecture that underpins the A-Class hatch and, unsurprisingly, the B-Class compact MPV. Here, however, it’s been stretched out to accommodate the GLB’s third row of seating, so that it’s now a little over 4.6m in length. That makes it longer than a Discovery Sport, don’t you know. 

There’s a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines to choose from presently; although  a plug-in hybrid, a couple of hotter AMG models, and a fully electric version are all in the pipeline. Here, we’re sampling the range-topping GLB 220d diesel variant, which packs 189bhp and 295lb ft of torque - all of which is deployed to the road via an eight-speed auto ‘box and Mercedes’ 4Matic front-biased four-wheel-drive system. Suspension is by way of MacPherson struts and multiple links, with adaptive dampers available but not optioned on our £43,280 AMG Line Premium test car.

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What's it like?

Let’s start with the engine, which is pretty good really. It easily out-punches the D180 unit that you’d get in the equivalent Discovery Sport, though that probably has more to do with the fact that the GLB undercuts the heavyweight Land Rover by the best part of 220kg. I’d say it’s slightly more refined under load too, if not quite as refined as the diesel four-pots you’d find in an Audi Q3 or BMW X1. The eight-speed automatic transmission also feels more decisive than the nine-speed ‘box available in the Land Rover - provided you leave it to its own devices.

It handles well for what is quite a tall, slab-sided box on wheels, and while there is a degree of lean through faster corners, you wouldn’t expect otherwise would you? Either way, it’s no deal breaker. Grip is good, and you don’t find yourself second-guessing your steering inputs either. 

That said, the Discovery Sport is the sweeter steering device of the two. Where the comparatively light-weight feel of the GLB’s gearing seems to be trying to mask its inflated weight and size, there’s an honesty about the Land Rover’s more relaxed, purposeful steering that really appeals. It makes no apologies for what it is, but steers accurately and with plenty of conviction nonetheless.

On passive dampers, the GLB 220d rides in a largely agreeable fashion. It doesn’t feel quite as supple as the heavier Discovery Sport through compressions, but neither is it totally unforgiving. On particularly rippled and uneven stretches of road it can come over as slightly rigid, but it otherwise deals with ruts and bumps pretty well.

Inside, you can see how it’s related to the smaller cars in the Mercedes stables. Lots of shiny black and silver plastics try to inject a bit of visual pizazz, but on the whole it’s the Land Rover that looks and feels like a more genuinely upmarket device. Still, the GLB’s driving position is as commanding as you’d expect it to be; there’s decent second-row space; and its 500-litre boot is usefully sized, but still considerably smaller than the Land Rover’s 897-litre hold.With the third row seats in place this luggage space is diminished, but at least you’ll have room for two extra kids.

Should I buy one?

The GLB has a fair bit going for it then. Add in the fact it undercuts the comparable Discovery Sport on list price (if only just), and that it’ll easily return a more economical rate of fuel consumption, and there’s plenty to like - if not quite as much as there is to like about the Land Rover.

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Mercedes-Benz GLB 220d 4Matic AMG Line Premium specifications

Where Bedfordshire, UK Price £43,280 Engine 4cyls, 1950cc, turbodiesel Power 187bhp at 3800rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1600-2600rpm Gearbox 8-speed automatic Kerb weight 1735kg 0-62mph 7.6sec Top speed 135mph Economy 47.1-47.9mpg CO2, tax band 156g/km, 34% Rivals Land Rover Discovery Sport, BMW X1, Skoda Kodiaq

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Comments
17

16 July 2020

The interior is a bit naff, tough.  And pricing is pretty crazy here in Australia.

16 July 2020

Can somebody add an edit function to this site already goddammit!

16 July 2020

We get that Autocar would prefer you to choose the Discovery Sport, but this review is preposterous. If you didn't reference the Disco at every paragraph you might have been able to cover this car in more detail.

16 July 2020
scrap wrote:

We get that Autocar would prefer you to choose the Discovery Sport, but this review is preposterous. If you didn't reference the Disco at every paragraph you might have been able to cover this car in more detail.

They may include the references because they know half the following posts will slag off JLR regardless of the fact it's a review of a Merc.  To prove the point lets see what manufacturer the following posts make reference to.

16 July 2020
xxxx wrote:

scrap wrote:

We get that Autocar would prefer you to choose the Discovery Sport, but this review is preposterous. If you didn't reference the Disco at every paragraph you might have been able to cover this car in more detail.

They may include the references because they know half the following posts will slag off JLR regardless of the fact it's a review of a Merc.  To prove the point lets see what manufacturer the following posts make reference to.

So, do you think criticism of JLR and it's products is unjustified?  And, it is a piss poor review, it reads as a comparision test between the two vehilces and one that the Merc lost from the start.

Regardless of anyones opinion of JLR and whether that opinion is founded in fact or not, this publication does have a leaning toward supporting JLR products, which some may say is justified, UK publication, UK car manufacturer and more importantly, UK employer.  Some may rightly point out they should remain impartial for journalistic integrity. 

16 July 2020
Marc wrote:

xxxx wrote:

scrap wrote:

We get that Autocar would prefer you to choose the Discovery Sport, but this review is preposterous. If you didn't reference the Disco at every paragraph you might have been able to cover this car in more detail.

They may include the references because they know half the following posts will slag off JLR regardless of the fact it's a review of a Merc.  To prove the point lets see what manufacturer the following posts make reference to.

So, do you think criticism of JLR and it's products is unjustified?  And, it is a piss poor review, it reads as a comparision test between the two vehilces and one that the Merc lost from the start.

Regardless of anyones opinion of JLR and whether that opinion is founded in fact or not, this publication does have a leaning toward supporting JLR products, which some may say is justified, UK publication, UK car manufacturer and more importantly, UK employer.  Some may rightly point out they should remain impartial for journalistic integrity. 

No, suggest you review my comments (and think before swearing) especially in relation to the intial post.

16 July 2020
xxxx wrote:

Marc wrote:

xxxx wrote:

scrap wrote:

We get that Autocar would prefer you to choose the Discovery Sport, but this review is preposterous. If you didn't reference the Disco at every paragraph you might have been able to cover this car in more detail.

They may include the references because they know half the following posts will slag off JLR regardless of the fact it's a review of a Merc.  To prove the point lets see what manufacturer the following posts make reference to.

So, do you think criticism of JLR and it's products is unjustified?  And, it is a piss poor review, it reads as a comparision test between the two vehilces and one that the Merc lost from the start.

Regardless of anyones opinion of JLR and whether that opinion is founded in fact or not, this publication does have a leaning toward supporting JLR products, which some may say is justified, UK publication, UK car manufacturer and more importantly, UK employer.  Some may rightly point out they should remain impartial for journalistic integrity. 

No, suggest you review my comments (and think before swearing) especially in relation to the intial post.

Not too sure why you're asking to calm down, geniune response - not a rant or criticism of your post.  I did review your comments and asked if criticism of JLR products was justified, regardless of the original review purpose.  You post plenty of comments about people's criticism of JLR products, I was asking if you thought it was justified or not.

Swearing, when? Or do you mean 'piss poor'... Perhaps I shouldn't have bothered commenting.

 

 

16 July 2020
Marc wrote:

xxxx wrote:

Marc wrote:

xxxx wrote:

scrap wrote:

We get that Autocar would prefer you to choose the Discovery Sport, but this review is preposterous. If you didn't reference the Disco at every paragraph you might have been able to cover this car in more detail.

They may include the references because they know half the following posts will slag off JLR regardless of the fact it's a review of a Merc.  To prove the point lets see what manufacturer the following posts make reference to.

So, do you think criticism of JLR and it's products is unjustified?  And, it is a piss poor review, it reads as a comparision test between the two vehilces and one that the Merc lost from the start.

Regardless of anyones opinion of JLR and whether that opinion is founded in fact or not, this publication does have a leaning toward supporting JLR products, which some may say is justified, UK publication, UK car manufacturer and more importantly, UK employer.  Some may rightly point out they should remain impartial for journalistic integrity. 

No, suggest you review my comments (and think before swearing) especially in relation to the intial post.

Not too sure why you're asking to calm down, geniune response - not a rant or criticism of your post.  I did review your comments and asked if criticism of JLR products was justified, regardless of the original review purpose.  You post plenty of comments about people's criticism of JLR products, I was asking if you thought it was justified or not.

Swearing, when? Or do you mean 'piss poor'... Perhaps I shouldn't have bothered commenting.

Of course criticism of JLR is fine, you've quite a history of it. But not 90% of the posts when the review is about a Mercedes, it looks like I was right about subsequent posts.

Swearing, when. You guessed right but then what else could it have been.

289

16 July 2020

We still live in hope of an unbiased road test....of the like Autocar/Motor used to approach in the 60's and 70's....... clearly this is now a vain hope in this age of commercialism!

16 July 2020

JLR's measurement is to the roof of the car. Merc's is not. Therefore rubbish to compare them directly. It would be more useful to have a photo of the boot than loads of the outside

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