If you don’t think the German car companies copy-cat each other, you’re not paying attention. Almost immediately after one German brand brings out a new model, the other copy. It makes sense, though, as the Germans have either invented or defined almost every automotive segment on the market. So if one brand makes something new, the others want to make sure they get a slice of the pie. Which is why the new Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class could be something interesting to watch.
Mercedes-Benz just launched the GLB seemingly five minutes ago and it’s already making quite a splash on the world wide web. That’s because it actually looks quite promising and it’s something we can see its main competitors, BMW and Audi, potentially copying.
The Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class is based on the brand’s front-wheel drive scalable architecture, the same one on which the A-Class and GLA-Class are based. What makes the GLB unique from its siblings is the fact that it’s a natural seven-seat SUV despite being quite tiny.
Thanks to its front-drive architecture, Mercedes has been able to carve out a lot of room on the inside of the GLB. So even though it’s actually shorter than the rear-wheel drive GLC-Class, it has more passenger space and an optional third row of seating. It’s similar to the Land Rover Discovery Sport in that it’s small but big on the inside, with the potential for seven passengers. Don’t think that third row is a glorified luggage rack, though. With the third row in place, the GLB-Class can fit four child seats with ISOFIX latches. So it can be a genuinely practical family hauler.
The Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class will be built in the brand’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant and will go on sale in America by the end of 2019. One model will be available — the GLB 250 4Matic. That will come with a new 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and it will be paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Its new 4Matic all-wheel drive system is obviously front-drive-based but it uses a clever clutch pack and rear differential to send power to the rear axle for some genuine off-road capability. It’s obviously not going to be a proper off-roader but it should be about as capable as a Disco Sport, which isn’t too shabby.
On the outside, the GLB looks good. It has the brand’s modern design language but it’s boxier and chunkier than its siblings. There’s even a whiff of G-Wagen to its design, which makes it look tougher than other Mercedes crossovers. On the inside, it also gets the brand’s current design language, with its latest MBUX infotainment system, and it looks very premium.
The question, though, is: will BMW make something similar? We know the market is changing and spacious, premium crossovers are in. BMW is also no longer shy about making front-wheel drive-based crossovers. So will something like the GLB, something a bit more spacious and maybe even a bit more rugged, be in the future for BMW?
While it’s not likely BMW creates an all-new model just to take on the GLB, it’s entirely possible that the next-gen BMW X1 is a bit boxier and a bit more spacious, with a focus on three rows of seating. So while the Bavarians might not copy-cat the GLB specifically with an all-new model, we think it would make a lot of sense for them to tailor the next-gen X1 to be similar.