Long rumoured for production, the so-called baby G-Class looks set to make a motor show debut in the coming months. The Mercedes Benz GLB-Class, while seen to have a similar squared-off, bulky appearance like that of the famed G-Class, will almost certainly be based on the new A-Class platform to be released in the next 12 months. Positioned between the GLA and GLC SUVs, the GLB will offer a genuine point of difference with its styling alone, and even if it cannibalises a few sales from its smaller and bigger siblings, many more buyers are going to be attracted to it if they dreamt of owning a G-Class but just couldn’t get past the price tag or the acreage required to park it.
The GLB’s A-Class underpinnings unfortunately mean no bonkers V8-powered models won’t be happening, what with its front-wheel-drive underpinnings (could you imagine a small SUV with the 620HP V12?!), but any motoring enthusiast worth his salt knows A-Class architecture means a GLB45 model is almost certainly in the wings, and a butch little SUV with something like 50-400HP is hardly anything to sneeze at.
The GLB-Class will of course have more sensible four-cylinder engine choices as well, and inside that boxy shape will be room enough for three rows of seating for a specific model with a stretched body, though as yet how it’ll be configured is not yet mentioned (but you can safely assume seven seats).
The styling looks like it’ll be a nice departure from the industry’s current trend of making every model in a brand’s range look exactly the same, just scaled up or down. It’ll give customers a chance to recognise their car as a GLB, a unique proposition in the Mercedes universe given every GL, CL and sedan model is a caricature of itself. In spite of the looks being a homage to the fabled Geländewagen, it’s safe to say the off-road ability will likely be limited to forest trails and gravel tracks, in the same vein as most soft roaders with a little more ground clearance and knobblier tires than their hatchback cousins.
Expect switchable four-wheel-drive to be available, and possibly some sort of crawl function, but the potential customers are not going to be interested in stats like maximum wading depth and ramp-over angles. However, to help the GLB on the rare occasions it is off the tarmac, it’s expected that an off-road package will also be available with bolder and chunkier bumpers, to better protect the body from any mishaps, but image is as much about ability in this corner of the car market.
Written by Alex Burchell