Friday, December 8, 2023

2023 Mercedes GLB 220d India Review, First Drive

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Everyone wants to cash out on the SUV idea since the last decade and it continues in every segment and sphere. Be it the 7 lakh segment or the 80 lakh segment, where the new GLB sets in. The mini GLS design inspired GLB is finally here and was mostly reserved for the home market, China and America. It has landed in India and is being imported for now. Yes, this is an entry-level Mercedes that is not being made right now in the country. Mercedes has not done this because they want to try out the market with this model. Also because the new facelifts are not far away either. However, what the GLB is all about is a very curious question. The new design makes things much different in the way the car behaves. We find out as put in over 600 km to tell you the same.


On the outside, the mini GLS tail lamps are a great addition to the GLB. The new angular LED DRL in a boxy headlamp at the front along with the large logo and the small grille makes the SUV look like an icon already since the GLS and GLE now make the G-wagon proud already as their kids doing well. The C-pillar makes it look like a legitimate younger sibling of the GLS. A large bumper on both ends makes the GLB like a proper Mercedes SUV. The build quality on the outside seems and sounds great and it scores high on crash tests like any other Mercedes. Overall, the elements on the car, such as lamps, side profile and a well-done front grille make the GLB stand out and grab attention, unlike any other entry-level SUV in its class.


On the inside, the build and quality are good and the expected expansive feature list has not made it to the SUV. The interior has fantastic turbine jet air vents and rocker switches which makes the cabin look classic Mercedes affair. However, lack of ventilated seats, USB A points, wireless Apple car play and Android Auto. However you get automatic lights and wipers to reversing cameras, front and rear parking sensors, wireless chargers, ambient lighting (only at the front), and LED lamps.


The sound system is quite good on the GLB. A set of few things Mercedes does not compromise on is what we have seen all these years. The instrument cluster and the main screen have everything you need via 5 screens which include a service screen that shows tire pressures to AD blue level. The screens could have been taller which could have added to the premium feel at first glance, something we think is truly missing in the GLB. There is Mercedes ME, concierge service, and all other connected features to make it just like the GLS.


Space is still more than sufficient with enough shoulder and knee room as the GLB is boxy, it lends more space in this aspect. Despite a low stance but headroom is great considering the height of the GLB is quite high. Leg and headroom continue to be in good supply but as always it is a strict four-seater. The boot space is good enough at 500 litres with the seat downs. Rear seats are best kept for kids and very small adults. Road noise inside the cabin is a bit higher but the wind noise is well-controlled thanks to excellent insulation. The former noise is higher due to the 19-inch wheels. Like any other Mercedes, it is still a pleasant place to be thanks to multi-level air filtration. The safety kit continues to be high with electronic stability control and seven airbags, Hill Hold Assist, ABS and EBD, Active Brake Assist, etc coming as standard.


Mercedes four-cylinder diesel engines are smooth, free-revving, and low on NVH and the one on the GLB220d is the same. 2.0l Motor makes 190 BHP and 400 Nm of torque. Low and mid-range are good on the motor. All this is going through a semi-fast-shifting, smooth, and seamless 9-speed DSG automatic. The engine is flexible and powerful at the same time. 0-100 km/hr in 8 seconds is quick. Off-the-line acceleration for a car that looks like a family SUV shoots so fast and ahead that it makes you concentrate harder on the road. Who says, a fast car makes you a bad driver? Top-end is excellent when the turbo kicks. The GLB220d has an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/hr on offer. The engine can cruise at legal speeds and higher than that, quite easily when you want it to. This makes it good enough for city and highway duties and makes driving comfortable. We saw it getting 14 km/l on the highway and 10 km/l in the city which isn’t that bad for high powered SUV with AWD. The fuel economy numbers remind us of the Mahindra XUV 700.


The ride quality is compliant enough at all speeds and that is something not new with Mercedes. The steering gives enough feedback and is very precise at all speeds. This is something Mercedes is doing just right with all its cars these days. The steering weighs up on the highway well too! High-speed stability is spot on thanks to the ideal balance of underlying stiffness and compliance from the suspension.


The ride can feel stiff with AMG wheels on even and potholes, but once you get going it flattens them out. The unspoken luxury that GLB offers with ride quality continues to be a hallmark in the segment by a long shot. The brakes were good too with great pedal bite and a lot of performance on offer. Body roll is negligible while changing lanes at high speeds and it is still a very confidence-inspiring car to drive at any given speed. Thanks to AWD, pushing this SUV is surprisingly easy and so is getting speeding tickets. The ground clearance is good enough despite it sits lower than most SUV’s.

2023 Mercedes GLB220d 4Matic Review, Verdict


The Mercedes GLB220d 4Matic has been exceptionally fun to drive. More than we expected it to be. It has the practicality of an SUV to a large extent which makes it apt for our Indian roads. AWD, a diesel motor with a good gearbox along with excellent stability, ground clearance and steering makes the GLB worth considering already. Then there is the design which makes it special and a baby GLS which is something a lot of customers have been looking forward to.

The GLA did change the game for Mercedes India when the new one came in 2021 and the GLC continues to do well for the brand too despite supremely stiff competition. The GLB with no competition and a unique proposition and heritage behind makes it very tempting. I have honestly always loved the GLS and the GLB just makes me go wow. I would buy it hands down, even at the CBU price because I think it’s justified. However, the lower the price, the merrier it is and I cannot wait for the GLB to be made in India. Should you go for it too? You should because we never know when a locally made will come to the Indian market.

2023 Mercedes GLB 220d India Review,
  • Design
  • Interior
  • Features
  • Space
  • Safety
  • Performance
  • Comfort
  • Dynamics
  • Value
  • Practicality
Mohit Soni
Mohit Soni
NOT A Commander, Director, Editor-In-This/ That, CEO, MD, President, Entrepreneur, etc etc. Just a first employee at Thrust Zone with a team of enthusiasts who love car and motorcycles more than anything else in the world, just like I do. Hashtag blessed

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