GULF WEEKLY: With air-travel close to impossible due to Covid-19 restrictions, road trips are seeing a surge in popularity.
More and more weekend warriors are packing in the entire family to explore local sights and sounds – both on and off-road.
To appeal to this crowd, Mercedes-Benz has created the GLB200, which was introduced in the Middle East recently.
We decided to take it for a test-drive last week to get a feel of what many Silver Arrow enthusiasts are calling an exceptional luxury seven-seater.
Picking up the SUV from Al Haddad Motors, Bahrain’s exclusive dealer for the German marquee, the immediate question on my mind was, “Why another SUV?”
After all, this is the seventh addition to the Three-Pointed Star’s SUV offering, adding yet another option to a lineup that includes the speedy GLE, the full-size GLS, the iconic G-Class, the compact GLA, the electric EQC and the five-seater GLC.
So was I, but as the Al Haddad team walked me through some of the features, I began to see the niche for whom the GLB200 was built.
With a five-seater and seven-seater option available, this crossover SUV is ideal for growing families looking for a road trip in style. It immediately asks the question – do you really need the big lumbering body design features of the larger GL SUVs?
And for most families, the answer is no, so instead it offers a three-pronged prestigious, pragmatic and perceptive package.
Mercedes-Benz describes the GLB as its “most versatile compact SUV” – a promise it lives up to, with ample space in the front for the driver and passenger, and a reasonable amount of seat space in the second row.
I test-drove the five-seater option.
The extra seats in the back seems like a great option for families with young children, but is a trade-off at the cost of lost cargo space for seats, which may not be comfortable for older children.
In terms of style, the GLB builds on the design language of the GLA and the GLC, adding a bold grille to the front and expanding the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) display screen across the dash for a widescreen experience.
I test-drove the AMG package, which features 19-inch wheels, carbon-structure trim, polished aluminum roof rail and of course, the speedy sport mode.
But don’t expect to pull off a Lewis Hamilton in this car – it comes with a modest 163hp-engine.
Over the recent years, the brand has focused on enhancing this software on top of the perfectly-engineered hardware, and the GLB is no exception.
Not only was connectivity to my phone seamless and the wireless charging flawless, I was also able to quickly change the lighting within the car, get a quick massage to boost my road-awareness and of course, have a chat with the onboard Mercedes assistant to call our photographer Hussain and arrange to meet him at the forest-esque destination popping up on our Instagram feeds – Karzakan.
On the road, the car’s safety features really shine, as the GLB warned me of traffic conditions all around me. And like most of its line-up, the beauty of the GLB is how easily it becomes an extension of you.
As the evening approached, I also noticed subtle design elements that reflect the thought GLB’s engineers put into them. As I reached for my camera in the passenger seat, a light specifically designed to illuminate the seat in the dark came on.
When a gentle drizzle came down, the wipers didn’t need to be told to clear my windows. And when I needed to open the trunk, all I had to do was twirl my foot under the tailgate. Simple additions, but ones I instantly missed when I went back to my own car!
The one thing I missed in the GLB200 was an all-wheel option since this was a front-wheel drive SUV.
The GLB250 4MATIC does come with an all-wheel drive option, so if you are planning on going off-road, do look into that.
But for families looking for a mainly city and highway SUV with a smart system that adapts itself to your driving, the GLB is the perfect fit. It’s pragmatically designed and comes with the unparalleled prestige of a Mercedes-Benz, all at a reasonable starting price tag of BD19,800.
For details and to book a test drive, visit www.bahrain.mercedesbenzme.com or call the showroom at 17785454.