Mercedes-Benz already has seven SUVs in its lineup, but it looks as if it has one more ready to squeeze its way in. Well, more like muscle its way in.
The Concept GLB debuting at the Shanghai Auto Show is a sneak peek at a likely future compact crossover utility with rugged features and some off-road capability.
The seven-passenger vehicle is sized between the GLA and GLC and has boxier and bulkier styling than either of them. From its black fender flares to its pronounced rocker panels and raised right height, it appears to be from an alternate future where Daimler-Chrysler never broke up and Jeep merged with Mercedes-Benz instead.
The formula is similar to what Ford is using to design a Bronco-inspired utility vehicle based on the Escape.
In concept form, the all-wheel-drive GLB is equipped with a 224 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system that can be locked to split the power 50:50 between the front and rear wheels for light off-roading. Rails, spotlights and a storage box on the roof highlight its expeditionary intentions.
In the spirit of the hardcore G-Class, the GLB’s interior is overdressed with leather, suede and real wood trim and has a short dashboard fitted with round vents and dual 12.3-inch displays just like its big sister. Despite the GLB’s small overall length, Mercedes-Benz says the third row can fit “medium-size’ adults, and the second row slides fore and aft to customize the use of the space.
Mercedes-Benz hasn’t confirmed plans to put it into production, but did point out that the original GLA Concept was unveiled at the same show in 2013 and was in showrooms the following year.