German brands love to copy-cat each other. When one German brand debuts a new car, the others tend to follow. It makes sense, though, as it’s the main German brands that really defined the automotive segments we have today. So when one brand debuts a new car in a new segment, it only makes sense that the others also want a slice of the pie. Which is why it might be a good idea for Audi to keep a close eye on the Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class.
The Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class is an interesting car for both the brand and the market. It’s actually quite small, as it’s built on Mercedes’ front-wheel drive architecture and it’s even shorter than the GLC-Class, yet it’s very roomy inside. Despite its small footprint, the GLB-Class actually has an optional third row and can seat seven passengers. Don’t think that third row is just for marketing purposes, as Mercedes-Benz claims its large enough to hold two child seats, making it capable of holding four in total. For families, that could be huge.
It’s also quite spacious inside, thanks to its front-drive architecture, making it a comfortable and practical little crossover. Its cabin is filled with nice materials and a very stylish design, in keeping with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. So while it might be relatively inexpensive and small, it will have a very premium cabin.
Under the hood lies the brand’s new 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which will make 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That engine will be paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox and power either the front or all four wheels, the latter using a new 4Matic all-wheel drive system. While the Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class won’t be a proper off-roader, the folks in Stuttgart claim it will be more capable than you might think. These are the same people that make the incredibly rugged G-Wagen, so they know a thing or two about muddy roads.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class will be built at the brand’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant and will go on sale in the ‘States by the end of 2019. Only one model will be available at launch, a Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4Matic.
While we don’t know if Audi will make a direct rival for the GLB, it certainly makes some sense. One might not think there’s a hole in Audi’s lineup for the GLB but one could have also said that about Mercedes’ lineup prior to the GLB as well. We could see something like an Audi Q4 as this spacious, seven-seat crossover, leaving the Q3 Sportback to be the sportier crossover in that segment.
However the folks in Ingolstadt want to play it, they should keep their eyes on the Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class. It’s an interesting car that offers a ton of space in a premium compact crossover for an affordable price and that’s something that will likely sell very well, especially in America.