For long, there has been a void in the luxury car space—while prices of these cars start at Rs 40-odd lakh, seven-seater SUVs for a large family are far expensive.
The most affordable seven-seater luxury SUVs in India are Audi Q7 (Rs 84.7 lakh) and Volvo XC90 (Rs 96.5 lakh), and all others are priced upwards of Rs 1 crore, including Mercedes-Benz’s GLS (Rs 1.19 crore).
Mercedes-Benz has now launched India’s most affordable seven-seater luxury SUV, the GLB, and we drove it around Delhi.
Does it look like the GLS?
Not at all—the GLB looks a lot like the GLC, a compact SUV. In fact, the GLB (at 4,634 mm) is slightly smaller than the GLC (4,658 mm).
How big is the cabin?
Despite being smaller, the GLB packs in seven seats, as compared to five seats in the GLC. Smart packaging has ensured ample cabin space. The second-row space is almost as good as in the GLS, but the third row is ideal for kids or pets, and not for tall adults. The second-row seat has a 40:20:40 folding split. Both second- and third-row seats are fully foldable for additional boot space.
Which engines power it?
There are three powertrain options: 1332cc petrol 4×2, 1950cc diesel 4×2 and 1950cc diesel 4×4.
How does it drive?
It drives exactly like the GLC. In the petrol model, the cabin is eerily quiet, but in the diesel the engine rattle can be heard inside the cabin (which is normal for any diesel car). On smooth roads, the GLB drives almost sticking to the road, and even while cornering at high speeds it doesn’t lose its line.
An area where new Mercedes-Benz vehicles stand out is the ease of gear-shifting. The company has moved the automatic transmission selector as a stalk on the right side of the steering wheel. Rather than the standard PRND layout, the stalk has to be pushed up for ‘reverse’, and down for ‘neutral’ or ‘drive’ gears. A button at the end of the stalk puts the gearbox in ‘park’ mode. It’s far more convenient than traditional shifters (between the front seats) because you don’t have to take your hand off the steering wheel to change gears. It also frees up space on the centre console.
Is it a family car?
That’s a tricky question. The GLB is not a car in which seven adults can travel in comfort, but for five adults and two kids (and little luggage), it’s a good car.
Where it scores over the GLC (Rs 62-68 lakh) is smart packaging. While the GLC has room for five passengers, the GLB (Rs 63.8-69.8 lakh) can carry five in comfort and two more, at more or less the same price. That makes it a far more versatile SUV. It’s both a seven- and a five-seater SUV, and it doesn’t cost a bomb (relatively).
*For simplicity, we’ve defined luxury cars as those made by premium carmakers such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Volvo, Lexus, etc. While Kia Carnival is no less luxury, and it’s a seven-seater, we haven’t included it in the list. It deserves a separate article.