A prototype for a new Mercedes-Benz compact crossover SUV to be called the GLB has been spotted again, and it's mostly devoid of camouflage gear.
Mercedes already competes in the space with the GLA but the GLB will be a larger, more rugged offering with styling influenced by the automaker's bigger SUVs. Sadly, it looks like the GLB won't be the mini G-Class we were all hoping for.
A thinly veiled Concept GLB will be unveiled at April's Auto Shanghai 2019 to preview the design.
Engineers previously used the makeshift body of a GLA to hide the new mechanicals. These test mules revealed a stretched wheelbase and wider track compared to the GLA, both of which have been confirmed by the latest prototypes.
The new mechanicals are a next-generation version of the current MFA (Modular Front-drive Architecture) platform for front-wheel-drive-based compact cars. Referred to as MFA2, the platform brings weight savings plus greater capacity for alternative drivetrains. It made its debut last year in the A-Class. The GLB, as well as a long-wheelbase A-Class sold in China, use the longest version of the platform.
The standard powertrain for the GLB should be a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 with 188 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. A more powerful GLB35 from Mercedes-AMG is planned, and possibly a high-performance GLB45 as well. Plug-in hybrid and electric options are also likely in the pipeline, with the latter to also come with a unique body style and an EQB designation.
Teaser for Mercedes-Benz GLB concept debuting at 2019 Shanghai auto show
The MFA2-based cars also benefit from a much more advanced interface. Dubbed MBUX, short for Mercedes-Benz User Experience, the new interface features digital screens for the instrument cluster and infotainment system, much like on the pricier E-Class and S-Class models. However, there's also touch capability for the infotainment screen and you'll also be able to use natural speech to control many vehicle functions.
Production of the GLB for North America will likely take place at the same plant in Mexico where the A-Class is built. The GLB should also be built at a plant in China.
Look for the GLB to go on sale in late 2019 as a 2020 model. Potential rivals include the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Land Rover Range Rover Evoque.