A prototype for a new Mercedes-Benz compact crossover SUV expected 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.
The Ener-G-Force concept unveiled at the 2012 Los Angeles auto show hints at what’s to come.
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 earlier this year in new A-Class hatchback and sedan models.
Models like the GLB as well as the next-generation B-Class use the longest version of the platform, and will feature a powertrain lineup consisting of a series of inline-4 units, in both gasoline and diesel flavors. A plug-in hybrid option should also be available at some point.
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.
Mercedes will produce some MFA2-based cars at a plant in Mexico, including likely this GLB. The cars will also be produced at plants in Europe and China.
Look for the GLB to go on sale in 2019 as a 2020 model. Potential rivals include the Jeep Renegade as well as the new BMW X2 and Volvo XC40.