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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Freshened-up Mercedes-Benz GLB debuts with electrified heart

GLB gets the same degree of changes inside and out as the GLA, but with the option of five or seven seats.

Showcased in 2019 somewhat cheekily billed as a mini-G-Class based on its slab-siding styling, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the facelift GLB anticipated to come to South Africa later this year.

Strange start

A model that has faced a number of delays in the local market, including a complete relaunch last year, the GLB premiers at the same time as its smaller sibling, the GLA, with both expected to return for another generation past 2025.

Newly updated Mercedes-Benz GLB unveiled
New light cluster an indication of the GLB’s rear-end changes. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Once again based on the front-wheel-drive MFA2 platform, also used by the A-Class hatch and sedan, B-Class, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, the GLB remains dimensionally unchanged, but like the GLA, receives a series of subtle mid-life changes inside and out.

New additions

In the case of the former, the grille has been restyled, the bumper altered and side graphics added to the shoulder line. Newly reworked LED taillight clusters, wheel sizes ranging from 17 to 20-inches, plus the same Spectral Blue Metallic paint option as the GLA rounds the exterior off.

ALSO READ: Can Mercedes-Benz GLB live up to ‘Baby G-Wagon’ moniker?

Given that the GLB range doesn’t have a ‘45’ designated model despite the emergence of patent documents in 2020 suggesting otherwise, the AMG GLB 35 continues to top the range with its exterior tweaks mirroring that of the GLA 35.

Inside, the GLB benefits from the exact same changes as the GLA, although in this case, the steering wheel can be trimmed in either Artico man-made fibres or leather.

Newly updated Mercedes-Benz GLB unveiled
Interior changes have been minor. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Seating is again provided for five or optionally for seven, the latter setup not extending to the AMG GLB 35.

Petrol, diesel and batteries

Taking a lead from the GLA, all of the GLB’s engine options, including that of the 35, is now supplemented by the 48-volt EQ Boost mild-hybrid system that adds an additional 10 kW for short bursts.

Facelift Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has been revealed
Spectral Blue debuts as a new colour option available on the GLB and the AMG GLB 35. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Unlike its sibling though, a plug-in hybrid model isn’t available. The same transmission choices do apply however,, namely a seven-speed or eight-speed dual-clutch depending on the model.

On the power and torque fronts, the GLB 180 commences the range with 100kW/230Nm from its 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine, which rises to 120kW/270Nm in the similarly engine GLB 200. As with the GLA, both these versions are front-wheel-drive only.

Facelift Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has been revealed
No less than three alloy wheel choices are available for the AMG 35. Image: Mercedes-Benz

The higher-up GLA 220 and GLA 250 are, however, outfitted with Mercedes-Benz’s own 2.0-litre engine developing 140kW/300Nm in the former, and 165kW/350Nm in the latter. The all-paw gripping 4Matic system is standard fare.

On the diesel front, Benz’s 2.0-litre oil-burner has tweaked to deliver three different outputs; 85kW/280Nm in the front-wheel-drive only GLB 180d, 110kW/320Nm in the GLB 200d that comes with the 4Matic system as an option, and 140kW/400Nm in the 4Matic-equipped GLB 220d.

Facelift Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has been revealed
Red accents a unique AMG addition. Image: Mercedes-Benz

The mentioned GLB 35 completes the range with 225kW/400Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo-petrol, harnessed to the road through the AMG fettled eight-speed dual-clutch ‘box to all four wheels via the 4Matic+ system. Performance figures suggest a limited top speed of 250 km/h and 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds.

Unveiling still to be announced

Like the GLA, South African market availability for the GLB hasn’t yet been confirmed, though chances are that an announcement will be made by Mercedes-Benz South Africa in either in the second or third quarters of this year.

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