Why this concept SUV is the most Mercedes-like Mercedes in ages

Mercedes-Benz design lost its way sometime ago. It has resulted in a series of bloated SUVs that culminated in the horrendous GLE and GLS. The new Concept GLB bucks that trend, however.

Mercedes-Benz styling took a nosedive the day Bruno Sacco left the company, and has yet to recover. From about 2000 onwards Mercedes cars succumbed to swoops, weird curves and blobby headlights. Somehow they ended up looking cheap. Even as taxis.

Latterly scoops, creases and bulges have contributed to an overly aggressive, slightly weird look, which is not what Mercedes used to be about.

Okay, so Daimler has to move with the times and give people what they want, but unlike rival BMW which has managed to keep the family dna fairly intact across its own niche-filling vehicles, Mercedes-Benz has not.

But look through the current Mercedes line up and you will see a car from another age; the wonderful G-Class. This awesome vehicle is now 40 years old, costs a bloody fortune, and has never been in higher demand. When it was launched no-one called it an SUV, it was a 4WD.

Technically this is not a Mercedes at all, it’s manufactured by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. But it represents old school Mercedes Benz design and quality values and stands out like a beacon among the current range.

Which brings us to the Concept GLB, announced this week at the Shanghai Auto Show and slated for prodcution later in 2019.

Why is this so exciting.? Well look at it. At a stroke it’s dumped the current MB look for something more akin to the utilitarian looks of the G-Class, and in tune with the Mercedes-Benz tradition. It looks kind of German.

It is chunky, solid and appealing – and dare we say it, well mannered -not brutish. It’s also, for an SUV, relatively compact which on Europe’s crowded roads counts for something. It’s more car, less truck.

When Daimler says in its show blurb that the GLB has “clean, sculptural surfaces with reduced lines and precise joints” – it’s actually right. And all the better for it.

The Concept GLB will be powered by the M 260 four-cylinder petrol engine paired with the 8G-DCT dual-clutch transmission to deliver 165 kW/224 hp and a peak torque of 350 Nm. It is also equipped with the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system with fully variable torque distribution.

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