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Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 review: A speedy seven-seater

Mercedes-AMG has pulled off a unique feat of blending joyful, high-performance thrills with family utility in the GLB 35.

The Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 is Mercedes-AMG's antidote to the GLB 200, which also seats seven but has staid handling and an efficient-but-dull 1.3-litre turbo-charged engine.

Malaga, Spain

CALLING the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 the best luxury, small, performance-oriented sport utility vehicle that can fit seven people isn't faint praise - even if it's the only car around with all those specific traits.

The GLB is the newest addition to the range of small cars from Mercedes-Benz, and arguably the German luxury brand's most interesting yet, since a less expensive Mercedes that can fit seven inside an unapologetically boxy shell seems dead set for Singapore success.

The bulk of sales will be made up by the GLB 200 model. The Business Times tested that car and found it to have a tremendous amount of interior space for either seven average-sized adults, or cargo. If it has a weakness, it is its comfy-but-staid handling, and the efficient-but-dull 1.3-litre turbo-charged engine.

Market voices on:

High-performance sub-brand Mercedes-AMG has the antidote, and it's this model, the GLB 35.

It packs a far bigger punch with its 306hp, 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive and improved suspension and brakes.

This doesn't transform the GLB into a wild-child machine (like the Jaguar F-Type SVR, for instance) but there's plenty of substance to keep drivers entertained even if they're on family bus duty.

The snappy, purring engine and instant-shift gearbox are better than any sound system, while the suspension improvements eliminate the boat-like behaviour the GLB 200 exhibits when you crack the whip hard.

Since it's not a full-on AMG model, it should be priced sensibly too. As for how much it actually costs, that's still up in the air, but we can't imagine it would demand more than S$300,000 from you, with certificate of entitlement. Somewhere around the quarter-of-a-million mark is more realistic.

When Mercedes launches the GLB some time in the second half of 2020, it will have no direct rival, but perhaps the most pertinent fact is that the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has the style, and driving vim, that will help make mum and dad feel far less like a bus driver and more like a racing driver.

Mercedes-AMG GLB 35

Engine 1,991cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 306hp at 5800-6100rpm
Torque 400Nm at 3,000-4,000rpm
Gearbox 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
Top speed 250kmh
0-100kmh 5.2 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.6L/100km
Price $TBA
Agent Cycle & Carriage
Available Second half, 2020