The Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35 4MATIC is new for the 2021 model year in the GLB lineup and takes one of the best compact SUVs on the market and turns it into a performance hot box on wheels.
Performance & Handling
While the 2021 AMG GLB35 might not be considered a “real” AMG by purists because it doesn’t have a hand-built engine, the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine produces a very hot 304-horsepower and 295lb-ft of torque. Power is put down to all four wheels using the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system and eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Shifts are crisp in Sport and Sport+ modes, and throttle response is excellent when the go-pedal is pushed to the floor.
Mercedes-Benz states that the AMG GLB35 will do 0-60 in just 5.1-seconds, onward to a top speed of 155 miles per hour. The GLB35’s adaptive suspension helps keep body roll to a minimum and well-controlled in cornering maneuvers.
The suspension is tight as one would expect in a sporty natured vehicle, but not overly harsh on anything but the worst of roads. It’s not as sharp or precise as some of the other hot hatches available on the market, but some of this has to do with the 19″ Continental SportContact 6 tires, which aren’t the grippiest performance tires available.
While the GLB35 isn’t as raw as its 63 series siblings, the car does feel excellent when driven hard and never lets you forget that it’s the performance version. The speed-sensitive power steering is good and provides some feedback, while the AMG enhanced brakes have excellent pedal feel. The exhaust has a nice burble for being a small four-cylinder, though some of it gets overshadowed by the obviously artificial sounding noise pumped into the cabin.
Exterior and Interior
The exterior of the 2021 AMG GLB35 4MATIC is one of the most unique shapes in its class. The proportions are tall and boxy but athletic with a lot of presence. Model-specific fascia treatments like a unique front grille, front splitter, unique rear bumper, and dual-exhaust have been added to make the AMG version stand out from the rest of the GLB lineup. A rear roof spoiler finishes off the AMG upgraded appearance. Our tester had 19-inch AMG 10-spoke wheels, but 21-inch wheels are optional.
The interior of the AMG GLB35 receives unique black 12-way power MB-Tex / DINAMICA microfiber seats with red contrast stitching and red seatbelts. There are optional leather packages available, but the standard MB-Tex / DINAMICA is fantastic, and I actually prefer them to real leather. Heated and ventilated seats are optional. The interior design with the HVAC vents are love it or hate it, but I happen to love the GLB interior. I also really enjoy the ambient lighting throughout that really adds to the party-like vibe of the AMG GLB35.
The GLB lineup at large is a masterpiece of packaging and space by the Mercedes-Benz team. While the default seating configuration is for five passengers, an optional third-row can bring the seating capacity to 7. The rear seats offer a class-leading 38.1-inches of legroom, while front seats offer 41.4-inches of legroom. The rear seats are on sliders and can be adjusted fore or aft as needed.
In a 5-passenger configuration, cargo space is 22 cubic feet with the rear seat up and a massive 62 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. There is also ample storage space for cups and other personal belongings throughout the vehicle.
The AMG GLB35 features the familiar MBUX control and display interface found throughout the Mercedes-Benz lineup and has a prominent 10.25-inch digital driver display and an accompanying 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as are four USB-C ports. An optional 12-speaker, 590-watt Burmester stereo is available.
As expected with a vehicle at this price point, the AMG GLB35 comes well equipped with safety features like blind-spot monitoring with a vehicle exit warning (for exiting on busy streets), automatic brake assist, and rain-sensing wipers. Optional safety features like adaptive LED headlights, park assist, heads-up display, surround-view camera, and lane-keep assist are available.
The Mercedes-Benz GLB was one of our favorite vehicles of 2020 because of its unique styling and extremely clever packaging. The same continues into 2021 with the AMG GLB35, which is even better than the original thanks to more power and subtle but nice design changes.
Understand that this isn’t going to replace a proper 7-passenger SUV, but will go head to head with the hottest compact hatches and sedans from Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen. With a price as tested of $55,590, the price hits right in the heart of the premium compact segment and is one of the few vehicles today that feels worth the price of admission.
Mercedes-Benz has a real winner with the AMG GLB35, and it should be at the top of any hot hatch shopping list.