Updated: Apr 1, 2022
In a land of hulking SUVs, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4MATIC and its non-AMG stablemate, the Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 are....not.
When I first walked up to the GLB 35, I was struck by the fact that I could actually see over the roof. I drove it to work, and when I was leaving work that evening, this is what I saw in the parking lot:
I promise you, I did not stage this shot. While I was at work, a co-worker or visitor parked his or her 2004, 2005 or 2006 Scion xB next to the GLB 35. This is also not meant as commentary beyond a comment on scale. The GLB is really that low.
Pop the hood and you're greeted by an AMG-enhanced 2-liter turbo four. 302 horsepower, 295 pounds per foot of torque, mated to an eight-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT dual-clutch transmission with AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The EPA fuel economy average is pretty good for that much power---21 miles per gallon city/26 highway.
Driving the GLB 35 in normal or "Comfort" mode, you really don't get the sensation until the transmission gets through first and second gear in rapid order, letting you get into the sweet spot of the torque curve in third gear. If you want instant gratification, you need to turn the little knob on the lower right of the steering wheel:
You don't want "C" for "comfort". You don't even want "S" for "sport". No, trust me, you want "S+". That's "Sport Plus", and that's really the setting you should probably drive the GLB 35 in all the time.
The gear changes come higher up the rev band, the suspension tightens but never becomes harsh and the exhaust system makes the most magnificent snarl. That knob unleashes all the potential that AMG has built into the GLB 35 4MATIC. A standing start becomes 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds and the combination of the all-wheel drive and the low center of gravity makes the GLB 35 take corners with the least possible body roll.
The rear cargo area is very small with the third row of seats in use.
But with the third row folded flat, it's a decent amount of space. I'd recommend using the third row only in an emergency and only for kids. If you anticipate needing to ferry seven people around on a regular basis, you need a bigger SUV. If you never carry that many people, the third-row seat is an extra-cost option, so you can skip it and have a five-seater with plenty of cargo space.
Base price for the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4MATIC is $49,500. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, LED headlamps and taillamps and keyless start.
Extra-cost options add another $9,585 to the sticker. $720 of it for the Patagonia Red Metallic paint, $1,450 for the black leather interior and $325 for the natural grain black Linden wood trim.
There's also $400 for the AMG performance steering wheel in Nappa leather, $750 for 20-inch AMG twin 5-spoke wheels, $400 for the AMG drive unit steering wheel buttons, $1,500 for a panoramic sunroof, $460 for SiriusXM Radio with a free trial period, $110 for a mirror logo projector that throws a Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star onto the pavement when you approach or leave the vehicle at night, $850 for the third-row seat, $500 for heated front seats and $25 for a USB-C adapter cable.
But wait---there's more. $1,295 for the Multimedia Package (see window sticker for details) and $800 for the Premium Package.
While that seems like a lot of add-ons, and much of it stuff that comes standard in other vehicles, it's typical for European marques and actually pretty restrained in this case.
With $1,050 destination and delivery charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4MATIC is $60,135.
Cheap? No. But if you're thinking "for a small SUV?"---stop buying cars by the pound. You're going to be happy if you buy what suits your needs, fits your budget and, best of all, puts a smile on your face the way the GLB 35 will when you turn the little knob to "S+" and stand on it.