Meet the new Mini GLS and Mini EQS
Mercedes has been a leader in the luxury car segment in India for a long time. Challengers like BMW and Audi have always been close seconds. Despite the sales chart buzz, the only 7-seater car in Mercedes-Benz India has been the Mercedes GLS. The GLS demands and commands a presence, but its sheer size and price could be intimidating. A glimpse of Mercedes-Benz’s positive sales figures in India comes from their immense pool of over 7000 pre-orders, including a sold-out GLC.
Not only is this company successful at making luxury cars, but it also commands one of the largest fleets of premium SUVs. Adding versatility, Mercedes has launched a new platform. Bringing back the B series cars, meet the new Mercedes-Benz EQB and GLB. For the first time in India, Mercedes offers a modular 7-seater platform in three fuel types and multiple SKUs.
Mini-GLS and Mini-EQS
Mercedes-Benz does not shy away from admitting the B segment launches are highly inspired by the S series. The GLB is also globally termed as the mini-GLS for the design elements, while the EQB looks similar to the global EQS SUV. What’s missing is the sheer size of their elder sibling inspirations. Both these cars are substantial in presence, almost as long as the best-selling GLC. The front fascia might look different on both cars, giving them a unique identity. The side panels on both vehicles are more or less the same, encompassing an overall length of 4,646mm, liberating a healthy 2,829mm wheelbase. The GLB also gets an optional AMG Kit accessory allowing 19-inch AMG rims with AMG steering wheel, Alcantara goodness, metal pedals and more. Thanks to the elder siblings, the GLB and EQB look friendly and welcoming without the domineer dimensions.
While the GLB follows the GLS split lamp design with neat-looking DRLs similar to the GLS, the EQB is unmistakably an EQ platform from Mercedes-Benz with a connected LED design front and rear. Sharing platforms, the EQB and GLB share the interior design with subtle changes based on the model. Our first drive cars were the top-of-the-line GLB 220d 4-Matic and EQB 300 4-Matic. Featuring AMG-styled flat-bottom steering wheels, turbine-styled AC vents, an ambient lighting package, Alcantara seats with lumbar-lateral support and more, these cars are loaded to the brim considering the segment. Based on the A-series limousine platform also featured on the GLA, the GLB and EQB stand longer than most of its competitors, including the Audi Q5!
Familiarly Merc on the inside
Mercedes-Benz uses different quality materials and textures with soft-touch leather, metal accents and LED elements on hard plastic, albeit in better quality. The centre console features a floating 10.25” touch infotainment system loaded with MBUX (connected car features and voice commands – Hey Mercedes) and a 4-Matic info-clad 10.25” MID. The functional centre column also brings rollable shutters to reveal a wireless charging pad, 12V connector, USB Type-C port, drive select metal knobs, HVAC controls in see-through design, a touch panel with wrist rest and a deep powered pocket that doubles as the arm-rest. There are multiple bottle holders, and the cabin feels functional yet sumptuous, thanks to the quality materials and ambient LED treatment. The GLB gets a matte aluminium finish on the AC vents, while the EQB features a body-coloured matte finish on the front AC vents.
The middle-row and third-row seats get USB Type-C charging ports with additional recline angles and adjustments for leg space on the middle row. The middle-row armrest also houses rollable cup holders in a 40,20,40 split-seat configuration. The 50-50 third-row seats are best suited for preteens and pets when required. With all the seats up, the powered tailgate liberates 130L boot space, 500L on folding the third row and up to 1055L on folding both rear rows. Limited by space, Mercedes includes a puncture repair kit instead of a spare wheel for emergencies. Breathing more space into the interiors is a two-way panoramic sunroof.
Impressive when steady and rolling
Safety first, the entire line-up gets seven airbags, with curtain extensions for the third-row passengers. Apart from a 5-star global NCAP rating, these cars also feature TPMS, HAC, lane keep, brake and driving assists with two high-resolution cameras. Mercedes offers the GLB in 200(P), 220d(D) and 220d 4-Matic(D) + AMG Kit. The EQB 300 receives the top-tier GLB treatments as standard for the electric powertrain. The 1332cc Petrol engine churns 163HP and 250Nm mated to a 6-Speed AT in front-wheel drive. The 2.0L Diesel variants 220d and 4-Matic bring healthy 400Nm and 190HP on tap for a livelier driving experience. The GLB 220d sprints 0-100Km/h in 7.6 secs while the EQB achieves the same in 8 secs despite the battery weight gains.
Drivers can choose from Eco, Sport, Comfort and Individual settings. We prefer the Individual settings as it allows versatile setup, like setting the engine and steering response to Sport mode, while the suspensions soak bad roads in Comfort mode. The seats are positioned in a commanding position, and the split A-pillar adds a good view of the road. While the GLB offers a round steering wheel, our top-tier unit featured the AMG flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters, a standard on the EQB. Shifts are precise on the GLB 220d, while the exact change between various recuperation options on the EQB. The suspensions and ground clearance of 155mm make the drive comfortable and relatively carefree in normal driving conditions.
The GLB 220d like to be ringed around, and the satisfactory performance is on tap throughout the rev bands. There is some body roll movement, but the overall rigid architecture of the chassis allows for reasonable body control. Despite the additional weight of 469 kg batteries, the EQB with single-gear ASM on the front wheels and PSM driving the rear wheels churns a healthy 229HP and 390Nm of relatively instant torque compared to the GLB. Compare this figure with a better centre of gravity due to the batteries in the floor; the EQB feels nimble.
Mercedes-Benz has bought one of their B series best NVH levels on the market. The GLB gets audible when driven enthusiastically, but the engine and cabin are satisfactorily refined. The EQB gets additional motor insulation, cabin insulation and noise-reduction tyres to make the electric cabin feel silent enough to meditate. What also helps relax are the tonnes of advanced driver assistance features on both the GLB and EQB. From lane keep assist to emergency braking and more, the driving assist feature list can easily rival cars boasting an ADAS level 2 system. The EQB’s 66.5kWh battery is rated up to 423 Km (WLTP) range. Driving the EQB through twisties and highways, it has decent regenerative capabilities, and real-world figures will easily touch upwards of 350 km. This car also supports 100kW DC and 11kW AC charging. Mercedes provide the latter as a complementary accessory for initial buyers. Mercedes claims a 10-80% charge at 100kW in 32 mins. Expect our 50kW chargers to charge this car to the same levels in about an hour. An 11kW AC charger will charge the car from 10-100% in 6 hours and 25 mins. Not bad!
Overall, the use of materials, utility options, insulation, and driving dynamics on the 7-seater Mercedes GLB and EQB make them a surprising addition to the already populated Mercedes SUV line-up. Mercedes-Benz India provides an eight-year warranty on the batteries of EQB and the engine + transmission of the GLB series. This warranty is also transferable, and this platform, offered in petrol, diesel and electric, seems like a good filler in the 7-seater luxury car segment. Indian units will be imported from Mexico and sold as CBU. We expect pricing for the GLB and EQB to start from 65L, and despite that price tag, the GLB and EQB are unique value luxury propositions.