This week was my first time cruising around in a Mercedes, and thanks to this little test drive, I can fully understand the difference a badge makes. Not just luxury for luxury sake, the 2020 Mercedes GLB250 is equipped with enough bells and whistles to justify the price tag you’d expect.
For those reading for the first time, this is my real girl car reviews. I don’t claim to be an automotive expert or even enthusiast. I am just an ordinary, everyday girl. One with relatable questions and loud opinions. So here I put vehicles under the microscope of an every day, regular commuter, just like you.
So as far as SUVs go, I was imagining a behemoth, but walking up to this midsize 5 seater, I found it approachable. Set lower to the ground, with roundness at all its edges it felt compact. From appearance alone, a good size for every day driving. Taking you through narrow neighbourhoods with either sides of the street packed with parked cars, to wide lanes on a highway going 100km/hr. Which by the way, is my commute, and the gauntlet I put the 2020 GLB through. And thankfully the fuel economy was good, enough that I was able to enjoy the drive and afford to eat out that week.
It easy drivability, with multiple modes, and all the modern conveniences of lane assist and turn signal warning aside, the Mercedes comes with several fun features all unique to itself, or at least less common in other-like vehicles on the market. Starting off with the most noticeable and notable is the ambient lighting feature. You have the ability to custom colour code the interior of the GLB to your mood or liking. From a frosty blue to calm your nerves during rush hour, to a fiery red that match the stitching of the suede interior. If the swirling through a colour wheel proves too much, or you are overwhelmed with the possibilities, you can simply select one of their predetermined colour combinations. This includes gradient colour changes across the dash, air vents, and pipping along the driver and passenger door. With names like “jungle green” and “ocean blue”, it certainly add to the vibe.
And speaking of customizations, you can just as intricately customize your seat. From micro movements of it tilting, adjusting, and maneuvering. Worth mentioning is the lumbar, giving you the perfect protrusion to best align to your spine. I strongly suggest giving yourself 30 minutes at minimum to toggling between the above two. I spent 10 minutes alone on colour wheel. Overall the seats are comfy enough, I am just not a fan of the suede; and how it looks against this dressier cabin. It almost played everything around it down.
As for the functionality, it took a while to get use to churning the windshield wipers on the left hand side of the wheel. Whereas all the vehicles I have had before this, it has been a flicking of a handle on the right hand side. Instead, the Mercedes GLB250 has its gear shift on the right. With a flick up you are in reverse, a motion down puts you in drive, neutral is somewhere in between; and park has you pressing the end of the toggle. This definitely put a strain on my three point turn game, and increased anxiety when I had to do quick turns across four lanes of two way traffic. Although towards the end of the week it became habitual, and I was then stuck trying to adjust back to business as usual when I was forced to revert to my regular daily driver.
Similar in learned comfort was the position of my right hand on the arm rest. Built with an island for your wrists, the cushion served as a brace for your hand. You stationary hand, as you toggled through the infotainment system by means of touch pad. If it proves too difficult to use it and look down when driving, you can just as easily utilize the touch screen on the centre console. But with so many options and settings to rifle through, I once again suggest taking the time to read your manual and getting to know your Mercedes GLB250 a little better before hitting the road. And that says something, coming from a woman who is impatient and never reads instructions. A woman who prefers simply jumping it and learning through trial and error.
Sadly, my test drive didn’t happen during summer and I wasn’t able to enjoy ample sun and hot weather with the GLB250’s panoramic sun roof. Although there can be something said about watching the rain beat and bead off it. Similarly, I didn’t get to enjoy the spacious seats or get to invite others to. And it was a very spacious interior, much like the trunk. Extra space as such is great if you have lot to transport, and even better so with the trunk assist. Like placing your hand under an automatic paper towel dispenser, the trunk slowly rises with the motion of your foot under the SUV’s carriage. Great if you are alone and have your hands full, even better as a party trick.
Now, I couldn’t help but to compare the GLB250 with the GLC43 I picked up a week or two later. Coming fresh out of my last Mercedes review I came into the GLC43 pretty excited. Expecting everything that I liked from the last one, but with more features to be in awe of. Instead, I was left with a less that stellar ride, akward power, sticky wheels, a confusing camera; and not the knowledge or patience to figure out how to fix any of the above.
Like children, I know you are not suppose to compare one to another, and instead treat each vehicle as its own; with its own driver profile it mind. But I clearly had a favourite: the GLB250 with its smaller, more compact size, and aesthetic touches that seemed to have the casual female driver in mind. Easy to read and handle, with features to dial through as you sit and wait at red lights. This is where I tend to fall as an everyday commuter.
Whereas the GLC43 put those who love to drive first. Built for those who know how the engine is the part that really drives the vehicle. And for those who enjoy the journey, be it grocery getting or an impromptu day trip. Those who are not just driving for the destination, but the sake of griping the wheel tight. This isn’t me, sadly.
Having said that, the vehicle was still great to look at, the form and badge to get you noticed on the road. Large rims, stylish headlights, and the sleek body to propel it on the highways. Within you got the luxury feel of a chic matte black interior with red leather seats, and wood grain detailing. This is the type of vehicle you grow into and appreciate when you move your way up from a Beetle, Civic, or the family’s hand-me-down beater.
If it had to be one or the other, you know where I stand. But overall, glad I got the opportunity to experience them both, to be able to know better and even have a favourite. Thank you Mercedes for the exposure.