Road Test: 2022 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic

When I first drove the Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class in GLB 250 form, I was impressed with Mercedes’ latest entry into the subcompact crossover market.

I liked its boxy styling, its roomy interior and the pure hilarity that there was actually a three-row option. A three-row luxury compact crossover? Who says the Germans don’t have a sense of humour?

2022 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic

The one main thing I asked for, though, was a little more variety when it came to trim choice; all we had to choose from in Canada was the GLB 250 and while it was fun…what if it had just a little more power? Now that would be something…

Well, ask and you shall receive because it wasn’t long after I drove the GLB two years ago that they came out with the GLB 35 AMG – and now I’ve finally had the chance to drive it. It has more power, some very cool styling touches and some chassis tuning as well. Could this be the perfect formula?

Exterior: If that big logo and grille – as well as the headlamps either side of it – reminds you of something, it’s probably the larger GLS. Which makes sense when you consider the rest of the GLB’s detailing and shape, as it all reflects its larger sibling.

2022 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic

And you know what? I love it. It has that great profile, a cool stance and the fancy wheels, big front splitter, rear diffuser and dual potato canon-sized exhaust and it all comes together to form what is one of the coolest-looking Mercedes products we’ve recently seen, this side of the sports cars and roadsters. Its proportions are right on and better than that, it contributes to providing an interior that’s much roomier than the compact styling suggests. Especially in terms of headroom both front and rear, which, even with the big sunroof it has, is generous enough even for taller folks…wearing cowboy hats. It’s that good. That also means tall windows al ‘round for a good view out which I like; less endearing, however, is the fact that the sunblinds don’t telescope out at all. They are short, meaning they will not cover the entire front side windows, which can be frustrating if you have to sit further back from the wheel as I do.

2022 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic

Interior: Well, sitting in the GLB 35 you get the same sensation you did in the 250; plenty of headroom and a great view out forwards, rearwards and over the shoulders – big side windows will do that – but now, there’s this great, chunky Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel in you hands, complete with two AMG-specific drive mode and chassis/powertrain adjustment control pads attached to it at the 4- and 7 o’clock positions.

2022 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic


Of course, you also get that great fully-digitized dash that makes use of crisp flat screen displays for your infotainment and gauge cluster, as well as a main trackpad and little thumb pads on the left and right wheel spokes to control it all. The left-hand pad helps you navigate the gauge cluster (which can be changed to three different styles) and heads-up display, while the right-hand pad moves you through the menus on the infotainment display. Which, as it happens, gets its own set of “themes” that function mostly independent of the gauge cluster and will actually change the ambient lighting, automatically turn on your tunes (that happens in the “Lounge” setting) or automatically display your AMG performance data.

There are a few sacrifices that had to be made, though; the rear seats are very flat – that makes it easier to fold the seatbacks – and that design means that they aren’t that supportive. Rear-seat passengers will slide to and fro through the turns, and you feel much more like you’re sitting atop the seats instead of within them.

2022 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic

Speaking of the third row: well, my tester didn’t have one, so I can’t comment but considering the GLB’s footprint, I wouldn’t expect a huge amount of room and I’d probably have no problem saving the $1,300 required to fit it, especially considering you’re hard-pressed to get a GLB 35 for much less than 60 grand out the door. Not to mention that when the third row is up, it kind of sabotages the other strength of the GLB’s interior, and that’s its cargo space which measures up to 1,680 litres if you fold the second row of seating. It’s all accessible via a tailgate that opens so high that me and my 6’3” frame could get under without hardly having to duck.

Powertrain: Power from the turbo four-cylinder is rated at 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is up from 221 hp and 259 pound feet on the GLB 250.

2022 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4Matic

It feels a whole lot quicker than the numbers suggest, though. Peak torque arrives at 3,000 rpm and peak horsepower a couple of grand after that, which means the eight-speed dual clutch transmission has no problem channeling all that power and sending it to the sticky Continental SportContact 6 tires (measuring a fat 255 mm at the back). This turbo four-cylinder is a great match for the GLB.

One thing I do have to note, however, is that at lower ‘round town speeds, the transmission is a little herky-jerky if you aren’t careful. Aggressive stabs of the accelerator to get through an intersection, for example, can lead to an overly aggressive engagement that I had trouble metering out.

Drive: Of course, the GLB’s lighter weight means that its attitude through turns is very good as well, especially if you adjust the damper settings. That can be done a number of ways — my preferred method was to make use of the wheel-mounted controls – and when set to the aggressive Sport setting, body roll is kept nicely in-check and the GLB moves through the turns just as well as it does under quick acceleration. Very little inertia, very little delay in response from driver inputs but a whole lot of fun. A whole lot of noise, too: those big tailpipes aren’t just for show; they emit a properly authoritative report that plays well with the somewhat hooligan-like looks.

Conclusion: The real litmus test, though, is how the car was for me to give back at the end of my weeklong test. And let me tell you, it was hard – perhaps even harder than it’d been for other more expensive cars I’ve tested over the years. While I had asked for it after driving the 250, I don’t think I could have predicted just how much good the AMG treatment would do for the GLB. It’s a stunner this. A stunner indeed.

Price as tested: $70,590.00
Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder turbo
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power: 302 horsepower/295 lb-ft of torque
Fuel: Premium
Combined fuel economy ratings: 11.2 L/100 km
Warranty: 4 years/80,000 km (basic)

Link: Mercedes-Benz Canada

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