GLB for Beginners

Today, the DTW hobbyhorse® gets another outing, as we return to the world of the automotive press release – where written English goes to die.

The inoffensive if you like that kind of thing Mercedes-Benz GLB. (c) carthrottle

Simultaneously in both Stuttgart and for some inexplicable reason, Salt Lake City, Utah, Mercedes recently introduced their much-heralded GLB crossover – the latest, but unlikely to be the last of the current A-Class derivations vying for your undivided online attention. Since you will undoubtedly have formed your own opinions as to its merits by now, I will not trouble you with mine.

Instead, let’s gather round and review the carmaker’s press release – an especially well-crafted document which has all the appearance of being scribed by someone who either really wanted to be doing something else entirely, or else left the matter to Daimler’s MBUX personal assistant, the elegantly titled ‘Hey Mercedes!‘ to complete.

Special off-road light

Powerful proportions with short overhangs and off-road-oriented design as well as optional 4MATIC all-wheel drive and a special off-road light which helps detect obstacles immediately in front of the vehicle at low speeds – the new Mercedes-Benz GLB is a versatile SUV.”  And you think my sentence construction is laboured? Not content with jettisoning lines and creases, Mercedes seems on a mission to rid the world of punctuation, to say nothing of relevance or meaning. But then again, Sindelfingen has tangible form in this arena.

Function orientated

At 2829 millimetres the GLB has ten centimetres more wheelbase than, for example, the new B-Class. Together with the function-oriented greenhouse this is decisive when it comes to the generous amount of space. [Is it possible to have a greenhouse of dysfunctional variety? Is there a helpline we can call if we discover we have?] The headroom in the first seat row is 1035 millimetres – a best in this segment. At 967 millimetres the effective legroom in the rear of the five-seater is at an especially comfortable level.” [I’m sorry Mercedes, but I’m more interested in the GLB’s ineffective legroom. What do you mean you haven’t got the measurements for that?]

Off-road genes

The powerful proportions of the GLB underscore the design with its off-road orientation: the surfaces of the forms are emphasised, and reduced lines and precise seams are major features. The upright front section with its striking headlamps is clear evidence of off-road genes, [is it really?] as are the short overhangs at the front and rear. [Not so short at the front though.] The muscular and sensuously contoured vehicle shoulder dominates the side view at the height of the C-pillar, an effect reinforced by the rising waistline. [Anybody following this?] All-round protective claddings divide the overall proportions and emphasise the vehicle’s off-road character, as does the simulated under-ride guard at the front and rear.” [Simulated being the pivotal term here, one assumes.]

Two words: Ground clearance. Lack of… same. Okay, that’s five words, but let’s not get carried away in a sea of needless pedantry. Anyway, never mind all that, here comes the science bit.

A design icon

Its iconic design lends the Mercedes-Benz GLB an unmistakable SUV character”, says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG. [Ah, Mr. Wagener, we’ve been expecting you.] “The clear forms with reduced lines and powerful surfaces conveys our design philosophy of Sensual Purity.” [Now you can accuse our Gorden of many things, but inconsistency clearly isn’t one of them.]

Tubular elements – an impression of robustness

Moving to the cabin and amidst the bumpf about the latest MBUX interface gubbins, resides this gem. “A new feature is the characteristic off-road tubular element in an aluminium look which rounds off the lower section of the instrument panel and houses the three round centre air vents. These give the dashboard support an impression of robustness, power and a certain fun factor.” Of course I’m no expert on these matters, but I’m fairly confident that the item in question is more commonly referred to as a passenger grab handle. An ‘aluminium look’ passenger grab handle, mark you.

In four cylinders we trust.

The new GLB places its trust in the four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines which were completely updated to relaunch the compact model series. [This is verbatim, by the way.] In comparison to the previous generation, they are characterised by significantly increased power, improved efficiency and emissions.”  None of your untrustworthy six or eight cylinder units here. Oh no. And as for those duplicitous triples, they can take a running jump as well. By the way Mercedes, I think the phrase you’re struggling for here is ‘reduced emissions’.

“The two-litre M 260 engine in the GLB 250 (combined fuel consumption 7.4-7.2 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 169-165 g/km) has cast-iron cylinder liners in its engine block of diecast aluminium, widening at the lower end as per the CONICSHAPE® principle. [There’s really no need to shout.] In-house the cylinder bore process is descriptively known as “trumpet-honing. This minimises piston friction and cuts consumption.”  Now of course, we’ve all done a little ‘trumpet-honing’ in our time, especially when there’s an ‘R’ in the month, so who am I to cast stones?

And finally.

The opitional [sic] ENERGIZING comfort control: it networks various comfort systems in the vehicle, and uses musical and lighting moods plus a number of massages for a wide range of feel-good programs. [This sounds horrifying.] The ENERGIZING COACH recommends these programs according to the situation. [You’re shouting again.] If the Mercedes-Benz vivoactive® 3 smartwatch or another compatible Garmin® wearable is linked, personal values such as stress level or sleep quality improve the precision of the recommendation.

Hey Mercedes! as a matter of interest, exactly who is collecting, storing or otherwise sharing these ‘personal values’? Hey, Mercedes…. hello…?

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

14 thoughts on “GLB for Beginners”

  1. The complicated sentences are probably due to translation from German. We love complicated sentences here! (the less we have to say, the more so!)

    Now for the functional greenhouse, I really feel that this has to be mentioned. Unfortunately, I could give you a lot of examples for dysfunctional ones, starting with Toyota’s C-HR or the new Mazda 3. The GLB has refreshingly large windows and slim pillars for a post-2000 car. And even the rising waistline is actually more horizontal than most others.

    By the way, who else thinks that ‘aluminium look’ is a quite charming way to say ‘plastic’?

    1. Hmm, thanks for that, Eoin, but it’s really too early in the day to endure such an assault on my comprehension faculties. (I could have done with an ENERGIZING COACH to help me through it.) I’m sure Simon’s explanation for the convoluted sentence structure is correct, but does M-B’ s press office not have anyone sufficiently fluent in English to recognise how badly this reads?

      Is it a measure of just how low my expectations now are regarding M-B’s design that I actually rather like the GLB?

    2. I am also a fan of this new GLB.

      I mean, if you are going to have an SUV, at least have one that plays to its strengths – visibility, utility and off road ability (I believe this last one needs to be optioned on the GLB though, as 4WD does not come as standard).

      Also, there is a refreshing lack of aggression in this design, which is welcome.

      On the downside, I understand it will be built in Mexico for all markets, and no doubt sold at a premium price. Will it have the final quality – durability – that all proper SUVs require?

  2. Surely this was just a background briefing from a techie to the real blurb writer — who somehow failed to rewrite it, or even translate it properly. The US wasn’t use metric last time I looked.

    Not sure how the smooth Utah sands sell an off-roader.

    At least the car itself is admirably old-fashioned and pre-bully boy looking.

  3. Congratulations Mercedes — You’ve invented the Mk1 SF5 Subaru Forester, with melted ice-cube corners

  4. I’d say it’s a potentially decent design … spoiled to an extent by that irritating small kink to the DLO in the rear door. Why did they do that? It gives it more than a hint of that Ssangyong Musso to what was otherwise redolent of the second generation (SG) Subaru Forester. The rear lamps (horizontally mounted) look too low-set when viewed in that side profile, like the rear-end has slipped downwards, like an avalanche, but it’s not too bad.

    Of course, the design of the new Jimny makes a mockery of this effort, and the Ignis for that matter, but, in the context of the X2, X4, Q2, GLC and others, it’s a work of near genius!

    1. Hi S.V. I agree with your reservations about the GLB’s window line and rear light positioning, and would add another: I dislike the way the D-pillar narrows towards its base. The solution to this is either to increase the slope of the upper part of the tailgate or reshape the rear side window to suit the existing, which is a more practical solution.

      I played about with the image in Paint, then made my first ever GIF to animate the alterations:


    2. Daniel, yes, much! That’s pretty cool imho – and it now looks even more like the Forester. Staying with the latter, they did a version powered by the Impreza WRX’s turbo engine which always looked like a great Q car. For me, the early Foresters are like the Yeti – excellent formats which were later replaced by me-too designs, and are sadly missed as a result.

  5. The comparisons to the Subaru Forester are apt and probably explain why I like it!

    The little step in the side window line probably has a stylistic justification, but from a practical point of view it also gives a (very modest) added depth to the luggage compartment.

    I am a little perturbed at mention of a ‘simulated under-guard’ – an actual bash plate should be available for more serious off roading – but, overall, I still maintain this is a decent effort.

    Might Mercedes take heart from this and evolve the ‘Predator’ face into something less aggressive?

    1. I know Right? I currently have a mk1 Forester and love it for its large greenhouse, chunky Volvo-like corners and Quattro/Integrale like box arches. So it’s thirsty but I don’t care as it’s one of the last non-soap-bar cars made in the 2000s. This Merc is definitely going in the right direction with some nod to utility. The “U” part of SUV has long been forgotten with most platform-based offerings somehow smaller and less useful than their hatchback / estate cousins, despite the notion that surely there should be more space since the wheels don’t intrude into the cabin space as much.

      In a few years, if we aren’t all electric, I’d seriously consider one of these, though I suppose all the electronic driving ‘aids’ are as annoying as ever.

  6. The article was amusing to read, if a bit too much infused with frustration in the process.

    As to the car, the GLB is one of the very rare modern cars where the taillight (both in terms of its upper edge, and as a whole) is actually positioned lower then the headlight. This is a brave move, especially for an SUV.

    It certainly lends an air of individualism, hinting even at a certain ‘muscle shaming’, which I find admirable amidst the vulgarity of the general styling trends of ’18/’19.

    It’s also rather obvious that the headlights have been inspired by the Renault/Dacia Duster ones, although their integration in the front end is radically different. Another pleasant surprise.

    The only debilitating aspect of the styling, IMHO (apart from the risky decision to explicitly ‘sag’ the taillights) is the rather pronounced, pedestrian-safety regs conditioned front
    overhang, which just doesn’t coexist in harmony
    to the wheelbase/DLO trapezoid. The overhang
    is borderline excessive even in general design/proportion
    terms, not to mention for an SUV where the front attack angle
    has a strong subconscious effect to the perceived off-roading ability
    of any such a vehicle.

    Alas, the wheelbase is obviously way too long for any extreme off-road ambitions, so at least it does not appear pretentious when
    figures & dimensions are considered.

    Finally, the wheelarch solution lends it an air of a modern
    VW, which is both good and bad, of course.

    Overall, in spite of the proportion deficiency caused by
    the front overhang, the styling exudes a certain calming effect,
    which I find very pleasing especially as it relies on an intellectual,
    rational impression, totally avoiding the intimidating, vulgar solutions that the current SUViverse is usually so laden with.

    The interior leaves me cold and somewhat disappointed, in its total lack of coherence with the thinking applied to the overall
    exterior styling.

  7. Good Lord, if that thing is a real off roader, I’ll eat my hat! No amount of PR hyperbole can change reality.

    It hasn’t got the ground clearance of any generation of Subaru Forester for a start (over 200 mm) and Foresters are mere soft-roaders, not serious muck and rock crawlers. Far too fragile. Nobody who does even some semi-serious off-roading is going to slaver over a GLB meant for the urban jungle. At the mere suggestion of off-road capability, they’d laugh their heads off just looking at it.

    Just as I did when I looked upon that interior. Star Trek couldn’t compete with that hot mess.

    The whole thing is a poseur from beginning to end , best suited for carrying groceries and large rolls of paper products behind passengers mesmerized by the badge. It’s a station wagon for goodness sake!

  8. I can also report that to a German native speaker the above actually feels quite natural to read.
    But in German too it would be amusing, by no means well written, just very familiar.
    I can picture the consultants who came up with this. People who believe business and marketing were mere sciences – when in fact it is an art.

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