The GLA 35 is getting a refresh, but all we want to see is a GLA 45.
Mercedes' "AMG all the things" attitude has worked better for the German brand than for many rivals over the years. It means that almost anyone can find an AMG in their price bracket, with easily-accessible performance in a package that suits their needs. Whether you want a small coupe, sedan, or a seven-seater SUV, you can get it in AMG flavor. The littlest of the seven-seaters mentioned above is the GLB-Class, which, like all of its siblings, has also been given the AMG treatment.
But despite being less than a few years old, Mercedes is already plotting a facelift. CarBuzz spies have now caught the first glimpse of the updated Mercedes-AMG GLB 35, which we believe will be revealed in 2023 and arrive in the USA as a 2024 model.
The GLB 35 is the range-topper for the GLB-Class. While a GLB 45 has been touted, and its design has even been leaked, that car is yet to materialize. So, hold on, couldn't this prototype be for that? Well, no.
The dead giveaway is the two tailpipes at the rear, whereas the 45 will get a quartet. Another giveaway is the size of the brake discs, particularly the rears, which would need to be more significant to rein in the circa-400-horsepower output of a 45-badged derivative.
Instead, the light camouflage over this mule's taillights and front bumper suggest it is merely an update and possibly only a visual one in a few small areas. After all, Mercedes is the king of evolution rather than revolution.
The tweaked headlights will likely have a newer, slimmer shape and redesigned LED DRL signature. The taillights will also have new graphics, but the changes at the rear will be limited to just that. However, more work has been done, with the front bumper getting an overhaul. It will likely be subtle adjustments, with the grille's shape changing but still retaining the Panamericana vertical slat design.
On the powertrain front, the 2.0-liter engine is still relatively fresh in the grand scheme of things. Unaffected by the pressure to downsize in this segment, expect the turbocharged four-cylinder to remain, possibly without any increase in its 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. With all-wheel drive being standard, the 2024 GLB 35 will be quick off the line, but without the Drift Mode antics of the 45, it will be a quick but not manic experience.
The interior may see the most significant changes, but even these won't be extreme. An update to MBUX will probably be applied, perhaps with a larger and maybe even vertically-oriented screen. However, with no interior shots at this stage, we're merely speculating. The only item we're reasonably sure will change is the central touchpad that will make way - as seen on A-Class prototypes.
Three rows of seating for seven occupants will remain, giving the GLB 35 a unique position in the market as the only subcompact seven-seater performance SUV. In a few years, it may be joined by a hotter version of the Volkswagen Tiguan, however, so there may be some competition after all.