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Mercedes Might Build A Rugged Off-Roading GLB

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But don’t expect it to be available at launch.

Last month, Mercedes lifted the wraps off the GLB Concept. But we don't have to wait too long for the production version to arrive, as the boxy crossover is expected to debut this summer. When it goes on sale, it will slot above the GLA and below the GLC.

Inevitably, the design will be toned down compared to the rugged concept, but Jochen Eck, the Mercedes engineer responsible for vehicle testing in the compact segment, revealed to Autocar that the automaker is considering offering an off-road package with the GLB for buyers who want the crossover to retain the concept's rugged off-road looks.

A more capable GLB would be welcome since Autocar says the standard model's ride height limits the crossover's abilities on tricky terrain. Eck said that more ground clearance can be added, but he doesn't believe this is what customers shopping in this class really want.

"We could give it more ground clearance and scope for true off-road driving, but that's not what the customer wants. In this class, it is on-road performance that counts" he said. If it does get approved for production, an off-road-ready GLB won't be available at launch. Don't expect the GLB to be a true off-roader like the G-Class, but it could be a "very credible rival to established compact SUVs."

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Eck also revealed that the GLB was given the green light after Mercedes execs ruled out a long-wheelbase version of the new B-Class. This was a wise decision considering the increasing demand for crossovers and the declining sales of minivans.

In terms of dimensions, the first-ever GLB will be 182.3 inches long, which makes it 8.3 inches longer than the outgoing GLA and nearly as long as the GLC, so there should be plenty of cabin space. Like the concept, the production GLB will also be available with a third row when it goes on sale before the end of the year, despite the fact it's a compact car.