2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 squeezes 3 rows into sporty compact SUV

Small needn't mean slow, and here comes the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 to prove it. Latest entry into the compact SUV space, the newest recipient of AMG-fettling still manages to offer a seven-seat configuration for those who want to treat themselves and six of their friends or family to 302 horsepower.

That comes courtesy of an "AMG-enhanced" 2.0-liter inline-4 with a turbocharger. Along with the 302 horses – delivered at 5,800-6,100 rpm – there's also 295 lb-ft of torque between 3,000 and 4,000 rpm. 0-60 mph comes in 5.1 seconds, and top speed is an electronically limited 155 mph.

Mercedes-AMG pairs the 4-pot with an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 8G dual-clutch transmission, and AMG Performance 4MATIC variable all-wheel drive. The latter can shift between entirely front-wheel drive to a 50:50 distribution front to rear. That's based on driving speed, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, steering angle, and other drivetrain factors.

As you'd expect if you've been behind the wheel of a recent AMG car, there are multiple AMG DYNAMICS drive modes. Five, in fact, in the 2020 GBL 35: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual. Slippery is new, optimized for low-grip road conditions, though Sport and Sport+ are likely to be the two that owners spend most time in. There's also the choice of Basic or Advanced agility settings, which affect how the AWD system handles torque distribution and at which point the ESP kicks in.

The ESP itself has three stages, and can use a combination of brake-based traction control and differential locking. AMG's suspension system promises lower body roll but with sufficient comfort for longer trips, while the speed-sensitive steering can adjust between lighter weighting for everyday driving or firmer for sportier roads. AMG RIDE CONTROL suspension with adaptive damping is optional.

Braking, meanwhile, comes courtesy of 4-piston fixed calipers and cast iron brake discs at the front, clocking in at 13.8 x 1.3 inches, and 1-piston floating calipers with 13.0 x 0.9 inch dics at the rear. They're behind 19-inch AMG 5-spoke light-alloy wheels – in gray, with a high-sheen finish – but 19- to 21-inch wheels are optional. An AMG Night package swaps out exterior trim like the front splitter and rear bumper for high-gloss black, and adds black chrome-plated exhaust tailpipe trim.

Inside, there are sport seats finished in black MB-Tex and DINAMICA microfiber, with red double topstitching and matching seatbelts. Mercedes will have two leather packages, with two-tone upholstery, in red and black. The MBUX infotainment system gets special AMG displays and the useful "Hey Mercedes" voice control system, spread across twin displays. There's also a flat-bottom sports steering wheel in Napa leather, galvanized paddle-shifters, and an optional AMG steering wheel with shortcut buttons.

Unusually, Mercedes-AMG is offering a third row of seating, with two extra spots for passengers. That comes with sliding second row seats – with a 40/60 split – and USB ports for each row.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 will get its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2019 next month. It'll arrive in the US by late 2020, with pricing to be confirmed closer to that point.