As a rule, I don't bet but I am willing to wager something this week. It is that most people who buy the car reviewed will spend an extra €1,509 on it. Sounds mysterious? It's not really when you come to understand what the extra euro are for.
The car in question is the newly-arrived mid-sized family crossover/SUV from Mercedes. It is called the GLB. Perhaps before going any further, I should put it in slightly better context. The GLB is larger than the stylish GLA crossover and smaller than the excellent GLC.
Its unique selling point, for now anyway, is that it can carry up to seven people of varying shapes and sizes within its chunky, if tidy, frame. That is a major achievement in a car of such compact nature.
The extra two seats cost €1,509 - which is where my wager comes in. If only for occasional use, I think the third row of two is a no-brainer investment because it means you have great flexibility for carrying extra people or luggage.
I am emboldened in my preparedness to bet on the €1,509 uptake by the constant stream of enquiries I get from people looking for the option of a third row. However, there is a price to pay beyond the mere money.
With the front two rows in use, there is reasonable boot accommodation. When you add the third (to make it a 5+2), you can still have decent luggage space so long as one or both seats are folded flat.
But when all seats are occupied, you are left with nothing practicable for luggage. With one of the final two in use and the other folded flat, you're not doing too badly. Which is why you must regard it as an 'occasional' rather than full-size seven-seater.
The other potential drawback is access to that third row. I expect bodies more lithe than mine will slip in and out no bother (these are proper-sized seats). I wasn't quite as nimble but I have no intention of occupying or accessing such a slot, so suitability from my perspective is irrelevant. From your viewpoint, I think you should think of the third-row as accommodation for toddler(s). And you need to check how easy you find it to place and reach your little passengers.
One aid to access is the fact the second row can slide forward, if needs be, to increase the legroom for those behind. Just be aware too that the second row most definitely will not take three adults. Bank on two and a toddler seat (or central arm-rest) for the middle one. That is another price you pay. On the plus side, you get excellent ventilation and good, comfortable seating.
Despite the compromises, I still feel it is quite an achievement to be able to have three rows (made possible by a long wheelbase of 2,829mm).
Powering my test car was a 1.33-litre petrol turbo engine. Yes, it's small but turbo power makes tyros of such powerplants these days. Given that I had a sweeping trip to, and through, misty Mayo and Galway, I was fearful about fuel consumption. It was a journey for a diesel really. I got a reasonable 6.5litres/100km. Not bad, but it would read lower if there had been more urban driving. Being an automatic, it was grand in town or country. I'd have liked better visibility out the rear-hatch window (God be with the days when there would be little heads getting in the way). Seating was at a nice height and provided excellent visual scope out front.
Reaction to its looks drew contrasting opinions. I happen to like its long-snout design; others thought it too blunt. Surprisingly for a tall crossover, it handled notably well (in Sport mode), something that added to a decent drive.
I liked the interior a lot; how they use the air vents is a lesson in an embodied design. The MBUX infotainment system forms a dash display that also sets this apart from the crowd. It's so easy to work: via the main screen or the intuitive little buttons on the steering wheel and by calling 'Hey Mercedes' to respond to requests. That's how to do it; no messing around.
Would I buy it? Yes, if I was on the lookout for a compact SUV and in need of an occasional third row. Lack of luggage space would be a problem - the laws of physics prevail regardless.
I think it adds up to as good a package as there is out there, notwithstanding whether or not you like the looks.
And I am convinced, more than ever, that I would win the majority of wagers that buyers will spend that extra €1,509 for the privilege of having those two extra seats.
Mercedes GLB Compact SUV:
1.332cc petrol, 163 bhp, 5.9/6.2 l/100km, €390 tax. Price €45,425. Test car with options: €55,758. 3rd row seating €1,509; Auto AMG Line with night package: Standard spec includes AMG trim, 19in alloys, comfort suspension, cruise control, heated front seats, MBUX multimedia system, parking package/reversing camera, sports seats, auto climate control.