The Mercedes-Benz GLB was long due for India, and while it has finally been launched along with its electric sibling, the EQB, both models have arrived as fully built imports. This is unlike the bulk of the German carmaker’s India line-up, which is locally assembled, and actually makes them slightly more expensive than even the GLC that is a segment above.
However, despite their price, Mercedes is confident that these 7-seater SUVs are apt for India. Speaking to Autocar India on the sidelines of the launch, Santosh Iyer, vice president of sales and marketing, said, “We are quite bullish on the volumes. We do not expect these to be a niche.” For the record, the GLB is priced from Rs 63.80 lakh-69.80 lakh and the EQB is priced at Rs 74.50 lakh (ex-showroom). While this pricing may seem quite high, there are a few reasons that should make these models click in the Indian market.
Mercedes Benz GLB, EQB: they have the size
The GLB and the EQB are significantly larger than the GLA (wheelbase longer by 100mm), and only marginally smaller than the GLC. In fact, both models are taller than the GLC due to their more upright stance. They, therefore, have the road presence of a much larger SUV and size, of course, is of crucial importance to the Indian car buyer.
And yet, it’s not as large a model as the GLS, which was until now your only other option for a 7-seater SUV in Mercedes’ India line-up. The GLB and EQB, therefore, fit the requirements of a wider audience due to their more practical size. Iyer says, “The segment for luxury car buyers in the Rs 50 lakh-80 lakh range is quite large, and what was lacking was a 7-seater option. We feel this should expand the segment.”
Mercedes Benz GLB, EQB: USP of 7 seats
What also encouraged Mercedes to bring the GLB and EQB to India, even if they had to be imports, is the demand for seven seats in the luxury car segment. Iyer says customers have been increasingly demanding a 7-seater SUV in this price range. “In India, we have large nuclear families, with kids, pets and visiting parents who need a large spacious car. We have the GLS at the top-end, but we have no car below that. So, after a lot of deliberation, we said even if it is an import, we should go for it.”
The GLB and the EQB are currently the most affordable 7-seater luxury SUVs available in the market. The only other 7-seater SUV in the Rs 50 lakh-80 lakh range is the Land Rover Discovery Sport priced at Rs 71.39 lakh. Lack of direct rivals from other brands also means Mercedes can properly take advantage of the untapped demand in this segment.
Sure, the EQB and GLB do not have the most spacious of third-row seats, but it's sufficient for teenagers and adds to its flexibility.
Mercedes Benz GLB, EQB: an array of powertrain options
To fully capitalise on the segment, Mercedes has covered all powertrain bases with the GLB and the EQB – there’s a petrol, a diesel and even an electric. “We are offering all three powertrains because we are confident about the product as well as the segment,” says Iyer.
He further elaborates saying, “When we launched the EQS and EQC, we realised there are customers who immediately want to shift to electric. It’s also a state of mind and responsibility that customers feel.” On that front, the EQB, in many states, will be more affordable than the petrol or diesel GLB, thanks to much lower registration charges and local taxes for EVs. So, while the ex-showroom prices may not reflect it accurately, on-road prices are likely to be skewed in favour of the EV. Iyer even says, “I think there will be equal takers, if not more, for both the EQB and the GLB.”