It's getting harder to find a hot hatchback these days. You've still got great options like the GTI and Golf R, the Honda Civic Type R, and the Toyota GR Corolla. But that's about it (unless you expand that list to include less-traditional liftbacks). If none of those vehicles suit your fancy, there's an unlikely alternative.

Even though it looks like a small crossover and seats up to seven, the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLB35 is basically a tall hatchback with extra cargo space. The EPA even categorizes it as a "mid-size station wagon." And with an AMG badge, it easily meets the mark of "hot;" It handles well, has gobs of power, and takes less time to reach 60 miles per hour than some of the "traditional" hot hatches. It's a genuinely fun thing.

Quick Specs 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLB35
Engine Turbo 2.0-Liter Four-Cylinder Hybrid
Output 302 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet
0-60 MPH 5.1 Seconds
Transmission Eight-Speed Dual-Clutch
Price / As Tested

$60,200 / $69,750

The GLB35’s turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is the same one Mercedes used in the not-for-the-US AMG A35—lending more credence to its hot hatch roots. With mild-hybrid assist in the form of an integrated starter generator, it makes 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. That’s more power on paper than the GTI and a titch more still than the GR Corolla.

If you aren’t ticked over to Sport or Sport+ mode, though, the GLB35 feels pretty unremarkable. If it weren’t for the AMG badges, you might think it was a well-optioned base model. The throttle is laggy, the exhaust is quiet, and you really have to bury your foot to get it going.

2024 Merceds-AMG GLB35 Review

But it only takes two flicks of the steering-wheel-mounted drive mode selector—still my favorite way to change drive modes—to uncork that four-cylinder. AMG’s ubiquitous 48-volt system gives the GLB35 a strong jolt of torque on its way to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds. That’s quicker than the GTI and nearly on par with the GR Corolla.

Power comes in smoothly and builds quickly through the mid- and upper-limits of the ‘band. When you’re in Sport+ mode especially, you barely have to blip the throttle to access more power at speed—it’s just always there.

2024 Merceds-AMG GLB35 Review
Pros: Goes Like Stink, Actually Practical, Fun To Fling Around

Would you also believe that a seven-seat SUV can corner? In typical AMG fashion, Mercedes notched up the suspension to its stiffest setting and the steering to its heaviest, giving the GLB a nice tactile feel on turn-in. It dives into corners eagerly and comes out on the other side controlled.

Like other hot hatches—good or bad—the GLB35 does have some obvious front-drive-biased understeer. You get standard all-wheel drive and a limited-slip differential, but there’s only so much you can do to fight physics. The GLB35 is 65.4 inches tall, and even though it sits lower than the standard GLB, the 6.0-inch ride height is still over an inch taller than the GR Corolla and Civic Type R. At least this Mercedes has grippier summer tires with the 21-inch wheel upgrade instead of the standard all-seasons.

2024 Merceds-AMG GLB35 Review
2024 Merceds-AMG GLB35 Review

As a daily SUV, the GLB35 still does the job well enough. As mentioned, you can get it with an optional third row with room for up to seven passengers—even though you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wants to sit back there. It’s really tight.

The technology is typical Mercedes-Benz; two iPad-like screens stuck together atop the dash. And the cargo room is pretty good. There are 12.4 cubic feet behind the optional third row, 22.0 cubes behind the second row, and a hearty 62.0 cubic feet with all the seats folded flat. That’s better than most hatchbacks, hot or not.

Some visual updates for 2024 might make this version more appealing than the previous model. That includes a fresh front fascia with a revised grille, LED headlights with new signature lighting elements, a new AMG badge on the hood, and standard LEDs at the rear.

2024 Merceds-AMG GLB35 Review
Cons: Stiff Ride, Cheap-ish Cabin Materials, Expensive

You will have to suffer with a stiff ride, though, common of many Mercedes-AMG models. The upgraded 21-inch wheels and summer tires probably don’t help. There’s also some road noise at high speeds and a few too many hard plastic touchpoints in the cabin.

The kicker is the price. While the base GLB starts at a very reasonable $45,600, the GLB35 starts at a less reasonable $60,200. With options like 21-inch wheels, the multimedia upgrade, and the Night package—which darkens up a number of the exterior elements—this tester comes out to a whopping $69,750.

2024 Merceds-AMG GLB35 Review
2024 Merceds-AMG GLB35 Review

That’s not exactly hot hatchback money when the GR Corolla costs $37,595 and the Civic Type R starts at $45,890. Even in its class, the GLB35 is too expensive; The priciest Audi Q3 costs $43,795, the top-end Alfa Romeo Tonale is $50,935, and the BMW X1 M35i rings in at $50,895.

While I can’t imagine many people will be cross-shopping an AMG with a Civic Type R—especially at that price—the fact that the GLB35 even exists is a win in my book.


Gallery: 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLB35 Review

2024 Mercedes-AMG GLB35

Engine Turbocharged 2.0-Liter Four-Cylinder Hybrid
Output 302 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet
Transmission Eight-Speed Dual-Clutch
Drive Type All-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH 5.1 Seconds
Maximum speed 155 Miles Per Hour
Weight 3,869 Pounds
Efficiency 21 City / 27 Highway / 23 Combined
Seating Capacity 7
Cargo Volume 12.4 / 62.0 Cubic Feet
Base Price $60,200
As-Tested Price $69,750
On Sale Now
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