Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division has kicked off testing of the new GLB 45 4Matic on public roads some 12 months before its planned showroom debut.
The new Audi RS Q3 rival is differentiated from standard versions of the upcoming GLB by its reduced ride height, larger brake discs, multi-pot callipers and four tail-pipes at the rear, as opposed to the twin-exit arrangement of GLB 35 4Matic prototypes we’ve seen previously.
The GLB 45 is among a number of new Mercedes-AMG models set to run a newly developed four-cylinder engine based on Mercedes-Benz’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘M260’ unit.
Also planned to appear in the A45 4Matic, CLA 45, CLA 45 Shooting Brake and GLA 45, the new powerplant is claimed to develop 383bhp in standard guise and 416bhp in a higher state of tune.
In the GLB 45, the new engine will be mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a new four-wheel drive system developed in a partnership between AMG and Austrian engineering specialist Magna Powertrain. It uses electrohydraulic actuation instead of the electromechanical operation of the four-wheel drive system by transverse engine models built by AMG up to now.
Among the developments incorporated on the new four-wheel drive system is a rear differential featuring two separate clutches. They allow it to apportion up to 100% of power to each of the individual rear wheels in a so-called drift mode that AMG sources have revealed to Autocar will feature on all upcoming 45-badged models.
The GLB 45 is set to crown the upcoming GLB line-up when it goes on sale in 2020. It will be positioned above the GLB 35, which runs a milder 302bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and is set to form part of the initial GLB line-up that’s planned to be in early June.
The GLB will become the eighth member of Mercedes-Benz’s compact car line-up. Previewed at last month’s Shanghai motor show by the Concept GLB, it measures 4634mm in length, making it just 18mm shorter than the recently facelifted GLC. In standard guise, it will offer the choice of either five or seven seats.