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Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 R-Dynamic SE vs Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 2021 Comparison Review



You're looking for a premium European SUV. You don't want anything too big, but seven seats and all-wheel drive would be a big plus. As would having it all for under $100,000.

Sounds like you want a bit of everything. Luckily for you, there are two new-for-2020 SUVs which will fit your needs nicely. In this comparison test we'll be putting these closely matched seven-seaters head-to-head to help inform your choice.

In the Orange corner, we have the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Having had this particular niche of the market cornered for five years, the Disco is the reigning champ, even if it is by default.

It's been heavily updated for this year, with some significant changes under the skin. We've selected the top P250 petrol engine, in mid-grade SE guise.

Over in the Grey corner is the challenger. The Mercedes-Benz GLB. An all-new nameplate for Mercedes, the GLB sits above the hatch-based GLA, and below the GLC mid-sizer wearing the latest Benz tech and design inside and out.

Unlike the Discovery, the GLB is petrol-only in Australia, and we've selected one in mid-grade GLB 250 trim.

Pricing and specs

Right from the get-go, these two are incredibly evenly matched. Both are smallish SUVs, both have turbo-petrol 2.0-litre engines with all-wheel drive, and both have seven seats.

Despite notably different approaches to design, their prices are closely matched, too.

Each car wears a before on-roads (MSRP) of less than $75,000, although both cars tested here exceed that number thanks to extensive options lists.

  • It cuts a slick profile, and the design lends itself to the contrast roof and wheels as fitted to our test vehicle. (image: Tom White) It cuts a slick profile, and the design lends itself to the contrast roof and wheels as fitted to our test vehicle. (image: Tom White)
  • The wheels on the GLB look more entry-level than the Discovery's, but suit the GLB’s subtle design language. (image: Tom White) The wheels on the GLB look more entry-level than the Discovery's, but suit the GLB’s subtle design language. (image: Tom White)

Scroll to the bottom of this section to see a full breakdown of the features available on the base cars, and the features fitted to our test cars.

The Discovery Sport P250 SE is the cheaper of the two when it comes to base MSRP, starting from $71,232, although it ended up overshooting the GLB with its lavish options.

The Disco on this test came to a slightly eye-watering $82,312 which is $10k over its start price.

The GLB 250 meanwhile, starts a little higher than its rival here, with a base MSRP of $73,900. Although its reasonably priced and packaged options land the car we tested at just $78,570.

While this seems to give an easy win to the Merc, keep in mind you might not want half the options fitted to our Discovery Sport, with notably expensive items like DAB+ digital radio ($400) not only being standard on the Benz, but hardly worthwhile in many large cities where digital radio coverage can be average at best.

  • I am subjectively more of a fan of how the Land Rover nestles the digital dash elements deep in the driver’s instrument binnacle. (image: Tom White) I am subjectively more of a fan of how the Land Rover nestles the digital dash elements deep in the driver’s instrument binnacle. (image: Tom White)
  • When it comes to software performance the GLB is a slick unit. Both its screens are razor-sharp and run at a consistently pleasing frame rate. (image: Tom White) When it comes to software performance the GLB is a slick unit. Both its screens are razor-sharp and run at a consistently pleasing frame rate. (image: Tom White)

In fact, if you take away our Discovery's optional DAB radio ($400), privacy glass ($650), black contrast roof ($920), and choose 'Fuji White' as your colour ('Namib Orange' on our test car is a $2020 option... ) the Discovery comes down to a much more evenly matched $78,322.

While the Discovery Sport's options list is exceptionally long, it's worth noting that it does have some nifty additions like the 'Clear Sight' camera-based rear vision mirror which can't be fitted to the GLB.

As tested both cars had packs fitted (see table below). Our GLB 250 had the 'Driving Assistance Package' ($1990) including distance control, active lane change assist, cross traffic alert, as well as the 'Vision Package' ($1190) including adaptive high beam plus, multibeam LED headlights, and 360-degree camera suite. Meanwhile the Discovery Sport had the 'Technology Pack' ($1640), Black Exterior Pack ($1590) as well as six other individually-priced options.

When it comes to standard inclusions, both cars impress.

 

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

Multimedia touchscreen size

10.25-inch

10.0-inch

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

Y

Y

Built-in Navigation

Y

Y

Digital instrument cluster

Y

Y

Holographic HUD

N (can be optioned)

Y (Part of ‘Tech Pack’)

SIM capable

Y

Y

USB ports

3x USB C front, 2x USB-C middle, 2x USB-C rear

2x USB 2.0 front

12v outlets

1x front

2x front, 1x middle, 1x rear

Radio

AM/FM/DAB+

AM/FM/(DAB+ optional)

CD Player

N

N

Sound system

Nine speakers

10 speaker (190W)

Wireless Phone charging (Qi)

Y

Y (Part of ‘Tech Pack’)

How about interior convenience features?No red flags there, and stellar standard equipment overall for both cars although you'll note some items are optional on the Discovery Sport. While neither car had an optional stereo fitted, the Benz's standard audio system sounded clearer and deeper than the Land Rover's.

 

Mercedes-Benz GLB250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

Sunroof

Y

N (can be optioned)

Interior trim

‘Artico’ black faux leather

‘Luxtec’ faux leather/suede. Two-tone finish a no cost option

Front seat adjust

Electric

12-way electric

Heated seats

Y

Y ($810 option)

Cooled seats

N (can be optioned)

N (can be optioned)

Heated wheel

N

N (can be optioned)

Air conditioning

Dual-zone climate

Dual-zone climate

Directional vents in other rows

Second row

Second row, third row ($350 option)

Keyless entry

Y

Y ($900 option)

Push-start ignition

Y

Y

Cruise control

Adaptive (part of Driver Assist Pack)

Adaptive

Finally, here are some spec differences you'll want to be aware of. Keep in mind we'll cover off what's standard and optional when it comes to safety later in this review.

 

Mercedes-Benz GLB250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

No-cost colours

Black

White, Black

Optional colours

Black (metallic), White x2, Silver, Blue x2, Grey, Red

Black (metallic) White (metallic), Grey x2, Silver x2, Blue x2, Orange, Red

LED headlights

Y (premium auto-dimming part of ‘Vision Package’)

Y

Ambient interior lighting

Y

N (can be optioned)

Parking cameras

360-degree with see-through bonnet (part of ‘Vision Package’)

360-degree with see-through bonnet ($500 option)

Motorised tailgate

Y

Y

Spare wheel

N (run flats only)

Y (space-saver)

Do we have a winner here? The Mercedes is slightly more generous with its standard inclusions, and most optional items are in well-priced packs in comparison to the Land Rover which has a frustrating tendency to separate out small items individually.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

8

7

Design

Both cars we have here are great looking in their own right.

Subjectively, I think the Discovery Sport has looked good since its 2015 arrival, and Land Rover quite rightly did not mess with a good thing for its major update late last year. It cuts a slick profile, and the design lends itself to the contrast roof and wheels as fitted to our test vehicle.

The R-Dynamic pack swaps out black wheelarches and lower bumper fittings for body matching, gloss finish ones.

The Benz meanwhile, is a fresh take on a familiar Mercedes formula. Separating itself from the curvy lines worn by the smaller GLA and larger GLC, the GLB shoots for something a bit flatter and boxier.

  • Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 R-Dynamic SE Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 R-Dynamic SE
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 R-Dynamic SE Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 R-Dynamic SE
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 R-Dynamic SE Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 R-Dynamic SE

The wheels look more entry-level than the Discovery's, but suit the GLB's subtle design language. Unlike the Land Rover, which has gone for contrast black finishes in its R-Dynamic fit, the Benz offsets its grey palette with touches of chrome.

The Discovery Sport's nose towers over the GLBs, but a finer appreciation of the details reveals some slightly messier finishes in terms of the panel gaps, an abundance of fiddly plastic panels and various other points where the Land Rover trails the Benz for overall fit and finish.

Inside, the Land Rover's major update of last year completely overhauled what was once one of the most lacklustre interiors in the brand's range.

The update brought with it a slew of new soft-touch surfaces in place of the previous car's hard plastics, as well as some key touchpoints from the Range Rover family like the leather trimmed shift-knob and classy steering wheel.

Our car certainly had an element of wow-factor when it came to the two-tone cream/black colour scheme and hard-wearing artificial leather/suede seat trim, but cream is perhaps not the best choice for seat bases.

  • Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250
  • Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250
  • Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250

I am subjectively more of a fan of how the Land Rover nestles the digital dash elements deep in the driver's instrument binnacle, and this car's software has improved out of sight from previous iterations. As a bonus, it also features the latest widescreen Apple CarPlay connectivity.

That said, the Land Rover's software is notably slower than the Mercedes, with significant input lag and some frame-rate issues for the digital dash cluster.

While colleagues have reported significant software glitches in other test examples, our Disco Sport performed well, although the left top-down camera in its 360-degree suite failed on our video day. Annoying given this is part of an option pack.

When it comes to software performance the GLB is a slick unit. Both its screens are razor-sharp and run at a consistently pleasing frame rate. Personally, I'm not as much of a fan of having the driver's instrument cluster as a tablet-style display, but it's easy enough to get used to.

Unlike the Discovery Sport which requires you to interact almost solely through the main touchscreen to manipulate the multimedia functions, the Mercedes offers an array of options including a centre console mounted touchpad, touch panels on the wheel, or through the screen itself. While the option to use these is handy, accuracy on touch systems proves fiddly while you're on the move.

  • In terms of front seat storage the Discovery Sport shines with very large door bins, generous centre cupholders, a big console box and deep glove box. (image: Tom White) In terms of front seat storage the Discovery Sport shines with very large door bins, generous centre cupholders, a big console box and deep glove box. (image: Tom White)
  • In terms of up-front cabin comfort the Discovery has a lavishly appointed dash trim with almost every surface, including down near your knees, being a padded material. (image: Tom White) In terms of up-front cabin comfort the Discovery has a lavishly appointed dash trim with almost every surface, including down near your knees, being a padded material. (image: Tom White)
  • The seats in the Benz seemed more plush than the ones in the Discovery Sport. (image: Tom White) The seats in the Benz seemed more plush than the ones in the Discovery Sport. (image: Tom White)
  • Although there were more hard surfaces adorning the dash design. (image: Tom White) Although there were more hard surfaces adorning the dash design. (image: Tom White)

On a final note, the GLB's software operated flawlessly in all but one area: The AppleCarPlay integration is of the old, non-widescreen type, and asks for confirmation every time you connect your phone. On a rare occasion, the phone connection would time out or not be recognized by the car altogether.

The Mercedes' interior design is largely shared with the rest of the small vehicles in Mercedes' range. This means flashy chrome details, fully adjustable LED ambient lighting throughout, and plenty of gloss finishes to round it out. It also feels a bit more compact than the Land Rover, but more on that in the practicality section of this review.

There's no clear winner on design here, because both cars are appealing for entirely different reasons. A lot of what will guide or even make or break your decision will come down to personal preference in this category.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

8

8

Practicality

Both these luxury SUVs stand out from not only their stablemates, but offerings from other brands (like the Audi Q3) for their stellar practicality promise.

They're smaller than 'mid-size' but offer the choice of large storage areas or seven seats.

On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. This easily consumed our entire CarsGuide luggage set or the CarsGuide pram with space to spare.

The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed), but also consumed the CarsGuide luggage set or pram without issue.

  • On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White) On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White)
  • On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White) On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White)
  • On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White) On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White)
  • On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White) On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White)
  • On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White) On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White)
  • On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White) On the storage front, the Disco wins out with its larger overall boot volume of 754-litres (VDA) with the third row stowed. (image: Tom White)

It seemed there was less than the stated 194-litre difference between the vehicles once loaded up on our test, a credit to the Mercedes, or demerit point against the Land Rover, perhaps.

With the third row up, neither vehicle could fit even the smallest (36L) luggage case in our set. A smaller item or something less rigid like a duffle bag could reasonably fit instead, especially in the Discovery Sport which offers slightly more room (157L).

In both vehicles the second and third rows fold entirely flat for a useful maximum cargo area in each, with the Benz gaining a slight advantage, perhaps owing to its low floor and tall roof. See the table below for total luggage capacities.

 

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

Third row up

130L

157L

Third row stowed

565L

754L

Third and second row stowed

1780L

1651L

Both cars also have split-folding second rows where the middle seat can be independently lowered in lieu of a ski port.

In terms of up-front cabin comfort the Discovery has a lavishly appointed dash trim with almost every surface, including down near your knees, being a padded material. The door cards are also well appointed, as is the top of the centre console box for a truly luxurious seating position. Adjustability is also excellent.

In terms of front seat storage the Discovery Sport shines with very large door bins, generous centre cupholders, a big console box and deep glove box.

Amenity-wise the Disco Sport gets USB 2.0-ports only (not USB-C), housed in the centre console. A wireless charging bay sits under the climate controls, and there are also two 12V outlets for front passengers.

  • The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White) The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White)
  • The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White) The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White)
  • The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White) The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White)
  • The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White) The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White)
  • The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White) The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White)
  • The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White) The Mercedes has significantly less capacity on paper (560L with the third row stowed). (image: Tom White)

In the front seat of the GLB 250 you sit noticeably lower than you do in the Disco, and there's a more upright feel to the dashboard design.

Adjustibility is excellent, and the 'Artico' faux leather trim extends to the door cards and top of the centre console box. The seats in the Benz seemed more plush than the ones in the Discovery Sport, although there were more hard surfaces adorning the dash design.

You'll probably want some converters in the GLB which only offers three USB-C outlets, one 12V outlet, and the wireless charging bay under the climate controls for front passengers.

The GLB also has healthy storage areas and cupholders, although each is slightly smaller than the Discovery Sport's.

The second row proved spacious enough with each seat set so that I could fit in there, with airspace for my knees, and healthy amounts of head and arm room.

It's worth noting that the 'stadium' seating arrangement in the Benz places second row passengers much higher than those in front. Soft touch surfaces and the same cushy seat trim extend to the second-row door cards.

  • The Discovery Sport offers notably less headroom and the seat trim is much harder than in the Benz, offering less support. (image: Tom White) The Discovery Sport offers notably less headroom and the seat trim is much harder than in the Benz, offering less support. (image: Tom White)
  • It’s worth noting that the ‘stadium’ seating arrangement in the Benz places second row passengers much higher than those in front. (image: Tom White) It’s worth noting that the ‘stadium’ seating arrangement in the Benz places second row passengers much higher than those in front. (image: Tom White)

The Discovery also gets the same trims extended to the second row, with nice seats set-up in a less stadium arrangement than its Benz competitor. The door cards are excellent with deep cushy trim, and the drop-down armrest even has its own storage box and large cupholders.

Both cars score directional vents in the second row, but in terms of outlets the Benz is the winner with two USB-C ports. The Discovery only has a single 12V outlet.

Storage is admirable in both vehicles with the Discovery Sport's second row also featuring deep door bins, hard shell pockets on the back of the front seats, and a small stowage tray on the back of the centre console.

The GLB scores a flip out tray with the USB ports, smallish door bins, and nets on the back of the front seats.

The third row deserves special attention in each car. I was surprised to find I fit in both without too much trouble, but there is a winner.

The GLB is superbly packaged to the point where an adult can exist in reasonable comfort in the third row. The deep floor is instrumental in providing a place for your feet to tuck away, creating more room for your knees.

  • The GLB is superbly packaged to the point where an adult can exist in reasonable comfort in the third row. (image: Tom White) The GLB is superbly packaged to the point where an adult can exist in reasonable comfort in the third row. (image: Tom White)
  • The deep floor is instrumental in providing a place for your feet to tuck away, creating more room for your knees. (image: Tom White) The deep floor is instrumental in providing a place for your feet to tuck away, creating more room for your knees. (image: Tom White)
  • The Disco Sport meanwhile is a much tighter fit for my frame. (image: Tom White) The Disco Sport meanwhile is a much tighter fit for my frame. (image: Tom White)
  • There’s nowhere for my feet to go, raising my knees to an uncomfortable position, although they are not hard up against the second row as they were in the Benz. (image: Tom White) There’s nowhere for my feet to go, raising my knees to an uncomfortable position, although they are not hard up against the second row as they were in the Benz. (image: Tom White)

My head was touching the roof in the back of the GLB, but it was not hard up. The cushy seat trim continued again, allowing me to sink a little into the third-row seats for superior support and comfort over the Disco Sport. The downsides to the Benz' third row include slightly tighter knee room, and a lack of padding for the elbow support.

On the third-row amenity front, the GLB scores a further two USB-C ports on either side as well as a decent cupholder and storage tray. There are no adjustable vents or fan control for third row passengers.

The Disco Sport meanwhile is a much tighter fit for my frame. There's nowhere for my feet to go, raising my knees to an uncomfortable position, although they are not hard up against the second row as they were in the Benz.

The Discovery Sport offers notably less headroom and the seat trim is much harder than in the Benz, offering less support. One area where the Disco does shine is its soft elbow supports and independent fan controls, as well as a larger window apertures. The Discovery Sport only has a single 12V outlet for rear passengers, although USB 2.0-ports can be optioned.

Overall, the Benz is more impressively packaged and packed with modern tech as standard, especially if you're going to be putting adults in the third row. The Disco Sport is luxuriously appointed with nice storage touches, but the third row is really only for kids, even though amenities can be optionally added.

Its worth remembering both vehicles are stellar in terms of the flexibility and practicality features they offer over their stablemates, so there's only a winner here for certain use cases.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

9

9

Engine and transmission

Again, closely matched, both cars in this comparison are powered by 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines with healthy outputs.

The P250 is the top-of-the range 'Ingenium' petrol engine in the Discovery Sport range, and outputs are truly impressive at 184kW/365Nm.

The Discovery Sport range has just one transmission, a nine-speed (traditional torque converter) automatic.

The GLB 250 meanwhile is the middle-spec of the GLB range, sitting below the firecracker GLB 35 AMG. Outputs are still nothing to scoff at with 165kW/350Nm on tap, and it's worth noting the GLB weighs in almost 200kg lighter than the Discovery Sport.

  • The P250 is the top-of-the range ‘Ingenium’ petrol engine in the Discovery Sport range, and outputs are truly impressive at 184kW/365Nm. (image: Tom White) The P250 is the top-of-the range ‘Ingenium’ petrol engine in the Discovery Sport range, and outputs are truly impressive at 184kW/365Nm. (image: Tom White)
  • The GLB 250 meanwhile is the middle-spec of the GLB range, sitting below the firecracker GLB 35 AMG. Outputs are still nothing to scoff at with 165kW/350Nm on tap. (image: Tom White) The GLB 250 meanwhile is the middle-spec of the GLB range, sitting below the firecracker GLB 35 AMG. Outputs are still nothing to scoff at with 165kW/350Nm on tap. (image: Tom White)

Power is channeled to all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic in the GLB 250.

If you're looking for diesel as a powertrain alternative, only the Discovery Sport offers options, the GLB range is petrol only in Australia.

Finally, only the Discovery Sport is capable of towing at this time, as the GLB doesn't have a towing pack available in the Australian market.

Check out our spec table below for a full run down of the numbers.

 

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

Displacement

1991cc

1997cc

Power

165kW at 5500rpm

184kW at 5500rpm

Torque

350Nm at 1800 – 4000rpm

365Nm at 1400-4500rpm

Drive

All-wheel

All-wheel

Transmission

Eight-speed dual-clutch auto

Nine-speed torque converter auto

0-100km/h sprint

6.9 seconds

7.8 seconds

Kerb weight

 1721kg +

1910kg +

Braked towing capacity

N/A (no towing pack available in Australia)

2000kg

Again, too close to definitively call. The Discovery Sport has the edge on power delivery but is held back by its weight.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

8

8

Fuel consumption

Neither car claims to be a fuel consumption star, with relatively high official combined cycle (urban, extra-urban) figures for 2.0-litre engines.

The GLB 250 has the lower claim of 7.7L/100km, while the Discovery Sport has a slightly higher sticker number of 8.1L/100km. Makes sense given its extra weight.

The results over our drive loop were telling. We drove each car over the same roads in the same conditions, sticking mainly to winding B-roads with some urban running included in each 'controlled' loop.

Keep in mind these conditions are less than ideal, with lots of hills, and no stretches of open road freeway.

The results confirmed our suspicions that the Discovery Sport likes a drink. Seems there's a cost to its more rev-happy and punchy engine.

Check out the table below to see our full fuel consumption results. Interestingly, both vehicles over-reported fuel consumption on their respective trip computers compared to our at-the-pump measurement.

 

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

Official combined fuel consumption (L/100km)

7.7

8.1

Computer-reported consumption

11.3L/100km

16.3L/100km

At-pump fuel consumption

9.8L/100km

14.8L/100km

Per cent over claim (using at-pump number)

27.3 per cent

82.7 per cent

Fuel tank

60-litres

67-litres

Theoretical range

779km

827km

Minimum RON requirement

95

95

As you can see, the numbers confirmed our suspicion that the Discovery Sport is a thirsty unit, at 82.7 per cent over its claim on our test, giving the GLB's leaner and more efficient drivetrain the edge here.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

8

7

Safety

You'd hope that premium automakers are up to spec on the active safety front, and thankfully both SUVs in this test have formidable standard suites.

The Mercedes-Benz GLB has standard auto emergency braking (works from 7.0-200km/h), with lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and traffic sign recognition.

Our GLB 250 featured the 'Driver Assistance Pack' ($1990) which adds a stereo camera system to make the emergency braking good for 250km/h, as well as adding adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function and active lane change assist for an SAE-defined Level 2 driving autonomy suite. This pack also adds front cross-traffic alert as a bonus feature.

The curtain airbags extend to the third row in the GLB, and it carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating to the current, 2019 standards.

The Discovery Sport also impresses, with high-speed Auto Emergency Braking (10-160km/h), lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and driver attention alert as standard.

You'll need to tick an option box to get rear cross traffic alert, steering assist for the adaptive cruise control, and the 360-degree parking camera suite. But it still scores a maximum five ANCAP  stars, although assessment was against less stringent criteria in 2014.

The Discovery Sport's curtain airbags also extend to the third row, although it misses out on the extra ISOFIX points which exist in the GLB.

 

Mercedes-Benz GLB250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

Auto Emergency Braking

Y (7-250km/h)

Y (10-160km/h)

Lane Keep Assist

Y

Y

Lane Departure warning

Y

Y

Blind Spot Monitoring

Y

Y

Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Y

N (part of optional pack)

Front Cross Traffic Alert

Y (part of Driver Assistance Pack)

N

Adaptive Cruise control

Y (with stop and go and lane change function as part of Driver Assistance Pack)

Y (steering assist part of optional pack)

Traffic Sign Recognition

Y

Y

Driver Attention Alert

Y

Y

ANCAP rating

Five Stars (2019)

Five Stars (2015)

And for a run-down of the more expected features and child-seat mounting points, see below:

 

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

Airbags

Nine (including third row curtain)

Seven (including third row curtain)

ISOFIX points

Four (two in third row)

Two

Top Tether points

Three

Three

With healthy standard suites and welcome optional additions that aren't outrageously priced, as well as airbags that extend to the third row, both cars score well on our metrics.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

8

8

Ownership

Here's one area where we have a clear winner. Mercedes recently moved to a permanent five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is well ahead of all luxury automakers except for Korean newcomer, Genesis.

Roadside assist is included for the duration, and Mercedes offer a reasonably priced capped service program at $2650 for the first three years, which can be pre-paid at the time of purchase at a $500 discount. The GLB 250 requires servicing once every 12 months or 25,000km, whichever occurs first.

The Discovery Sport, meanwhile, has a lacklustre-in-comparison three-year, 100,000km warranty promise, with roadside assist included.

The Land Rover's servicing is condition based determined by its onboard computer, but servicing is notably more affordable than its Mercedes rival, with a pre-paid 'Land Rover Service Plan' coming in at just $1950 for five years.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

9

7

Driving

Two things to keep in mind before you read the rest of this driving segment: both of these cars have excellent ride characteristics for their respective classes, and both have remarkably keen engines.

I have been a fan of the Discovery Sport's ride since its first iteration landed in Australia, and I'm pleased to report it's even better with this latest update.

There's something satisfying about how well the suspension is balanced across both axles, and how well it keeps a heavy car from swaying side to side too much in the corners. It is also excellent at absorbing larger or sharper bumps in its stride.

The main negative is how busy it can be over minor imperfections. It's hard to get it settled when the road varies a lot.

Our Discovery Sport’s P250 powertrain proved ultra-responsive and urgent, surging the heavy SUV forward with ease. (image: Tom White) Our Discovery Sport’s P250 powertrain proved ultra-responsive and urgent, surging the heavy SUV forward with ease. (image: Tom White)

The steering is reasonably linear, but there is a slightly overly-electrically assisted numbness to contend with here.

The transmission makes itself largely unknown with predictable and fairly linear changes, even in corners and on gradients. Our Discovery Sport's P250 powertrain proved ultra-responsive and urgent, surging the heavy SUV forward with ease. Peak torque arrives 400rpm lower in the range than it does in the GLB, and you can certainly feel the difference.

Cabin noise is not much of an issue in the Discovery Sport, with the engine sounding distant, and only some tyre roar intruding at higher speeds. It could be made quieter through the selection of smaller alloys.

As mentioned in the fuel consumption section, though, that urgency brings with it a much more liberal attitude to burning 95 RON premium fuel...

An annoying part of the Discovery Sport's drive characteristics is the start/stop system. It is extremely slow and will cost you seconds (not just one second, multiple seconds) at T-Junctions and at the lights. People will beep at you. You'll be turning it off.

Overall, the Discovery Sport feels heavier and more luxuriously planted than its GLB rival. We think you will prefer it if you are used to heavier vehicles like medium sedans or SUVs.

The experience behind the wheel of the GLB is also excellent but has an entirely different character.

You sit noticeably lower in the front of this SUV, so it's more like piloting a hatchback. The steering is a smidge more responsive, and you're closer to the front wheels, giving a more direct, involved feeling than the somewhat aloof Discovery Sport.

The Mercedes’ stop/start system is flawless to the point where you won’t even notice it has one. (image: Tom White) The Mercedes’ stop/start system is flawless to the point where you won’t even notice it has one. (image: Tom White)

The ride provided by Mercedes-Benz's 'Active Damper Control' is a thing of wonder. It's remarkably settled over all but the sharpest bumps and doesn't have that busy characteristic of the Discovery Sport.

Again, the ride is balanced, and offers a sportier, more direct and entertaining feel than its rival in this test. Harsher, sharper bumps do push its limits, where some noise and harshness transferred into the cabin, and there's a tad more sway in the corners.

Engine and road noise are slightly higher than in the Discovery, even though the Merc as tested had slightly smaller wheels.

While the Benz' engine has a slightly lower output, the difference in power between the two cars is negligible. You can feel the difference in the GLB's trim kerb weight and lightning fast dual-clutch automatic.

The Mercedes' stop/start system is flawless to the point where you won't even notice it has one, and the only negative trait the transmission gave us on our test was an odd tendency to aggressively change down and send the revs skyrocketing on descending gradients.

The hatch-like characteristics of the Mercedes ultimately make it a better pick for someone usually uncomfortable with larger vehicles who will be spending the majority of their time in cities. It feels easier to park and navigate in and offers a superior ride quality on uneven surfaces.

The winner here will be up to your specific use case. Around town? The GLB is the winner. Used to doing a bit more long-distance touring? The Discovery Sport will be the one. We're going to score them evenly.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

8

8

Verdict

The great thing about either of these two cars is they are fantastic choices, even against their own stablemates.

Both are practicality heroes with great safety and healthy engine performance, as well as impressive drive characteristics.

On the balance of scores in our test though, the Mercedes-Benz GLB wins by a tight margin. Again, it's not a definitive crown. If you're going to spend more time around town, the GLB's brilliant packaging, value additions, and humane third row (for adults) will make it a sure winner.

If you're going to be spending a lot of time on the open road, though, don't look past the Discovery Sport which offers a customisable seven-seat solution with a newfound luxuriousness to its interior treatment.

Which would you choose? Let us know which one and why in the comments.

Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC

Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE

8.1

7.8



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