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While AMG is pursuing an electric future, Mercedes-Benz’s performance division can make impressive numbers out of smaller engines. Case in point, the 2021 GLA 35. And serving as its boxier counterpart is the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35.

Being a luxury crossover, the GLB 35 has an extended list of features besides performance-related ones. But buyers can also drive the sticker price higher via optional extras. So, which are worth getting, and which are worth passing up?

What comes standard on the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35?

A black 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 in a park parking lot
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 | Matthew Skwarczek

For 2021, the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 serves as the range-topping model in the GLB-Class lineup. The base model, the GLB 250, starts at $38,050; adding all-wheel drive costs $2000. Meanwhile, the GLB 35, which comes standard with an AMG-tuned AWD system, starts at $49,500.

The extra cash assuredly gets you extra performance. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. That’s 81 more hp and 37 more lb-ft than the GLB 250. And that power goes to the AWD system via an AMG-specific eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. As a result, the GLB 350 goes 0-60 mph in a claimed 5.1 seconds, 1.8 seconds faster than the 250. But it still comes with a standard stop-start system.

The black-and-red-leather front seats and the black dashboard of a 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 front interior | Matthew Skwarczek

Besides the engine, the 2021 GLB 35 has stiffer suspension with AMG-specific springs and adaptive shock tuning. It also comes with a performance exhaust, larger brakes, an upgraded torque-vectoring system, and automatic variable-ratio steering. Plus, 19” AMG wheels, stainless-steel pedals, aluminum shift paddles, sport front seats, and a sport steering wheel. On the GLB 250, those are all part of the $2600 AMG Line Package.

On the luxury side, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 shares many of its features with the GLB 250. For example, heated side mirrors, a power liftgate, multiple USB-C outlets, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system. Both also have driver-assistance features like blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking.

However, the GLB 35 gets several of the 250’s options as standard. For instance, the AMG crossover gets 64-color adjustable ambient lighting and carbon-fiber trim. And instead of a 7” center touchscreen and digital gauge cluster, it has 10.25” ones.

What kinds of options are available?

The driver's side front interior of a 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 with its ambient lighting turned on at night
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 driver’s side front interior ambient lighting low-angle | Matthew Skwarczek

If those standard features aren’t enough, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 has a sizable options list. Some can be added individually, while others are bundled into separate packages.

For example, the $1700 Driver Assistance Package gives the GLB 35 additional ADAS features. These include adaptive cruise control, active steering and lane-keeping assist, and an upgraded blind-spot monitoring system. Meanwhile, the $800 Premium Package adds power-folding side mirrors, auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirrors, and keyless entry. It also lets you open and close the tailgate by lightly kicking the rear bumper.

Navigation is an individual option, but you can also get it as part of the $1295 Multimedia Package. Getting the package adds augmented-reality views to the navigation screen and speed-limit-sign recognition. And the LED lighting can be upgraded with active LED headlights and adaptive high beams as part of the $900 Exterior Lighting Package.

Besides the packages, other notable options include heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, and the blacked-out $750 AMG Night Package. The sport steering wheel can also be equipped with Nappa leather or Dinamica fabric. And there’s also the optional AMG Drive Unit. It’s a series of knobs and switches controlling the drive mode, suspension, stability control, and transmission mode.

The GLB 35 also offers various 20” and 21” wheels, a sunroof, wood trim, WiFi, a wireless charging pad, a heads-up display, and a Burmester audio system. And on top of illuminated door sills, you can equip the crossover with lights that project the Mercedes star.

How should you spec your 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35?

Picking out the options on a car is naturally up to personal taste and budget. If, for instance, you don’t like the GLB 35’s carbon-fiber trim, you can get wood trim instead. But aesthetics is one thing; practicality is another, as is budget.

I recently spent some time with a well-optioned 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 priced at $64,110 after a $1050 destination charge. And in addition to the standard features, the crossover had the following options:

  • Driver Assistance Package: $1700
  • Exterior Lighting Package: $900
  • Multimedia Package: $1295
  • AMG Night Package: $750
  • Premium Package: $800
  • SiriusXM: $460
  • Mirror Logo Projector: $110
  • Burmester audio system: $850
  • Panorama sunroof: $1500
  • Heated and ventilated front seats: $950
  • AMG Drive Unit: $400
  • AMG Performance steering wheel with Nappa leather: $400
  • 20” AMG matte-black five-spoke wheels: $1050
  • Wireless charging: $200
  • Red/black leather interior: $1450
  • Cosmos Black Metallic paint: $720
  • USB-C adapter cable: $25

Ignoring the aesthetics-related options, if I was building my own GLB 35, I’d skip on the 20” wheels. Larger wheels transmit more impact force and noise to the cabin, Autocar explains. So, although the crossover rode comfortably overall, the 20” wheels added an unwelcome sense of flintiness.

The rear 3/4 view of a black 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 in a parking lot
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 rear 3/4 | Matthew Skwarczek

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But that’s the only option that I didn’t find helpful. The AR navigation displays large arrows with street names for approaching turns, MotorAuthority notes. That’s a boon for those driving in unfamiliar areas, especially if street name signs aren’t visible. The AMG Drive Unit lets you swap between different performance settings with alacrity. Also, the Driver Assistance Package’s blind-spot monitoring upgrade lets you know if you’re about to open the door into approaching traffic. Plus, the ventilated seats were extremely helpful during the recent Chicagoland heatwave.

In terms of non-aesthetic equipment, you could build the equivalent of my loaner crossover for $58,980 before destination. Anything else is your personal cherry on top of the cake.

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