"I've got two kids so I need something practical, but I haven't given up on life. It's down to a BMW X3 M or a Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S. I'm coming out of a 2015 Audi S5 Sportback and this is my first SUV. Will I be disappointed?"
LET’S GET ONE thing clear straight off the bat. Neither of these SUVs is going to feel slow after getting out of your 245kW Audi.
Yes, they carry a couple of hundred extra kilos up the road, but consider this. You’ve been used to a power-to-weight ratio of 140kW/tonne. The BMW fronts up with 190kW/tonne and the Mercedes-AMG 194kW/tonne, so that will feel like almost 40 per cent more grunt.
I’ve performance tested the X3 M Competition’s hunchback sibling, the mechanically identical X4 M Competition and seen 100km/h in 3.7 seconds, so it’s ferociously rapid.
As a vehicle to take apart a challenging country route, I’d unhesitatingly pick the BMW. It just feels more nimble and more alert. Thing is, that tends not to be what we use performance SUVs for and, for most other duties, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S will probably be a better bet.
The engine is more charismatic, the interior feels more special, the exterior styling has a bit more attitude to it and the overall driving experience is sprinkled with that feel-good fairy dust that Affalterbach does so well.
It’s not as if it’s a dynamic duffer when the road starts getting serious, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the GLC starts to labour, working its tyres and stability control system hard when driven at a pace where the M product shines.
Both of these are great choices. For most people the AMG will be the more satisfying option, but if you really want to be amazed by the dynamic capabilities of a modern SUV, you owe it to yourself to at least try the X3 M Competition. - AE
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S v 2021 BMW X3 M Competition Specs
Engine: 3982cc, V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo | 2993cc, straight-six, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbo
Power: 375kW @ 5500-6250rpm | 375kW @ 6250rpm
Torque: 700Nm @ 1750-4500rpm | 600Nm @ 2600-5950rpm
Weight: 1935kg | 1970kg
0-100km/h: 3.8sec | 4.11sec (tested)
Price: $168,000 | $157,900
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