Reviews 2021 BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLC? What to Know About These Luxury SUVs

14:17  05 february  2021
14:17  05 february  2021 Source:   motortrend.com

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe

  2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe Pros Sporty styling Awesomely quick AMG Confident handling Cons Tricky MBUX Compromised headroom and cargo space No hybrid option The idea of an SUV coupe may sound like an oxymoron, but it appears the hybrid body style is here to stay. Mercedes-Benz is one of the automakers leading the pack, and the GLC Coupe is the swooping-roof, more dramatically styled variant of its compact SUV. It makes sacrifices in interior space at the cost of fashion, but some folks will like the design enough to make that trade.After introducing the GLC Coupe as a 2017 model, the style-focused variant and the more mainstream GLC got a midcycle refresh for 2020.

This is a high-stakes matchup. The rivalry between BMW and Mercedes-Benz is a contentious one, and the 2021 X3 and 2021 GLC-Class compete in one of the most popular vehicle segments. Among luxury compact crossovers, these are two of the most prominent entries, and each SUV tries to outdo the other's features and specs. What advantages does the 2021 BMW X3 have over the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and vice versa? Here's what you need to know.

a car parked in a parking lot: 2021 BMW X3 or 2021 Mercedes Benz GLC © MotorTrend Staff,Manufacturer 2021 BMW X3 or 2021 Mercedes Benz GLC

2021 BMW X3: Pros Over the GLC-Class

a car parked on the side of a road © MotorTrend Staff,Manufacturer

Top-selling X3 models get better fuel economy than comparable GLCs. The RWD X3 sDrive30i gets 25/29 mpg city/highway, while the GLC300 gets 22/29 mpg. Their AWD equivalents, the X3 xDrive30i and GLC300 4Matic, get 23/29 and 21/28 mpg, respectively.

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In the sporty realm, the X3 M40i achieves 21/27 mpg, while the GLC43 AMG only manages 18/24 mpg. In a twist, however, the I-6-powered X3 M models get worse fuel economy than the V-8-equipped GLC63 AMG: 14/19 mpg against 15/22 mpg.

Additionally, the X3 xDrive30e trails the GLC350e in plug-in hybrid efficiency. In 2020, the BMW was EPA-rated at 60 mpg-e (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent) in combined city and highway driving and 18 miles of all-electric range; the Mercedes earned 68 mpg-e with 22 miles of electric range.

Cargo Space

a man standing in front of a car © MotorTrend Staff,Manufacturer

Regarding the "U" part of SUV, the X3 bests the GLC. The BMW offers 28.7 cubic feet of space behind its 40/20/40 split-folding second row, and up to 62.7 cubic feet when those seats are folded. The Mercedes counters with 19.4 and 56.5 cubic feet in those measures.

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The X3 and GLC trade advantages in passenger space. Front-row headroom measures 41.1 inches in the X3, much more than the 37.8 inches in the GLC. Second-row headroom is identical at 38.5 inches. The X3 trails the GLC slightly in front-row legroom, with 40.3 inches against 40.8 inches. The BMW is also behind in second-row legroom, offering 36.4 inches to the Mercedes' 37.3 inches.


a car parked on the side of a road © MotorTrend Staff,Manufacturer

Although some performance figures favor the GLC, the X3's fun feel is harder to put a number on. Like other modern BMWs, there's not a lot of feel from the steering wheel, but steering is accurate with the driver's inputs. The X3 feels balanced for an SUV and is willing to be tossed through corners like a lifted hot hatch. That's most evident in the X3 M Competition, which stands out with sharp steering and torque-vectoring AWD that allows for some drifty fun. Trade-offs to that are its brutally stiff ride and needlessly fat steering wheel. Nevertheless, any X3 is decent fun. GLC models below the hardest-core AMGs also handle nicely, albeit with a somewhat more relaxed demeanor.

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a car parked in a parking lot © MotorTrend Staff,Manufacturer

The GLC and X3 both come with a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty. However, the BMW includes scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles. Routine maintenance such as oil changes, filter swaps, and problem inspections are all covered under BMW's Ultimate Care program. In the case of our long-term X3 M40i, that resulted in a grand total of $0 spent on maintenance over the course of our year with the vehicle. Meanwhile, the two regular scheduled dealership visits in our long-term GLC300 totaled $1,000.43.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class: Pros Over the X3


IntelliChoice is a MotorTrend subsidiary focused on determining new-car values. By estimating ownership costs over five years, IntelliChoice assigns value ratings to most new cars on the market. For 2020, the X3 lineup earned a Good value rating, the second-best on IntelliChoice's scale. The GLC? It received the top Excellent rating, aided by its many standard features and comparatively low depreciation.


a car parked in a parking lot © MotorTrend Staff,Manufacturer

We're of the opinion that the GLC is better looking than the X3. It may not have the presence of the X3, but the GLC's clean, cohesive lines come together for an elegant aesthetic. Stylish LED head- and taillights provide a high-tech impression. With wheels pushed out toward the corners, the GLC has muscular presence, more evident on the hunkered-down AMG models. In comparison, the X3's design looks busy.

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We much prefer the GLC's interior. It puts forward high-quality materials, and the available dual-display infotainment setup looks thoroughly modern. That said, Mercedes' MBUX interface isn't quite as user-friendly as BMW's iDrive. Nevertheless, the X3's interior lacks the upscale feel of the GLC.

Acceleration and Braking

a car driving on a city street: 2020-Mercedes-AMG-GLC-43-6.jpg © Motor Trend Staff 2020-Mercedes-AMG-GLC-43-6.jpg

In MotorTrend testing, the GLC has edged out the X3 in two important measures: acceleration and braking. We recorded the X3 xDrive30i accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. The long-term 2017 GLC300 we drove for a year did the same in 6.9 seconds, but a 2020 model needed only 5.4 seconds. Our long-term X3 M40i hit 60 in 4.8 seconds, a blink behind the GLC43's 4.7-second run. Launching the X3 M Competition results in a 4.0-second 0-60 mph time. Although we've only tested the GLC63 S AMG in Coupe body style, it did the sprint in just 3.2 seconds. We wouldn't be surprised if the conventional SUV version performed similarly.

Stopping distances from 60 to 0 mph are close but favor the GLC. Our testing recorded a 123-foot best stop from the X3 xDrive30i, while the GLC300 needed only 110 feet. The X3 M40i was just behind the GLC43, at 112 feet against 109 feet. The sportiest versions stop best, with the X3 M Competition halting in 110 feet and the GLC63 S Coupe in 105 feet.

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a motorcycle parked on the side of a car: 2020-Mercedes-AMG-GLC-43-19.jpg © Motor Trend Staff 2020-Mercedes-AMG-GLC-43-19.jpg

Our sample size is small, but between the X3 M40i and GLC300 4Matic we kept in our long-term review fleet, there was a winner in build quality. After its suspension started creaking and the roof let water drip on us, we can't say it was the X3. Nor can we say our long-term GLC300 was problem-free—the cargo cover stopped retracting, the automatic windshield wipers glitched, and the sunroof shade wouldn't fully close. However, those were minor inconveniences compared to the X3's more significant quality issues.

The Verdict

a car parked on the side of a road: 2020-Mercedes-Benz-GLC-300-4Matic-front-three-quarter.jpg © Motor Trend Staff 2020-Mercedes-Benz-GLC-300-4Matic-front-three-quarter.jpg

What's better: the X3 or GLC? We've lived with both, so we know their pros and cons quite well. We know which one we'd prefer to live with again in 2021: the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. It looks better, feels more luxurious, and delivers impressive performance. Cargo capacity and fuel economy aren't quite as good as the X3, but these deficits are small enough that our 2017 SUV of the Year winner remains our preference between these luxury compact crossovers. Factor in its top value rating, and it seems like the better buy.

2021 BMW X3: Pros Over the GLC-Class

  • Better fuel economy (mostly)
  • More cargo space
  • Fun handling
  • Scheduled maintenance included

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class: Pros Over the X3

  • Excellent value
  • More attractive styling
  • Quicker acceleration
  • Higher quality

New 2021 Mercedes S-Class's New Price Tag Nearly $16,000 Higher .
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class might look a little dull on the outside—let’s call it stately—but inside, it’s packed with the brand’s latest comfort and convenience technology. The new S-Class includes a giant 12.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a surround-view camera system that displays a three-dimensional view of the car, and a 429-hp six-cylinder engine that incorporates the German automaker's EQ Boost "mild-hybrid" technology. The latter powertrain is standard fare for the entry-level S500 4Matic (Mercedes-speak for all-wheel drive) and bests the output of the outgoing—base—S450's six-cylinder engine by 67 horses.

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