Both the Mercedes GLC and the BMW X3 are family sized SUVs offering luxury, practicality and that all-important German build quality. We compare the two rivals side-by-side to help you decide which one is for you.
If you’ve made your mind up, put either the Mercedes GLC or the BMW X3 in our car configurator to see the deals carwow could help you get. For more options, check out our list of the best SUVs on sale.
Mercedes GLC vs BMW X3 styling
The Mercedes GLC features the chunky dimensions, oversized grille and large air intakes typical of SUVs giving it an aggressive look. Sizeable 20-inch alloy wheels fill the arches and, at the rear, sloping lines, a curvaceous back end and large twin exhaust pipes add to its desirable appearance.
The BMW X3 follows a similar pattern to the GLC using styling hallmarks found on BMW’s road cars translated into a chunky SUV body. Aggressive headlights meet the chromed kidney grilles and a deep waistline runs down the side of the car breaking up the metalwork to reduce visual weight. To our eyes, however, the GLC is the more exciting looking car while the BMW X3 looks a bit dated.
Mercedes GLC vs BMW X3 interior
Inside, the GLC is a stylish and modern place to be and, if you’re familiar with the C-Class’ cabin, you’ll recognise the layout and high quality finish. It’s spacious with plenty of room for occupants and luggage and the materials used inside feel great to the touch. It also comes with all the modern tech you’d hope to find in a luxury SUV including sat-nav and even a system that helps you track your incline angle when off-road.
The materials used in the BMW’s cabin feel high quality and, while it can’t match the luxury level of the newer GLC, the design is straightforward and attractive. Space, like the GLC, is greatly improved compared to the 3 Series, especially in terms of headroom. BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is arguably the best on the market thanks to the simple menu layout and intuitive rotary controller that means you can keep your eyes on the road.
Mercedes GLC vs BMW X3 driving
Thanks to the Mercedes’ four-wheel-drive system, it always has traction meaning you can drive it in all weathers with confidence. Its driving characteristics can be altered dramatically by switching between the four driving modes and there’s even an optional ‘off-road engineering’ pack that adds five additional driving modes catering for more adventurous drivers.
The new X3 is a much better handling car than its slightly harsh-riding predecessor but enthusiastic drivers should note it received some criticism for not being as sharp as other cars in the BMW range. The Dynamic damper control option on the X3 is recommended because it allows the suspension to adapt to driving conditions and BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive ensures good grip.
Mercedes GLC vs BMW X3 engines
There’s only one 2.1-litre diesel engine available for the GLC, though you can choose between 170hp and 204hp variants. The lower-powered 220d version is so similar to the 204hp one in terms of driving and performance that it’s hard to recommend spending £1,550 on the 250d. The 0-62mph times are very similar – 8.3 and 7.6 seconds respectively – and most drivers wouldn’t feel a difference between the two engines in everyday driving.
While it also has an all diesel engine lineup, the X3 has a little more choice when it comes engines and most of them are rated by reviewers for their smoothness and refinement. One tester notes that the 2.0-litre BMW unit “makes Mercedes’ equivalent 2.1-litre diesel seem rough”. Keen drivers will be tempted by the BMW’s 3.0-litre straight-six diesel offered with 258 or 313hp. The most efficient BMW’s can muster 54mpg while the Mercedes manages 57mpg.
Mercedes GLC vs BMW X3 value for money
The GLC can carry up to 550 litres with the rear seats up and 1,600 litres with them folded. The maximum compartment length is a handy 1,320mm while the maximum width is 1,100mm. The Mercedes costs from £34,950 rising to £42,590.
The BMW also has a 550-litre boot and, when all the seats are folded, you get a flat loading surface and more capacity than the 3 Series Touring. Prices for the X3 are slightly cheaper than the Mercedes at £33,945 but the more powerful range-toping model is more expensive at £46,045.
Mercedes GLC vs BMW X3 verdict
Both the Mercedes GLC and BMW X3 are great luxury SUVs, offering style, space and performance. Overall, we feel the Mercedes is the better looking car, has a nicer interior and is fantastic to drive.
There is more choice when it comes to engines in the BMW range but the slightly dated exterior styling and overly ‘corporate BMW’ interior make it feel less special. If you’re after a little extra performance, though, the BMW with its six-cylinder engine is the one to go for.
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