The last time we had these two names they also had their mighty suffixes. The GLC bore the AMG badge while the X3 featured the blue and red ‘M’ that makes even an introvert gush in public. These two, however, are the docile cousins of those raucous monsters. Is it going to just as fun? Probably not. But is it going to be tiresome? Definitely not.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC has been the best selling SUV for the oldest car manufacturer in the world and with good reason. It had all the makings of a comfy, luxurious SUV along with the perfect size for the city. It was also updated in 2019 and was leading the segment with sales number soaring high. Now though, it has received yet another shot in the arm that is expected to further enhance its already huge lead. The GLC now gets a fully digital instrument cluster, an updated MBUX infotainment system with Alexa and Google Home integration, 360-degree camera and the big one, massaging seats at the front. What was the Volvo XC60s party piece is now also available on the Merc so I am already feeling for the X3.
The X3 though is the silent warrior. It misses out on the fancy seats and its iDrive system can only do so much, but it has one big weapon aboard. The engine. The 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-petrol engine makes a whopping 248bhp and 350Nm which is enough to make you forget the massage seats. So right off the bat, they are two cut-throat rivals, and yet so different in character. I think I need to rethink if this is going to be as much fun.
In terms of design, there is nothing that will make you go ‘wow’ about either of the two. However, they will definitely look at home in a 5-star lobby and in the VIP lines at the airport. They are your quintessential low-key luxe cars and that is the long and short of it.
So, the question is, should you follow the herd and go for the GLC or should you lead by example and opt for the X3?
The GLC 200 is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine that makes 191bhp and is mated to a 9-speed automatic gearbox. Now there hasn’t been any change to the powertrain so lets not dive too much into the technicalities of performance. However, it is worth noting that a big plus of the GLC is the refinement and that is thanks to the smooth engine. Performance too is plenty and you never find yourself struggling for grunt. Handling is not the most engaging, but given that the GLC is a rear-wheel drive, you can have plenty of fun if you let loose. But, let’s focus on what is new. The fully-digital instrument cluster is crisp and highly customisable and the Alexa and Google Home integration with MBUX takes the GLC ahead in terms of modernity. Also updated is the ‘Mercedes me’ app that features your standard functionalities like geo-fencing, collision alerts, speed alerts etc.
What you will adore though are the massage seats, but you will need to be in the front for that. The settings for the bolsters, lower back, and the entire lumbar region is well calibrated and offers a soothing experience. But, if you are anyway going to be in the front seat, the X3 makes for a strong contender. No, it doesn’t have massage seats, and no it doesn’t have Google and Alexa sitting in and spying on you. What it has, is a cracker of an engine. The X3 also sticks to BMWs ethos of making driver-focussed cars as the adaptive dampers enhance the driving dynamics by a long margin. It goes without saying, that if you are a keen driver, the X3 will be far more rewarding. What also helps is that the X3 is all-wheel drive and that gives you tremendous confidence in the corners. The engine, gearbox and the handling all paired together make the X3 shine bright and out of GLCs shadow.
That said, don’t think of it as a one-race pony. The rear seat might not be as cosy as the Merc, but is a close second. The adaptive dampers, when put in comfort mode, make the suspension soft and supple and on bad roads at low speeds, it is the better of the two. There is plenty of space as well, and you get plenty of tech on offer. Visually, you have two completely different design themes where on one side you have the curvaceous GLC with its rounded edges and on the other is the X3 that is laden with sharp lines and creases. To each his own.
Choosing between one is not difficult either as they are quite different in character. However, the GLC sure looks like the better bet on paper. You get a lot more tech, it is comfortable and the cherry on top is the pricing. The GLC 200 is priced at Rs 57.36 lakh and that is quite a deal. To put things in perspective, the BMW X3 in its xDrive30i spec is a pricey bet at Rs 61.80 lakh. However, with the X3, you have an SUV that is a lot better and nicer to drive and will surely satisfy the enthusiast within you.
Like it happened with their more powerful iterations, with these too, it is the same conclusion. The head says buy the bang for buck GLC, but the heart wants the thrill of the X3.