Currently, the only M Division SUV variants from BMW are the X5 M and X6 M, both big lumbering SUVs. BMW did recently release the X4 M40i, an M Performance coupe-like SUV that isn’t a proper M car. But we’ve long felt that if any BMW SUV deserved genuine M Divison treatment, it would be either the X3 or X4 or both, as they’re both small enough to be fun and actually have good driving dynamics. Plus, it would give BMW something to compete with Audi’s popular SQ5. For the latter, it looks as if Mercedes-AMG has beaten BMW to the punch.

Mercedes has just announced the Mercedes-AMG GLC43, which is a proper AMG variant of the GLC crossover. The GLC43 will pack the same 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 as the C43 AMG, which produces 362 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. According to Mercedes, this will make the GLC43 good for 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds and reach an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 (X 253), 2016

Those performance figures are identical to the Mercedes-AMG C43, which is a lighter sedan, but Mercedes claims the reason that the GLC43 can match those numbers lies in the transmission. The 9G-Tronic nine-speed gearbox supposedly delivers much faster shifts in the GLC43, as it’s been retuned. Both cars power all four wheels through Mercedes-AMG’s rear-biased 4Matic all-wheel drive system. Obviously, the GLC43 is more aggressive looking than its non-AMG siblings, but it isn’t brash or ridiculous looking, it’s still a classy looking SUV. Whether or not you look the styling is a different story, but it doesn’t look ridiculous.

So does this car force BMW to create the X3 M or X4 M that we’ve been asking for?

BMW X4 M40i
BMW X4 M40i

Maybe, maybe not. BMW did recently claim that it was looking to expand its M Divison lineup, which could include such cars as the X3 M, so it’s absolutely a possibility. However, I don’t know if BMW needs a full-blown M version to compete with the GLC43. The current X4 M40i uses a similar engine, makes very similar power and has similar performance figures as the GLC43. So just an M Performance X3 M40i, which is most likely already on the way, could certainly do the trick to compete with this AMG. Plus, Mercedes is already working on a GLC Coupe to compete with the BMW X4 and you know an AMG variant will follow. So if BMW creates an X3 M40i, it will have an SUV to compete with both of Merc’s GLC AMG variants.

Does such a thing dilute the M Division brand? Maybe, depending on who you ask. But with BMW’s reputation for filling every single possible niche segment, BMW can’t be left out of this fight now that Mercedes-AMG and Audi are in on it. So I think we will see something from BMW and the next X3 quite soon.