BMW fans have been waiting for a hot X3 for a long time. Of all the brand’s SUVs, the BMW X3 is the one best suited for performance. It’s rear-wheel drive-based, unlike its smaller X1 sibling, and it’s smaller than its larger, more luxury-oriented X5 sibling. Yet it was the only of BMW’s SUVs to not have a performance variant. Until now, that is. The G01-generation BMW X3 M40i is finally here to bring some bite to the X3. While it isn’t a full-on M car, it’s still a quick and performance-minded SUV that should rival the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and Audi SQ5. So it’s in good company.

But let’s focus on its rival from Stuttgart. The Mercedes-AMG GLC43 is probably the hottest, most exciting small performance SUV on the market. While the Porsche Macan GTS is probably sharper, the AMG is winning the sales race. So it is the BMW X3 M40i’s main competition. And tough competition it will be, as the little AMG is quick, fun and exciting.


Both cars feature turbocharged six-cylinder engines. For the BMW, it’s a 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 that makes 355 hp. For the AMG, it’s a 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 that makes 362 hp. Both cars also get torque-converter automatics, with the BMW getting a ZF-sourced eight-speed and the AMG using one of Mercedes’ own nine-speed units. So they’re quite evenly matched and it shows in both cars’ claimed performance figures. Mercedes-AMG is claiming 4.5 seconds to 60 mph for its GLC43 and BMW is claiming 4.6 seconds for its X3 M40i. Though, we can’t really compare these cars based on performance or how they drive, as we haven’t driven either yet. So, for now, we can just compare how they look.

The Mercedes-AMG GLC43 is far smoother looking and far less aggressive. It doesn’t look much different from the standard GLC-Class, though with sportier wheels and some darker trim, especially in profile. That’s not to say it’s bad looking, because it’s a really good looking little SUV, it’s just less aggressive, more of a sleeper, than the X3 M40i. They both have similar shoulder lines, but the X3 M40i’s is more pronounced. The biggest difference between the two is at the D-pillar, where BMW’s Hofmeister Kink moves upward and the AMG’s D-pillar line is flat. That accentuates the rear haunches of the X3 M40i and makes the AMG GLC43 look a bit flat.

Inside, both cars are very different. The BMW X3 M40i is more rugged looking, which chunkier design features and trims. While the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 is classier and more luxurious looking. Both have very nice looking cabins, just very different. We won’t be able to really judge the quality of both because we haven’t spent a lot of time in the new X3 M40i. From the looks of them, though, it’s hard to choose one or the other, as they’re both so different.

Overall, both of these cars are going to do well. The AMG is already doing well and the X3 M40i should catch right up. Both are stylish and sporty SUVs with enough space for a young family and enough performance for any car enthusiast. We can’t wait to get these two together to see how they compete.