On the surface, the 2024 BMW X1 M35i xDrive is yet another entrant into the crowded small SUV scene. But true competitors are very hard to find. With a compelling starting price just south of $50,000 (before destination) and a focus on performance, few small SUVs deliver a jolt of adrenaline and performance chops like the X1 M35i will. There is, however, one very close rival. As fate would have it, it’s from perhaps the most obvious rival a BMW could have – Mercedes-Benz. The Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is a quick little compact SUV with many similarities to the M-tuned X1. Can the X1 M35i hold a candle to the current default king of the hot compact luxury SUV segment?

BMW X1 M35i xDrive vs. AMG GLA 35: Performance

The hot new X1 gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood. Good for 312 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, it’ll scoot the X1 from zero to 60 mph in a claimed 5.2 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph. Those lamenting the loss of the dual-clutch automatic transmission in M products can still find it here, complete with Sport Boost functionality.

The AMG GLA 35 reportedly also flies from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. It, too, is limited to 155 mph. Like the 2024 X1 M35i xDrive, there’s a turbo 2.0-liter underneath it all. You’ll even find a dual-clutch transmission here, albeit with eight speeds instead of seven. Of course, they’re both all-wheel drive, too.

So…what’s the difference? Well, there isn’t a whole lot of them. Both come with 19-inch alloy wheels. The AMG GLA 35 ran a 12.4-second quarter mile time, which is probably right where the X1 M35i xDrive will be. The AMG GLA 35’s lowest curb weight is 3653 pounds, around 150 less than what BMW states for the hot-rod X1 (3,790 pounds). The biggest performance difference could be the brakes, especially with the optional M Compound Brakes available on the X1. The meaty four-piston, 15.2-inch front, and single-piston 13.0-inch rear units are impressive. They will likely outshine the AMG GLA 35’s hardware, with smaller 13.8-inch units up front and 13-inchers in the rear.

BMW X1 M35i xDrive vs. AMG GLA 35: Practicality and Space

Both the X1 and the GLA are perfectly practical vehicles. Both offer the flexibility of all-wheel drive, and both provide enough room to comfortably seat five passengers. Fold down the seats, and the BMW X1 gets 57.2 cubic feet of storage, while the AMG GLA 35 only offers 50.5 cubic feet. The X1 provides more front headroom (42.1 vs. 40.8 inches), front shoulder room (56.1 vs. 55.9 inches), and second-row head and shoulder room. The AMG GLA 35 offers slightly more legroom all around.

Comfort isn’t the thing that either of these vehicles excels at. Both offer sport-tuned suspension systems that prioritize the dynamics of the vehicle. In the AMG GLA 35, it’s an AMG Ride Control unit with three-stage damping. The X1 M35i xDrive gets an Adaptive M Suspension. Overall, the X1 M35i xDrive seems slightly more practical thanks to its increased cargo volume and more people-friendly interior.

BMW X1 M35i xDrive vs. AMG GLA 35: Price and Available Features

The 2024 BMW X1 M35i xDrive starts at $49,900, and the current AMG GLA 35 SUV starts at $49,500. After destination fees, you’ll pay $50,895 for the X1 and $50,650 for the AMG. So, on the surface, they’re about the same. However, the GLA is missing all kinds of stuff you get standard on the X1 M35i xDrive. Navigation comes standard on the X1 – thanks to the all-new iDrive Operating System 9 – a $1,300 option for the GLA. SiriusXM comes free for a year on the X1, remaining optional on the GLA.

Both the GLA and the X1 M35i xDrive offer a ton of driver assistance features. They share standard aids like Blind Spot Warning, automatic wipers, and traction/stability control. Lane Departure Warning and wireless device charging are only standard on the X1. Both speedy SUVs offer adaptive cruise control and surround-view cameras in different packages. Overall, the X1 delivers a better value – bringing more standard equipment and offering just as many ways to customize your vehicle.

Design Comparison: BMW X1 M35i xDrive vs. AMG GLA 35

Looks are always subjective and only sometimes important, but with rivals this close, everything counts. The front end of the X1 M35i xDrive offers a much more aggressive look than the GLA 35, featuring more angular air intakes in the bottom of the bumper, narrower headlights, and a still-regular-looking kidney grille. The boxier dimensions do a good job of giving the X1 a burly, standoffish appearance that the GLA’s elegant lines and curves don’t really match.

The side profile of the X1 continues the boxy trend with color-matched fender flares and side skirts. The result is a more premium look than the GLA 35, which offers black trim pieces that contrast oddly with the paint. Wheel choices are great between both, although the available 21-inch wheels on the AMG look kind of ridiculous. The modern, integrated door handles give the X1 a more contemporary look than the old-school ones (available in chrome…yuck) on the AMG.

In the back, we see the iconic quad exhaust that clearly separates the X1 M35i xDrive from its brethren. The AMG gets twin tailpipes not far from what you’ll find on the regular X1 xDrive28i. Both receive modern brake and tail light designs, though the X1’s lighting signature is slightly more aggressive.

Inside, the two are surprisingly similar. Both get a dashboard of infotainment screens, with a configurable digital gauge cluster and separate central information display that control everything from the climate control to drive modes. The AMG’s steering wheel looks a bit more premium than the X1’s, although perhaps also more cluttered. I’d wager a guess that the standard Sport Seats on the X1 M35i xDrive will be a bit more bolstered than the regular AMG seats. It will be closer between the optional M Sport chairs and the available $3,270 AMG Performance Seats.

Verdict: BMW X1 M35i xDrive vs. AMG GLA 35

Overall, the X1 M35i xDrive seems to do just about everything the AMG GLA 35 can do. With so many similarities, it comes down to features and packaging. Your ideal X1 M35i xDrive likely comes in a bit less expensive than a similarly equipped GLA. I also have a hunch that the X1 will be a bit more fun to drive.

That said, these two vehicles are unique. Nothing else at this price range in the segment delivers comparable performance and features. Either way, we look forward to test-driving the hottest new X1 very soon.