[MUSIC PLAYING] CARLOS LAGO: No plan survives first contact. Right? When we finally got our Tesla Model Y, we had these grand plans to bring all the high performance compact luxury SUVs you could get together for one mega comparison. And then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
We still got the vehicles. And we're all OK and safe. And we spent a good amount of time driving each one of these vehicles. So in this video we're going to compare and contrast our driving experiences with each, because we haven't been able to do our usual comparison process.
We've got Jonathan, who is in the fabulously named Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. We've got Kurt, who has the BMW X3M Competition. We've got Ryan in the Mercedes Benz GLC 63S Coupe. And I drove the Tesla Model Y.
Model Y is basically a lifted up Model 3 with a little bit more of a price tag, but very similar high performance specs, let's say. Jonathan, take us to the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
JONATHAN ELFAIAN: So I have the Alfa Stelvio Quadrifoglio. It's the first SUV that Alfa produced actually, if I'm not mistaken. It's got a base price of about $82,040, which is not cheap.
The as tested price of our car came in at $97.790, which is, yeah, a little steep. Basically everybody's gotten into the SUV game. So this is Alfa's representation into this category. It's named after the Stelvio Pass, which is a very iconic road in northern Italy. And the Quadrifoglio is essentially Alfa's performance brand. So it means four leaf clover in Italian. And it's got four leaf clover badges all over the fenders.
CARLOS LAGO: Kurt, introduce us to the BMW X3M Competition.
KURT NIEBUHR: So I'm n the 2020 BMW X3M Competition. So there's an X3M. And then for extra money, you get the Competition. I think X3M started around $70,000. Our specific X3M Competition comes in at around $84,000. What that gets you is 503 horsepower, an all wheel drive system that shares a lot of components with the BMW M5, which is just a total monster. So you know that this car can use the power correctly.
But the big talking point about this is the engine, which is code named the S58. Now, it's an inline six cylinder, twin turbos, and it makes 503 horsepower.
CARLOS LAGO: Now, Ryan, introduce us to the Mercedes Benz GLC 63S Coupe.
RYAN ZUMMALIEN: It's a mouthful. Yeah. And this is a vehicle that is a microcosm of where the industry is at right now. A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to have vehicles this size being called SUVs, and then, for that matter, high performance versions of them that have this much power and ability packed into them. And then to top it all off and add onto the absurdity, this one is a coupe, which is a four door SUV with a fast back roofline.
So the GLC Coupe AMG 63S is really a whole lot of different trends converging together. Similar to Kurt, your BMW, there's a whole lot of power, an upgrade from similar GLC Coupe models. This came out in 2018, so only a few years ago, but they've made a lot of small, but substantial revisions for 2020, things like small styling accents, to a new steering wheel with dials that you can control the drive settings, down to things like dynamic engine mounts, if you can imagine that. They will adapt to your driving style.
So there is a lot going on here. You can get into one for, I believe, the S model starts at $85,000. And ours is as tested at $89,000.
CARLOS LAGO: Yeah. And it's kind of remarkable how similar these cars appear to be, and how different they are. I mean, the German performance SUVs here are all close to $80,000 to $90,000 as we had it tested. The model Y with the performance options is less than $70,000, and full self-driving capability.
But let's talk about engines and power trains first, because it's such an important part of a performance vehicle. I mean, these aren't sports cars. Sport SUVs? I don't know. Actually, Sport Utility Vehicle. Right?
JONATHAN ELFAIAN: SS. [? Favorite sport ?] utility vehicles.
CARLOS LAGO: So within this range we have quite a diverse array of power trains. You've got V6s. You've got straight 6s. You've got [INAUDIBLE] B8s. And you've got electric propulsion. Right?
Jonathan, tell me about the V6 in the Alfa.
JONATHAN ELFAIAN: It's pretty interesting. It's a Ferrari derived V6. So it shares its architecture with a number of different Ferrari models. So the Portofino, the GTC4Lusso even shares the same [INAUDIBLE] stroke, but it's the only V6 of this engine family.
So it's twin turbo. It makes a ton of power. I think it makes the most power out of this group, at 505, and I think 443 pound feet of torque. And it sounds fantastic. I think it's one of the best sounding V6s, my favorite sounding V6s ever.
Super aggressive. You operate it in race mode, you've got pops and crackles. It sounds unlike any other V6 I've heard.
It makes really good torque down low. So drivability is excellent, whether you're on it, or you're just kind of tooling around. That mates up to an eight speed automatic transmission, which operates more like a dual clutch, in that it's punchy. It's almost violent when you're in dynamic or race mode. But again, if you're operating in one of the more standard modes, it's super smooth. It's quick. And you almost don't know that it's there. The engine in this is probably one of my favorite aspects of the car.
CARLOS LAGO: That's cool. And I like to highlight too that the most power of the group is really neat until you realize the difference is two or three horsepower. Alfa's got 505 [? dual ?] [? rack. ?] The GLC and the X3 have 503. And the Model Y, eh.
But let's go to the X3M's engine. Kurt, you made a big point about discussing how important it is. Tell us about it.
KURT NIEBUHR: OK. So the engine that's in the X3M and the X3M Competition is known internally as the S58. I don't want to get bogged down too much with engine codes, because yeah. But this is an important engine, because it's the first engine that was introduced specifically for the X3M.
Usually an M engine winds up in a normal car, like an M5, or in an M3, or an M4. But they decided to debut this engine in the X3M. We're used to seeing inline six cylinder engines with turbo chargers in cars like the 3 series, the 5 series, and the M2. We've even seen them in the Alfa Romeo Supra. And that engine is the B58.
So the S58 and B58 are similar. The S58 just has forged rods, pistons, crankshaft, runs more boost, and has an extra turbo on it. So it's a twin turbo. And it revs at 7,200 RPM. And it makes a wonderful 530 horsepower, and I think 442 foot pounds of torque.
It's very responsive. There's almost no turbo lag on this engine at all. And it feels and sounds like a naturally aspirated inline six. It's amazing how they've tuned the exhaust on it.
You have three drive modes. You have an efficient. You have a sport. You have a sport plus. Sport plus is for obviously like full attack mode. The throttle becomes hypersensitive.
You can change your shift programming. So you can put it in a normal mode and make the shifts nice and smooth. It'll shift up sooner. There are three different shift modes. This thing has modes everywhere.
But yeah. It is all about the power train in this car. And it's hooked up to an all wheel drive system that comes more or less out of the M5. So you know it can handle the power. You know it can put the power where it needs to be.
You mentioned the drive mode customization. That's kind of been the BMW thing over the past five or six years. And yeah. It gets a little daunting with how many options you have to adjust the way the vehicle operates. I know with those settings, I tend to just find the one that I like, and then ignore it for the rest of [? overshifting ?] a vehicle.
But let's go to Ryan with the GLC 63S, who's got the biggest bragging rights in my mind in actually having a V8.
Yeah. It's a four liter V8 engine. And this being an AMG 63 model, it has that magic word, bi-turbo. So you get a lot of turbo charged power. And put that all together, and at least out of the conventionally powered vehicles that we have here, it's by far the most torque. So there's 516 pound feet available. And it comes on early, and it never really stops. And that is the defining feature of this engine.
I mean, for something with 500 horsepower, you might expect a lot of roaring, a lot of shooting up the rev range and stuff, and that's not really what it does. It just has this force behind it. And probably that is exacerbated by the weight of the car also.
But It comes on early, and it never really stops. You do get some sounds, like it will definitely roar when you step on it. It will definitely pop. It will [? verbal ?] in certain modes more than others, and depending on how you drive it too. But I think compared to the Alfa V6, it's less raucous, or festive I guess. And all it really wants to do is go in a straight line as fast as it can. Once you start that, it never, ever wants to stop. So that's really the impression.
CARLOS LAGO: I mean, that seems like the goal with a performance vehicle. Right? It should make you feel that way. And when I start talking about the Model Y, what's interesting to hear you guys mention about all the engines is how they feel when you're on the gas pedal, how they sound, how much character that can add to the car. And the Model Y just doesn't have an engine.
And as somebody who really likes V8s, somebody who really likes gasoline and that sense of acceleration, and the way engines behave, it's really weird to drive a fast EV, because the acceleration is there. The power is there. But you don't get the other sensations.
That said, the Model Y, our performance dual motor all Model Y is stellar. I mean, when you nail that accelerator pedal, it pins your head back to the headrest and you start giggling like a moron. I mean, it's just bonkers quick. And we've gone on about how EVs have an advantage with acceleration, because you don't have to wait for a transmission to downshift. You don't have to wait for turbos to spool. You don't have to wait for the right engine speed. It's just that immediate response.
All the other SUVs here that we're talking about have fantastic engines that react quickly. I mean, the Alfa has a Ferrari derived V6. That's going to be good. But despite how good those engines are, they still have to combat physics. And EVs just don't. So that makes the Model Y feel really exciting from an acceleration standpoint. And that acceleration, I think, becomes more and more usable in the real world.
I had a note here about fuel economy, but I think we can just skip right through that, because I don't think it really matters when the average horsepower has got to be around 500. Let's talk about fun to drive. These are performance minded vehicles, and that's why you get one of these is because of the excitement behind the wheel. Let's go back to the Alfa Romeo with that in mind.
JONATHAN ELFAIAN: Actually just touching upon the Model Y, it's the difference between that and the engine. It should be mentioned that peak torque is made at 0 RPM, right at 0. And so you can have the largest engine in this lineup, and that's probably not going to compare to the Model Y, because you're getting the peak amount of torque right away. Whereas with this Stelvio, I mean, I'm making peak torque at 2,500 RPM, which is pretty good, but it's not going to be the same like instantaneous acceleration the Model Y offers.
Just to kind of echo on like what Kurt was talking about with the BMW, and being able to customize all the drive modes in the X3M Competition, the Stelvio has four different modes. So it has a DNA selector, D for Dynamic, N for Natural, and A for Advanced efficiency. And then there's also a race mode.
All the tweaking of the systems, from the steering, to the throttle, to the all wheel drive system, to the torque vectoring are all built into these modes. So there's far less customization. One thing the Stelvio does allow you to do is to jump back into a softer suspension setting if you're operating one of the dynamic or the race modes. So if you want the, I guess, sharpest acceleration, and you want a little more aggressive all wheel drive tuning and torque vectoring, you can select Dynamic. But if you're on a bumpy road, you can hit that suspension button, and take it down one notch.
So if you're in dynamic, you can take it down to soft suspension. If you're in a race, you can take it down to dynamic suspension. So I kind of like it. I don't think I would need to kind of mix and match as much. I feel like the modes are very well tuned. And I like having the option of softening the suspension. And that's pretty much what I do if I get into one of those highly customizable cars is actually put everything in race, and then suspension in the softest setting.
So fun to drive. I mean, the Stelvio, that's the definition. I mean, this thing is bonkers. You put it in race mode. The torque vectoring has a drift setting. So actually, when you're driving this thing, it's an all wheel drive car. It'll actually step out and give you some of that over steer that you're craving if you're really going after it.
It's stiff. It's almost too stiff for the street. Like I think the race setting is meant for tracks. I wouldn't be surprised if I saw it at a track day, cause it is aggressive enough. It has enough brakes. It has enough engine. And the suspension is well set up that you're going to be able to have so much fun in this thing.
I will say one of the things I didn't care for is the IBS. And that stands for Integrated Brake System, not the other thing. And that's Alfa's brake by wire system.
When you hit the brake pedal the system is reading a signal from the brake pedal to tell the computers then how much brake pressure you're asking for. The downside is that you're dealing with a purely electronic interface between the brake. And so if you're used to feeling what brakes normally go through, you don't have quite that sensation. And that's something that I miss, especially in just daily driving when I'm sitting in traffic the brakes are almost a little too grabby, and it becomes harder to modulate.
So that's, I think, one of the main things that I didn't like. I didn't really notice it when I was driving this thing hard, but for these things that you're going to be using every day, if it's your daily driver, I think that's one frustration that I would had with this car.
CARLOS LAGO: It sounds like, overall, IBS is best avoidable no matter what the acronym stands for.
KURT NIEBUHR: Pretty much.
CARLOS LAGO: Kurt, does the X3 have any humorous acronyms that you would want to avoid when it comes to driving [INAUDIBLE]?
KURT NIEBUHR: I'll pass.
What the X3M Comp has are a lot of settings. And I don't really mind it so much, because it allows you to really tailor the X3M to what your preferences are, but I am a little bummed out that BMW didn't just create three settings, and say these are the ones that we have created. These are the best for efficiency, comfort, and sport, and then [? all ?] race. But whatever. I like the ability to kind of go through and set the thing the way that I want.
And as with other newer M cars we've seen, they have two M button presets on the wheel. So you can save your commute mode in one button. And then you can save your good canyon Road in the second one.
But to actually put the X3M on the road, once you get past the touchy throttle tip in-- like I went grocery shopping, and it was very tough to pull out of the parking lot without the groceries sliding around in the trunk. And I tried really hard. I honestly tried.
CARLOS LAGO: Rookie.
KURT NIEBUHR: But once it's under way, it is a pretty easy car to just kind of cruise around in. And you don't really know how powerful it is. But you do know how well it handles, because the ride is pretty relentless. Even in the comfort mode, which is the softest setting, it's firmer than most sports cars are in their full race, full sport setting.
So there's really no off switch in the X3M. It's just louder versions of on, like how much harder do you want the ride? How much more responsive do you want the throttle? How much more aggressive do you want the all wheel drive system?
All that being said, when you put it on a great road, it's almost frightening. It just attacks corners. And if it's a slow or medium speed corner that lets you power out of it, the X3M will do a power slide. It's a heavily rear wheel drive biased all wheel drive system.
So you find yourself with your eyes wide open going, I can't believe this thing can handle this. I can't believe I can throw it into a turn, and it'll hang on. And then I can't believe it'll power slide itself right out. You always know the thing is fighting for grip and traction. And it makes it a lot of fun to drive, but also it's general size, like I have a problem wrapping my head around charging on some great road in an SUV.
CARLOS LAGO: Yeah. If anything, I think all of these vehicles show how much you can challenge physics when you just have the right amount of tire, computer trickery, and differentials working for you.
Ryan, how did it go driving the GLC?
RYAN ZUMMALIEN: I'm glad I'm not alone, because there is a comfort mode in this thing, but I think you can just throw it out the window as soon as you drive your car off the lot, because if you're not ready to drive this thing in sport, then there's not a whole lot of point to it.
It does not want to be in comfort mode. It does not want to go at low speeds. The transmission does not want to go from first to second, and third, and back again. It wants to get up there. And the engine wants to get up there and go. I think they should just start with sport mode, and then get progressively more harsh from there.
It's a heavy car with a higher center of gravity than normal. And on my particular version, it's got 21 inch wheels. So the tires are very skinny. And there's a new adaptive air suspension on this model for 2020, but there's only so much it can do against physics, as we were saying. The car is big and heavy. And you could feel it rock front to back if you're driving it really hard. That's just kind of going to be how the thing drives.
But there are other advantages. I think I've got the most tire on the ground out of this group. It's 265 width in the front, and 295 in the back. So that's a lot of rubber, which is very helpful for a big, heavy vehicle. They're Michelins. So there was no issue with grip. That really, really helps a lot when you're trying to hit apexes and not fly off the side of a mountain. It goes a long way.
The other thing it's got new for 2020 is a locking differential. So it's really easy to put the power down. If you're ready to drive a GLC AMG hard and aggressive, then it's going to treat you well.
CARLOS LAGO: The Model Y is like the other SUVs here. I think part of the joy or the weirdness of driving it fast is contrasting what you know about how big it is and how heavy it is versus how fast you're actually going on the road. Like the Mercedes, it's on 21 inch wheels.
And I got to say, I was I was actually anticipating the ride to be worse than it was. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't super choppy. I think our old, long term Model 3, the first one we had, actually had a noisier ride. Like there was just more constant vibration undulation.
Now, you definitely sense the mass of the car. And you definitely sense the mass of the wheels, especially with big impacts, where it's enough to knock your head off the seat back.
I was pleasantly surprised by the ride quality overall when it came to the wheels. The weird thing about the Model Y is that you can't see the hood. At least I couldn't see it from where I like to sit. And that's normally cool in a sports car, because you feel like you're sitting closer to the front wheels. And you can place x's or cones, or whatever you're driving quickly around more easily. But with the Model Y, because you're sitting up so high, you're more conscious of your overhangs.
And on the other hand, your rear visibility is abysmal. I mean, I described in my notes the rear visibility as like Camaro like, which is really strange in an SUV this big and this heavy. And along those lines, let's talk about interior appointments and luxury, because these are all rather expensive vehicles, and they come from nameplates that are associated with being of high quality in terms of luxury, at least. Let's start with the Alfa. Does it feel like a complete luxury vehicle?
JONATHAN ELFAIAN: Parts of it does. So I will say the cost is definitely in the power train, like I said. The interior's really nice. It's got quite a bit of carbon fiber trim, which looks nice. One of my favorite aspects about the interior is the steering wheel and the column mounted shift paddles. I am very much in the column mounted camp. I think some people like it on the wheels, but these are huge. They're substantial. They're made out of metal. They feel really nice when you're going up and down through the gears.
And the wheel itself is leather wrapped. It has suede patches at the nine and three points for your fingers. So it's really nice. On the flip side of that, the switch gear which has been improved for 2020-- it's one of the things that Alfa focused on when people were saying that it felt cheap-- do feel better. But that being said, they still look like they are related to the FCA parts bin, so something that you'd see out of a Jeep or a Chrysler, which, again, is not the worst thing. But for something that's pushing $100,000, it should feel a little bit more special than that.
To your point about visibility, Carlos, I thought that the visibility in this car, although it's not technically one of those SUV coupes, is very much like a coupe. So you've got the short rear window. So the rear visibility isn't fantastic, but it's enough to see the road in back.
You've got these massive side view mirrors coming off the A pillar junctions, which provide a good amount of visibility to the rear, but, again, block-- they create this massive obstruction upfront. So I could complain about that, but it seems like there's a lot of that similarity between all these cars. And so it's not necessarily a demerit on the Stelvio's side
CARLOS LAGO: Kurt, how did the X3 interior visibility work out for you?
KURT NIEBUHR: It's just like any other X3. So great looking out. You sit up high. You have a pretty commanding view of the road. I wish the steering wheel was a little higher in the X3M. I know that they can't just make that change for this vehicle, but it sits a bit low. So when you're really pushing hard, you kind of want everything up a little higher.
But because it is where it is, like I said, visibility going straight out the front is great. To the sides, it's really clear and easy to see how both sides you can change lanes no problem, pull into a tight driveway or a parking space no problem.
Out the rear, the rear window is a bit short. The windows on the side tend to get more narrower the farther they go back. So doing the head check, you kind of lose the ability to see a whole lot out the back. But it's not bad in tight situations.
The backup camera is really clear. And our test car had that 3D parking system on it, which I don't know the viability of it, but I will tell you that as you reverse or pull forward, the boxes that kind of tell you your proximity, they change in a very nice, gradual manner from green, to yellow, to orange, to red. And it's a luxury touch like that that helps that car set itself apart from other cars in the class. And I think that means they have everything else perfect that they can kind of spend their time tweaking tiny touches like that.
CARLOS LAGO: Yeah. When you get the base interior well established, it makes sense that you can really just work on the finer points of it. And I'm curious to hear about the Mercedes too, because the current crop of Mercedes products have fabulous interiors. So Ryan, what did it feel like in the GLC?
RYAN ZUMMALIEN: Yeah. If you've been in similar Mercedes that are on the higher end of the spectrum, especially AMG models, this is right in line with that. It's an area where $89,000 starts to seem like a huge bargain. It's really, really impressive.
I was also recently in the BMW X5M, which I'm sure is very similar interior wise to what you have, Kurt. And those are great too. But they're just more focused on the sporty side, and being kind of athletic. And the Mercedes interiors are just almost decadent, to the point of the material quality, the stitching, and the seats. And the seats are extremely comfortable, just really, really nicely done.
There are some new features from 2020 also. The steering wheel is redesigned with suede wrapped, similar to the Alfa. And there are those small dial knobs on it that you can use to adjust the ride setting. But same as everyone else, the visibility is pretty tough.
I think particular for the GLC Coupe, because it's got that fast back style, those front pillars are going basically at the top of your head, and so you do run into them pretty often when you're trying to look left and right. And from the rear, it's like looking through a mailbox slot. It's really, really tough.
But you've got plenty of headroom. And even in the back seat, I was pretty impressed. There's plenty of room. I'm six feet tall, and it was no problem sitting behind my regular driving position. So all in all, it's really, really nicely put together.
CARLOS LAGO: It's interesting to hear that visibility has been tough on all these vehicles. I guess that just speaks to the popularity of that sort of coupe style design. I know the GLC is probably the one that's closest to the Model Y in that regard. But when it comes to Model Y luxury appointments, it's really strange, cause when you hop in the interior, yeah, the seats are nice. The front seats specifically are nice. And you have that massive 15 inch screen. But everything just kind of looks plain.
I know people use the term minimalist. And I eh, sometimes it doesn't really fly, especially when you jump in the Mercedes, where you really see your money's worth. Given that the Mercedes costs a lot more, for sure. But all of the value in the Tesla comes from that screen and what's inside of it.
I really enjoyed some of the features. I mean, I've gone on at length about the electronic whoopie cushion, and so on. And that's fun. And so is karaoke and whatnot. But dash cam is huge. And that it's built in is really neat.
Then you get to the back, and there's a lot of space in the second row. The second row specifically is really, really accommodating. I'm 5' 10". Sitting behind myself, I have plenty of leg room, tons of headroom. And that's for that massive panoramic sunroof.
But the rear seat backs aren't as comfortable as I would have thought they would be, especially the seat. The seat back themselves are pretty firm. And they're actually pretty heavy, something I had to deal with when I was doing some cargo checking and testing. You can drop the rear seats from the cargo area. Although, in our car, only the right side falls down without some pushing. You have to push the left side down. But putting them back up requires a bit of effort.
And there's just some weird question marks. You've got rear heat seating across all three seats. That's really cool. But there's no controls for it in the back seat. Nor are there climate controls for the back seat. You just have to tell the driver, or the front passenger to do it for you, or use the phone app. Neither of those are particularly good solutions. But hey, it comes at kind of a value.
And that's I think what will bring us to our next section is just the cost of everything. Do you feel like you're getting your money's worth? And I think we should start with the Alfa.
JONATHAN ELFAIAN: Like I said, the price is a little steep in comparison to the rest of the group. I think for some people, just having something Italian is worth the price of admission.
For me personally, I dig the look of the GLC probably the best style wise. But the Alfa looks different. It doesn't look like anything else on the road. If you're looking for something that's a bit unique, then yeah. I mean, the Stelvio kind of checks all those boxes.
From a pricing standpoint, I could see somebody making the case for it. For our tester coming in at $100,000, I think there's a few items that I could do without. For instance, the $8,000 carbon ceramic brakes. Panoramic roof, that's out. And a few other things. I think the paint choice. And now I am down into X3M territory.
For somebody that's making careful selections about the options that they choose, and not just checking every single box, I think there can be a case made for this Alfa. Otherwise from just a dollar for feature standpoint, I think there are other better values in this class.
CARLOS LAGO: It's a good point too, because this is actually kind of a class that's grown surprisingly large over the past few years. I mean, it's pretty easy to find a 500 horsepower luxury compact SUV right now, which is insane.
And so Kurt, I know you've been in a few, especially the Macan. How do you think the X3M compares?
KURT NIEBUHR: It's hard for me to justify $84,000 for kind of a compact midsize SUV. I don't care how nicely equipped it is. But at least with the X3M and the X3M Comp, you know that you're paying for, more or less, race proven hardware. And it's satisfying to know that this is not a hopped up X3. This is a different engine. The X3M Competition has unique suspension components. It has extra bracing throughout the whole chassis. And you just get the sense that you're driving somebody with a lot of potential.
Kind of like the Alfa, you can pick and choose your options and maybe keep the price a bit lower. But I think as equipped, ours is $84,000. You have a lot of vehicle, because you still have the practicality of a normal X3. You still have the spaciousness, the visibility. The interior is still extremely high quality.
I could see it being a pretty good value proposition. When you compare it to the Macan, a regular Macan S is a very nice vehicle. It's well built. I think it does the minimalist interior that Tesla wants. Porsche actually gets it right. It's like they kept doing the ideation work and came up with something that's a little bit more complete.
But power wise, I think the Macan Turbo, we haven't driven one yet, but it's only supposed to have-- ha. It's only supposed to have 434 horsepower? Which is not a lot in this class, which is shocking. But I think it's priced similarly.
For something like value, if you're going to talk about that with these vehicles, then the Mercedes Benz or Beamer I think have just kind of higher value propositions that way.
CARLOS LAGO: It's funny when you say that it only has 450 or 460 horsepower. That really shows how much the goalposts have moved for these vehicles. And that's something Porsche has always done is kind of more with less. I think our test numbers bear that out too.
On the other hand, you have the Mercedes. Right? Which I think is just sort of delivering on all fronts. Right, Ryan?
RYAN ZUMMALIEN: Yeah. Price wise, it's a lot of money. But if that nameplate, AMG S Model, really means a lot to you, it's easy to justify. Those are typically very, very expensive vehicles. And this one clocks in lower than the rest of them.
It's got a very, very distinctive look too. I think they did a nice job modernizing a lot of the features. The headlights are new. There are some other small accents all around the vehicle that do keep it looking very modern and with the times right now.
My wife stretched the word beautiful into five syllables when she first saw the thing. It's not what we would classically call beautiful, but it is definitely distinctive. It's imposing really. It's got a huge grill with a giant Mercedes badge. It looks like a bullet on wheels. And it makes an impression on people when it's going down the street.
Price wise, if it's for somebody who goes to the lot and just wants a certain model, and the best thing that they've got, it's not really for that. It's not going to treat that person very well. Similar to the others, it's a performance vehicle. It's not really for looking great at the valet. It will do that, but there are lots of other models you can get into and save a little bit of money, and do that at the same time.
Packaged for this price, it's not bad. The problem is there's a very similar but larger model called the GLE which is not that much more expensive. If you don't mind not getting an AMG model, you can get into a really, really GLE Coupe for less money. And that might be the route I would go if I was shopping.
CARLOS LAGO: You really have to want that high performance GLC in order to make that price figure work. And then the Model Y is an outlier here when I was looking at the specs, because it's so much less money base price, and as tested than the other vehicles here. So from a performance to dollar ratio-- granted, we haven't actually done the testing on it, and we're relying on manufacturer specifications, estimates, and my own butt [? dyno, ?] but from the thrill of acceleration, and from what I feel like having tested a lot of cars is this is right there in terms of performance, if not slightly faster, at least to 60. And so to get the performance per dollar right, you get a major advantage in the Model Y.
The rest is kind of up to the buyer on where they determine value. Because you have to really want that Tesla experience, that ownership experience. Because if you don't, if there are things that make you question whether it's worth it to you, and those are really big stopping points-- like one of the issues is how much you have to use your phone to interact with the vehicle, especially outside the car. If you don't use your phone to unlock the car, for example, you have this physical key, which sucks. I mean, we've used it in a lot of the Teslas that we've owned. It's unreliable, and it's a giant pain in the butt. The phone solution works, provided you want to use it that way. This is not a traditional car. It doesn't work in the traditional senses.
And then there's just, again, that Spartan interior. If you value interior richness, you're going to want to go with a Mercedes Benz. If you like the technology, the Model Y is probably the place where you wanted to put your money, because there's so much of it.
And that actually leads us into the next broader point of technology when it comes to safety features and so on. How is the Alfa in that regard?
JONATHAN ELFAIAN: The Alfa can't really touch the Model 3, or Model Y. I keep saying Model 3, the Model 3 lifted in technology. But that said, they have improved the technology for 2020. That was, again, one of the complaints about the earlier models was that the infotainment system was kind of hard to navigate, not very intuitive. I would agree with those assessments.
And for 2020 they've kind of overhauled the infotainment system. So they've added a touchscreen, a larger 8.8 screen, which is nice. They have standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which actually expands the width of the screen. But they haven't gotten rid of the dial. They've improved the dial controller, which you can use as a secondary interface. So whether or not you're a touch screen person or a dial person, you can kind of pick and choose. So I really like the improvements they've made for 2020 on that regard.
I will say the reverse camera is low resolution. And so it's almost low enough and poor enough that you can't really rely on it for too much stuff. So I was just backing up into my driveway and trying to get close to a wall. And luckily, it has the 360 degree parking sensor. So I was using those more than I was relying on the image, just because the image was not really great, which is shocking because they've done everything else to this. Why not put a good camera in it? And it's just the reverse camera.
The advanced driving aids have also been improved. So they've now got full speed adaptive cruise control. It works down to a stop. They've got lane centering, lane keeping assist, which also works. I've only gotten to play with these systems a little bit, but from the limited use I've had they're pretty useful. I could see using them in rush hour traffic.
So I think on that front, Alfa has done a really good job in kind of bringing this Stelvio up to par with the rest of the other luxury makers that are out there.
CARLOS LAGO: Yeah. It's interesting how advanced that par is nowadays where you expect everything to have adaptive cruise and capable surround view camera systems, and so on Kurt, how did the X3 stand up against that stuff?
KURT NIEBUHR: You actually have to pay for park assistant plus, or a heads up display for wireless charging. That's all part of the executive package on this car. This car still has package options. And it's almost $4,000.
That being said, once you buy it, the tech is well integrated into this car. It is an I drive system. So it looks very. Nice it is very easy to use. The graphics are crisp. It's very hard to fault any of the electronic aids this car has. And I didn't find it overly reactive with forward collision indication or emergency braking. There were no false alarms.
The only real complaint I had was the late centering or lane keeping assist wasn't particularly accurate. And you wind up kind of ping ponging around in the lane. But you can just shut it off.
The technology is well integrated into this car. And it's displayed well. And it's easy to use. They still don't offer Android Auto.
CARLOS LAGO: OK.
JONATHAN ELFAIAN: Wah. Wah.
CARLOS LAGO: It's weird in 2020 that the phone integration isn't that well standardized across the board, especially at this level of price. But as we get to the Mercedes, we know this delivers really strongly on that front. Right, Ryan?
RYAN ZUMMALIEN: Yeah. Again, another new thing for 2020 is the AMG 63 and AMG 63S both get MBUX standard. So that means you get the big 10" touchscreen upfront, and all the interior goodies that come along with that system. One of them is the augmented reality navigation system, which is really, really cool if you've been able to use that. And it just doesn't really get old.
And the voice control in Mercedes models right now is pretty outstanding. It's really, really able to accurately read what you're trying to say and direct you to places.
Again, similar to Kurt, though, you've got to pay extra for adapted cruise and some other safety features and driver assistance aids, which is pretty amazing for cars at this price. For the Mercedes you need a $1,700 package, not quite as bad as the BMW. But these are features that are standard on lots of Alfa Romeos. It's pretty notable that it doesn't just come on an AMG model.
CARLOS LAGO: Yeah. That's strange. And the Model Y has some interesting omissions too along similar lines. Like yes, we get there's a lot of really cool tech in the Model Y, and a lot of really neat features. Autopilot is not autonomous. Stop me if you've heard that one before, but I'm going to keep saying it. And I think we all are going to keep marching to that drum for a long time.
Autopilot is adaptive cruise. It works well. It works amazingly in stop and go traffic. I still don't like it just left to its own devices in the flow of normally moving traffic. I feel it makes its inputs sometimes too late, sometimes way too harshly, more than I'd like. So I often drive with it just disabled. It is getting better and better, but it's still not a system I would leave on all the time. That's my personal preference, and a lot of Tesla owners disagree.
The thing that is surprising about the Model Y, though, is this is an inexpensive car relative to the segment. But in order to get a lot of the tech features that really make that screen worthwhile, you have to pay $10 a month for the premium connectivity subscription service. That's how you get live traffic updates. That's how you get the in-car karaoke and video streaming. So you don't pay for it up front, but you do over the course of ownership.
Now, of course, $10 a month is a lot different than $4,000 on top of your new X3 or whatever, but it's a thing I think a lot of people overlook.
And then there's also the smartphone integration, which is kind of shocking. Yeah, you have USB ports and USB C ports, which is nice. You have wireless charging, which is really nice. But you only have Bluetooth to control your phone. And we're at a day where every car on sale now has Bluetooth.
But in order to have finer control over a phone, the kind of stuff that you would get in Apple Car Player or Android Auto, you just don't have access to that. You don't get the same quality of control that you can with those systems. And that's kind of a disappointment with the Model Y's tech interface.
Although, it's a really nice car outside of all that. Let's wrap it up and give some quick conclusions about the vehicles that we've been driving. Jonathan, what are your final thoughts on the Alfa?
JONATHAN ELFAIAN: I think it's rad. I'm really happy it exists. And I think I would say out of the Alfas on sale today, it's probably the one that I would be looking at, just because it has usable space. It's the largest. Yet you have the performance. So you're not missing out in any respect.
Yeah. It costs a lot. But I think if you can make the argument that this is like two vehicles in one-- you don't need a weekend vehicle or a daily driver, that you can just buy one that does it all, then I'd say you have an argument to get the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
And yeah. I mean, I dig it, with fewer options on the list.
CARLOS LAGO: Kurt, what options would you pick and choose on the X3? And then at the end, what's your final thought?
KURT NIEBUHR: I would probably spec the car exactly as it's speced. I know it is kind of expensive, but it is nice to have a vehicle that's equipped the way this one is, including having a nice big panoramic sunroof on it. I would leave it at that.
So I think I would equip it the same way. My X3M Competition would cost $84,000, which I conveniently don't have in my back pocket at the moment.
To sum it up, if you had a kid, and you had to sell your M2, and you're really bummed out about that, you can buy an X3M. And it will deliver the same kind of driving experience that you're used to. It's a little on the firm side. X3M is a little on the harsh side all the time. But it has tons of power. It sounds great.
It's still amazingly practical. I mean, the trunk in an X3 is giant. And this still has it. There's been no compromise on the vehicle's practicality at all. And if you want to go out and have some fun, you can blitz any back road in this thing.
And it's a complete laugh, because something this tall shouldn't be this quick.
CARLOS LAGO: And that's totally true. And I think the Mercedes might be the most personally compelling for me. Ryan, I know you said you'd probably be looking for the GLE yourself. But what are your final thoughts on the GLC?
RYAN ZUMMALIEN: Very, very impressively executed for a very specific customer, though, I think. It's a really limited niche.
If you really like the look of this car and you're interested in it, I think for most people one of the lower models where you can save some money and get a little bit more comfort is a great option. You really, really have to want the performance to be interested in this.
And then even then, yeah, like you said, I would be more interested in a larger GLE. And similarly, you can save some money and get a larger vehicle.
So a really interesting car. Kind of a conundrum in itself. You have to make some concessions. But it's going to be interesting to see how this segment of the market continues to develop.
CARLOS LAGO: For sure. And I think for the Model Y, I was having trouble coming up with a grand conclusion for it, because I think it's really strong in a lot of areas, especially when it comes to performance per dollar. We haven't even talked about range, but even with our high performance, 3 and 1/2 seconds, 0 to 60 Model Y, you're still looking at 280 miles max, on Tesla's claim. So probably 270, 260 in the real world. And that makes it a really strong vehicle on paper. I think if you can live with some of the weird parts of Tesla ownership, some of the strangeness, if you like a lot of that stuff, this is going to be a really compelling vehicle for a lot of people, and it should be a pretty big success for Tesla, I think just like the Model 3 was.
So thank you for watching. I think that's going to wrap up this quasi comparison. If you like what you saw, make sure to like and subscribe. Visit Edmunds.com, and leave us your comments below.