Behind the Wheel

2020 BMW X6 M Competition Review: Brawny big brother stands out for all the right reasons

The 2020 BMW X6 M Competition is a standout during track days and as a daily driver.

Photo courtesy of BMW

When a kid in the school yard is bigger and stronger than all the others, it's often thought that they're a bully. The sheer brawn of the person makes them stand out on matter how much they try to fit in, even if deep down, despite their athletic prowess, they're just a gentle giant. That's pretty much the story of the 2020 BMW X6 M Competition.

It's the largest of the high-riding hatchback-style sports activity vehicles that BMW sells and it's easy to think of it as the SUV opposite of the BMW X7, which is noted for its long body and three rows of seating. If you're picturing a slightly larger version of the BMW X4, you'd be on the right path.

2020 BMW X6 M Competition The SUV is more of a high-riding hatchback than what you'd typically think of as a sport utility vehicle.Photo courtesy of BMW

The model was redesigned for 2020 giving it more width and length, and a longer wheelbase. It's also an inch shorter. The result is a muscular vehicle that isn't horribly attractive, but it's not the ugliest in the BMW lineup either thanks to the design of the new 4 Series Coupe. It gets the full M design treatment, complete with blacked out exterior elements that are traditionally covered with chrome, like the fenders, mirror caps, tailpipes, badging, and rear diffuser.

The X6 M Competition's twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine is a beast delivering 617 horsepower, 553 pound-feet of torque, and dismal fuel economy (15 mpg combined). But, it can get from zero to 60 seconds in 3.7 seconds so the trade off with Mother Earth's ozone layer almost feels worth it, especially when you're pressing the limits of acceptable speed heading into a corner only to have the model stick the pavement like a champ.

The elegant shifter pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver smooth shifts but moving the SUV into Sport mode and utilizing the paddle shifters is why you're spending the extra tens of thousands on this particular X6. Go for it. Enjoy.

2020 BMW X6 M Competition BMW's standard center console experience works well here too.Photo courtesy of BMW

Together, the beef and the brawn make sense - they're complimentary, well-engineered, and typically BMW.

The X6's interior is rather ordinary for the BMW family. There's no design risks, bold strokes, or surprises. With as much effort as was put into the powertrain and drive dynamics, it falls flat, tumbling right from the BMW playbook, despite the best efforts of the SUV's glossy carbon fiber accents and two-tone quilted leather upholstery.

That's not to say that it's too perfectly functional to be good. BMW routinely delivers one of the best user experiences for in-cabin tech and that continues in the X6. The finely crafted interior features materials befitting the car's price tag (starting at $117,600) and it delivers a quiet drive experience when your foot isn't toying with the accelerator.

2020 BMW X6 M Competition The cabin is appropriately refined.Photo courtesy of BMW

Along with BMW's finely-tuned engine performance comes BMW's finely-tuned stopping power. This was, unfortunately, put to the test as I made my way through my neighborhood in a classic scenario where a ball rolled out into the street and was followed by a small child who didn't look to see if there was a car coming. A quick swerve, a slam on the brakes, a little curb rash on one of the SUV's standard 21-inch wheels, and the ball and child were safe.

While many cars could perform this type of behavior, it's important to note that safety technology didn't step in during this scenario, despite the X6 being loaded up with BMW's latest and greatest. It was up to human engagement. The model, despite being engineered for exhilarating performance on a track at high speed, is just as good performing in mundane life scenarios, like stopping quickly at low speed.

2020 BMW X6 M Competition The model is available with offset 21-inch wheels up front and 22-inchers at the rear.Photo courtesy of BMW

That ying and yang is the anthesis of the X6, really. It's the brawny big brother in the crowd who isn't afraid to let its more gentle soul show through when required.

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The new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is coming soon to a LEGO store near you.

Photo courtesy of LEGO

The Jeep Wrangler has fans the world over. For those fans whose extracurricular activities include LEGO building along with Jeeping, there's a new LEGO Technic model they'll want to take a look at. The LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the first LEGO model of a Jeep SUV.

Ask any Jeep Wrangler owner and they'll tell you that their vehicle is just a bigger version of this new LEGO set," said Mark Allen, Head of Jeep Design. "The design of the Jeep Wrangler allows them to take it apart, top off, doors off, reconfigure it, add new pieces from our Mopar team, and then put it back together again. This LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler should bring a new level of joy to our Jeep enthusiasts and help inspire future designers to the brand."

LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Photo courtesy of LEGO

The 665-piece model features all the classic Jeep hallmarks - a performance 4x4 system, rugged tires, fold-down rear seats, and a seven-slot grille. It features a button operated front steering system and axle-articulation suspension. It has a yellow-and-black color scheme.

"The Jeep Wrangler is an icon in the off-road world" says Lars Thygesen, Designer, LEGO Technic. "The Rubicon has a lot of the iconic details loved by 4x4 fans the world over, so it was important to me to pack as many of the authentic, powerful features of the real vehicle into the LEGO Technic replica. I hope LEGO fans and vehicle lovers enjoy all aspects including the suspension, winch and open air design that we developed alongside the talented Jeep design team."

The LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler is designed for Jeep and LEGO fans alike, aged 9 and above. It will be available from January 1st 2021 from LEGO.com, LEGO stores and other retailers globally, priced at [49.99€/49.99$/£44.99].

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Audi is only making the car for U.S. customers.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The 2021 Audi R8 Panther special edition is one of the rarer gifts you can get for your garage this holiday season. With a limited run of 30 coupes in the works, the R8 Panther edition models are the first available units in the R8 rear-wheel-drive model line and available only for U.S. customers.

If the name sounds familiar to you, that's because it should. The R8 Panther edition joins the 2019 RS 5 Panther edition, which was also a limited run and featured the same paint color and interior upholstery.

2021 Audi R8 Panther The hallmarks of the model include its black paint job and red-edged wheels.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The unique 2021 R8 Panther comes covered in an Audi-exclusive Panther Black crystal effect paint job with carbon exterior mirror housings. Its badging has been coated in black. The model rides on 20-inch five-double-spoke dynamic design wheels that have been milled cut, finished in matte black with red trim, and wrapped in summer performance tires.

Your neighbors will hear you leaving the cul-de-sac thanks to the car's sport exhaust system, which amplifies the sound of the V10 engine. LED headlights and LED taillights, with dynamic turn signals will help their eyes follow your path on the way out as they peer out their windows.

The R8 Panther is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V1 engine that produces 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, and sprints from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. It has a top track speed of 201 mph.

The chassis of the R8 Panther edition has been specifically adapted for rear-wheel drive, including using solid rear axles as opposed to hollow, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and an increase in rear negative camber.

2021 Audi R8 Panther

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The model has a full black leather interior with Crimson red stitching. Its racing shells seats are covered in red Nappa leather and have power height and manual fore/art seat adjustment. The car's gear selector and parcel shelf are covered in Alcantara, and the headliner features a diamond-stitched Alcantara. Audi has given the model a brand-exclusive steering wheel with leather/Alcantara and 12 o'clock marker as well as exclusive R8 floor mats with Crimson red leather edging.

Audi virtual cockpit, Audi smartphone interface, Audi phone box with signal booster, navigation, a 13-speaker Bang & Olufson sound system, and illuminated door sill inlays are included.

A carbon exterior package adds carbon fiber to the engine compartment and carbon sigma sideblades while the carbon interior package adds carbon fiber high-gloss surrounds for both the virtual cockpit and the air vents, as well as the center console.

The 2021 R8 Panther edition will be available in select dealerships this month with an MSRP of $183,300. There is an additional $1,495 destination charge, $1,700 gas guzzler tax, sales taxes, title, options, and dealer charges.

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