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First Drive Review: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is faster, more comfortable than predecessor

The first review of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is in.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

It's an icon and a supercar and it's been long-awaited. The eighth generation of this American thoroughbred, dubbed the "C8", has hit the streets for a fortunate few auto testers, however a huge host of passionate enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will be on sale soon.

This Chevrolet Corvette has been radically reimagined for the 2020 model year with a new mid-engine platform, modernized fighter jet-inspired styling, and a collection of new technologies and features that make it not only faster, but more comfortable and fun to drive. Competitors include the Acura NSX, Audi R8, and Porsche 911.

General Motors' halo car boasts its own museum and will continue to attract its core fan base; many have owned several Corvettes and Chevrolet hopes to lure new performance-minded buyers seeking Corvette's pristine weight distribution and the type of agility typically reserved for six-figure supercars.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette The Corvette's looks are inspired by a fighter jet.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

It comes in 3 trims; 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT. Savvy Corvette owners are already thinking about Grand Sport and ZR1 versions. A convertible version comes next year.

The newest model is lean, muscular, and athletic with canopy-forward exterior styling that adapts many quintessential Corvette design features. Longer, lower and wider, it wears an updated front end that hides a mini trunk for cargo. Side air intakes for engine cooling are the focal point of the profile, while dual LED taillights sport animated turn signals and sit above the quad tailpipes. The rear hatch glass cleverly showcases the engine.

Corvette's next-generation 6.2-liter V8 is the only naturally-aspirated engine in the mid-engine sports car segment. It produces 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque and moves the Stingray Z51 from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds with bigger brakes, an electronic limited-slip differential and performance suspension/traction management. A new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is backed by paddle shifters and can be motivated for six different driving parameters: weather, tour, sport and track, My Mode, and Z Mode.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette engine The Corvette Stingray is powered by a 6.2-liter V8.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The driver-focused upscale interior features a customizable digital instrument panel and slender vertical ventilation slots. Hand-wrapped leather, thick press stitching, real metal, and carbon fiber fill the interior, depending on trim.

There are three seat options, a Corvette-first. Standard are GT1s with eight-way power; GT2 brings heated/ventilated surfaces; Competition and Sport adds bolstering for aggressive motoring.

The 2LT trims get a front curb camera view, heated steering wheel, and available GT2 seats in Napa leather while 3LTs are adorned in a leather-wrapped interior, with 13 colors choices, suede trim and GT2 seats.

A new squared-off, two-spoke steering wheel allows for an unobstructed view of the 12-inch reconfigurable cluster display.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette interior The cabin of the Corvette has been the subject of much consternation.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

A rear stowage area has been carved out to hold two sets of golf clubs.

Corvette's next-generation infotainment system is faster and simpler, with a higher resolution display. Chevy is offering one-touch Bluetooth pairing with Near Field Communication, wireless charging, and improved real-time traffic. Buyers get a choice of two new Bose audio systems: a standard 10-speaker premium system or a 14-speaker Bose Performance Series (2LTs and 3LTs).

The industry-pioneering Performance Data Recorder is an advanced driving analysis tool upgraded with a high-definition resolution camera that joins with the new, in-vehicle user interface to record circuit and point-to-point road courses.

Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, stability control, side-impact airbags, and a security system with an ignition disable device that prevents the engine from starting without the original manufacturer key.

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette will be on sale in early 2020 and will start just under $60,000. Buyers who desire the more heightened-race-feel and engineering of the Z51 Performance Package will need to spend an additional $5,000, while enthusiasts that want added luxury appointments should look at top-end models; 3LTs start near $72,000.

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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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