This past year has been an interesting one, to say the least. It’s been a year marred by a global pandemic and more bad news than most of us can handle. Without making light of the tremendous difficulties and hardships so may people have had to endure, we’ve been fortunate to drive some incredible cars in 2020. All of us here at BMWBLOG have driven cars that have genuinely impressed us but only a few have stood above the rest. Naturally, being that it’s sort of automotive award season at the moment, we thought we’d take a look at which cars stood out to us most.
Best Overall BMW
Horatiu — BMW X7
The X7 is a few years old now, but it was my first time with the large seven seater on a trip across the United States. I still remember 2017 when I first saw the car. I didn’t get it. I thought it was large, obnoxious and a brute. Being in love with the X5, I thought that BMW already has the perfect SUV. But the X7 proved me wrong. It is an extremely versatile car, especially if you have a large family and/or if you plan a long road trip.
It can pack up your house and your neighbor’s too, it offers great driving dynamic despite its whale-like weight and if you get the M Sport Package, it looks aggressive but without being mean to you on the road. BMW also managed to make that large grille fit within the overall design and the cabin is sublime and of the highest quality. I’m not a sucker for extremely long road trips, but the X7 has certainly made the time pass faster and in style.
Nico — BMW M2 CS
In 2020, I had the chance to drive some incredible BMW products. Cars like the BMW M8 Gran Coupe, ALPINA B7, MINI JCW GP, BMW M440i and so many more that it’s easy to lose track. However, there’s one car that stands out, head and shoulders above the rest, and it’s the one that I absolutely won’t forget — the BMW M2 CS.
Without question, the BMW M2 CS is the best BMW currently on sale. Admittedly, it’s only a smidge better than the M2 Competition but that still makes it better. Not only does that make it better, it makes the M2 CS the best. While there are other good BMWs on sale, none of them provide the feeling of specialness and fun that comes with driving the hottest M2 variant. The BMW M2 CS feels like an old-school M car, or at least as close as we’ll get from today’s modern BMW. It’s a bit pricey but I love the M2 CS and yearn for more seat time.
Gabriel – BMW X6 M Competition
This year was, without a doubt, a challenge for us and the world over for so many reasons but I still managed to find my way inside a more than decent number of cars, BMWs included. 2020 included stints behind the wheel of models like the BMW M850i Convertible, the X5 and X7 with the brilliant, defunct B57S engine or the incredibly capable BMW X5 xDrive45e. And yet, the one that struck the deepest cord was the BMW X6 M Competition.
I know it may seem like an odd choice but the Sports Activity Coupe really is an amazing machine, everything considered. It may be big and it may not make a lot of sense but what I loved the most about the X6 M Competition was the engineering behind it. Making such a big car handle the way the X6 M Competition does requires amazing dedication and a whole lot of fine tuning. Some could consider it the perfect embodiment of how crazy the industry has become but it’s still an incredibly desirable and exciting car to drive.
Best Overall Non-BMW
Horatiu — Rolls-Royce Ghost
Technically, the Rolls-Royce Ghost still has some BMW DNA. But unfortunately the pandemic has put a stop on many of my press drives in 2020. So the new Ghost was actually the only “non-BMW” car I drove. So it wins by default. It’s also hard to not love a Rolls-Royce and the new Ghost makes no exception.
Arguably, the Rolls-Royce Ghost is the smartest model in the history of the brand. The Ghost has opened a new market for the Goodwood-based luxury maker and attracted a new and unique demographic. It’s also a Trojan Horse which will lure you in into the Rolls universe, only to later finding yourself owning more than just one piece of automobile art.
And without a doubt, the second-generation of the Ghost will go down in history as their highest selling model. Ever. It’s also my favorite Rolls-Royce today because it manages to combine brilliant engineering with a subtle yet beautiful design, and without overwhelming you with cabin technology.
Nico — Audi R8 V10 Performance
I’m a fortunate man in that I’ve had the chance to drive some astounding cars this year, even outside of BMW. However, just like the M2 CS stood above the rest of the Bavarians, this car stood above absolutely everything — the Audi R8 V10 Performance.
I spent almost 1,000 miles in the Audi R8 and I still want more time behind the wheel. In fact, in one day, I did almost 600 miles and at the end of the journey, I wanted to get back in and go. The Audi R8 is a brilliant car; one that combines blistering performance, everyday drivability, surprising comfort and a spine-tingling soundtrack. Audi’s 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10 is a masterpiece and it may be the best sounding engine on sale at the moment. Blasting to its 8,250 rpm redline never wore old and was far more enjoyable than any surge of turbocharged torque, regardless of how effective it may be.
Many journalists claim that the Audi R8 is a bit too boring, a bit too safe for most supercars. I say nonsense. I absolutely adore the Audi R8 and I would sell unnecessary organs to own one.
Gabriel – Porsche Taycan
Sometimes you just have to count your blessings and this year might’ve not been perfect for me in a lot of ways but at least I had the chance to drive a plethora of cars, from an increasing number of manufacturers. As far as the best non-BMW model I drove goes, the competition was rather fierce. With names like the Bentley Bentayga, Honda e, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Audi e-Tron Sportback and Porsche Panamera on the list, it was hard to choose a favorite as each has certain unique features that make it stand out in the crowd.
However, one car rose above all at the end of the …. year… and it bears the Porsche crest on the frunk: the Porsche Taycan. I sampled the 4S model which will be the entry-level choice in a number of markets but it was enough to make me understand that Porsche is not playing around when it comes to making high-performance electric cars. The way the Taycan drives and how it makes you feel from behind the wheel, from the aural experience (and yes, there is one) to the speed and precise handling turn it into a proper supercar in my book, but one that just doesn’t use dead dinosaurs to get around. It is truly something everyone should try before completely dismissing EVs.
Best Car Under $50,000
Horatiu — Kia Stinger
The fact that a former BMW M top engineer leads the Kia sportscar division can be seen in the Stinger model. Despite its affordable price tag, the Stinger offers everything you’d expect in a premium car. On top of that, it offers incredible performance and it has been highly praised by many automotive journalists. The Stinger GT is the top offering in the lineup and for nearly $50,000, it offers 365 horsepower from a V6 TwinTurbo engine.
Nico — Genesis G70 3.3T
This one was actually a bit tricky, so I had to cheat slightly. I honestly didn’t test drive a single car all year that rang in at under $50,000 as-tested. A couple of the cars I drove were under that mark to start but none of their final as-tested prices, options and all, come in under that number. So I had to pick the best of the cars that actually started under 50-grand. That car was the Genesis G70 3.3T.
Admittedly, there wasn’t a lot of competition, as the only other cars I drove for under $50,000 this year were the BMW M235i Gran Coupe and Audi Q3. Neither of which are in the same league as the Genesis G70. What Genesis has been able to do with the G70 is develop a car that can rival the mighty BMW 3 Series and it’s managed that in its first try. The G70 looks great, has a well-made interior, a beautifully balanced chassis, sharp steering and a punchy engine. In many ways, it’s better than the 3 Series. While it might not be as good an overall package as the Bimmer, it’s damn close and that’s a massive achievement in itself.
Gabriel — Volkswagen iD.3
Even though this might be the worst year the car industry has faced since we entered the 21st century, I think 2020 marks the moment when we irreversibly step towards electrification. A drastic change is happening and it’s not because of the legislation or any company’s desire to do things differently. It’s all because of trends. Electric cars are becoming fashionable and trendy and customers actually are warming up to the EV idea as a whole. That’s why my best in this price bracket is an electric one: the Volkswagen iD.3.
This car has the potential to become a true icon over the next few years. Just like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Golf, the iD.3 could be an important milestone moving forward. It’s not a perfect car and there are some quirks and features that might not be to everyone’s taste but it is a really good EV, one that has the entire VW brand behind it and can become extremely successful if the Wolfsburg giant plays its cards right. It is fun to drive, offers great practicality and doesn’t suffer from the issues that plagued the first EVs big companies launched.
Best Car Under $100,000
Horatiu — Tesla Model Y
Teslas are not always a popular choice on our website. But the California-based automaker has truly changed the automotive game and has put pressure on traditional automakers to accelerate the electric revolution and create some compelling products. It’s the Tesla Model 3 that gets most of the praise, but in my opinion, the Model Y crossover is one of their best offerings. It has a sleek and sporty design, offers decent space and it’s quite fast. Of course, on top of the car that you can easily pick one up below $100,000.
Nico — C8 Corvette Z51
I’ll be honest, I struggled with this because I wanted to put the Corvette as my best overall non-BMW because it almost has no faults. It’s a genuine mid-engine, V8-powered, 500 horsepower supercar that can reach 60 mph in under three seconds for the same price as a modestly equipped BMW 540i.
As someone who doesn’t typically like Corvettes, I was a bit skeptical of the new C8. However, it blew all of my preconceptions away, turned them to dust, and completely won me over. At $65,000, which my test car actually came in at, there’s simply no better sports car on the planet. It could be argued that the Corvette is the best sports car under $100,000. In the end, the Audi R8 beat the Corvette out but only by a bit. Considering the R8 was almost triple the price does make the ‘Vette the far, far better value, though.
Honestly, after driving the new Corvette for a week, I realized that it changes the game, more so than any other ‘Vette in history by far. For under $70,000, you can have a genuine world-beater supercar in your driveway, brand-new, with a full factory warranty and head-turning looks. Simply astonishing.
Gabriel — BMW X5 xDrive45e
Yes, this was a surprise for me as well but the X5 xDrive45e model is really a winner in my book. It does it all, being a perfect mix between saving the planet and allowing you to have fun from time to time and a far cry from the original X5 PHEV, the xDrive40e. This is also a true testament to how important an engine’s architecture is, especially when we’re talking about a straight six configuration.
This was a close battle though, with the Audi e-Tron Sportback losing by a hair. However, upon careful consideration, I still think the X5 is the better choice because it can do it all: plenty of electric cruising around town and virtually unlimited range thanks to its petrol-powered engine. For now, while we’re still waiting for better, lighter batteries to come around, the plug-in hybrid niche is rather perfect for a lot of people, offering the best of both worlds.