Adam Levine addresses controversial ‘Voice’ elimination after fans slam judge’s plea


Adam Levine’s decision to use his voice to encourage “The Voice” fans to save finalist Reagan Strange — despite the fact she was too ill to perform — infuriated fans who argued it was unfair to her competitor DeAndre Nico who ended up getting eliminated. And now the singer is speaking out.

Strange, Nico and Dave Fenley all found themselves in the bottom three during last week’s episode and were allowed an opportunity to perform one last time with the hope fans would tweet out their specific hashtags to prevent them from getting booted from the singing competition. NBC host Carson Daly announced Strange wouldn’t be able to sing, though fans would still be given a chance to save her with tweets.

As Nico wrapped up his rendition of John Legend’s “All of Me,” cameras turned to Levine who offered his thoughts.

WHY CHRISTINA AGUILERA WON’T RETURN TO ‘THE VOICE’: ‘IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MUSIC’

“This sucks, man. DeAndre, you’re an exquisite singer. I’m a little confused as to why you’re in the bottom. That perplexes me. But I want to say this … There is an unbelievably talented little girl right now who is not able to fight for her position on this show. And you were fortunate enough tonight to be able to sing. And man, you sang like a champ,” Levine commented, as cameras panned to 14-year-old Strange sitting in a bathrobe.

“As much as I urge you all to vote for this man, because he should never have been in the bottom … I don’t know if I have the heart to not tell everyone right now,” Levine continued, as Strange wiped tears from her eyes. “I have a very special relationship with Reagan. And I have two little girls at home. The thought of breaking her heart by not urging everyone to give this girl a shot to go and redeem herself next week would be too far beneath me.”

The “Maroon 5” singer’s plea was swiftly slammed online and The Washington Post called it the “biggest controversy” of the season. Votes to save Strange and Nico were extremely close — 38 percent to 37 percent, respectively, the newspaper reports. Strange won and made her way to the semifinals.

“Lost all respect for Adam Levine in this moment. His lack of respect for his other contestant was despicable! He could have shown grace, respect and courtesy to DeAndre then put in a plug for Reagan,” one Twitter user wrote.

‘EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND’ STAR PATRICIA HEATON’S TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR SUGGESTION GOES VIRAL

“#TheVoice2018 The Producers, and Adam Levine need to Publicly apologize to Deandre Nico and replace Reagan with him. He competed she did not,” another agreed.

“Adam Levine how dare you throw your own teammate under the bus tonight!!!! Reagan should have been disqualified. I think you need to leave the Voice so another coach can come on there and care about their other teammates equally like the other coaches do. #VoiceSaveDeandre,” one fan added.

Even Nico was surprised by Levine’s speech.

“We did our job … I just got over laryngitis and when I came back I still sang … I know she’s a little kid but it’s like, man, you could’ve put some words in for me at all. Like, something,” Nico told 12NewsNow after the show, according to Entertainment Tonight.

On Monday, Levine addressed the situation, assuring viewers that everything was cool between him and the contestant.

“It was a strange week, but it’s over now. DeAndre’s my boy,” Levine told Strange during Monday’s show. “I love him. We talked. It’s all good.”



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California wildfires cleanup to cost at least $3 billion


State and federal authorities estimated Tuesday that it will cost at least $3 billion to clear debris from 19,000 homes and businesses destroyed by three California wildfires last month.

The disaster relief officials said the cleanup costs will far surpass the record cleanup expense of $1.3 billion the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers spent on debris removal in Northern California in 2017.

California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said the state will manage cleanup contracts this time. Hundreds of Northern California homeowners complained contractors last year paid by the ton hauled away too much dirt and damaged unbroken driveways, sidewalks and pipes. The state OES spent millions of dollars repairing that damage.

Ghilarducci said the state OES will hire auditors and monitors to watch over the debris removal in hopes of cutting down on the number of over-eager contractors.

“We learned a great number of things,” last year, Ghilarducci said.

He said the U.S. Corps of Engineers was asked to lead the effort last year because state resources were stretched thin after responding to more than a dozen wildfires. This year, he said state officials can manage the cleanup and costs will be shared among state, federal and local authorities.

He said he expects the cleanup to begin in January and take about a year to complete. State and federal officials are currently removing hazardous household materials from the damaged properties.

Most of the work will occur in Northern California, where the state’s most destructive wildfire destroyed the city of Paradise.

Insurance companies estimate the industry will face at least $10 billion in claims from homeowners and businesses destroyed or damaged in the latest wildfires.

California Insurance Commissioner said the carriers received $11.8 billion in claims because of the 2017 wine country fires.

Jones has warned increasing risk from wildfires in California could prompt insurers to raise premiums or decline to sell policies entirely to homes in high-risk areas.



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California wildfires cleanup to cost at least $3 billion


State and federal authorities estimated Tuesday that it will cost at least $3 billion to clear debris from 19,000 homes and businesses destroyed by three California wildfires last month.

The disaster relief officials said the cleanup costs will far surpass the record cleanup expense of $1.3 billion the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers spent on debris removal in Northern California in 2017.

California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said the state will manage cleanup contracts this time. Hundreds of Northern California homeowners complained contractors last year paid by the ton hauled away too much dirt and damaged unbroken driveways, sidewalks and pipes. The state OES spent millions of dollars repairing that damage.

Ghilarducci said the state OES will hire auditors and monitors to watch over the debris removal in hopes of cutting down on the number of over-eager contractors.

“We learned a great number of things,” last year, Ghilarducci said.

He said the U.S. Corps of Engineers was asked to lead the effort last year because state resources were stretched thin after responding to more than a dozen wildfires. This year, he said state officials can manage the cleanup and costs will be shared among state, federal and local authorities.

He said he expects the cleanup to begin in January and take about a year to complete. State and federal officials are currently removing hazardous household materials from the damaged properties.

Most of the work will occur in Northern California, where the state’s most destructive wildfire destroyed the city of Paradise.

Insurance companies estimate the industry will face at least $10 billion in claims from homeowners and businesses destroyed or damaged in the latest wildfires.

California Insurance Commissioner said the carriers received $11.8 billion in claims because of the 2017 wine country fires.

Jones has warned increasing risk from wildfires in California could prompt insurers to raise premiums or decline to sell policies entirely to homes in high-risk areas.



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Amid Brexit turmoil, British parliament mace grabber ‘proud’ of seizing ceremonial item despite backlash


The British lawmaker who brazenly grabbed a ceremonial mace in the House of Commons – which later resulted in his expulsion – said Tuesday he’s standing by his unique protest.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the 32-year-old Labour Party member, snatched the centuries-old gilded staff from the middle of the House of Commons on Monday after Prime Minister Theresa May postponed a vote on her Brexit deal.

The mace symbolizes royal authority, and without it, the Commons can’t meet or pass laws.

Russell-Moyle accused May of “again abandoning the principle that her authority rests on the consent of the [members of Parliament] and their constituents” in a piece for The Guardian.

“I did not become an MP last year to get a better seat as a spectator as my country is sunk by a government that is as incompetent as it is callous, and that is why I picked up the mace,” Russell-Moyle wrote. “Yesterday May was trying to obscure in procedure her contempt of parliamentary democracy, so I wanted to do something simple to show what she was up to.”

“…A gangly man in moleskin trousers holding a 5ft golden rod might look a bit odd. But I work in a very odd place.”

— Lloyd Russell-Moyle

Russell-Moyle was expelled for the day because of his antics, but he noted on Twitter that he was allowed back on Tuesday. He didn’t get paid for the day but said it was “worth it if it is to highlight the disgrace of undermining democracy that this government is doing at the moment” in an interview.

MAY IN THE NETHERLANDS AS SHE FIGHTS TO SAVE BREXIT DEAL

As Russell-Moyle pointed out, he’s not the first lawmaker to snatch the mace in protest. Ron Brown, a Labour MP, reportedly threw the mace on the ground in protest in 1988, causing nearly $2,000 in damage. And in 1976, Michael Heseltine, a Conservative MP, was suspended after he grabbed the mace and held it over his head in protest.

“Now, I am aware that for the vast majority of people a gangly man in moleskin trousers holding a 5ft golden rod might look a bit odd,” Russell-Moyle said. “But I work in a very odd place, which rests heavily on symbol and ritual.”

‘LORD OF THE RINGS’ ACTOR BRINGS BACK GOLLUM TO MOCK THERESA MAY OVER BREXIT

Russell-Moyle has been highly critical of May for her handling of the delayed Brexit vote. In an emergency statement to the House of Commons, May accepted that the divorce deal she struck last month with EU leaders was likely to be rejected “by a significant margin” if the vote was held Tuesday as originally planned.

It was a new blow for May, who became prime minister after Britain’s 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU. She has been battling ever since – first to strike a deal with the bloc, then to sell it to skeptical British lawmakers.

“The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.





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7th Generation BMW 3 Series Sedan Review


The BMW 3 Series sedan is a big deal – and always has been. It’s one of those iconic models that commands attention, sets benchmarks and gets plenty of attention. So when a new generation comes out, the whole world sits up and takes notice. Being amongst the first from India (literally since I was in a smaller first group – which won’t matter since we all have the same embargo!) to drive the car is special. They’re claiming this to be the most innovative, most intelligent, and most connected car from BMW – ever!

Also Read: Exclusive: New BMW 3 Series Pre-Booking Begins

BMW 3 Series
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New BMW 3 Series models coming to India will include – 320d and 330i

India is going to get the 320d and 330i when the seventh generation car gets to us in mid-2019. And so let me tell you, I have driven both extensively. (And then there’s also another special variant that we won’t be getting – but am still happy to have driven! But more on that later). The new 3 Series has grown marginally over its predecessor: in length (+76 mm), wheelbase (+41 mm), width (16 mm), and height (+1 mm). It now carries the new face of BMW sedans – quite literally, and yet maintains a taut, compact proportion to exemplify and justify the segment it belongs to.

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We drove both, the BMW 320d and the 330i extensively

The new 3 Series Model Line

The sports sedan has a more pronounced hood with key lines that imply power. There are definite character lines in its flanks and sides, and the rounded top of the boot lid, tapering off to the sides is a nice touch. The car gets LED lights as standard, but you can also opt for Laser Lights at the top end. The twin rings are now completely unwound but the 4-eyed look persists, as does the kidney grille – that has grown tremendously – almost snarling now! Weirdly the LED DRL on the 320d was shorter than the much nicer one on the 330i. Can’t fathom why that is. Laser lights are optional.

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New BMW 330i M-Sport gets a different bumper altogether compared to the 320d

The bumper gets a defining character at the two ends, which will be the characteristic signature of the 3 Series over other BMW sedans according to the design team. Having said that you get various styling elements depending on which trim you buy (Luxury/Sport line). And the M-Sport gets a different bumper altogether – that’s more pronounced, muscular and has black fog lamp housings and at the rear, a black diffuser to offset the M-Sport elements and twin tailpipes. Strangely though while the Sport Line gets a black finish for the kidney grille, the M-Sport has chrome! The 3 Series has a 136 mm ground clearance – but I have to say – visually, the car rides really low. We have been promised an added 15 mm for India, but I would still worry about the low ride.

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The new BMW 3 Series has a 136 mm ground clearance

The cabin of the new 3 Series is vastly new and in part improved. BMW says the idea was to be cockpit like (yes we have heard that before) and orient everything more towards the driver. The virtual cluster sees massive changes, including a tacho that goes counter clockwise for aesthetic symmetry and to keep the centre free for ample navigation or other displays. Being virtual, it changes colours and animation – depending on Sport/Sport Plus, Eco Pro, or Comfort drive modes. There is also a new effective, comprehensive and easy to read head-up display that has grown in size, but not distractingly so. The steering has a new shape and overall the emphasis was to make the dash and instruments along with the steering and central console more driver oriented – more cockpit like too. The new iDrive 7.0 comes with a large 12.3-inch screen and has the new interface that we also saw on the latest X5 just a few weeks ago. It’s got more features, is more intuitive and offers better connectivity options.

A More Digital and Connected 3 Series

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The cabin of the new 3 Series is vastly new and in part improved

It also offers a new digital assistant. Yup – looks like everyone is doing these now. So say “Hi/Hey BMW” and the assistant will respond to help you with various features or help of any kind. Yes it’s like the “Hi Mercedes” feature I just saw on the new Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, but BMW has tried to make it more conversational, intuitive, intelligent and also lets you change the name. So I promptly tried changing the name in my test car to Jewel. I was told it’s not a great option since it has too few syllables. This went on through names like Bernadette, Helga, Boris, Helmut, until finally the only name that seemed to work? ‘Sakhu-bai!’! Yes I know! And so no more discussion on this please! While it takes a while to get used to it, there are a few clear advantages. First, you don’t have to say ‘Hey BMW’ (or Sakhu-bai for that matter) and then wait for a response before making your request. So basically you can do it in one go. (BMW- 1 : Alexa/Siri/Mercedes- 0). You can also ask it to navigate you somewhere, like a pre-saved ‘home’ address, or find you a mall or coffee shop (yes I asked for the nearest Starbucks, and found 3!), or the remaining time or distance on your journey, should you be using navigation.

It can also do more interesting things. You can ask it how much fuel you have left (or driving range), the tyre pressure situation for all tyres, engine oil levels, etc. So basically any car status related information. And then you can also tell the car you’re feeling warm or cold, and it will ask you what temperature you would like to set. It will do that just for the driver or passenger area depending on who asked! It will also start seat/steering warming, look for music or call someone on your connected phone. And it will work with Siri through Apple CarPlay too. But here’s the kicker. Like the X5, the 3 Series also offers two themed comfort programmes – and if you say “Hey BMW I feel tired”, it will activate the ‘Vitality’ programme. Say you’re stressed and you will get the ‘Relax’ programme. Each comes with its own music, AC fan and temperature settings, and ambient light + wallpaper on the screen. Interesting, and somewhat like the themed programmes Mercedes-Benz now offers too.

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The steering has a new shape and overall the emphasis was to make the dash and instruments

But all this – while very exciting is sadly academic to you and me – because these features, along with the assistant are only available through BMW Connected Drive. And according to the head of the programme for the 3 Series, it won’t be offered on the India spec for starters. Well boo hoo! I just wasted three paragraphs telling you all about it. Coz I tried it, got excited, and then was told I can’t have it. So well, I guess I took you down the same path! You will get the rest though, including navigation and smartphone connectivity, so do not despair. The car also adds an app based control (unlike the fancy smart key on the 5 or 7 Series) to open or lock the car and access its on board stats. iDrive gesture control is of course standard.

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The BMW 320d available to us was the Mineral White

On to the cars I drove now. Auto Today’s Yogendra Pratap and I decided to take two engine types, and swap them between us, so we got enough time on both. So we had the same exact cars with us for 2 whole days. The 320d available to us was the Mineral White with Sport Line trim, and 18-inch wheels, while the 330i was in a new Portimao Blue shade, with M-Sport trim and 19 inchers. You can get the Luxury Line too remember, and in Europe or the US, also have 20 or 21-inch wheels too. The Portimao Blue (apt since we were testing in Portugal’s Algarve region, where Portimao is) replaces the Estoril Blue. Both names that belong to Portuguese towns and corresponding tracks! And yes before you can ask I did have the chance to drive the new 3 Series at the Portimao track! But wait for that bit in a separate story.

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The BMW 330i’s Portimao Blue shade replaces the Estoril Blue

Testing the 330i Petrol Sedan

The 330i has a 2 litre, 253 bhp, engine that has 400 Nm of peak torque. It is mated to an 8-Speed Steptronic transmission. There is a lower spec 320i variant with a180 bhp/300 Nm petrol motor, and the range topping 340i with 367 bhp and 500 Nm. Neither of those (nor the 330e plug-in hybrid that gets to Europe/USA in summer 2019) will come to India, so let’s focus on the 330i – the variant I began my drive with (not just because it was blue – that was a mere coincidence I promise!) The petrol is punchy, responsive, and reasonably quick. It maintains the sporty character you expect from a 3 Series, but does not dazzle you in any way. The gearbox is very quick though, and changes are especially more fun in Sport or Sport Plus with the transmission pushed into S (sport) mode too, and using the paddle shift makes it even better. But there is a very obvious sense that the car has grown – and when you’re driving you are constantly aware of that. In the Indian context that may not be a bad thing, but as global 3 Series benchmarks go, that’s a negative for me.

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The ride quality, steering and handling are spot on though is better than the last car

Ride quality, steering and handling are spot on though – as you would expect from a 3er. And if anything I think, ride quality is better than the last car. Throw in the slightly better leg and knee room at the rear, and the new 3 will be a better chauffeur driven sedan now than before, for sure. In Sport or Sport Plus is where the car comes alive. Most of you may prefer the comfort mode though. Having said that there is now adaptive or air suspension on this car and so while Sport/Sport Plus changes throttle, steering and engine behaviour, it doesn’t make the ride any stiffer or harder. Not a bad thing to be honest. The Sport drive mode has a new feature – it lets you drive in Sport, Sport Plus or Sport Individual. This is cool, because it will let you keep the throttle or engine to be in Sport Plus, and say the steering to be in Comfort. So, you get the exhilaration but avoid the fatigue of a harder steering. That’s a nice touch methinks!

Next we Drive the 320d Diesel

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New BMW 320d gets the 2 litre, 186 bhp, 400 Nm motor

The 320d gets the 2 litre, 186 bhp, 400 Nm motor. There is a lower variant – the 318d with 147 bhp and 320 Nm, and the top end diesel 330d with 260 bhp and 580 Nm or peak torque. But neither of those will come to us. So let’s get back to the 320d shall we? This is the model that has formed the backbone of sales for the 3 Series in India (and well in Europe too in the past), and so it’s fitting that it will come back to our market. It is ample, does the job, but is not dynamically thrilling in any way. The car is also not electric in its response, nor is it sporty like the 320d from the E90 5th gen car. Having first driven the 330i I was willing to accept that maybe it’s the comparison that was throwing me. But I spent all afternoon trying to push the car hard, and was still left a touch underwhelmed. The great things are the handling and the very precise steering, which almost get enhanced in some ways on the diesel. And also tried out the car’s semi-autonomous and driver aid features like the auto lane keeping and the limited self-drive. They work well enough though I still feel Volvo has got this down with its Pilot Assist over the three Germans.

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The car gets semi-autonomous driver aid features like the auto lane keeping and the limited self-drive

The time spent with the new 3 Series on the winding, rolling and sometimes narrow roads of the Algarve region was still very fun – and also comprehensive. We also got an inadvertent chance to drive both cars through some broken and non-existent roads. It held itself very well, and still offered great ride and composure, despite the relatively lower profile tyres and lower ride. I was the less worried about its prospects in India as a result.

The Track Monster: M340i xDrive

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We got to drive the BMW M340i xDrive at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve – or the Portimao Circuit

It’s almost strange that we were at a 3 Series event and the big focus of the discussion from the company had also been on the tech on board, rather than the car’s dynamics. Thankfully that changed the following day when I got to the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve – or the Portimao Circuit. It’s a brilliant track and I have had the chance to navigate its quick corners and blind elevation changes before, so was raring to go. Awaiting me there was that awesome new BMW M340i xDrive sedan. It packs a brand new straight-six belting out 367 bhp – that’s nearly 50 horses more than the most powerful version of the previous F30 (6th gen) sedan. It also gets 50 Nm more peak torque at 500 Nm and does 0-100 kmph in 4.4 seconds. That’s half a second faster than the last car!

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The M340i xDrive gets a new straight-six that makes nearly 50 horses more than the most powerful version of the previous gen car

First off, let me tell you this engine also sounds great! It is enhanced by the M Sport exhaust unit. And yes you get it to pop and crackle in Sport Plus mode. Shorter, sharper gear changes on the 8-Speed Steptronic make the drive fun, as does the new updated xDrive system. Power distribution between the front and rear axles is variable and you get terrific traction as a result. The car maintains a rear-wheel bias so you don’t lose the essence of the 3 Series. The M Sport differential is electronically controlled, and gives you superb agility. The way the M340i travels out of a corner is inspiring for a 4-door. The standard M Sport suspension is good, but the Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers takes things to a whole other level. The car sits lower by 10 mm, gets a new lift-related damper control function. It also has the new Variable Sport Steering which is just fantastic, and gives you perfect feedback as you’re pushing the car into a sharp corner throwing it sideways.

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The way the BMW M340i travels out of a corner is inspiring for a 4-door

The M sport brakes (with the blue painted M logo callipers) also do a fine job. I had the chance to experience the new car at high triple digit speeds, with the electronics switched on. Then also had several goes with them off, and the car is happy to let itself be oversteered a touch, and flip its tail out into a nice steady drift. The 19 inch mixed tyres are optional, though the standard package includes 18 inch mixed size tyres.

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The car gets the Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers

As you can see by my exhaustive descriptions of the experience and the equipment, the M340i xDrive is the variant to get. But as I warned you at the top, it ain’t coming to us. Not at the outset anyway. Sigh… that’s too bad! It also looks the part with some distinct styling changes. There is the very sharp mesh grille with almost a claw-like pattern that’s almost Black Panther inspired. Then there is the body coloured rear spoiler and trapezoidal exhaust pipes, unique air intake struts and contrast coloured exterior rear view mirrors. The interior is way sporty, finished in black, with a M340i badge on the instrument cluster. Tearing down the track my only question was – if they had already pushed this M Sport variant to such a dynamic and exhilarating level, what are they going to possibly down with the next generation M3/M4 when they arrive? Phew! The new gen car is claimed as the most aerodynamic in its class, and I now believe that for sure!

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The BMW M340i xDrive will not the coming to India

The new 3 Series also has a reversing assistant, like we saw on the new X5. What it does is, it always keeps the last 50 metres you drove in its memory. This allows the car to simply reverse in exactly the same path. So imagine a narrow street or a tricky parking spot you go into nose-first. Getting out can be a pain, and so you turn on the reversing assistant and the car will do it for you. All you have to do is regulate the speed with the brakes, and the car takes care of the steering and keeps a lookout for any obstructions with the multiple sensors on board. Better head up display and collision warnings are also a great addition.

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I went in expecting a lot from the G20 3 Series, and I have left satisfied. The car is engineered to a new level, offers a lot more to a potential buyer, and maintains BMW’s promise of a sports sedan that energises you. Could it have been sharper? Had I only driven the 320d, my answer would have been an emphatic yes. But after driving the M340i I am very convinced this is all set to become the segment benchmark again. And yes, I cannot wait for it to arrive in India. Considering BMW has begun taking bookings at the dealer level – a story we exclusively reported to you on carandbike, I guess that the launch isn’t as far away as we think.

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