MAY 2021
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STREAM THIS! Indian movie reviews

NEW MOVIES TO WATCH:

The Disciple” (Netflix)

This Marathi language film is written, directed and edited by Chaitanya Tamhane whose directorial debut, “Court” won the National Award in 2014. Sharad Nerulkar has devoted his life to becoming an Indian classical music vocalist, conscientiously following the traditions and discipline of the old masters, his guru and his father. But as the years go by, he starts to wonder whether it’s really possible to achieve the excellence he’s striving for. This is a journey of devotion, passion and searching for the absolute in contemporary Mumbai. Tamhane’s mentor and friend, Academy award-winning filmmaker, Alfonso Cuarón of “Roma” and “Gravity” is executive producer. “The story of ‘The Disciple’ came from my own search for excellence and direction. It’s about how many of us follow all the rules and yet, sometimes, find that something is missing. We were blessed to have an extraordinary talent like Aditya Modak portray the protagonist, Nerulkar, through whose eyes we immerse ourselves in the fascinating world of Indian classical music,” said Tamhane. The film was awarded the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI, short for Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique) and the Best Screenplay award at the Venice International Film Festival in 2020. The cast includes Aditya Modak, Arun Dravid, Sumitra Bhave, Deepika Bhide Bhagwat and Kiran Yadnyopavit.

Sardar Ka Grandson” (Netflix, May 18)

To fulfill ailing grandmother’s last wish, a U.S.-returned grandson is prepared to cross any borders. Arjun Kapoor plays Amreek Singh and is seen arranging things so his grandmother Rupinder Kaur, played by Neena Gupta, can visit her house in Lahore. She hasn’t been able to revisit since partition forced the move to Amritsar. Aditi Rao Hydari and John Abraham play the younger version of Rupinder Kaur and Gursher Singh, who built their house with love and efforts. His attempt to get the grandma to the Lahore home fails but Amreek Singh has a solution – carrying the whole structure from Lahore to Amritsar! Debutant director Kaashvie Nair calls the film personal and a “delectable mix” of her attachment to her grandparents and her childhood home. “It celebrates the unconditional love between grandparents and grandchildren,” she said. The cast also includes Rakul Preet Singh, Soni Razdan, Kanwaljit Singh, Kumud Mishra and Divya Seth. It is produced by John Abraham and written by Anuja Chauhan.


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Book Reviews By NITISH S. RELE,
Editor@khaasbaat.com

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai LamaHis Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama: An Illustrated Biography” (352 pages; $35) by Tenzin Geyche Tethong; photo editor Jane Moore; published by Interlink Books (www.interlinkbooks.com)

Did you know that the 14th Dalai Lama is a passionate watch lover, i.e. the monk who fixes watches. After he inherited an assortment of watches and clocks from the 13th Dalai Lama, he set up a small space with proper tools to repair watches, clocks, and even tape recorders, reveals author Tethong, a close aide of His Holiness for over 40 years. The Dalai Lama says, “As a child, I had always wondered what moved the hands of clocks, the same hands that make the world go around. So I got cracking on these tiny devices and experimented to the hilt with them.” Another love is gardening, reveals the author. “In both his residences in Dharamsala, he has had a greenhouse built to house a variety of flowers, including rare orchids …” Also, an affection for birds and taking care of sick birdies in his garden. These are just a few of some insights offered into the Dalai Lama’s life and experience along with breathtaking photographs in this well-illustrated book. The Chinese invasion of Tibet, people’s uprising in Lhasa, exile from Tibet and a new home in Dharamsala, along with winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal provide deep understandings of the icon’s amazing journey. His Holiness observes, “Sometimes people consider the practice of compassion as a sign of weakness, but this is a mistake. It’s anger that is a sign of weakness, while compassion is a sign of strength … compassion brings peace of mind, which gives rise to self-confidence. This enables us to do what we do transparently, and brings us more friends. Friendship depends on trust, and trust blooms when we show real interest in the well-being of others.” While affirming that empathy is the basis of moral principles, he notes, “The goodness of an action depends not just on the act itself, but on whether it arises out of concern for others and their rights. If we can install concern for others in young people, we can create a better world with greater trust and peace of mind – a more equal, more compassionate world.” The Dalai Lama, who turned 85 years old last year during the height of the pandemic, called upon well-wishers to pass on festivities for his birthday. Instead, he urged people to recite the Avalokiteshvara mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum” 1,000 times. “Avalokiteshvara is my boss and I am his messenger.” Kudos to Tethong for writing a gem on one of the most extraordinary people of our times, who despite the hardships and struggles of the Tibetan people caused by the Chinese authorities, has extended kindness and prayers to its people.

Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan TownEat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town” (330 pages; $28) by Barbara Demick; published by Random House (www.randomhousebooks.com)

That the Tibetan faith, cultural identity and language is under a threat of extinction from Chinese imperialism is a given. To elucidate in details the history and struggles of Tibet, the author recounts personal stories of a princess, young nomad, schoolgirl, poet and an upwardly mobile entrepreneur from Ngaba, an Eastern Tibetan town perched 11,000 feet above sea level. The city is also the place where the Chinese communists and Tibetans encountered each other in 1930s. The book’s title is inspired from religious statues made of flour and butter that the soldiers pillaged from the monasteries as if implying to ‘eat the Buddha.’ It may surprise you to know the Tibetan plateau, which extends from Mouth Everest all the way to northern Pakistan, and then to the Gobi desert, is as large as India – one million square miles. Of course, extremely harsh weather, high elevation and arduous landscape, makes it one of the most thinly populated areas on earth, with fewer than six people per square mile. The resistance in Ngaba against Chinese aggression was strong and at one time (beginning in 2009), the town was known to be the world capital of self-immolations. Demick reveals that as of November 2019, 156 Tibetans had self-immolated. However, the 14th Dalai Lama is overly optimistic about the future of Tibetans within China. As he told the author, “I don’t consider China powerful at all. They may be powerful in their economics and weapons, but in terms of moral principles, they are very weak. The whole society is full of suspicion and full of distrust.” As if to prove the point, the author unveils that by 2020, China was supposed to have 626 million closed-circuit cameras installed, that’s one for every two people. Shedding light on Tibetan population in India, she notes that it peaked at 118,000 in mid-1990s. It slipped to 94,000 by 2009, mainly because some have left for Western countries and also since the Chinese have succeeded in plugging leaks in the borders. Demick, author of “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea,” is an experienced and talented journalist. She was a reporter/correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, New Yorker and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has painstakingly researched Tibetan culture and their people to pen a spellbinding, touching and somewhat infuriating story. It should offer a distinctive, enlightening look at a group of people who may soon see their identity wiped out if the Chinese government has their way. And that would be a sad and tragic finale to the Tibetan Plateau saga.

I Am A Rockstar: An Expert Guide to SuccesI Am A Rockstar: An Expert Guide to Success” (210 pages; $9.99) by Uma Vanka; published independently.

Who doesn’t want to be successful? Indeed. A partner at TCS America, Vanka shares the lessons he learnt while climbing the career ladder through interesting anecdotes and experiences instead of dull textbook comparisons. Written humbly and straightforward so even a teenager can understand, the title hints that the first step at success is to believe in yourself. Toward that end, the author maps out a blueprint in 13 chapters. In the first, “Life is simple. Keep it simple” means precisely that. “Choose love over hate. Choose courage over fear. Choose smile over worry. Choose to be active, not lazy. Choose to lead a healthy lifestyle. Choose not to engage in negative criticism. Choose a successful way to live,” he suggests. “Everyone wants a sausage” focuses on how you can become an excellent communicator. “Transform into a Nuclear Style Leader” puts the emphasis on the “trust but verify” approach, i.e. empowering people so there is a sense of ownership and accountability. In “Celebrate Criticism,” Vanka reminds us that denunciation is part of life. Welcome constructive criticism but if it is destructive, ignore it. In “Appreciation should precede Aspiration,” he recommends taking a moment to be thankful what you have before chasing what you don’t have. “You may fall but you never fail” is about pursuing your passion. “Be prepared to fail. Be prepared to fall. Falling and failing is a part of life. Try to learn every time you fall. And bounce back stronger than before … Put boundaries around your path. Use my simple process. Evaluate the best case and worst case. Prepare for the worse case. Then, just start working for the best case.” Branding is not just for Instagram influencers but for one and all, pens Vanka in a chapter. So, take steps to raise your chances of right timing, meaning make sure your efforts are higher than others. In “I don’t have a drinking problem,” the author demonstrates how to learn to convert weaknesses into strength, save for the future while living the present and face harsh times with a smile. Stressed? Take a break, he counsels. Exercise. Talk to people or indulge in your favorite hobby. He sums up the book nicely, “Life is full of opportunities. It’s up to us to grab those. Life is created to be very simple. It’s us who complicate it. Once you learn how to navigate through life’s challenges easily, success will follow.” Packed with inspiration and thoughtful insights, we look forward to more work from this motivational author.

Exquisite CadaversExquisite Cadavers” (112 pages; $8.49) by Meena Kandasamy; published Atlantic Books (www.atlantic-books.co.uk)

A 2-in-1 book, that's how we would term this experimental form of writing. The main fictional story is about the love troubles of a young Tunisian immigrant-filmmaker Karim and the English Maya in London. Things get only worse when Karim’s brother disappears in Tunis, and leaves Maya in a conundrum: should she go in search of Karim or stay in the city? In the margins of the book, in smaller print, is the author relating her life, her memoir, so to speak, while penning the Karim and Maya saga. Just so there is no confusion, we recommend you read the barely 100-page book in two sittings. Truly, the author of the acclaimed “When I Hit you” is an immensely gifted prose writer. Wait, let’s make that poetry, for activist and translator Kandasamy’s writing style is nothing short of lyrical (previously published two collections of poetry, “Touch” and “Ms Militancy”). Here are a few examples: “It rains with a vengeance; the sky an angry spouse keeping score. The seagulls sound needy, quarrelsome, crying for pain-relief.” “One has to breath fire in order to breathe life into love. These jolts, this insistent thrashing is what it takes to get to its jolly, bumping heart.” “Hopes soar, then plunge like the gnawing noises of his childhood sea at sundown.” “Occasionally love is a realization of porosity.” “The whiteboard in the kitchen is hungover Hemingway; adjective-free, pruned and purposeful, displaying the timing of Spanish lessons, errands for an elderly parents, grocery shopping lists, bills to be paid – they hide botched suicide attempts, emotional breakdowns.” “Plates, hand-painted bowls, fancy wine glasses, empty beer bottles need to be knocked out of their inertia, shaken up, smashed. Fragility as a force-field does not allow itself to be perturbed. The clattering waits in the wings, romps around within four walls, impatient to join the chequerboard of greyscale cityscapes, wills itself to collapse into familiar rhythm.” It is apparent Kandasamy has a mastery over the lyrical language. And she delivers a punch with her unusual two-columnar narrative, leaving the reader asking for more.


Motoring

ICONIC, RUGGED DEFENDER RETURNS TO LAND ROVER LINEUP

Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE –motoringtampabay.com

2020 land rover DEFENDER X Land Rover has reached 23 years into its off-roading history to revive its models Ninety and One Ten, the ultimate off-roaders, for the U.S. market. Designating its respective 90 and 110-inch wheelbases, the iconic square-jawed and rugged off-roading giants have once again been deemed safe for American drivers. On- and off-road motorists can again buy a new version of the purpose-built vehicle that first rolled off assembly lines in 1948.

Under the clamshell hood sits an MHDV (mild hybrid with 48-volt lithium ion battery to store energy) 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 cylinder engine belting out 395 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 406 pound-feet of torque @ 5000 rpm. The potent power train couples to a responsive 8-speed auto gearbox. Electric power steering provides superb driver feedback. It’s noteworthy that the nearly 5,035-pound vehicle can go 0 to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds with a top speed of 129 mph.

A permanent all-wheel drive delivers necessary torque to the rear wheels. The updated Terrain Response 2 now automatically picks one of several gears for the driver depending on road/weather conditions: 

A new addition is Wade Sensing. Credit an independent short-long arm suspension with double wishbone front and integral rear suspension (raises the frame by 1.6 inches for easy ingress/egress) for a remarkably supple ride on the 20-inch-wheel SUV. Tow capacity is a remarkable 8,201 pounds. 

The Defender is designed for off-road conditions such as traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation, and water fording (35.4-inch depth). Skid plates will protect the front, transfer case and fuel tank. Check out the degrees: approach angle of 38, break over of 28, and departure of 40, with ground clearance of 11.5 inches, more than enough to instill confidence in the driver on those off-the-beaten-path trips.

Ensconced on the aluminum monocoque structure with its short overhangs is an upright front grille, flanked by rounded LED headlights housed in horizontal encasing. Alpine light windows in the roof (with black rails) keep its heritage alive. As do the trademark side-hinged rear tail gate and externally amounted spare wheel. If you are looking for the hidden shifter dial that would magically pop out in recent Land Rovers, it’s gone. The Defender acquires a PIVI Pro infotainment with just a sole 10-inch touchscreen for audio, phone and nav controls. An exposed magnesium cross beam with incorporated hand pulls in the center boosts the standing of the quintessential SUV. Just above the lockable glove box is a storage shelf for personal belongings. Other comforts include dual-zone auto a/c, power tilt/telescopic steering column and panoramic roof, heated/cooled front seats, premium Windsor leather upholstery, and an astonishing 700-watt Meridian sound system. 

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution, blind spot monitor, hill descent control, stability and traction control, front/rear parking sensors, anti-rollover system, forward collision warning and lane keep system, two-speed electronic transfer case, rearview camera, daytime running lights, and tire pressure monitoring are standard. 

With its off-road prowess, bold looks and open-air capability, this utilitarian workhorse is a tremendous and much-needed addition to the already-impressive Land Rover lineup. Jeep and the new Ford Bronco have their work cut out for them with the commendable rebirth of the Defender. 

DEFENDER X (110)


WATCH YOUR SPEED IN CHARGER SRT HELLCAT REDEYE WIDEBODY!

2021 CHARGER SRT HELLCATZero to 60 in the 3.6 seconds, ¼-mile in 10.6 seconds and top speed at 203 mph. Impressed? You ought to be. The 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi SRT engine in the Dodge Charger boasts robust acceleration, superb handling and steering feel. Our Hellcat Redeye Widebody test-drive version is all-new for 2021.

Step on the throttle and the V-8 engine blasts off 797 horsepower (yes, you read that right!) at 6300 rpm and 707 pounds-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. Mated to an 8-speed auto transmission, the Charger is equipped with a razor-sharp electric power assist, rack-and-pinion steering. Front suspension is handled competently by an independent SLA with high upper ‘A’ arm while the rear gets a five-link independent system. Both ends have coil springs to improve ride quality and comfort. Bringing the speed demon to a halt are Brembo high-performance 15.7-inch front six-piston caliper and 13.8-inch rear four-piston caliper discs, both vented and slotted. To vary the driving experience, this version of the Charger comes in street, sport and track modes.

Walk around the rear-wheel-drive vehicle and the first element that will grab your attention are center air intake and dual heat extractors atop the bulging aluminum hood. The air-intake hood joins a daunting mail-slot honeycomb grille and Redeye logo, surrounded by quad bi-functional HID projector headlights with LED accents. Fender flares integrated into the front/rear fascia boost the width by 3.5 inches. That this is a race-inspired cabin is evident from the rounded 220 mph speedometer (customer preferred package option) and 7000 tachometer gauges with fuel and temperature readings, and a driver information center. Lending further taste and elegance are aluminum lithographic splashes on the center stack, shifter, dash and door-switch bezels. The cabin is roomy and elegant with dual auto a/c, eight-way driver power and four-way front-passenger seats, power and flat-bottomed tilt/telescopic steering column, heated/cooled front seats with the SRT/Redeye logo, six Alpine speakers, 7.5-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster, 8.4-inch UConnect for audio, phone and navigation controls, spacious 16.5-cubic-foot trunk, distinctly designed T-handle shifter and a 60/40 rear seat.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, electronic stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, blind spot monitor and rear-cross path detection, active head restraints, rear backup camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

Muscle-car aficionados, crave for that throaty exhaust growl (it’s a Hemi!) as you turn on the ignition? Like to mash the pedals for a speed-demon-like takeoff? Then the Charger Hellcat Redeye will fit the bill. To a T.

CHARGER SRT HELLCAT


SPORT TRIM ADDS PIZZAZZ TO 2021 CADILLAC XT6

2021 CADILLAC XT6 Just a few months after driving the Premium Luxury version of the XT6, Cadillac dispatched over the 2021 XT6 Sport AWD for us to test. This one is even more fun to drive, responding with quickness in any driving situation while loaded with luxury and tech goodies.

Like in the Premium Luxury model, the Sport also is equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine cranking out 310 horsepower @ 600 rpm and 271 pounds-feet of torque @ 5000 rpm. It is mated to a smooth 9-speed auto gearbox. A MacPherson strut front and a five-link independent rear sport suspension work well to absorb unpleasant road bumps or curves. Steering response with the electric power rack-and-pinion is instant and precise. Tow capacity is a reasonable 4,000 pounds. Drive modes include tour, sport and snow/ice.

A V-Series inspired mesh grille with heavily darker accents and details, flanked by LED headlights, boost the aggressive appearance of the XT6. Step into the cabin and

performance-inspired carbon fiber trim provide an upscale and well-appointed look. An 8-inch color touchscreen in the center stack includes capactive controls, haptic feedback, gestures and voice recognition (yes, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available). To accommodate drivers of all heights, Cadillac has equipped the CT6 with a power tilt/telescopic three-spoke steering wheel. There is plenty of room – 78.7 cubic feet behind the first row; and total passenger volume is a laudable 149.9 cubic feet. Amenities are tri-zone auto a/c, eight-way power driver and front-passenger heated seats, remote start, sun roof, third-row power fold seat, hidden cargo hold bin, hands-free lift gate and hands-on CUE (Cadillac User Experience).

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, forward collision, rear cross traffic, lane change and side zone blind alerts, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, front/rear park assist, stability and traction control, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights come at no extra cost.

If in the market for a midsize SUV with a forceful engine, decent gas mileage and bountiful creature comforts, the XT6 fits the bill. The Sport bundle adds even more spark and adventure to the ride!

XT6 SPORT


CORSAIR DESERVEDLY REPLACES MKC IN LINCOLN LINEUP

2021 Lincoln CorsairThe Latin word for Corsair is “cursus,” which means journey. And the entry-level luxury SUV in the Lincoln roster offers just that and more – quick acceleration, exceptional handling and balance and remarkably good body control. Replacing the MKC last year, the compact Corsair is available as a front-wheel or all-wheel drive, which was our test for a week.

The five-passenger SUV comes in a 2.0-liter turbocharged and intercooled inline-4 cylinder engine that puts out 250 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 280 pounds-feet of torque @ 3000 rpm. That is plenty for the 3,842-pound vehicle to scoot from any speed. The 8-speed auto gear box is effortless.

A split-winged grille with the centered Lincoln emblem plays host to floating chrome ovals in a black lattice background. The rear shows off full-width horizontal tail lamps joined by a LED tail lamp strip, roof spoiler and dual-exhaust tips, to convey a powerful stance. But it is in the lavish, modish and beautifully made cabin that the Corsair justly shines. As soon as you take a seat, the floating center stack with knobs for audio and temperature controls catches your attention. The push-button gear selector may take some getting used to but it saves space on the dash.

The user-friendly Sync3, an interface to control audio, phone and navigation systems via voice, touch or both, is easy to use. Passenger and cargo room is plenty with 27.6 cubic feet behind the second row and 57/6 cubic feet behind the first row. Dual-zone auto a/c, three-spoke power leather steering wheel, panoramic roof, Revel audio with 14 speakers, 10-way power front seats, 60/40 flat second-row bench, hands-free lift gate and the Lincoln welcome/farewell light elements when you enter or exit are standard.

Dual front and side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic stability and traction control, lane-keep and pre-collision assists, reverse park aid, rearview camera, blind-spot monitor with cross-traffic alert, front and rear three-point seatbelts, tire pressure monitor and daytime running lights.

Undoubtedly, the Corsair is a welcome replacement for the outgoing MKC. Indulge yourself and the passengers in this most affordable, remarkably smooth and exceptionally quiet Lincoln. Plus, it is attractive to the eye inside and out.

CORSAIR (RESERVE)


COMPACT BENZ GLA35 SUV BOASTS A CAR-LIKE RIDE

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA35It’s 3 inches higher and 0.6 inches shorter than its predecessor. Best of all, the front seats get a boost of 3.8 inches so that there is a clear view of the road. Undoubtedly, the redesigned 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA35 is a fine, snug and effective ride that can go 0 to 60 in just 5 seconds with top speed limited to 155 mph.

Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder turbo engine putting out 302 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 295 pounds-feet of torque @ 4000 rpm. The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive vehicle is mated to a standard 8-speed automatic, which can be driven in slippery, individual, comfort, sport and sport+ modes. The independent MacPherson strut front and trailing link rear suspension works splendidly to absorb unpleasant highway bumps and sudden sharp turns. Returning a weighted response to the driver’s input is a razor-sharp electromechanical power rack-and-pinion system.

Up front, the familiar three-pointed star on the power dome hood meets up with another Benz emblem centered in the radiator grille with several slats, which are surrounded by horizontal LED headlights. A lavish, elegant cabin is expected of any AMG-equipped Benz with dual auto a/c, power lift gate, 60/40 rear seat, steering wheel paddle shifters, Apple CarPlay and Android phone capabilities, wireless charge pad, illuminated door sills, panoramic sunroof, steering wheel-mounted shifters, and heated front seats. AMG enthusiasts will quickly notice the emblem imprinted on the seat backs. All materials and craftsmanship are top-notch. A touchpad controls audio, navigation and phone infotainment on the large 12.3-inch display dash screen. A similarly sized screen displays the digital instrument cluster.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic stability program, pre-safe (partial braking in an emergency), active brake and blind spot assists, forward collision warning, rearview camera, keyless go/start, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

There is no doubt that the overhauled entry-level GLA enhances the Benz lineup of SUVs. If in the market for a small SUV that drives like a car while boasting strong acceleration, admirable cargo- and passenger-hauling capabilities, take the GLA35 for a test-drive. It will be well worth your time and effort.

GLA35


2021 BMW M550i OFFERS LUXURY … AND YES, EXHILARATION TOO!

2021 BMW M550iMore lush and plush than sport. That’s been the recent discussion around the BMW 5 Series. But the 2021 M550i should put that notion to rest. First introduced in 1972, the midsize luxury sport sedan is an incredibly lively and thriller of a ride to take to the streets. Zero to 60 is an impressive 3.6 seconds in this extraordinary car with top speed at 155 mph.

Under the hood of the attractive sedan resides a 4.4-liter twin-power turbocharged V-8 cylinder gas engine cranking out 523 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 553 pounds-feet of torque @ 4600 rpm. It is mated to a standard and flawless 8-speed auto gearbox, which is even more fun with moves via the steering paddle shifters. Suspension is handled competently via a double wishbone front and a 5-link rear system. However, the standard adaptive M suspension is specially tuned to enhance nimbleness and poise when pushing pedal to the metal. And the electric power rack-and-pinion steering has a solid and communicative feel, making the car easy to place at sharp curves.

For 2021, BMW designers have restyled the front end with a taller and wider kidney grille that shows off more pronounced vertical slats while adaptive LED headlights have been re-sculpted. M Sport brakes with blue calipers and the M logo are sure to grab any bystander’s attention. Walk to the rear and you will notice black edges around the fresh L-shaped tail lamps and trapezoidal tail pipe finishers assimilated into the lower bumper area. As soon as we stepped into the airy and well-appointed cabin, we observed that the digital instrument display and the infotainment touch screen are now a massive 12.3 inches each (up from previous 10.2 inches). The cognac Dakota leather seats are not only eye-catching but snug. Trunk volume (with a hidden bin) is a cool 14 cubic feet. Other niceties include auto a/c, power moon roof and tail gate, Anthracite headliner, 20-way power front seats, 40/20/40 fold rear seat, and more.

Dual front and side airbags and side curtain airbag are standard along with dynamic stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution and brake assist, rearview camera, front/rear park distance control, active braking assist (lane departure warning, blind spot monitor/detect, rear-cross traffic alert, city collision mitigation), daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring are standard.

As we said at the outset, the M550i is not just about indulgences. The forceful engine with over 500 horses and the M label add more pizzazz and sport to the pricey ride that nears $100K price tag.

BMW M550i


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