Laurin & Klement S series: The first high-volume model from Mladá Boleslav made its debut 110 years ago…

This is already the second series of the Laurin & Klement, enjoying also success in the middle east, besides the many buyers in the vast Austro-Hungarian empire…

The car manufacturer Laurin & Klement enjoyed first economic and sporting success with bicycles immediately after it was founded in 1895. Bicycles were the product to begin with. But already 4 years later, the product range was expanded to include motorbikes before the company presented its first automobile in the autumn of 1905 – the Laurin & Klement Voiturette A.

The Austrian sales center of Laurin & Klement was eagerly looking for dealerships in the UK and Commonwealth, for its Type S.

Lets not forget, Laurin & Klement was embedded in the vast Austro-Hungarian empire, and this meant a domestic market good 50 million people. In 1908, 90 per cent of all automobiles in the voiturette segment manufactured during the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary were made by Laurin & Klement. And voiturettes were quite popular too.

In addition to its high utility value, the vehicle also had a particularly attractive price-performance ratio and low fuel consumption.

Laurin & Klement presented its best-selling model, the S series, on 16 April 1911. It sold in high numbers: more than 2000 units had been built by 1924 in numerous versions, including the Lady coupé and the Kavalier ‘double saloon’.

Laurin & Klement’s vehicles also appealed to international customers, finding buyers as far afield as the British and Russian Empires. The S series performed well in the most demanding races and competitions, finishing 6th overall in the 1914 Targa Florio, for example.

The additional designation 12/14 HP resulted from 12 ‘tax horsepower’, a value calculated for tax purposes according to an officially defined formula, as well as from the actual output of 14 hp (10.3 kW). This was produced by a water-cooled four-cylinder petrol engine with a displacement of 1,771 cm3 and side valves.

The engine, with a flywheel positioned at the front, closely behind the radiator, formed a single unit with the clutch and the three-speed gearbox. This meant that only one oil level had to be checked and changed. In addition, the car manufacturer installed a special lubricator made by Friedmann, which served as an oil pump and oil reservoir. It ensured the supply of oil, thus increasing the service life of the mechanical assemblies. The Eisenmann magneto-electric system was used for the ignition.

There were several versions of the robust chassis, and the four-cylinder petrol engines with a displacement of up to 2,413 cm3 generated 30 hp (22.1 kW) at this stage of development.

The fifth series of the celebrated Model S was quite powerful and fast for its time.

The range quickly grew with the addition of models in higher vehicle classes, and the number of units produced in the individual model series soon numbered in the dozens or even hundreds.

A robust ladder frame made of U-shaped steel profiles riveted together formed the basis of the L&K S. The rigid axles at the front and rear were each suspended with two longitudinally mounted leaf springs. The pedal-operated main service brake acted on the cardan shaft behind the gearbox, while the drum brakes on the rear wheels were connected to the handbrake lever. The standard equipment included special spoked wheels, the steel rim of which was firmly bolted to a wooden hub cap. This made it easier to repair the 710 x 90 mm tyres when they were damaged, which was a common occurrence at the time. For an additional charge, the manufacturer also offered wire-spoke wheels, followed by full steel rims from Michelin after the First World War. The complete road-ready chassis of the Model S with a wheelbase of 2,688 mm weighed 650 to 700 kg.

Wide range of variants to meet all requirements

The early Laurin & Klement S reached a top speed of 50 to 60 km/h, depending on whether it was completed with a light commercial vehicle body or passenger car body. The basic versions could be adapted to the specific needs of each customer. At first, the open-top models with two or four seats were most in demand, but later the range was expanded to include other versions, such as the ‘Vienna’ landaulet, the ‘Karlovy Vary’ saloon, the ‘Kavalier’ double saloon and the ‘Lady’ or ‘Doctor’ coupés, each with a specific ladies’ or gents’ interior. The light commercial vehicle derivatives included the ‘Fortschritt’ platform truck and the ‘Express’ luggage carrier.

The “series” production of the sixth and last series of the Model “S”: cars and bodies were already on stands to make work easier…

Customer demand continued to rise, not least because of the regular modernisation of the Laurin & Klement S vehicles. Each stage of development was denoted by a type designation with a subsequent letter from Sa to So. The designations complemented each other, and there were overlaps in the production periods. Over time, the wheelbase grew in numerous steps from the original 2,688 millimetres to 3,220 millimetres. The basic configuration of the in-line four-cylinder engines was retained; however, the displacement increased from 1,771 cm3 to 2,413 cm3 over several stages. In turn, the power output increased from 14 hp (10.3 kW) to 30 hp (22.1 kW). In addition, the three-speed gearbox was replaced by a four-speed transmission to enhance the dynamic characteristics of the S-series vehicles. A modern electric starter became available from 1918 – initially only at the customer’s request – although it was still possible to crank the engine as before. Due to the larger displacement and the higher compression ratio, however, cranking was very strenuous. The original acetylene lights with carbide gas generators were replaced at the beginning of the 1920s by electric light bulbs, which were much easier to operate.

During the 14 years that the Laurin & Klement S models were built, the car manufacturer achieved numerous motor racing successes with the series. Among the most noteworthy are the victories in the Trieste – Opicina and Troppau – Moravian Ostrava races (1911) as well as the Grand Gold Medal at the race in Parma, Italy (1913), 6th place in the overall standings at the challenging Sicilian mountain race Targa Florio (1914) and the special prize awarded by the Chairman of the Czechoslovak Automobile Club Prof. Otakar Kukula for the ‘L&K Se’ model in the 2,000-kilometre reliability race of 1921. In the same competition, the larger ‘L&K So’ model was awarded the silver plaque. In addition, the cars drove to victories in the Zbraslav – Jíloviště and Ecce Homo hill climbs as well as in the Schöber race (1922).

By the First World War, the Laurin & Klement company had become the largest car manufacturer in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A significant proportion of the vehicles produced in Mladá Boleslav went to foreign customers on all continents.

Tradition of volume models from Mladá Boleslav

After more than 2,000 vehicles of the S series had been produced, the Laurin & Klement / ŠKODA 110 model became the best-selling model of the Mladá Boleslav-based manufacturer; a total of 2,985 units were produced between 1925 and 1929. These were the last cars to be developed in the Laurin & Klement era, though they already bore the ŠKODA logo.

The tradition of affordable volume models, which began 110 years ago with this Laurin & Klement S series, continued after ŠKODA entered as a strong strategic partner.

The ŠKODA 422 was the brand’s first vehicle to be produced on an assembly line using efficient production methods and was available from the spring of 1930 at a starting price of 33,000 crowns. The average annual salary of a civil servant at that time was 18,000 crowns. Between 1930 and 1932, 3,466 customers opted for the Š 422.

In March 1934, the Baťa company took delivery of the first model of a completely new generation of cars from Mladá Boleslav – the ŠKODA POPULAR. The model was the answer to the economic crisis at the time. The POPULAR’s technical innovations included its central tubular frame and independent suspension. The price of the vehicle, which was also in high demand abroad, started at just 17,800 crowns. This was one of the reasons the car won over more than 22,500 customers between 1934 and 1947.

Other milestones in the Czech automaker’s history include the introduction of rear-engined vehicles (1964: ŠKODA 1000 MB), and transversely mounted front engine and drivetrain (1987: ŠKODA FAVORIT). In 2020, ŠKODA presented the ENYAQ iV, the first series-production model based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform for battery-electric vehicles.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Maserati Ghibli Hybrid: an electrifying thoroughbred…

When a “pur-sang” four door Gran Turismo car gets electrified to carry it into our “green” age, one has to do this cleverly. For Maserati engineers, the challenge was to retain the character, performance and panache of the brand. This meant retaining a sporting typical sound and presence of a combustion engine, “la macchina” so to say, in every driving situation. Typical for every Maserati built so far.  This also meant at least maintaining the present performance and handling levels, all this combined with of course a marked difference in consumption and CO2 emissions.

As the Ghibli marks the brand’s first entry into electrification, it was very important to get it right.

Well, after this test we can say, the about 100 engineers and developers involved in the Ghibli Hybrid project, did a marvelous job. Just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Choosing the right engine…

From the beginning it was clear the efficiency of a smaller volume four cylinder engine was called for. Within FCA, a true gem was waiting in the Alfa Romeo stable: a two litre four cylinder petrol engine, with a state-of-the art cylinder head and excellent thermal efficiency. But for the Ghibli, more power was needed, as the present performance level had to be retained. This meant a maximum power of 330 HP.

The internal mechanical components of the two litre 4 cylinder Alfa engine derived from FCA have been completely reworked by the Maserati Innovation Lab in Modena, to achieve greater torque and enable the turbocharger and e-booster to deliver the required extra power. The engine’s electronic control system is also totally different, with a switch to a Bosch new-generation ECU. Practically, all that remains of the original engine are the dimensions and part of the cylinder head: this four cylinder has been transformed into a true Maserati engine. The engine is built by the way at the big powertrain & engine production plant at Termoli. This plant builds various engines and drivetrains for the brands of the (now merged) FCA group.

…and coupling it to the ideal hybrid drivetrain.

Keeping the weight down to achieve equal or even better performance, whilst retaining an ideal weight distribution to preserve the excellent handling, excluded a solution using a large battery and a separate electric motor.  

Preserving the kinetic energy of this dynamic Maserati was the key focus. We point out here that the Ghibli Hybrid is built around a modified version of the chassis and bodywork of the Ghibli V6.

So Maserati opted for a 48 volt hybrid system, which has four parts: the BSG (Belt Starter Generator), the battery, eBooster and a DC/DC converter. The BSG does the job of an alternator, recovers energy during braking/deceleration and charges the battery in the boot, which in turn powers the engine’s eBooster. The reason for installing an eBooster on the car is to back up the conventional turbocharger, working in tandem with it, to sustain the engine’s power output at low rpm. The hybrid system’s operating strategy ensures that the eBooster is always available, with current delivered via battery or BSG, whenever it is needed.

The result is an immensely tractable power unit, with torque delivery equal to the previous V6 Diesel, and guaranteeing brilliant acceleration performance. What to say of an acceleration from 0 to 100 km in merely 5,7 seconds, with the Ghibli Hybrid hurting smoothly further to a top speed of 255 km/h?

Smooth 8 speed transmission…

And of course, all this performance is delivered smoothly and effortlessly. Not least thanks to the excellent ZF transmission. Like the other Ghibli versions, the Hybrid is equipped with the same eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, which is used on the Quattroporte and Levante models. This unit is a true gem. It caters for all demands, from comfort to fast gear shifting, and from minimized fuel consumption to low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). The car also recognizes a variety of conditions, such as uphill or downhill driving, hard braking or driving through a corner, and selects the optimal gear and the most suitable gearshift style accordingly.

In Manual Normal mode the system automatically shifts up as the red line approaches, while in Manual Sport, gearshifts are quicker and sharper and the engine can be pushed to the red line without the system intervening.

The true Maserati sound retained…

Here the Maserati engineers performed some miraculous work. Even on small throttle openings at urban crawling speeds, the unit has the hum of a multicylinder thoroughbred. Indeed, this Ghibli Hybrid still has the distinctive growl of every Trident model, and all this is achieved without resorting to amplifiers, by just tweaking the fluid dynamics of the exhausts and adopting resonators, tuned to deliver the typical roar.

Driving is believing…

Indeed, driving this Ghibli Hybrid is an exquisite experience. Ultrasmooth at slow speeds, reacting with thoroughbred staccato when you put your foot down. This Hybrid has retained the agility and responsiveness of a true Maserati. As it recuperates kinetic energy, an anticipative (urban) driving style will greatly reward you with good economy. It was no trouble to stay well below the 10 litre/100 km mark in dense city traffic, cruising at constant legal speeds on the open road will get consumption down to around 8 litres/100 km. The high gearing and the thermal efficiency of the engine see to that, along with the good aerodynamic qualities of the body of course. Typically at 120 km/h, the engine turns over at 1500 rpm. By the way, the manufacturer quotes for the WLTP combined cycle (l/100 km) 8.1 – 9.4, for the WLTP combined cycle (g/km) 183 – 213.

But using the exhilarating performance is an undisturbed pleasure. Our test car was executed in the GranSport trim. (The Ghibli Hybrid is available in both GranLusso and GranSport trims) and this meant that our car came standard with the Skyhook suspension system, where all four dampers can be electronically controlled independently of each other.

The default mode of the Skyhook suspension system prioritizes comfort, and is more sporty if the driver presses the suspension button. This extra damping stiffness, which was developed in both extreme test scenarios and on the racetrack, pushes the Ghibli’s handling characteristics to even higher levels. Essentially, the Skyhook system drastically reduces both longitudinal and lateral load transfers and minimizes body roll to bring out the sportiest side of the car’s character. The computer system in control of the Skyhook dampers monitors a vast array of parameters, including speed, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, individual wheel movements, body movement and damper dynamics. Adjusting to suit the suspension mode selected by the driver, the system delivers the perfect damping mode for each wheel almost instantly. We can tell you, it has to be experienced to be believed…

The well-balanced handling of this Ghibli is of course mainly due to its weight distribution and the general layout of its suspension. The battery in the back actually improves the weight distribution, whilst the double-wishbone suspension layouts are a race-bred tradition at Maserati. The Ghibli continues with this heritage but also incorporates some new technologies, featuring high-mounted all-aluminium double wishbones at the front to guarantee light and precise handling characteristics. The system’s geometry has delivered a quadrilateral architecture, which has enabled Maserati’s handling team to deliver a precise, communicative and comfortable steering feel.

The rear suspension employs a five-bar multi-link system with four aluminium suspension arms, and ensures exceptional ride comfort on the one hand and sports performance on the other. The Ghibli’s suspension package is based around a fixed-rate damping system to control the movement of its steel springs and anti-roll bars.

Superb stopping power…

Dual Cast technology, pioneered by Maserati, combines the strength of cast iron with the lightness of aluminium to reduce unsprung mass and, therefore, increase handling prowess. These brakes have a large swept area, highly efficient cooling and are designed for consistent performance in sports driving situations.

The Ghibli Hybrid is fitted with Dual Cast 360×32 mm ventilated and cross-drilled brake discs with six-piston fixed alloy Brembo calipers on the front axle, while the rear axle is fitted with four-piston fixed alloy 345×28 mm Brembo calipers.

Electrifying elegance and comfort, both inside and out…

The hybrid version of Ghibli features a number of details in dark blue, the colour universally adopted as the symbol of clean mobility. The three traditional air ducts on the front mudguard have a blue trim, and the Brembo brake calipers and the thunderbolt in the pillar logo are in the same colour.

Ghibli Hybrid makes its debut with a new front grille, characterized by a distinctive feature: the Maserati tuning fork. In fact, the updated front grille is based on this shape, and is finished in chrome in the GranLusso trim and in an even more aggressive, sportier Black Piano in the GranSport trim. Like the other cars in the Trident Brand’s range, Ghibli also transforms its rear look, with the development of a new light cluster with a style known as boomerang design, inspired by many Maserati models from history and typical of the Brand’s genetic identity

In the interior, the Maserati panache prevails more than ever. The sculpted sport seats are upholstered with a premium full-grain “Pieno Fiore” natural leather, with contrasting dark blue stitching and an embroidered Trident on the headrests. The same styling is repeated on the door panels and instrument cluster.

The driver’s seat offers 6-way electric adjustment, while the GranLusso and GranSport trims both have standard 12-way power front seats. Needless to say, an ideal seating position is soon found…

The sport steering wheel fitted with aluminium gearshift paddles, and the Inox sport pedals are also typical for the GranSport trim.

Infotainment and connectivity up to scratch…

The Ghibli Hybrid is complete with all the technology upgrades featured on MY21 models, and thus also the new generation MIA (Maserati Intelligent Assistant) multimedia system. The heart of the MIA is the powerful Android Automotive operating system, with full personalization to the driver’s use preferences. The HD screen of the MIA system is enlarged from 8”4 with a ratio of 4:3 to 10”1 with a ratio of 16:10 and is now frameless for a more contemporary look, with the surrounding bezel almost removed.

With effect from MY21 all Maserati cars are connected thanks to the new Maserati Connect program. Having the Maserati connected at all times enables an eye to be kept on the car’s health, and Maserati Connect will alert the driver when a service is due. With a Smartphone or Smartwatch, drivers can always stay in contact with their Maserati thanks to the Maserati Connect app; this is also possible from home via their virtual personal assistant (Amazon Alexa & Google Assist).

Last but not least we enjoyed the stunning Bowers & Wilkins Premium Surround Sound System, with 15 speakers, a 1,280 W amplifier and QuantumLogic™ Surround.

Driving aids galore…

The Integrated Vehicle Control (IVC) function is incorporated in the Maserati Stability Program control for enhanced active safety and driving dynamics, while the optional active Advanced Driver Assistance Systems provide Level 2 autonomous driving technology.

IVC uses a smart, feed-forward controller that predicts driving situations in advance and adapts the engine speed and brakes accordingly. IVC intervenes more smoothly and with less noise than a traditional ESP, ensures better car balance and traction at the limits of the car’s dynamics and employs intelligent torque vectoring to optimize lateral dynamics in a natural way even when MSP is off. In dynamic test maneuvers, like slalom and lane change, IVC has demonstrated higher drive-through speed and improved racetrack lap times. Wow!

Conclusion

The step towards electrification of its range has been done very harmoniously with this Ghibli Hybrid. Whilst completely retaining the original undistilled thoroughbred character of the Trident brand, it succeeded in putting very reasonable economy in place, in combination of course with a corresponding anticipative (urban) driving style, in line with modern times.

All this packed in a timelessly styled, elegant body which exudes elegance and style for the coming decades, this Ghibli Hybrid is a perfect companion, and is also an ambassador for how you understand motoring and individual mobility, for years to come…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Maserati unveils its Levante Hybrid




The Levante Hybrid was presented at ist launch in Azzuro Astro color. This metallic paint consists of three layers and is available through the Maserati Fuoriserie personalization program.

The Maserati Levante Hybrid has today experienced both a physical and a digital world premiere. At the time of the car’s unveiling at the Shanghai Auto Show, a virtual presentation has taken place simultaneously on the houseof.maserati.com website.

With its first electrified SUV, Maserati is taking another important step in the future plan launched last year with the Ghibli Hybrid, which will lead to the electrification of all new Maserati models.

“Faster. Cleaner. Unique ” is the motto at the launch: the Levante Hybrid is faster than a diesel, more durable than a car with an internal combustion engine and unique thanks to specific features and details.

The Levante Hybrid combines a two-liter four-cylinder engine with a 48-volt hybrid system that recovers energy during engine deceleration and application of the brakes. The hybrid SUV is lighter than the six-cylinder version (petrol and diesel) and also has a more balanced weight distribution because the battery – without sacrificing luggage space – is placed in the rear of the car. One of the goals during the development of the Levante Hybrid was to take the dynamics and driving pleasure to an even higher level.

 With a maximum power of 330 hp and a torque of 450 Nm, which is available from just 2,250 rpm, the four-wheel drive Levante Hybrid delivers impressive performance: the car has a top speed of 240 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km in 6 seconds.

The Levante Hybrid was presented at ist launch in Azzuro Astro color. This metallic paint consists of three layers and is available through the Maserati Fuoriserie personalization program.

The Levante Hybrid is immediately recognizable by the unique details in the exterior and interior. Several elements are finished in blue, a color specifically chosen for Maserati hybrid models. Like the brake calipers and trident on the C-pillars, the iconic side vents are finished in this shade of blue. The same color returns in the interior, including the stitching of the seat upholstery.

With Maserati Connect, the Levante Hybrid is always connected to the outside world. The driver remains fully informed about the technical condition of the car: Maserati Connect alerts the owner when maintenance is required, thus improving the quality of the service. The owner is in contact with the car via the Maserati app on the smartphone or smartwatch. You can also contact the car from home with a virtual assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assist.

The digital world premiere of the Levante Hybrid on houseof.maserati.com has been attended by Maserati’s global brand ambassador David Beckham and Italian songwriter and producer Dardust, who has composed an exclusive soundtrack for the unveiling of the Levante Hybrid.

More soon about this Levante in technical detail. Stay posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel      

Audi unveils its first all-electric compact SUV’s: the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron…

Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Colour: Geyser blue, metallic and Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Edition One Colour: Typhoon gray

Versatile all-rounders for everyday use that transfer the progressive design of the concept cars into series production and that can be driven locally without any emissions: The Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron are the first compact electric SUVs from the brand with the Four Rings.

Both of them impress with a new spacious dimension in the interior and pioneering solutions when it comes to operation, display, and assist systems. The augmented reality head-up display connects the virtual and the real worlds in a totally new way.

Q4 50 Sportback e-tron Quattro Colour: Florett silver

The range comprises three drive versions, spearheaded by a quattro model with a maximum output of 220 kW (299 PS). Attributes that they all share are zero local emissions driving  and high ranges, charging times of around ten minutes for sufficient power to travel about 130 kilometers (80.8 mi) in ideal conditions (WLTP) and convenient charging with the e-tron Charging Service. The rear-wheel drive Q4 40 e-tron achieves a range of up to 520 kilometers (323.1 mi) in the WLTP cycle. It goes on sale in Europe in June 2021, with prices in Germany starting at EUR 41,900 – where the customer can claim a subsidy of EUR 9,000 (net).

Audi’s next step: the exterior design

With the Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron, Audi is taking the next step in the design language of its electric models.

The two compact SUVs bring into series production the body line that the Audi Q4 concept and Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept show cars demonstrated at the beginning of 2019.

In the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, the especially low coupé-style roofline ends in an expressively designed rear where the spoiler sits deep on the two-part window.

On request, both of these compact electric SUVs can be driven off the assembly line with Matrix LED headlights. What’s more, the driver can switch between four signatures in the MMI touch operating system. At the rear, a light strip links the taillight units to each other. A choice of eight colors is available for the paint finish, including the new metallic shade aurora violet. In addition to the basic version, there are the two advanced and S line exteriors.

E-mobility for everyone…

Audi wants its new Q4 line to be an all-round car which offers everything for everyone. The available space in the interior is comparable with the full-size SUV class; there is no center tunnel. The feeling of spaciousness is not just confined to the front seats – with the generous legroom, passengers in the rear also benefit from the advantage of the technological platform, which is designed as electric-only.

Depending on the positioning of the rear seat backs, the volume of the luggage compartment is 520 to 1,490 liters in the Q4 e-tron and 535 to 1,460 liters under a power trunk lid in the Sportback. Both models can tow trailers with a weight of up to 1,000 kilograms (braked, at 12% incline), with the quattro versions even able to pull up to 1,200 kilograms.

Another strength for everyday use is the high range – the Q4 40 e-tron travels up to 520 kilometers (323.1 mi) (WLTP) on a single battery charge. Thanks to a maximum charging capacity of 125 kW, in ideal conditions it can charge enough power for about 130 kilometers (80.8 mi) (WLTP) in around ten minutes. Using the myAudi app, the owner can activate charging at home and pre-entry climate control from their smartphone.

In the interior, there are also quite a few innovations. For instance totally new is the steering wheel with its seamless touch surfaces, which the driver uses to control the digital instrument cluster.

Infotainment and navigation are operated primarily using the central MMI touch display, which will also be available in the largest configuration level of 11.6 inches towards the end of the year. Natural voice control provides the third operating interface.

On request, the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron can be equipped with another innovation on board – the augmented reality head-up display.

Fully digital: the Q4 e-tron is an e-mobility device

The Q4 e-tron models offer a fully digital user experience. The infotainment package in the electric compact SUV is structured in three levels – from MMI through MMI plus to MMI pro.

Different functions are provided depending on the configuration level, including the augmented reality head-up display and the Audi virtual cockpit plus. The optional levels provide the online services of Audi connect, including the intelligent e-tron route planner for working out the optimal route that stays close to the public charging infrastructure. For premium sound, the Sonos sound system which combines lifestyle, technology and design in a new dimension.

Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Static photo, Colour: Geyser blue, metallic Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Edition One Static photo, Colour: Typhoon gray

For urban commuters and long-distance drivers: battery, drive and charging options

The drive portfolio of the two compact electric models lives up to the expectations of very different groups of customers – from the urban commuter to the long-distance driver. It includes two battery variants and three drive variants. The compact battery for the Q4 35 e-tron has a net energy content of 52 kWh (55 kWh gross), while the figures for the large battery in the Q4 40 e-tron and Q4 50 e-tron quattro are 77 (82) kWh.

The Q4 35 e-tron and the Q4 40 e-tron have an electric motor that drives the rear wheels, with an output of 125 kW (170 PS) and 150 kW (204 PS) respectively. The top-of-the-range version Q4 50 e-tron quattro has two electric motors for the electric all-wheel drive. They give it a maximum output of 220 kW (299 PS) – sufficient for a sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 180 km/h. For efficiency, the motor on the front axle comes into action only when high power or a strong grip is needed.

Another important factor in energy-saving driving is intelligent recuperation, which also incorporates navigation and topographical data.

Dashboard

Audi’s two new electric SUVs can be charged with different outputs using alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) depending on the battery. The compact battery can get up to 7.2 kW with AC charging and up to 100 kW when using HPC charging (high-power charging) with direct current. As standard, the larger battery allows for up to 11 kW with AC and up to 125 kW with HPC.

Audi e-tron Charging Service…

Drivetrain

The Audi e-tron Charging Service provides access to around 210,000 public charging points in 26 European countries, 4,400 of which are HPC fast-charging points (as of April 2021), using just one charging card. In the transit tariff, customers buying the Q4 e-tron do not pay any basic fee in the first year. They benefit here especially from the preferential conditions in the IONITY network: The charged kilowatt hour costs 31 cents, which corresponds to the price level when charging at home in Germany.

The Audi Q4 e-tron will appear in June 2021 on European markets, with the Q4 Sportback e-tron following in the late summer. Of course we are keen to sample driving impressions this summer!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

New ŠKODA ENYAQ iV earns five stars in Euro NCAP test.

The new ŠKODA ENYAQ iV truly scores: The new electric SUV has achieved the highest classification of five stars in tests conducted by the independent European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP).

It now ranks among the safest vehicles currently available with a total of 86% of the possible points.

And there is more: The ŠKODA ENYAQ iV achieved the best result ever in the Euro NCAP test for occupant protection, with 94% for adult passengers and 89% for children.

ŠKODA’s first model based on the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Electrification Toolkit thus continues the string of top scores for ŠKODA vehicles in the crash safety reference test, even with the now stricter assessment criteria. ŠKODA’s bestseller, the OCTAVIA, the compact model SCALA and the SUV models KODIAQ, KAROQ and KAMIQ, among others, have all been awarded the coveted five star rating.

Needless to say that the ENYAQ iV inspires, with its styling and build quality, and we will be keen to sample driving and test impressions in the coming months…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

First round for the European Ferrari Challenge has started at Monza…

In the opening act of the first round for the European Ferrari Challenge at the Monza circuit, the Passione Ferrari Club Challenge 2021 has started. During this exclusive circuit event, owners of the Ferrari 488 Challenge and 488 Challenge Evo were given the opportunity to perfect their racing technique and record a personal fastest lap time.

The Passione Ferrari Club Challenge was created to give Ferrari owners the opportunity to get to know their cars – without a competitive element – on the track. The program of these exclusive club meetings is aimed at both beginners and drivers with more track experience. The cars are equipped with telemetry thanks to which the lap times and track data can be read. These data allow the participants to analyze their performance and improve their driving technique. Professional Ferrari instructors personally supervise the participants, conduct driving technique workshops and assist with the analysis of the telemetry data.

The Ferrari 488 Challenge and 488 Challenge Evo are extreme sports cars, but their performance remains very accessible. With these cars, drivers experience the same sensations and excitement as a professional driver. For Ferrari owners who want to take part in the Ferrari Challenge, the Passione Ferrari Club Challenge is an ideal springboard. Drivers who dream of taking part in an official FIA Championship are being guided in the right direction.

Driving on six European circuits…

From April to September, owners of the Ferrari 488 Challenge and 488 Challenge Evo will be able to drive on six legendary circuits in Europe. In addition, they have the opportunity to start during the Finali Mondiali 2021, where all international Challenge series will ride the final race of their championship, according to tradition.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Leasys and FCA Bank launch from 12 to 30 of April the “Electric Days”…

Electric mobility is growing more popular worldwide, and even more so in Europe where the growth of electric and hybrid cars has been in three figures recently.

Leasys and FCA Bank want to play a leading role in this trend, and therefore they launched the “Electric Days”, three weeks of special offers dedicated to electric mobility, all entirely in digital fashion.

The offers will be active from the moment of writing until the end of April and they are designed to make the services offered by the Group and its rental company Leasys even more accessible and convenient.

Digital offers range in Europe from mobility to financial and banking products: from personal loans to GO4xe financing, from CarCloud to Leasys Miles, to Clickar.

Leasys and FCA Bank launch a cross-country commercial promotion that includes 10 European countries simultaneously dedicated to electric mobility and sustainability. Italy, France, Germany, Spain, UK, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Denmark and Belgium will offer their customers the best digital solutions to satisfy every green mobility and financial needs in every different market.

For Belgium, PR & Communication Director Dominique Fontignies announced that the first offer of this campaign gives professional clients the opportunity to drive a Jeep Compass 4xe Plug-in Hybrid from € 319/month (excl. VAT) in the financial renting formula.(60 months). Leasys offers this model in operational leasing from € 589/month (incl. VAT).

Leasys also offers the Fiat 500e Business Edition. This 500e is available from € 469/month (incl. VAT) in operational leasing. Finally, the Fiat 500C Hybrid Lounge is available in operational leasing from € 269/month (incl. VAT).

There is more news to come from Jeep, we will soon present here the new Compass…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Jaguar launches a stunning “R-Dynamic” version of their elegant F-Type…

Jaguar launches a mouth-watering version of their elegant F-TYPE: the Exclusive F-TYPE R-Dynamic Black. It boasts additional equipment as standard and is offered in Coupé and Convertible body styles

There is an even more desirable version: the so-called “Black Pack”, with 20-inch gloss black wheels, and choice of Santorini Black, Eiger Grey or Firenze Red metallic paint.

Refinement…

The driver-focused interior is equipped with 12-way adjustable Windsor Leather Performance Seats in Ebony with Light Oyster stitch or in Mars with Flame Red stitch. An Ebony coloured suede cloth headliner enriches the iconic ‘1+1’ cabin.  

The R-Type comes with many appealing details: A heritage-inspired monogram pattern is used for seat and door trim stitching and also embossing of the suede cloth wrap for the instrument cluster.

And abundant power…

The F-Type comes with what it takes: the 300PS Ingenium four-cylinder and 450PS supercharged V8 with rear- or all-wheel drive and eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ transmissions deliver engaging, exploitable performance and outstanding driver reward.

The new R-Dynamic Black models add to the purity and presence that already sets Jaguar’s definitive sports car apart.

The F-TYPE’s shape is further accentuated by the Black Pack and 20-inch, five split-spoke wheels with gloss black finish. Known as ‘Style 5039’, these wheels are not available on any other model in the range. Complementing these perfectly is the choice of three metallic paints: Santorini Black, Eiger Grey or Firenze Red.

Performance galore…

Exclusively rear-wheel drive, the 300PS, 2.0-litre turbocharged Ingenium four-cylinder engine generates maximum torque from just 1,500rpm, delivering exceptional throttle response throughout the rev range. It also provides the performance expected from F-TYPE and enables acceleration from 0-60mph in only 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. 

The 450PS, 5.0-litre supercharged V8 has been developed to offer exploitable, useable and rewarding performance – maximum torque of 580Nm is generated from 2,500rpm. It is offered with a choice of all-wheel drive with Intelligent Driveline Dynamics or – for purists – rear-wheel drive. Both 450PS powertrains feature an electronic active rear differential to optimise traction, and both enable 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds and a maximum speed of 177mph.

The 300PS and 450PS units are also available in other F-TYPE models, but for truly exceptional performance in all weathers and on any kind of road there is the F-TYPE R. Offered exclusively with all-wheel drive, its supercharged V8 delivers 575PS and 700Nm: the benchmark sprint to 60mph takes just 3.5 seconds, while maximum speed is an electronically-limited 186mph. 

Tailoring your Jaguar to your personal driving style…

The F-TYPE R and P450 models are equipped as standard with Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics system with Configurable Dynamics. Using electronically-controlled, continuously-variable dampers, Adaptive Dynamics optimizes both low speed comfort and high-speed control, while Configurable Dynamics enables the driver to tailor the settings for suspension stiffness, steering weight, throttle response and gearshifts. All 300PS four-cylinder F-TYPEs use meticulously tuned passive monotube dampers to deliver the ride and handling attributes which give these models their unique character.

Needless to say that we are keen to sample test driving impressions from these wonderful, sporting and elegant Jaguars soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Bentley celebrates the production of its 200.000th car…


The Bentayga Hybrid, destined for a Chinese customer, met the oldest surviving Bentley, EXP 2, and a number of long serving colleagues, as it rolled off the production line at the home of Bentley in Crewe this week.

Things have taken off for the inconic brand over the last 18 years. Thanks to the success of the Continental GT and more recently the Bentayga SUV, daily production has soared. Indeed, over that period, over 75 per cent of 101 years of production has been hand-built at the Crewe factory, more than ever the home of Bentley. Current daily production, 85 cars per day, equals monthly production numbers of two decades ago.

The Bentley Continentals – then and now…

I vividly recall the interview I made at the Frankfurt Motor Show more than a decade ago with Franz-Josef Paefgen, then CEO of Bentley Motors and Bugatti Automobiles, posts he left in 2011.

During his time as the Chief Executive Officer of Bentley Motors Ltd., he was responsible for the Bentley Mulsanne and the Bentley Continental series of cars. From 2003 to 2005, Dr. Paefgen was responsible for the development of the Bugatti Veyron.

Every Bentley is actually a four wheeled chapter in automotive history…

I asked him then whether a hybrid Bentley was not on the cards, as Bentley’s could be considered the pinnacle of engineering and an electrified Bentley would be proper. It clearly was not in the strategy of the VW Group then, as the idea was immediately brushed aside by Mr. Paefgen as unrealistic, customers not wanting this at all…

Well times have changed quite a bit since then, as we now read that Company aims to be end-to-end carbon neutral by 2030 with entire model range switched to battery electric vehicles(!). Bentley will move to full electrification – PHEV or BEV only – by 2026, then switch the entire model range to battery electric vehicles by 2030. The industry-leading Beyond100 Strategy will transform every aspect of the business as Bentley accelerates into its second century of luxury car production.

Six cylinder Bentley engine production in the ’50s in Crewe…

What this means for the retail value and depreciation of the existing and historic Bentley’s remains to be seen…

But back to the production history.

The Continental GT was the first landmark…

In 2003 the introduction of the Continental GT represented a transformative moment for the brand, and this Bentley alone, has represented 80,000 sales of the total of 200,000, and created both a new segment, and a contemporary image foundation for the Bentley business.

The Crewe factory in 1940…

…followed by the Bentayga

The success of the Continental GT has been mirrored by the Bentayga, offering a true Bentley driving experience and unparalleled luxury. Launched in 2015, when it established the luxury SUV sector, the fastest SUV in the world has reached its 25,000 production landmark. It is expected that the Bentayga could surpass total sales of the Continental GT within a decade and become the biggest selling Bentley model in history.

And now in 2021…

Since 2005, the company has also built 40,000 examples of the Flying Spur, the most successful luxury sports saloon in the world.

We show you here some photos, lifting a veil of the very interesting and multifaceted production history of the brand, and then we have told nothing of their sporting achievements…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We personally witnessed the unfolding of the Audi Quattro (Rally) Saga…

We were there: your servant in conversation with Michèle Mouton in Sankt Moritz, on December 8, 1982…

Your servant was already active as a freelance car journalist from the mid-seventies of last century, so we witnessed up close the birth of the Audi 5-cylinder engines and the (rally) cars powered by it were quite familiar. When we were telling you the long career of Audi’s 5 cylinder engine, we told you how your servant remembered a drive behind the wheel of the Audi 80 Quattro with this magnificent engine. Just look at our pages on this site, and more especially https://autoprova.be/2016/09/18/sweet-memories-our-drive-with-the-5-cylinder-audi-80-5e-quattro-in-sankt-moritz/

This memorable test drive of this Audi 80 5E Quattro took place in Sankt Moritz, on 8 and 9 December 1982. For the assembled international journalists, Audi had also organized a demonstration run with the Quattro Rally Cars, and had brought Michèle Mouton and Stig Blomquist to the venue.

You see me here chatting with Michèle Mouton before having a demo drive with her at the wheel in her Quattro Rally machine…

Sweet memories!

Hans Knol ten Bensel