We drove the new Compass “Made in Europe” with the brand new 1,3 litre petrol engine…

FCA is going from strength to strength, and it has developed a new generation of state of the art four cylinder petrol engines. We drove both versions of this supersmooth gem, the new four-cylinder 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine made at the FCA plant in Melfi, in the Italian region of Basilicata. It is part of the new FCA Global Small Engine family, launched in mid-2018 on the Jeep Renegade. The two versions are a 130 hp unit paired with a six-speed manual transmission and 150 hp mated to a six-speed Dual Dry Clutch Transmission (DDCT) – both with front-wheel drive.

But not only the engines, also the Jeep Compass itself is now built in Europe, at the same FCA plant in Melfi to serve Italian and European customers. This marks a further step in the implementation of FCA’s 5 billion Euro investment plan for Italy.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Velvet power…

To admit you right away, we were very impressed. Utterly smooth and flexible, these engines offered silent, totally vibration free and effortless propulsion, and my co-driver, himself a very experienced and knowledgeable car journalist, thought the first 10 kilometers through town and motorway that we were driving…on E-power! He was under the impression we were underway with the celebrated 4xe version. Needless to say that we look forward to have a presentation and drive in this plug-in hybrid version soon…

We just tell you here that the 4xe models (featuring plug-in hybrid electric technology) will be available with an electric motor mated to a choice of either the 190 hp and 240 hp version of the 1.3-litre Global Small Engine. These will arrive in European showrooms in the second half of this year. Both these 4xe versions will be four-wheel drive only.

But as said, the 150 HP with the DDCT transmission is a very smooth companion. Consumption is quite good too: we clocked on the briskly driven test route on winding roads and dense Brussels town traffic an average of 7,2 l/100 km.

This is the first application of an automatic transmission in combination with front-wheel drive on Compass, and will make it more accessible to new customers in the C-SUV segment (sales of 4×2 automatics currently account for 28% of the market in Europe). The new 1-3-litre petrol engine complies with Euro 6D Final standards and features a GPF filter (Gasoline Particulate Filter).

For Compass, the 1.3-litre petrol engine has been updated with specific turbo-matching, which maximizes the engine response at low engine speed and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 27%. The new engine also optimizes fuel consumption by up to 30% (WLTP cycle) compared to the previous petrol 4×4 versions with automatic transmission.

For more sporting souls, it has something special in store: in combination with the new 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine and DDCT automatic transmission, this Compass also features for the first time a ‘Sport’ driving mode that can be selected with the push of a button in the center console. It tightens up the steering, sharpens the throttle response and adjusts the transmission’s behavior through higher upshifts for full horsepower and torque delivery. In addition, in Sport mode, the ’sailing‘ function is blocked and the ’fast-off‘ mode is activated. When the accelerator is released, this prevents switching to a higher gear.

From our lunch destination in downtown Brussels, at the excellent Italian Restaurant Osteria/Pizzeria Fico, we drove back to FCA Motor Village at Meiser in the manual version, and were impressed again by the smoothness, the excellent pulling power and flexibility of this very silent engine, making dense town driving a breeze.

Of course, Diesel enthusiasts are not left in the cold. An updated version of the 120 hp 1.6-litre MultiJet II diesel engine with SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) is also on the cards. New features include the new Uconnect Services for improved on-board and off-board connectivity, new styling cues such as six different wheel designs (one specific for each trim and exclusive 19-inch Gloss Black wheels for the Night Eagle model) and a new color palette with five new exterior paints: Ivory Tri-Coat, Colorado Red, Blue Italia, Blue Shade and Techno Green Metallic – all of which can be offered in combination with a black roof. The new tonneau cover is also available on all versions.

The Jeep Compass made in Melfi offers a full line-up of five trim levels – Sport, Longitude, Night Eagle, Limited and S (depending on the market).

This Compass we drove for you here is in the showrooms at the moment of writing, i.e. September 2020.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: four wheeled luxury reinvented…

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, in hightech silver

A new S-Class redefines the benchmark of luxurious motoring. This time, the high-tech innovations are centered around driver and passengers. We name a few of them: The second generation of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) débuts in the new S-Class. Not less than five(!) screens are installed. New 3D driver display for the first time allows spatial perception of the scene with a real 3D effect thanks to eye-tracking. There is also a very large head-up display with augmented reality content. When navigating, for example, animated turn-off arrows (“fishbones”) are virtually and precisely projected onto the road lane.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior: leather siena brown

Using cameras in the overhead control panel and learning algorithms, MBUX Interior Assist recognizes and anticipates the wishes and intentions of the occupants. It does this by interpreting head direction, hand movements and body language, and responds with corresponding vehicle functions. For example, if the driver looks over his/her shoulder towards the rear window, Interior Assist automatically opens the sunblind.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, interior: leather siena brown

The active ambient lighting with around 250 LEDs is now integrated into the driving assistance systems, and is able to reinforce their warnings visually.

The latest generation of the Driving Assistance Package has new and numerous improved functions. One example is the intelligent compliance with speed limits.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, exterior: hightech silver

The new S-Class is also easy to manoeuver:  Thanks to rear-axle steering (optional), the S-Class is as manoeuvrable as a compact car in the city. The steering angle at the rear axle is up to ten degrees. The turning circle is reduced by up to two metres.(!)

Mercedes-Benz S-Class DIGITAL LIGHT

More than 50 electronic components in the new S-Class can be updated with new software over-the-air (OTA). These include the entire MBUX infotainment system, the driver display, the driving assistance systems and the MULTIBEAM LED and DIGITAL LIGHT lighting systems. You don’t need to visit your dealer for this anymore…

The S-Class is also safer than ever. When a side impact with another vehicle threatens, the vehicle body can be raised by the E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension (optional) within a few tenths of a second.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, interior: leather nappa black/carmin red

It is expected that from the second half of 2021 the S-Class will be able to drive in conditionally automated mode with the new DRIVE PILOT (optional extra), in situations where traffic density is high or in tailbacks, on suitable motorway sections …in Germany.

The revolutionary headlamp technology DIGITAL LIGHT (optional extra) allows completely new functions, e.g. the projection of marking aids or warning symbols onto the road ahead. In each headlamp, DIGITAL LIGHT has a light module with three extremely powerful LEDs with light that is refracted and directed by 1.3 million micro-mirrors. The resolution is therefore more than 2.6 million pixels per vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, exterior: hightech silver

When the new S-Class is launched, six-cylinder in-line petrol and diesel engines in various output classes will be available, with a V8 engine with integrated starter generator (ISG) and a 48-volt onboard electrical system to follow shortly afterwards. A plug-in hybrid with an all-electric range of around 100 km will follow in 2021.

Of course, books can be written about this new S-Class; We will in the near future, describe some of these new technical and electronic breakthroughs in more detail…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Three (!) electric engines for the Audi e-tron S and Audi e-tron S Sportback

Driving is believing, and the e-power experience proves to be even more exhilarating at Audi: their e-tron flagship comes now with three engines, making it 370 kW strong and giving it a massive torque of 973 Nm. Two engines are driving the rear wheels, and indeed, the emphasis is on rear end power, as well for daily use as for sporting driving. The rear end can even be seduced to produce power slides, and the Quattro concept has been further honed to deliver, as the factory puts it, an electronically controlled vector torque distribution with active and fully variable torque distribution between both rear wheels, doing away with a differential altogether.

Driving experience 2.0

The Audi pilots can wet their hands: this impressive SUV is your sporting partner on winding roads and mountain passes. Just put the electronic stability control ESC in “sport” mode and the drive mode selector in “dynamic” and things really start to happen. True power slides are now possible and the system will softly brake the inner front wheel should it want to slip through under full power. This leaves you fully in control of this e-power “bolide”, which leaves nothing to be desired in the power department.

This S-tron catapults itself from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 4,5 seconds, and then storms further ahead to its electronically controlled top speed of 210 km/h.

Still sufficient range…

The available battery power is a good match for all this sportiness. When you adopt a driving style in tune with the WLTP cycle, you can expect an action range of 360 kilometers or thereabouts. The high tension battery has a gross charge capacity of 95 kWh, of which 91 pct is effectively usable.

The Quattro principle has been further refined. When extra power is wanted, the front motor kicks in, and as said, both rear engines are individually controlled and offer this fully variable torque, managed by a permanent electronic control system.

As you can expect, the S version has a suspension setup geared towards sportiness, but when you’re not in the mood, it is good to know that the Audi Drive Select gives you the choice between not less than seven driving profile modes. The fully adaptable air suspension has controlled damping stiffness and can vary the ride height by some 76 mm.

20 inch alloys are standard, but you can opt for 21 inch tall wheels, and later even 22 inch alloys will be available. The brake saddles at the front have not less than six (!) pistons. The brake control system will decide the braking power of each wheel, and will choose also if engine, brake friction or both will be used when decelerating.

The body has also been made more aerodynamic, and the patented new wheel arches improve things markedly. The Cx is a mere 0,26 for the Sportback version.  

Each e-tron also comes with a … heat pump, which effectively reduces energy consumption on the whole by extracting heat generated by the driveline, and thus extending the driving range by some 10 pct.

Of course this e-Tron S has all the infotainment and electronic driving assistance you could ever want,and will also light the road for you with matrix LED headlamps. In the cabin, MMI touch response control system with two large central screens await you. The online services of Audi Connect complete the navigation system, especially the e-tron-routeplanner.

We are certainly looking forward to have a drive in this latest edition of the e-Tron, just know that this version will be available on the European markets in autumn 2020, and prices in Belgium start at 97.100 euro incl. VAT for the e-tron S, and 99.110 euro incl. VAT for the Sportback version.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Alfa Romeo celebrates 110 years of sporting automotive craftsmanship also in Belgium!

Alfa celebrates 110 years of passion in Belgium, driving here in front of the Royal Palace in the heart of Brussels…

Alfa Romeo will officially celebrate its 110th anniversary on June 24 in Arese, Italy, on the brand’s historic site. So more about this very soon this week.

But also in Belgium, Alfa has since its very first beginning always been synanimous of pure four wheeled passion.

In Belgium, fans of the brand will be able to watch a new video from today that creates a unique bond between Alfa Romeo and the Belgians, from the Brussels squares to the curves of Spa-Francorchamps, the Formula 1 mecca where Alfa Romeo will compete in August.

The Giulia and Stelvio MY2020 play the leading role, as this video illustrates the brand’s mastery of typical Italian design, technology and driving pleasure.

We tell you here somewhat more about it…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The tour shot on the video starts at the iconic Place Royale, a stone’s throw from the Royal Palace in Brussels. This highly symbolic location for Belgium serves as the background for the two latest creations of Alfa Romeo: the sedan Giulia MY2020 and the SUV Stelvio MY2020.

In keeping with Belgian tradition, the nocturnal rainy weather made the wet pavement reflect in the still illuminated headlamps of the two Biscione models. It is barely 5 a.m., and the city wakes up.

This is all the more photogenic, and the media team prepares to shoot the video images and take photos of this historic moment: the celebration of the 110th anniversary of the Alfa Romeo brand on Belgian territory.

As a symbol of the “Made in Italy” label, Alfa Romeo has had a beautiful love relationship with the Belgians for a long time. The sportiness and elegance of the brand have been celebrated here for decades. In addition, Alfa Romeo has made models throughout its history that have become icons in the automotive industry. Belgium, with its many car enthusiasts, is also an important territory for discerning collectors. There are many private museums across the country, containing numerous treasures created by Alfa Romeo engineers and designers, as well as unique vehicles handcrafted by the peninsula’s great bodybuilders. For the “Belgians”, the name Alfa Romeo stands for passion.

From the squares to the striking monuments of Brussels, the last two creations of Alfa Romeo go to the east of the country, first past the Royal Palace of Brussels, remembering that the King and Queen of the Belgians, Albert II and Paola, when they were crown princes, brought a visit to Alfa Romeo and went also to its Balocco test track. The Prince of Liège hiself slid behind the wheel of the unique 33 Stradale, in October 1967.

After Brussels the team and the cars head towards Spa-Francorchamps. To the most mythical circuit of motorsport, which all Formula 1 drivers enjoy the most.

A territory that the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio have known for several years, as the Quadrifoglio versions of both models are used for the transport of the two current pilots of the brand, Antonio Giovinazzi, ambassador of the Giulia Quadrifoglio, and Kimi Räikkönen, ambassador of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. It is also on this very track that the new Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN Formula 1 cars will run the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of the summer, on Sunday 30 August 2020.

On the runway at La Sauvenière Airport, the scene of an impressive air ballet during the Grand Prix weekends, the two Alfa Romeos are now enjoying the asphalt, whose curves, straights and slopes are already an interesting playground on the way to circuit. Two legendary cars that are about to race on an iconic track, where the brand has had the opportunity to express the full range of its sporting expertise on numerous occasions and in many motorsport events.

The 1750 Sport was already a star in Francorchamps in 1929…

It is in this magical setting that the last images of this commemorative video produced by the Alfa Romeo team will be shot, to testify once again to the unique bond that unites the famous sports brand with its Belgian fans. The video will be available on the Alfa Romeo social media pages in Belgium and on the Alfa Romeo press website:

FR: http://www.media.fcaemea.com/be-fr/alfa-romeo

NL : http://www.media.fcaemea.com/be-nl/alfa-romeo

Just click and enjoy the images, as you have admired the photos here!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Fiat launches soon its benchmark for 100 % electric delivery: the E-Ducato…

On June 5th, the “World Environment Day” , Fiat focused the attention of the press on its E-Ducato, which was a year ago presented to us as a prototype. Then we met the dynamic people of Fiat Professional, Mr. Domenico Gostoli and Mme Angelica Carapezza amongst others, and faithful readers remember the reports we made then on our pages. We also refer to the interesting interview we made with Mme Carapezza, where she also  commented on her impressive automotive career so far. You can read it again on our columns. Just look at https://autoprova.be/2019/09/15/women-behind-cars-angelica-carapezza/ and https://autoprova.be/2019/07/01/fiat-professional-surprises-the-commercial-vehicle-world-with-an-all-electric-ducato/

Nothwithstanding Corona times, the development of the new Fiat Professional model has been continued using simulation tools.

The E-Ducato is the result of an extended series of measurements and tests, taking into account all the variables of usage by different types of clients, as well as dynamic, load and environmental aspects.

Developed by professionals with the help of client professionals…

The development of the E-Ducato included over one year of on-road measurements to analyze more than 28,000 connected vehicles. The measurements from a client’s perspective were taken by a dedicated team of professionals on vehicles with combustion engines running more than 50 million kilometers, to take into account all the variables of client usage, dynamics, load, and environmental aspects.

The analyses were focused on mileage, model variability for any kind of mission, fuel expenditure, vehicle usage, and temperature. By adopting this approach, Fiat Professional is able to offer comprehensive electric mobility solutions. With an analysis of energy demand as a starting point, these solutions will not only cover every single task, they will also provide answers ranging from the vehicle to infrastructure, not to mention a whole range of the everyday services increasingly required by a new and emerging mobility.

The result is a van available in all body variants with the same load volume as the conventional Ducato, from 10 m3 to 17 m3, and the best payload on the market, up to 1,950 kg.

In addition to the many body styles and chassis versions, a choice of battery options will also be available for the E-Ducato, with ranges in a typical urban real delivery cycle from 200 to over 330 km at standard environment conditions, depending by battery pack, and a variety of charging configurations. It also comes with high-potential performance: speed limited to 100 km/h for improved energy absorption, maximum output of 90 kW and maximum torque of 280 Nm.

Last but not least, the FCA styling centre has developed a new logo for the 100% electric Ducato.  The logo itself is made up of two distinct elements: a letter “E” in blue – the color traditionally associated with innovation and sustainability, preceded by a “D” for Ducato in brushed silver above.  

Comprehensive training for a new sales process

So the E-Ducato professional experience can begin even before getting on board, Fiat Professional organized training days in February specifically for the sales force, involving 265 sales agents and managers across 124 dealerships in the main markets. Road tests structured as a journey through a city were also run at the Balocco circuit, with emphasis on the new full electric driving modes. An in-depth look was also taken at the new WLTP homologation procedure and its impact on the world of outfitted vehicles. Presentations were given on some of these, from mobile workshops and refrigeration to people carriers: versatility that has always been one of the strengths of the Fiat Professional Ducato.

Virtual training: from developments in training to business development

Given the current cautious social distancing measures, Fiat Professional continued the training in a virtual format: a development in training, just like the E-Ducato represents a development in the business. Each remote session was focused on the product in depth, in preparation for other activities.

The E-Ducato technical specifications and line-up were discussed in detail, with special consideration given to its innovative aspects. All the Virtual Classrooms were met with resounding success and were diligently attended. For example, there have already been 310 participants from Germany, 120 from Poland and 210 from non-EMEA regions, while online training will soon begin in the remaining European markets, including in Spain, France and the UK.

Actual launch expected within a few months…

To continue its journey into the market, the E-Ducato will soon be subjected to extensive specific field testing by partner clients under normal working conditions of usage. On that basis, the E-Ducato is therefore being prepared for its launch on the market, due to take place in the coming months, with the opening of orders in the main European markets as the first stage.

The brand-new electric vehicle will soon join the methane-driven Ducato Natural Power in the offering of alternative propulsion systems, to take on the market challenge.

We are looking forward to the actual launch, stay tuned in these columns!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Fiat launches on social media a stunning “one shot” film about three unique 500’s …

Outstanding design is one of the hallmarks of Fiat cars, with the superbly iconic 500 or “Cinquecento” of course taking centre stage. Indeed, this is further shown by a remarkable docufilm “One-Shot”.

The trailer of this film is now on air, looking “behind the scenes” of the creation of the One-Offs, three exclusive interpretations of the New Fiat 500, by Armani, Bvlgari and Kartell.

The Bulgari logo on the 500…

The full film can be viewed on Fiat’s social media channels, first of all on YouTube. The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGGd7EcnmNI&feature=youtu.be. But you can also see it on FCA’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

In the film, we see the unfolding of “Plan B” when Geneva Motor Show was canceled, and it was decided to present the “one off” cars in front of the Milan Duomo…

This breathtaking journey, narrated by Olivier François – President, Fiat Brand Global and FCA Chief Marketing Officer, includes interviews with designers, tales of partners, close-ups on the details and selection of materials, where the aim is caring of the environment and its sustainability.

Unloading the cars in the early morning in front of the Duomo…

The short film (15 and a half minutes) presents a relentless succession of meetings and processes that highlight teamwork, the affinity between designers from different fields and the emotions involved in playing an active role in an extraordinary project: the creation of something unique, an interpretation of the New 500 alongside the very best of “Made in Italy”.

Genuine gold flakes adorn the Bulgari 500…

The result is the three One-Offs, embodiment’s of the style, creativity and craftsmanship characteristic of “Made in Italy” and of our partners in the project, in the path and in the vision of the Earth’s future.

The Armani 500 got a special dressing…

And also a wood sculpted dashboard…

The journey depicted in the film begins in Turin, cradle of the Fiat brand, passing from Rome on the way with its sunsets, colors and lines that symbolize Bvlgari all over the world, to arrive in Milan, the world capital of fashion and design, due in no small part to Armani and Kartell.

…by a special wood cutting machine…

The twist in the tale has Milan as the setting for the entire presentation of the New 500.

A veritable gearshift takes place in the film’s account of the tense time when the Geneva International Motor Show was canceled, and a plan B had to be found and set in motion. The presentation of the New 500 and the One-Offs was completely rewritten to pull up stakes, to Milan.

Bvlgari jewelry in the 500 logo…

The short film is created and produced by VICE Italy, with Rockets at the helm. It uses the language of documentaries to reveal aspects normally concealed from the general public, in an immediate and effective way.

In an authentic, realistic vernacular, the evocative film opens the doors of the Style Center in Turin to the cameras. We get an exclusive peek inside the “Color & Material” department led by Rossella Guasco, halfway between a sophisticated research center and an elegant fashion atelier.

Bvlgari used its foulards…to enhance the dasboard

The footage documents their almost-obsessive attentiveness to every detail, that “know-how” typical of Italian creativity, and dwells on the emotions of the whole team as they experience something truly unique.

Kartell the seats…

The journey continues in an interview with Klaus Busse, Head of Design, explaining what lies beneath the creative process of style and forms, and the role of the 500 in the history of industrial design, even more so in the collective unconscious.

…and elements of the car…

It was the Style Center that took a legend of the 50’s, the fabled “Cinquino”, and reinvented it in 2007 to “color” everyday life and streets all over the world, making it an authentic, unique and salient response to the requirements of international urban mobility.

At the Milan launch of the One-Offs in March, it was even announced that the Fiat 500 has been confirmed as an “Italian Icon and Honorary Member” of Altagamma, the prestigious Foundation that brings together the best of Italy’s companies, to promote the epitomes of the country’s excellence around the world.

Just have a look at the photos here, and also enjoy the film!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new BMW 5 series…

BMW rejuvenates its bestseller – more than 600,000 units have been sold of the current 5 series sedan and touring – and the market introduction will be in July 2020. Due to the Corona times, the presentation of this new 5 series was digital, but the car is not less amazing for it, and we are only more curious to see it soon “in the flesh”!  

Both models will be produced at BMW Plant Dingolfing in Bavaria. The new BMW 5 Series Sedan will also be built by production partner Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. The longwheelbase version of the Sedan is made exclusively for the Chinese market at joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive’s Dadong plant in Shenyang. Indeed, BMW is a globally operating car manufacturer…

Externally with even more character…

The BMW kidney grille adds extra width and height, two U- or optionally L-shaped daytime driving light sources arranged next to one another create a modern light graphic. New full-LED headlights including adaptive cornering function, BMW Selective Beam non-dazzling high beam with matrix technology, and the High-beam Assistant are offered as an option.

Last but not least BMW Laserlight is now likewise optionally available for all variants of the BMW 5 Series.

More luxury and technology in the interior…

The now standard 10.25-inch or optional 12.3-inch Control Display, newly designed controls on the centre console and the standard sports leather steering wheel with newly arranged multifunction buttons welcome you. Standard equipment for the new BMW 5 Series Sedan and new BMW 5 Series Touring now also includes automatic climate control with extended features.

New additions to the options list include M multifunction seats, new interior trim strips and seat surfaces in Sensatec perforated trim.

More choice in power…

Choice of plug-in hybrids set to grow to five models initially, with eDrive technology now also available in the new BMW 5 Series Touring and in combination with a six-cylinder in-line engine.

From autumn 2020, latest-generation BMW eDrive technology will be teaming up with a four-cylinder petrol engine to power not only the new BMW 530e Sedan and new BMW 530e xDrive Sedan , but also the new BMW 530e Touring and new BMW 530e xDrive Touring (for the latter, fuel consumption combined: 2.3 – 2.1 l/100 km).  

The engine produces maximum output of 135 kW/184 hp, while the electric motor develops 80 kW/109 hp. The joint output of the two power units can be briefly increased to a maximum 215 kW/292 hp thanks to the XtraBoost feature. Electric range is 58 – 62 kilometres (36 – 39 miles) for the new BMW 530e Touring and 53 – 56 kilometres (33 – 35 miles) for the new BMW 530e xDrive Touring.

The arrival of the new BMW 545e xDrive Sedan (fuel consumption combined: 2.4 – 2.1 l/100 km in autumn 2020 will further broaden the selection of plug-in hybrid variants.

In this model, the 80 kW/109 hp electric motor combines with a straight-six petrol unit generating 210 kW/286 hp, resulting in an overall output of 290 kW/394 hp. The new BMW 545e xDrive Sedan achieves an electric range of 54 – 57 kilometres (34 – 35 miles).

The BMW eDrive Zone digital service is available in all the plug-in hybrid models as standard. This unique function automatically switches to the all-electric operating mode when the vehicle enters a “green zone”.

48V mild hybrid technology for all four- and six-cylinder models.

Mild hybrid technology, first introduced in the BMW 520d and BMW 520d xDrive models in autumn 2019, will now offer enhanced performance combined with lower fuel consumption and improved driving comfort in all four- and six-cylinder variants of the new BMW 5 Series. Fitting an extremely powerful 48V starter-generator and a second battery enables a significant increase in the amount of brake energy that can be regenerated.

Choice of petrol and diesel engines…

The new BMW 5 Series comes with a choice of three other petrol and three diesel engines generating between 135 kW/184 hp and 250 kW/340 hp. The direct injection system in the petrol units operates at increased pressure, meaning greater efficiency, whith the two-stage turbocharging technology now fitted in all diesel variants. All the engines link up with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission as standard. BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive is offered as a standard or optional feature for all model variants with the exception of the entry-level petrol engine.  

Superb chassis and suspension…

There is a choice of sophisticated chassis systems designed for the enthusiast. M Sport suspension, Adaptive M suspension and Adaptive M suspension Professional including active roll stabilization can all be found on the options list. The latest version of the optional Integral Active Steering can come to the driver’s aid when manoeuvring by turning the rear wheels as required even at speeds under 3 km/h (2 mph). Red calipers are now available as an alternative to the blue units as a visual telltale for the M Sport brakes.  

Driver assistance systems offering additional functions…

The Lane Departure Warning system included with the optional Driving Assistant now also features lane return by means of steering assistance. The updated Steering and Lane Control Assistant included as part of the new Driving Assistant Professional package also brings Active Navigation. This system uses navigation data to spot in advance when a lane change will be required, and this can then be performed with ease using the Lane Change Assistant. There is also a new function called “automatic formation of emergency lane”, which steps in to guide the car to the most appropriate side of its lane in tailbacks on the motorway.

We are eagerly awaiting the summer and autumn, to get behind the wheel of one of these superb 5 series BMW’s…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Porsche opens its museum and offers digital live tours on 17 May 2020!

For the 43rd International Museum Day, the Porsche Museum is throwing open its doors to everyone on 17 May 2020, free of charge.

But that is not all. In line with this year‘s motto “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion”, digital live tours will be also be available this Sunday on Instagram: just tick in the app “@porsche.museum.” 

Porsche has since years expanded its offerings into digital…

“Digital diversity is more important than ever in times like these, where travel is a greater challenge than ever before“, says Achim Stejskal, Head of Heritage and Porsche Museum. “We have been consistently driving forward the expansion of digital offerings over the last years, not only since the Corina crisis. We have committed ourselves to the ’Mission Future Heritage’. We would like to use modern channels to demonstrate the heritage and future of the brand, not just at our site in Zuffenhausen, but beyond the museum as well”.

On International Museum Day, two guides will guide through the exhibition for one hour each in German and English, which currently includes more than 80 cars over 5,600 square metres. They will look at special exhibits and offer an insight into the company history. The digital live tours will include prototypes, small exhibits, racing cars and series production cars. Anyone who is interested can watch the first tour on Instagram which starts in German at 18:30 hrs, or the second one which starts in English at 00:00 hrs (CEST). The times have purposefully been set outside the regular opening times – true to the motto: “The museum for everyone”.

On Sunday, youcan watch everything on Porsche News TV… 

The tours will also be recorded in the following languages and be available on Porsche News TV (https://newstv.porsche.com/en/) from Sunday onwards: Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Croatian, Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish. “There is a native speaker for each of these languages in the Porsche Museum. We would like to use the videos that have live character to thank our fans around the world and to bring a bit of the Porsche Museum into their homes,” explains Stejskal.

What is the International Museum Day?  

The special promotional day is organised annually by the International Council of Museums ICOM to draw attention to the wide range of work museums do and to the thematic diversity of museums around the world. This Sunday, museums throughout Germany will provide special initiatives, exhibits or a glimpse behind the scenes.   

Needless to say we will be looking at our Instagram next Friday!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Final testing of the BMW 4 series Coupe: driving pleasure redefined!

Following a series of exhaustive test drives held as part of the development process to prepare it for series production, the latest incarnation of the two-door model is now embarking on the final phase of dynamic testing.

After having their driving qualities honed at the winter testing centre in Arjeplog, Sweden, at the BMW Group’s test centre in Miramas in France, on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit and at various other race tracks, the prototypes are now returning to their roots: engineers will put the final touches to the chassis technology of the new BMW 4 Series Coupe on the motorways and country roads around the BMW Group’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) in Munich.

Like its overall vehicle concept and design, the 4 Series Coupe’s chassis technology is a more individual composition than ever before.

The proportions, aerodynamic properties and weight distribution of the two-door car provide the ideal basis for a chassis set-up focused unerringly on exhilarating dynamic performance.

A direct comparison with the new BMW 3 Series Sedan highlights the new model’s unique profile particularly clearly. The new BMW 4 Series Coupe is 57 millimetres lower than its four-door counterpart and its centre of gravity is 21 millimetres closer to the road as a result.

This all combines with the increased negative camber at the front wheels and the 23-millimetre wider rear track to sharpen the car’s handling characteristics by a significant degree. 

The range will now be spearheaded by a BMW M model in the shape of the new BMW M440i xDrive Coupe.

Powered by a straight-six engine delivering 275 kW/374 hp, it will also feature 48V mild-hybrid technology, with a 48V starter-generator and a second battery employed to both ease the load on the engine and act in unison with it. Besides improved efficiency, the principal benefit here is punchier power.

The power is channelled to the road via an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and the car’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system. The M Sport differential is also on hand to make sure that drive power is deployed to optimum effect in demanding driving situations. The locking effect is generated by an electric motor.

The final round of testing on the car’s home ground will allow the engineers to fast-track their latest findings into the fine-tuning process at the Research and Innovation Centre.

Needless to say it will be a unique experience to drive one… we can’t wait, and indeed, there is sun on the horizon after Corona times!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

New Toyota Yaris Cross is turning heads…

It is there: the new Yaris is the second model to be based on Toyota’s GA-B platform, has Toyota’s 4th-generation hybrid technology and is designed and developed for Europe.

The car will be produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing France (TMMF) in the Onnaing factory, near Valenciennes in France, and plans to achieve a B-SUV segment share of more than 8%.

Production is cheduled from 2021 onwards, with annual volume exceeding 150,000 units, alongside the new generation Yaris hatchback.

It now makes its world debut in April 2020, well ahead of European market introduction in 2021. Read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

True hybrid, true SUV

Toyota’s first used a hybrid system in a B-segment car with the original Yaris Hybrid in 2012. It now is in its fourth generation…

As a member of the Yaris family, Yaris Cross is built on Toyota’s new GA-B compact car platform. It also shares the “big-small” design and packaging concept that characterized the original Yaris.

Adding Yaris Cross to the line-up will give Toyota an SUV range that spans the B, C and D segments.

New hybrid powertrain

As said, the Yaris Cross benefits from Toyota’s fourth generation hybrid technology.

The Yaris and Yaris Cross are the first models to use Toyota’s latest 1.5 hybrid system, developed directly from the larger 2.0 and 2.5-litre powertrains used by recent new models such as the Corolla, C-HR, RAV4 and Camry.

This now features a new 1.5-litre, three-cylinder Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, precision-engineered to reduce friction and mechanical losses and optimise combustion speed. The result is high torque at low engine speeds and excellent fuel efficiency. The engine’s thermal efficiency is rated at 40%, which is greater than comparable diesel engines and ensures strong fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.

The new hybrid system has a maximum output of 116 DIN hp. Special attention has been given to power delivery, making the system very responsive to drive. In terms of emissions efficiency, the front-wheel drive model starts from below 90 g/km CO2 and the AWD-i version from below 100 g/km*

Compact

The Yaris Cross has the same 2,560 mm wheelbase as the new Yaris hatchback, but is 240 mm longer overall, with 60 mm added to the front overhang and 180 mm to the rear, securing more interior space. The ground clearance is 30 mm higher and the vehicle is taller and wider overall – by 90 and 20 mm respectively.

Practical

There’s a power back door, an adjustable deck height to give the flexibility of either a secure underfloor compartment or increased trunk space for larger loads.

The deck board itself can be split in two, giving customers both increased space and an underfloor storage area. The trunk is also equipped with a new flex belt system to secure items and stop them shifting during driving.

Intelligent all-wheel drive

The so-called AWD-i is an electric system, being more compact and weighting less than mechanical AWD units, helping the Yaris Cross Hybrid AWD-i achieve lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions than any of its all-wheel drive B-SUV competitors.

The system directs drive torque to the rear axle when pulling away and when accelerating. In normal driving, the Yaris Cross operates with front-wheel drive, but when low-grip conditions are detected, all-wheel drive is engaged automatically.

Advanced Driver Assistance System

With its GA-B platform, it benefits from Toyota Safety Sense active safety systems and advanced driver assistance functions.

Designed in Europe and Japan…

The design process of Yaris Cross brought together a wide team from studios in both Europe and Japan. To describe their ideas and inspiration in more detail, please find below the words of one member of the team – Lance Scott, Design General Manager at Toyota’s EDD studio in Nice, France.

“When we started this process, we understood that whilst style is the number one purchase reason in the B-SUV segment, customers were also keen to have a high level of practicality. Not easy things to reconcile, especially in a compact package.

From the very beginnings of the design concept, we had the European customer in mind, but needed to understand more about them. So we went out and interviewed real customers to understand their lifestyle, what they liked, what their daily activities were and how they enjoyed themselves.

As a team, we came up with the key words ‘Robust’ and ‘Minimalistic’, which we felt would express both compactness and agility, as well as the robustness and strength of an SUV.

When we started to sketch ideas for the exterior, the iconic image of a diamond consistently came to mind. Subsequently we coined the phrase ‘nimble diamond’ to express the hard, strong and premium image of the gemstone combined with the agile and fun to drive personality we felt the car needed to convey.

From the top view, or plan view as we call it, we ‘cut’, or ‘shaved’ the body to give us a diamond shape that allowed us the space to emphasise the fenders. This diamond body shape combined with the 4 bold fenders gave us an energetic shape which was both strong and sophisticated.

Clearly, we want the car to be immediately perceived as a SUV, so we emphasised a higher ground clearance, a strong horizontal axis giving a great balance and poise, big squared wheel arches and of course big wheels … up to 18”!

The face was also a very important aspect for us. We wanted to keep the strong DNA of Toyota’s SUV line-up but at the same time give Yaris Cross an identity of its own.

At the rear, we again focused on giving the car a good stance with the wide fenders illustrating how it looks planted on its wheels. Combining the horizontal rear tail lamps and rear screen clearly shows family identity with Yaris, yet the wider and more squared tailgate hints at the luggage space’s larger flexibility for daily usage.

For the exterior colour, we started to think about something that could express an active and high-quality image that our target customers would really appreciate. Looking at future colour trends we can see that there is a growing tendency for gold and other precious metals, but we wanted to offer something a bit more natural and urban. Adding a subtle hint of green to the gold direction, whilst also de-saturating the colour to emphasis the metal like appearance, gave us this fresh urban yet active appeal that highlighted the surface form of the exterior. The final result is a colour we call Brass Gold”

Interesting all this, we will be keen to see this new B-segment SUV in the flesh soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel