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

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

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

Two Alfa Romeo F1 champions also fine- tune the Giulia GTA project…

The 2021 F1 World Championship kicks off on Sunday, March 28th, at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Behind the wheel of the C41, unveiled in Warsaw in February, will be the proven Italian-Finnish pairing of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen.

But there is more: The two champions are involved in fine tuning the Giulia GTA project. The racing suits of both champions feature the acronyms GTA and GTAm, evoking this project that draws all its inspiration from the 1965 Giulia Gran Turismo Alleggerita, a car that racked up so many successes on circuits all over the world.

Antonio Giovanazzi showing the GTAm logo on his suit…

The Giulia GTA project has benefited greatly from the partnership with the Swiss Sauber team, using their Engineering know-how in the prototyping and development of carbon fiber components with a bold aerodynamic impact: the new front bumper, side skirts, extractor, the GTA spoiler and the GTAm aerowing. You see here two photos taken by dynamic press officer Wim Willems of the test sessions, showing clearly the aerodynamic body parts on the cars.

The aerodynamic parts were still camouflaged during the test sessions…
Test session in full swing…

Indeed, the two drivers have also actively contributed to the project development, having completed a testing session at the Balocco Proving Ground.

Kimi and Antonio focused on the specific solutions taken up in terms of aerodynamics and handling, analyzing in depth all the changes made to the car and giving an account of their feeling on the track to the engineering team, resulting in a joint assessment of the effects on vehicle dynamics to complete its fine-tuning.

You see the champions and the here on the photo’s, at the test drives on the legendary Balocco circuit…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The BMW Group Annual Conference 2021 will bring a new chapter in reporting….

The BMW Group is embarking on a new chapter in its reporting: For the first time, it will be combining its Annual Report and its Sustainable Value Report for the reporting year 2020 in a single Integrated BMW Group Report.

After the Board of Management redefined the company’s central sustainability goals in 2020, integrated reporting marks the next logical step – thanks to integrated management of the company. Henceforth, the Integrated Report will be published to coincide with the BMW Group Annual Conference, outlining the company’s economic performance, as well as its contribution to the environment and to society.

The livestream is on Wednesday, March 17…

So, stay tuned again on Wednesday!

The BMW Group Annual Conference 2021 will be broadcast live via livestream and satellite.

Agenda  17.03.2021

08:00 –09:00 GMT                       BMW Group Conference – LIVE

09:00 – 10:30 GMT                      BMW Group Conference – Q&A Session LIVE

13:45 – 14:45 GMT                      BMW Group Conference – Replay 

You can follow the BMW Group Annual Conference 2021 at http://www.live.bmwgroup.com and @BMWGroup social media channels:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BMWGroup

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BMWGroup

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Kia introduces its new design philosophy and presents it in the brand new EV6…

Kia Corporation has revealed the first images of the exterior and interior design of EV6, its first dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV), ahead of the car’s world premiere at the end of March.

EV6 was designed under the brand’s new design philosophy ‘Opposites United’, which takes inspiration from the contrasts found in nature and humanity.

At the centre of the design philosophy is a new visual identity evoking positive forces and natural energy, with contrasting combinations of sharp stylistic elements and sculptural shapes.It is definitely contemporary and has timeless proportions, which will please for years to come, with a purity not unlike for instance VW’s ID3 and ID4.

Boasting a distinctive crossover-inspired design and based on the brand’s new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), the EV6 is Kia’s first dedicated BEV to be influenced by the new design philosophy.

Opposites United: a design philosophy for all future Kia vehicles

The Opposites United design philosophy makes its debut on EV6, and will inform the design of all future Kia models. The philosophy is based on five key design pillars: ‘Bold for Nature’, ‘Joy for Reason’, ‘Power to Progress’, ‘Technology for Life’, and ‘Tension for Serenity’.

We explain it more in detail here.

Bold for Nature is based on interaction with nature, informed by the details, shapes and proportions found both in the natural and human worlds. This design pillar creates organic, yet technical structures and finishes for vehicle interiors; exterior designs are characterised by a combination of clear and simple lines with bold, ever-changing surfaces.

Joy for Reason focuses on the feel and ambience of Kia’s future vehicles. Future designs will fuse the emotional with the rational, creating vehicles that influence the mood of passengers, by relaxing and inspiring. It will also influence the adoption of new organic materials and more daring colours, expressing a sense of youth and playfulness.

Power to Progress builds on the brand’s current design strengths. By drawing on and developing the skills and expertise learned throughout Kia’s recent era of design-led transformation, the designs and layouts of the brand’s future products will continue to evolve. Future designs will draw on experience and creativity to invent and innovate new designs.

Technology for Life embraces new technologies and innovations to foster positive interactions between humans and machines. The brand’s future vehicles will adopt a next-generation in-car user experience (UX) through design and innovation and advancements in lighting, feel and in-car connectivity – to help customers engage with their cars.

Tension for Serenity evokes the tension between opposing forces and creative contrasts, and recognises the design equilibrium that comes from two opposing forces. It delivers striking design concepts that use sharp, highly technical details to create surface tension – and realise a harmonised, future-oriented design vision.

Exterior design: a future-oriented EV design characterised by high-tech details

The exterior design of EV6 is a powerful representation of ‘Power to Progress’.

At the front, characteristic daytime running lights create a sleek appearance. They form part of the car’s ‘Digital Tiger Face’, a design progression evoking the spirit of Kia’s ‘Tiger Nose Grille’ for the electrified era. The design of the lamps also includes a ‘sequential’ dynamic light pattern.

The side profile displays a crossover-inspired design aesthetic, contrasting with sharp lines and high-tech details to create a sense of tension in the design.

Designed in part to realise ultimate aerodynamic performance, the rear displays a sloping rear C-pillar with an integrated black glossy insert which visually widens the window glass.

The EV6 is the result of a collaborative effort between all three studios in Kia’s global design network in Namyang (Korea), Frankfurt (Germany), and Irvine (California, US).

Interior design: a modern and spacious interior for the EV era

A distinct product of the EV era, the interior design is liberated as it were by Kia’s dedicated E-GMP platform, which offers increased space compared to previous Kia EVs based on existing model architecture. Here Kia goes with VW’s trend set in with their ID series.

One of the most striking elements of the new interior is a seamless high-tech curved high-definition audio visual and navigation (AVN) screen. The simple form language of the wide curved screen and the slim dashboard give the space an open feel.

The width of the screen creates an immersive experience for the driver, while a minimal number of physical buttons offer an uncluttered and soothing driving experience.

Underneath the AVN screen, passengers control HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) settings by using haptic ‘buttons’, while below this panel, the dashboard slopes away towards the front of the car, creating a sense of space and openness for the front-seat passengers.

The seats are slim, lightweight and contemporary, and clad in modern, visually interesting and robust fabrics created using recycled plastics, which create yet greater openness in the cabin.

EV6 will make its world premiere in March 2021, during a special online event. We will keep you posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Land Rover Defender has been named Supreme Winner Women’s World Car of the Year 2021.

The Women’s World Car of the Year is the first time a Land Rover has won the top prize at the awards and is the latest in a series of international honours for the most capable Land Rover ever made.

The new Defender remains true to the pioneering spirit that has been a Land Rover hallmark for over 70 years and redefines adventure for the 21st century. Iconic in name, shape and capability, it is available in a choice of body designs and can be personalised with a choice of four Accessory Packs to help owners make more of their world.

The Women’s World Car of the Year (WWCOTY) awards are the only car awards in the world with a jury comprised exclusively of woman, with 50 motoring journalists from 38 countries on 5 continents recognizing the best new models available.

The New Defender was named Best Medium SUV 2021 at the awards before being awarded – to coincide with International Women’s Day – the headline WWCOTY prize.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Did You know “e-Village” in the “Green Pea” building in Torino?

Dynamic Stellantis PR Manager Dominique Fontignies sent us yesterday his photo of the Fiat Centoventi concept displayed at the “e-Village” in the Green Pea building in Torino.

What is this e-Village? It is a branch of Mirafiori Motor Village in Turin and it’s the biggest sales point of electrified cars in Europe.

It’s located in an area of 1300 square meters inside Green Pea and showcases all FCA technologies related to electrification, including hybrid and all-electric vehicles on the market, as well as prototypes of upcoming models.

Another photo made by Dominique Fontignies…

It’s a zero-impact space that adopts the “reuse, reduce, recycle” philosophy and it can be considered the fulfillment of the efforts made by FCA to promote the future of mobility.

At Floor 0 – move, energy & connect, inside the e-Village: the space entirely dedicated to the sustainable future of mobility wanted by Stellantis, the fourth automotive group in the world.

In e-Village halls you can find all solutions of the Group’s for the avant-garde mobility, such as the Electric New 500, Panda Mild Hybrid and Jeep and Ducato’s electric vehicle range.

See also Green Pea (@greenpeaofficial) • Instagram-photo’s and -video’s

When your servant will be mobile having recovered from his surgery operations, it is certainly a place he is keen to visit!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Alfa Romeo Giulia wins the title of “Best Car”

Another prestigious award for the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the car magazine “auto motor und sport” having named it “Best Car 2021”. Readers voted for the Italian sports sedan as the winner in the mid-size/import category – for the fourth time in the past five years. With a share of 22 percent of the vote, the Alfa Romeo Giulia prevailed against 14 competitors. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Alfa Romeo Stelvio, second and third in their respective categories, complete Alfa Romeo’s success in the “Best Car 2021” awards.

More than 101,000 readers took part in the 45th edition of the “Best Cars” competition, held by the magazine “auto, motor und sport”. They had the choice between 387 models divided into 11 categories, including separate acknowledgments for import vehicles. The awards ceremony took place virtually for the first time…

Hans Knol ten Bensel