We drove the Lexus 500 LS 4WD: the magic of perfection…

When you like smooth motoring and enjoy a car which is well engineered and built, (as we do) then Lexus has a superb car in store for you: their flagship sedan, the LS. We enjoyed it greatly, and tell you here more about this car which makes an admirable statement about the Lexus philosophy in designing and building automobiles.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Lexus LS is styled as a sleek slimousine with coupé-like character.

Of course we are moving fast towards total electrification of our cars, and all the car manufacturers are strategically moving in that direction. Lexus – and also Toyota – have already since decades taken a long term view about environmentally responsible mobility, and have come up with the hybrid Prius and the Lexus 200CT many years ago. They have been sold in millions and made a statement how smoothness, reliability and go anywhere mobility can be combined with unparalleled economy. Your servant clocks an average fuel consumption with his Lexus 200CTh of 4,7 l/100 km, an average over the year, and actually this year in year out.

No small wonder that Lexus has maintained and honed this solution to ensure easy mobility, in these present times when a convenient charging infrastructure for carefree full EV mobility is still a daydream in many countries in this world. It therefore also takes a long hard look at hydrogen as a power source.

In the Lexus LS, one finds this “classic” hybrid technology, now engineered and honed to absolute perfection.

Under the hood purrs a 3,5 litre V8 Atkinson cycle petrol engine, good for 295 HP. It is coupled to a 10 speed CVT, and is assisted by two electric motors, who have a combined power of (only) 60 hp. With a battery having a capacity of 11 kW, you cannot use this LS for extended “pure” EV drives in urban areas. The 4WD is made possible thanks to an integral transmission. The electric power is only used to deliver power in situations where the full use of the petrol engine would not be efficient. So one has the advantage of very reasonable fuel consumption, especially in congested urban traffic, where – given a relaxed and anticipative driving style – averages around 8 litres/100 km are easily reached. These are very good values for a large limousine. The manufacturer quotes 7,1 l/100 km as average consumption.

The other advantage is the utter smoothness of the power delivery, especially from standstill and in stop and go traffic.

This smooth and silent progress is one of the very strong points of this Lexus, and this is in our opinion what the designers had in mind for their flagship sedan. Of course it has the power to deliver: 100 km/h is reached from standstill in merely 5,5 seconds, top speed is 250 km/h.

In the wide array of driving modes at your disposal, you can even opt for the “sport” and “sport+” modes. The CVT transmission will then be ultra alert and reactive to any movements of your right foot, the pneumatic suspension will be setting itself a bit firmer and the steering will be more sensitive and direct, but nevertheless the sheer weight – a good 2,425 kg – and size of the car will not invite you to really throw it around each corner. It is a bit out of character for this sleek automobile, primarily designed to move you from A to be in well insulated comfort, and that’s where it excels. By the way, you have the choice between further driving modes, Eco, Normal, Comfort and Custom…you guessed it: we chose between Eco and Comfort all the way through our test.

Impressive and elegant

The Lexus LS is a flamboyant and impressive automobile. It stretches 5,24 metres long and its fluid roof contours which are continued to the boot give it a coupé like character. The grille is uniquely Lexus in its bold styling signature and gives the LS panache and personality.

The Lexus exudes opulence, but also quality and workmanship, as the overall bodywork finish is superb.

The same can be said for the interior, dashboard and seats. The seats are a chapter on their own, and you can opt for the most exclusive leather finishes, ventilation and massage functions and the like. Six chromed bands stretch across the dashboard, giving it a fluid elegance. In the centre towers a 12,3 inch touchscreen, and there is also a big touchpad next to the gear selector lever, which lets you choose all the screen functions. We like to use this touchpad, as it avoids you touching the screen and getting it muddled with fingerprints. When the car is in motion, it is easier for you to touch the more accessible and ergonomically stable pad anyway.

Of course you can monitor on the display exactly what the hybrid system is doing, besides all the other info functions and layouts. It is worth every minute you spend on reading the instructions to familiarise yourself with the wide array of possibilities, functions and infotainment, as you then will enjoy this flagship car so much more.

We were of course smitten again by the superb quality of the Levinson audio system, which still sports a CD audio player, a tradition applauded by “classic” audiophiles like your servant…

Comfort

The Lexus LS 500 offers you superb comfort, with ample leg- and headroom for all (four) passengers. The subtle pneumatic suspension does the rest. Especially in the Comfort setting, it literally swallows for you all ridges and potholes ancient urban streets have in store for you. Sound insulation is also of paramount importance for the Lexus engineers, as well as total filtration of any vibrations or mechanical noises from the drivetrain. All this adds greatly to the total “zen” experience which going from A to be in this LS entails.

The screen lets you monitor all the hybrid driveline functions…

Sporting aficionados will find maybe that they lack a more direct “feel” of the car and the road conditions, but being cocooned by a soothing behaviour of the car in all driving situations is actually aimed for by the engineers when they set out creating this unique automobile.

Conclusion

The present Lexus LS series is already amongst us since 2017, and got an important facelift in 2011, both visually and technically. It makes a bold statement with its “Zen” philosophy of environmentally responsible smoothness and performance.

This panache is further underlined by a tradition of craftsmanship, resulting in a superb finish and excellence in the quality of the materials used.

If you want to drive an alternative to the German savoir faire in building top class executive sedans, have a drive with this LS series, and enjoy the change…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographers’ notes:

The photos were taken with our faithful Canon G9 X. A 209 g gem which offers a 1″-type 20.2MP CMOS sensor and 28-84mm equivalent F2-4.9 lens encircled by a control dial, as well as a fixed 3″ LCD. It has been our favorite workhorse for years now, and it is still performing very well. We use it mostly on Aperture Priority mode, also for the photos here.

Come and see Alfa Romeo Storico at Autoworld Brussels this summer!

Autoworld Brussels is during the summer filled with iconic Alfa’s

On the first day of July – for many of us the start of the summer holidays – the mythical Milanese brand Alfa Romeo stands in the spotlight in the iconic Autoworld-Brussels museum, and this until the 28th of August.

So plenty of time for you to come to Brussels, and see the more than 50 of the most emblematic Alfa’s, celebrating the 112th anniversary of the brand.

This stunning show is the result of a close collaboration with the Club Quadrifoglio Belgio, the National Automobile Museum of Mulhouse, private collectors, the Italian collector of prototypes Corrado Lopresto and Stellantis Belux (Alfa Romeo).

There is more for you to see, as this exhibition will start on Sunday 3 July with a event organized by the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio Belgio Club: a beautiful ride starting in front of the Royal Palace of Brussels and ending on the Esplanade du Cinquantenaire, in front of the Autoworld Museum, where a Concours d’Elegance will be held with nearly 150 cars.

On the first floor of the Autoworld museum are more than 50 historical Alfa’s: pre-war, commercialized, competition and special cars. These include a Giulietta Sprint and a Spider, the 2600 Sprint & 2000 Spider, a Montreal, a Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, a Spider Coda Tronca, a GT 1600 Zagato, a Giulia GT 1300 Scalino, a GT 1300 Junior, a 2000 GTV, an Alfasud, an Alfasud TI and an Alfasud Sprint, a Giulietta Turbodelta, an Alfa 90, an Alfa 75 2.5 QV, an Alfa 6, and many others…

The Musée Nationale de l’Automobile de Mulhouse owns a beautiful 1936 Alfa Romeo 8C Pininfarina, which is said to have won the Mille Miglia that same year. In addition, part of the exhibition will be devoted to five exceptional prototypes from Corrado Lopresto’s magnificent collection.

The Lopresto collection is one of the most important collections of Italian prototypes in the world from 1901 until today. Many of the cars are unique, custom built with special features (rare copies, special series, number 1 chassis, cars with famous owners). Most of these cars have collected awards at Villa d’Este and Pebble Beach. Showcases with scale models show the same cars in subtle dioramas.

One of the absolute highlights of the exhibition is of course the new Alfa Romeo Tonale, the first electrified compact SUV in its history. In addition to the new Alfa Romeo Tonale, the dynamic Giulia and the Stelvio, the brand’s sporty SUV, will of course also be on display.

We would say, you have the whole summer to see this unique collection on display, and who wouldn’t visit the capital of Europe in the meantime, where there is so much to see, and excellent Belgian haute cuisine to enjoy?

Until soon, and I all wish you a fantastic (automotive) holiday. Your servant will be travelling to France at the wheel of his personal Audi A5 Cabrio… soon more about my trip!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The DS 7 gets a thorough makeover: now ever more refined with added panache…

Design Director Thierry Metroz sums it all up:  

“The new DS 7 has now even more character, particularly at the front and rear, while its design is directly inspired by our recent concept cars. New confections also reinforce the character of the interior in search of ever more refinement. New DS 7 is the result of co-operation between my team, our experts, in particular lighting who brought an avant-garde technology, the engineers of DS PERFORMANCE, without forgetting our manufacturing team invested for the success of New DS 7.”

But also the sheer performance has been pushed a notch higher. Developed by DS PERFORMANCE, the new DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 has a 360-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain with intelligent four-wheel drive transmission, big wheels, a lower stance and wide diameter brakes.

A design enhanced by sharp lines and lit up by DS PIXEL LED VISION 3.0 and DS LIGHT VEIL

Specific work in the design was carried out thanks to the close links between the DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS team and the production team at the Mulhouse (France) factory achieving exceptional results in terms of quality and solidity.

The light signature is developing with an even more expressive look. The combination of new slimmer DS PIXEL LED VISION 3.0 headlamps and the DS LIGHT VEIL daytime running lights is seamless and carried out in the spirit of high fashion.

The DS WINGS and the grille are larger and the valance has been redesigned with a range of colours depending on the model.

The slimmer scale-like LED rear lights with a vortex effect have also been redesigned with a dark metallic finish. The boot lid and badge have been reworked with sharper lines, while the “DS AUTOMOBILES” name that replaces “CROSSBACK” will now sign off New DS 7’s visually stretched rear.

The wheels play a part in the character of New DS 7’s profile. Fitted with inserts, the new 19-inch EDINBURGH and SILVERSTONE rims improve aerodynamic efficiency while the treatment of their design magnifies their perceived diameter. New 21-inch BROOKLYN wheels, with a sculpted techncial design are only available on New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360.

The best French expertise for lovers of beautiful materials

Just like the largest Paris fashion houses, DS Automobiles bestows special care on the choice of materials and how they’re treated. Through upholstery in New DS 7’s interiors, an environment was created to make each journey different.

The height of refinement, New DS 7 OPERA is offered with two Nappa leather colours: Basalt Black and Pearl Grey. Over wider expanses, the highest quality part of the hide adds a natural and refined touch to the interior.

New upholstery with a draped effect on the Nappa leather trim is now on the dashboard and door panels. Without seams or joins it maintains the feel and appearance of natural leather. The hide is further elevated by embossing with lines reminiscent of the DS LIGHT VEIL signature.

The attention to detail of this interior is also shown by the pearl stitching offered in the new White and Zephyr colours, a steering wheel in full grain leather with a leather covered airbag, “Clous de Paris” embossed inserts iconic to DS Automobiles without forgetting the watchstrap upholstery offered for the first time in Pearl Grey.

Refinement also features in the RIVOLI interior which introduces a Basalt Black colour and has a stitched padded trim that we’ve combined with Claudia Leather upholstery, which has a more pronounced leather grain.

The PERFORMANCE LINE interior features a deeper black colour with the microfibre textile Alcantara® throughout and Gold and Carmine touches that emphasise the dynamic appearance.

The BASTILLE interior has been refreshed with a new DS Canvas finish and a Basalt Black grain inspired by fish skin.

All these interiors are enhanced with ambient lighting that can be personalised, and a new pattern based on “Clous de Paris” embossed inserts.

High performance petrol/electric hybrid and multi-energy power units

The multi-energy brand with the lowest CO2 emissions in Europe for the last two years and multiple Formula E champion, DS Automobiles has chosen to offer New DS 7 with several kinds of power unit, including a wide range of three plug-in hybrids with 225, 300 and 360 horsepower.

New DS 7 E-TENSE 225 has a PureTech 180 petrol engine and a 110-horsepower electric motor fitted to the eight-speed automatic gearbox with a two-wheel drive transmission.

New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 300 and New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 introduce a four-wheel drive transmission with a PureTech 200 motor as well as 110 and 112 horsepower electric motors on each of the axles. The 360 model is specially tuned by DS PERFORMANCE.

A new 14.2 kWh battery gives up to 65 kilometres with zero emissions on the WLTP mixed cycle and up to 81 kilometres on the urban cycle. Charging time is about two hours on a 7.4kW charger.

A 130 BlueHDi power unit is still available in the range. Outside Europe, PureTech petrol engines with 130, 215 and 225 horsepower will also be offered.

New DS 7 remains one of the most efficient cars in its class, specifically because of its well-controlled weight.

New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360

The spirit of Grand Touring by DS Automobiles is embodied in New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360. To go with the rush of power (200 horsepower petrol engine, front electric motor with 110 horsepower and rear electric motor with 112 horsepower), New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 enjoys special tuning by DS PERFORMANCE, specifically by optimising energy management. It has a DS ENERGY COACH application that supports the driver by supervising braking phases to improve energy recovery. The chassis is lowered by 15mm, the track is wider (+24mm at the front, +10mm at the rear) and the front brakes go to 380 millimetres in diameter with calipers by DS PERFORMANCE. New 21-inch BROOKLYN wheels are added to a new Lacquered Grey colour whose pearlescent colour highlights the special curves and charisma of this model. The 0-100km/h acceleration is rated at 5.6 seconds and the 1,000 metres start-stop is accomplished in 25.4 seconds.

New infotainment system…

The infotainment system is one of the biggest changes for New DS 7 with the inclusion of DS IRIS SYSTEM. This new solution introduces a totally reworked interface, that’s completely configurable, reactive and seamless and supported by natural voice recognition. The redesigned 12” high-resolution touch screen features a menu made up of widgets for accessing all its functions with a single movement: for controlling the connected navigation, the ventilation, the digital audio sources and journey information. This big screen that’s very comfortable to use also enables views front and rear to be displayed, provided by new high-resolution digital cameras, and access to the Mirror Screen function over wi-fi.

A new large 12-inch digital instrument panel with displays that can be changed and personalised features refreshed graphics with all the vital information such as energy flow on plug-in hybrid versions.

Unique technology for the segment

New DS 7 also introduces technology for more comfort and relaxation such as DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION and DS NIGHT VISION.

DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION is a camera-controlled damping system that’s completely unique in its class. It adjusts each wheel independently according to imperfections in the carriageway.

With DS NIGHT VISION, an infrared camera sweeps the carriageway and its edges to detect cyclists, pedestrians and animals at distances up to 100 metres. The driver receives the information in the new high resolution digital instrument display, reinforced by a special warning in the event of danger.

Safety is improved with DS DRIVER ATTENTION MONITORING and DS DRIVE ASSIST level 2 semi-autonomous driving.

DS DRIVER ATTENTION MONITORING analyses the driver’s level of attention with two cameras. The first checks the behaviour of the car in its surroundings and the second, positioned facing the driver, diagnoses where they’re looking, their face and eyelid movement which translates to the level of sleepiness and attention…

New DS 7 is equipped with DS DRIVE ASSIST, adaptive cruise control that can initiate stopping and restarting without the driver intervening and an aid that enables the driver to keep the car either where it is or where they position it in the lane.

Designed in France and on sale soon

A global car, New DS 7 is built in Mulhouse (France) for all markets outside China and in Shenzen for the Chinese market. Reservations will open from 11 July in France and the first models will be in DS STORES from September 2022.

Orders and deliveries can be made without going anywhere, through an online sales system and the availability of New DS 7 by the DS DELIVERY VALET service, at the address chosen by the customer.

Limited for the introduction: a new DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 LA PREMIÈRE

For the New DS 7’s launch a limited edition New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 LA PREMIÈRE is being offered. Based on New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 OPÉRA, it introduces a new Gloss Black front bumper blade, black monograms and special badges accompanying the gloss black finish on the DS WINGS, the grille, the window strips and the roof bars. Basalt Black and Pearl Grey interiors are available. Two charging cables (mode 2 and mode 3) are standard. Six bodywork colours are being offered: Lacquered Grey, Sapphire Blue, Pearl White, Perla Nera Black, Platinum Grey and Crystal Pearl.

Needless to say that we are keen to see this new DS7 soon in the flesh, and collect driving experiences for you when we are back from our holiday!

Not that we are idle in the meantime; soon you will read our driving impressions of the test cars we drove recently for you!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Alfa Romeo  enters an exceptional crew in the 2022 “1000 Miglia”

Christina Posta at the Nardi wheel of a 1900 Super Sprint

Alfa Romeo has launched an exceptional initiative at the 40th edition of the re-enactment of the “Mille Miglia”, the “most beautiful race in the world” in the famous words of Enzo Ferrari.

It features a truly exceptional crew, let us present it here for you:

Francesco Pirozzi, a member of body shop at the Giambattista Vico plant in Pomigliano, and Cristina Posta, an assembly line employee at the Cassino plant, will represent Alfa Romeo Manufacturing at the race on board a 1900 Super Sprint.

Francesco Pirozzi is 46 and has been gaining professional experience in the body shop at the Pomigliano d’Arco plant since 2005, especially on the geometry of the Alfa Romeo 147 and 159 models. An avid fan of the Alfa Romeo brand, today he is entirely dedicated to the Tonale project, which he has followed since its inception.

Father to a nine and seven-year-old, he is passionate about cars, electronics and mechanics.

Cristina Posta was born in Pontecorvo (FR) in 1984 and has worked on the assembly at the Cassino plant since 2018.

Due to her family ties, she had an emotional connection to Alfa Romeo even before working there and always wanted to be part of the Group.

Outside the factory, Cristina loves to wake up early, spend time in the kitchen and garden, and help her parents with the family agricultural business.

This crew embodies the inclusive spirit of this brand, which can rely on a cohesive and passionate team in every department.

We can only applaud this initiative. Alfa Romeo wants to engage its customers just like its own employees, offering visceral experiences like the “1000 Miglia” and remaining faithful to the Italian sporty DNA which has made it an icon since 1910.

The brand invites its fans to “Join the Tribe”…

Alfa Romeo’s 50 vehicles once again make it the most well-represented brand at the race. These include models from the brand’s private collection which are normally on show at the Alfa Romeo museum in Arese: the 6C 1500 Super Sport from 1928, the 1900 Sport Spider from 1954 and the 1900 Super Sprint from 1956.

Your servant has very fond memories of this iconic Mille Miglia. Years ago, I was invited now years ago together with my father by Mercedes Benz to form a crew at the wheel of the brand with the iconic star… it was legendary, to be then in the same team with the legendary Mille Miglia winner, Stirling Moss!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the new Citroën C5 Aircross: a SUV with added panache and superb comfort…

We drove the 225 HP plug-in hybrid version in the Alpes Maritimes around Cannes and Nice…

When the brand with the double chevron builds an SUV in the C segment, you can expect something very special. Indeed, after a long drive in the Alpes Maritimes around Grasse, on the immensely scenic Route Napoléon, the  Départementale 6085, we stepped out totally relaxed and surprised. This is a totally harmonious car, with very impressive qualities. First of all, the total comfort, which cars of many times its price (and size) can only mach at best. But that is not all.

There is also the perfect balance of this SUV. Its totally impeccable handling. Its unerring stability and precision, with total lack of body roll when you steer it with high speed in fast corners. Then comes the smooth drivetrain, with a silky stream of power, in the 225 HP Hybrid version we drove. We made this choice, because the plug-in hybrid version currently accounts for 41% of sales. Performance and pulling power galore, and on top of that all this is happening in vibrationless silence, with any road noise also well insulated . When you put the lever in “B”, the kinetic energy regeneration is optimal, and we drove quite long stretches of winding and hilly roads with zero average E- consumption, with the engine shut off!

The sedate driving style at the end of our trip resulted in an average total consumption of… 7,4 kW and 4,5 l/100 km.

Actually, in this paragraph, the whole story is told. Let’s now tell you more about the facelift features of this C-Segment SUV, which found since its introduction in 2018 already some 325.000 buyers worldwide…

More modern and imposing front end and announcing colour…

A more imposing front end…

Citroën introduces a new design language to its successful C-Class SUV. Tauter lines and a vertical so-called “stepped construction” contribute to visual widening the front end of C5 Aircross. The Brand logo now detaches itself from the daytime running lights. The chevrons now appear in black lacquer set off in chrome, and we liked it.

They extend visually via a set of increasingly tight chrome and black piano keys that gradually blend into LED daytime running lights, very subtle! Characteristic of the new Citroën identity, the V-shaped day time running lights LED signature carries a piano keys design.

More dynamism is also found at the rear in the new structured headlight lenses. Without changing size, the lamp unit is now fitted with dark and structured glass, highlighting the three LED lighting modules that constitute the light signature. The car also runs on new 18” diamond-cut PULSAR alloy wheels, and also the side panels have more structured lines and accents.

Four new Colour Packs, which allow C5 Aircross to assert its SUV character and its elegance: Glossy Black, Dark Chrome, Anodized Bronze and Energetic Blue. The new colours of the Colour Packs also feature on the front air intakes and the Airbump®.

Stylish and more upmarket cabin

The C5 Aircross gets a new 10” touchscreen that appears to float on the dashboard, more in your line of vision. In addition, the fully customisable 12”3 digital display provides all essential and customisable information directly in the driver’s eye-line: navigation map report, information on active driver-assistance systems, information on the operating status of the hybrid engine, etc. We appreciated the simplicity of it. We noticed also a clever gimmick in the hybrid version we drove: the digital numbers indicating the speed are in blue when you are driving on E-power, and white when the combustion engine is doing the work.

Legendary seats…

Citroën Advanced Comfort® seats already present on C4 and C5 X are making their way also in the C5. They are made of high-density foam in the core of the seat, have an extra 15 mm layer of foam and of course a specific construction… and indeed, they offer a wonderful comfort and support. We already applauded the qualities of the Progressive Hydraulic Cushions® suspension.

Bolder rear lights…

The central console, has been modernised with a black leather-effect-fabric enhanced by chrome design lines. We have a new, e-Toggle gear selector, a new driving mode selection button incorporating the Grip Control function and, on the plug-in-hybrid versions, an intuitive choice of the driving mode (Electric, Hybrid or Sport). The central console also integrates a large storage trail regrouping the connectivity with 2 USB-ports and a wireless charger.

Citroëns have always been practical, and this C5 Aircross makes no exception: it’s the only SUV in the segment to offer three individual sliding, reclining and retractable rear seats. The boot volume goes from 580 L to 720 L in the petrol and diesel versions and from 460 L to 600 L for the hybrid version.

We enjoyed the utter quietness of the car, as we said above, and indeed it was equipped with the optional acoustic laminated front windows.

We ended our test with an even lower consumption of merely 4,5 litres/100 km…

The plug-in-hybrid version allows a driving in electric mode up to 135 km/h, and a  55 km E-range.

Users of the C5 Aircross Plug-In Hybrid also benefit from a range of services to facilitate charging: with management either directly in the vehicle or from their smartphone, as well as the possibility of programming charging times. Charging is fast, with a full charge completed in less than two hours on a Wall-box, says Citroën.

Of course we have 20 benchmark driver-assistance systems in the compact SUV segment. These include Highway Driver Assist, a level 2 autonomous driving system, combining Adaptive Cruise Control with a Stop & Go function and the Active Lane Departure Warning system.

Needless to say, the C5 Aircross impressed us greatly. We are keen to test this car soon, also in the petrol engined 130 HP version. But really, the plug-in version couldn’t be missed…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographers’ notes:

We took our trusty Canon G9 X to  Nice. It’s wonderfully compact, has a cropped 20 megapixel sensor, 1.0 type back-illuminated CMOS, and a well performing 10,2 to 30,6 mm zoom lens, (35 mm equivalent: 28 – 84 mm.). It is of superb construction, with 8 elements in 6 groups (2 double sided aspherical UA lens, 1 single sided aspherical lens). It is fast too, with f/2.0 – f/4.9. We simply love this baby, and it has been for years our favorite. We mostly use it in AV mode (Aperture priority). Mind you, it has a built-in ND filter.

Lancia announces bold renaissance…

Lancia launched last week a ten-year strategic plan, which includes three new models, one every two years, starting in 2024, for an attractive and iconic model range to cover 50% of the market.

The plan will begin in 2024 with the new Lancia Ypsilon, which will be around 4-meters long, belonging to the B segment and will be launched with a 100% electrified powertrain. In 2026, the new flagship will arrive, 4.6-meter long and will allow the brand to enter into the largest segment in Europe. 2028 will be the year of the new 4.4-meters long “Delta”, a sculpted and muscular car, with geometric lines, which will attract car enthusiasts throughout Europe.

These three new models will cover 50% of the market and will have the duty to contribute to the improvement of Stellantis performance in its premium and luxury cluster, as laid out in the “Dare Forward 2030” Stellantis strategic plan.

“Today is an important day,” declared Luca Napolitano, CEO of Lancia brand, “Lancia is now ready for Europe, taking a first step to become a credible and respected brand in the premium segment.

Lancia’s ten-year plan has also a clear electrification strategy: from 2026 the brand will only launch 100% electric models and from 2028 will solely sell 100% electric models.

In addition, a wide use of innovative materials will make Lancia the Stellantis brand with the highest percentage of recycled material, with 50% of touchable surfaces made from eco-sustainable materials in order to contribute to building a better world for future generations.

Inside the new vehicles, Lancia customers will be welcomed in a typical Italian elegance style. Inspired by the exclusive materials of its past iconic vehicles, like the Gamma, Thema and Flavia, the next-generation Lancia vehicles will provide a comfortable environment with simple and intuitive on-board technology which is in line with its DNA.

The S.A.L.A., Sound Air Light Augmented (sala in Italian means living room), will be a minimalist and intelligent virtual interface which will give the customer total control of the vehicle’s cabin from the sound system to the air conditioning and lighting, with the use of a single button.

Lancia also introduces an innovative distribution model with 50% of online sales, and will establish a presence in 60 major cities with a network of 100 dealerships.

In unfolding the country strategy outside Italy, Lancia uses three criteria:

The first is love and passion for the “Made in Italy”, with Spain, Belgium and France leading the way.

The second is the relevance of online sales, with The Netherlands and Germany in pole position.

The third is the dimension of the B premium segment, with all these countries ranking in the top five.

These five countries represent the first step in the internationalization process of the brand, which will be present in Europe in and 50% of sales online.

 More Lancia news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Citroën Belux is the official partner of the 11th edition of the ‘Jeux Internationaux de la Jeunesse’ (YOU),  held in Brussels from May 30 to June 4!

Each year, the Jeux Internationaux de la Jeunesse (‘The International Youth Games’) brings together more than 350 high school students from around the world to honor fundamental values such as excellence, respect, friendship, solidarity and tolerance.

A truly popular phenomenon, the Citroën AMI will be the banner of this edition of the YOU and will be seen at each and every venue of the event.

This global event, whose growing success has not diminished over the past decade, will find a full international resonance thanks to the strength of the powerful network of 552 French secondary schools around the world and the prestigious school sports federation of the French national education system, the UNSS.

More about YOU…

For the past 11 years, YOU have brought together young people from French secondary schools around the world for a week of sporting and cultural activities. This year, and for the first time in its history, the YOU in Belgium will take place at the Lycée Français Jean Monnet in Brussels, in collaboration with the French Embassy in Belgium. Over five days and at various locations in Brussels, no fewer than 400 16 and 17 year olds from 33 countries (including Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and the United Kingdom) will meet there.

Citroën Belux is one of the official sponsors of this important event and takes the opportunity to highlight the AMI model, a popular mobility phenomenon that is on the rise. The Citroën AMI will be at all the different venues of the events: amongst others at the Lycée Français in Brussels, at the Hotel Dolce La Hulpe where the participants stay, at the Golf D’Hulencourt where the closing ceremony will take place and on the official opening night of the YOU with the presence of some ambassadors from the different participating countries.

AMI: built for Youth…

Already a leader in the quadricycle segment, Citroën AMI is a highly valued mobility solution, especially for young people. With AMI, Citroën is responding to the challenges of urban mobility, which are more than ever at the heart of the concerns and expectations of city dwellers. AMI is an individual mobility solution that makes it possible to travel protected in a closed, 100% electrical object that is accessible to everyone.

More (Youthful) Citroën news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

WWCOTY presents Peugeot with its award for best car of the year in Paris.

TEN journalists from Women’s World Car of the Year travelled to Paris to present their ultimate accolade to Peugeot boss Linda Jackson in what WWCOTY Executive President Marta Garcia described as an ‘historic moment’.

Peugeot’s new 308 took top honors this year in WWCOTY when it fought off competition from 65 other cars worldwide to be named Supreme Winner. The culmination of a year of testing, assessing, and voting on scores of cars from across the globe came at an intimate awards ceremony in the French capital when Linda Jackson accepted the trophy on behalf of Peugeot. (See photo below).

WWCOTY Executive President, Marta Garcia said: “This is an historic moment because it is the first time in the thirteen years history of the WWCOTY that the Supreme Winner is awarded to a company led by a woman. But that’s not why the WWCOTY is in Paris. It’s because the 308 has been voted the best car in the world by women motoring journalists from five continents. The Peugeot 308 is a global and down-to-earth car – a vehicle that meets the needs of buyers from young people to families to somewhat older drivers.”

Linda Jackson replied: “This award is a source of great pride for the entire Peugeot team, and it nurtures our motivation for all our future endeavors: we see that our efforts pay off.

Indeed, it is a double honor to receive this award:

It is first and foremost the honor of having the brand Peugeot recognized by international journalists who are true, genuine automotive experts. And it is the honor of being recognized by a jury of all-female journalists. I am delighted to see that women play a more and more important role in our industry. Thanks to this type of award, we know that we are moving in the right direction.”

The ten were representing the jury of almost 60  women motoring writers from more than 40  countries who had taken part in the voting first on a long list and then on a shortlist from which the 308 ultimately snatched victory after having been judged on safety, quality, price design, ease of driving and environmental footprint. Cars eligible for this global award must be sold on at least two continents although they may have different names. All votes are verified by accountants Grant Thornton.

Following the ceremony the panel from WWCOTY were invited to Peugeot’s Design Studio at Velizy just outside Paris for a first glimpse of a new completely redesigned model that will be unveiled to the general public on June.

The WWCOTY Trophy: The distinctive trophy was designed by Spaniard Scarleth Martinez Garrido.  It is made up of a wooden plinth with an inscription marking Peugeot’s win. The metal plaque above has been created by the artist to simulates an engine part and is stamped through with the WWCOTY logo.

Previous winners were:

2021 Land Rover Defender

2020 Mazda3

2018 Volvo XC40

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

2016 Jaguar F-Pace

2015 Volvo XC90

2014 Mercedes-Benz S Class

2013 Ford Fiesta

2012 Range Rover Evoque

2011 BMW Series 5 and Citroen DS 3

About Women’s World Car of the Year

Women’s World Car of the Year is the only car awards group in the world comprised exclusively of women motoring journalists. It was created by New Zealand motoring journalist, Sandy Myhre, in 2009. She is currently Honorary President while Marta García performs as Executive President.

The aim of this unique award is to recognize the best cars of the year and to give a voice to women in the automotive world. The voting criteria are based on the same principles that guide any driver when choosing a car. The selections are not ‘woman’s car’ because such categories do not exist.  Aspects such as safety, quality, price, design, ease of driving, benefits and environmental footprint, among others, are taken into account when casting the votes.

However, beyond choosing the best cars of the year, the goal of WWCOTY is also to give visibility to women in the automotive world, to contribute to making women voices heard on all continents because mobility for a woman means access to many personal and professional possibilities. See also their website womensworldcoty.com. E-mail: info@womensworldcoty.com.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Kia presents 2030 roadmap to become global sustainable mobility leader

Kia announced its key targets to transform into Sustainable Mobility Solutions Provider. This corporate vision is supported by three key pillars – ‘people’, ‘planet’ and ‘profit’. It did this in presenting the roadmap to 2030 at the company’s 2022 CEO Investor Day virtual event.

Under these pillars, Kia will strive to enhance customer value and nurture talents, reduce carbon emissions in consideration for the environment, and generate profits while working as a responsible corporate citizen.

Kia also announced its four key business targets for 2030. These core business aims include: accelerating electrification and achieving annual sales of 1.2 million battery electric vehicle (BEV) units by 2030; reaching 4 million annual vehicle sales by 2030, including over 2 million eco-friendly models; expanding the application of connected car feature and autonomous driving technologies to all new vehicles; and become the number one brand in the global purpose-built vehicle (PBV) market by 2030.

Kia to establish a line-up of 14 BEV models by 2027. Indeed, starting in 2023, Kia plans to launch at least two BEVs per year. Compared to its previous plan to release 11 models by 2026, Kia will add two electric pickup trucks – a dedicated electric pickup truck and a strategic model for emerging markets – and an entry-level BEV model.

 ‘AutoMode’, Kia’s new autonomous driving technology, to be launched in 2023 with first application in EV9…

Kia’s range of autonomous driving technologies, branded ‘AutoMode’, will be rapidly expanded throughout the line-up starting with the EV9 in 2023.

Kia AutoMode supports performance optimization through wireless updates and will be improved as the technology develops. It will also include Highway Driving Pilot feature which would enable driving without driver intervention on highway sections. Kia aims to expand connected car features to all vehicle lineup by 2025

Aims to become No.1 global PBV brand by 2030···first dedicated PBV model in 2025.

Indeed, As a customer-centered company, Kia will provide flexible mobility services that reflect the diverse needs of people and businesses. A core part of Kia’s work in this area will focus on PBV. (Purpose Built Vehicle)

Kia is the one of the first movers in the global PBV market and plans to become a market leader. The demand for delivery and logistics services has increased significantly following the acceleration in e-commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the mid-to long term, Kia will develop dedicated PBVs. The dedicated PBV will be developed as flexible structure that sits on a flat, skateboard EV platform, so that the size and shape can be adjusted according to the purpose and customer needs.

Kia will launch its first dedicated model in 2025 when the PBV market is expected to mature. The first dedicated PBV will be similar in size to a medium-sized vehicle, with inherent scalability.

Company announces financial targets for 2026···gross revenue of KRW 120 trillion; operating profit margin of 8.3%

The company plans to garner 39 percent of operating profit from BEVs in 2026 with the reduction of fixed costs through volume expansion and cost reduction from technology development.

Furthermore, Kia expects that by 2026, the contribution to operating profit from all eco-friendly models will reach 52 percent, exceeding that of internal combustion engine models.

To achieve these goals, Kia will not only expand sales of its eco-friendly models but also greatly improve profitability, securing additional sales and profit structures due to the commercialization of new businesses and technologies.

Kia will also actively participate in Hyundai Motor Group’s next-generation projects, such as Advanced Aviation Mobility (AAM), robotics. Specifically, Kia plans to focus on creating synergy between the Group’s AAM efforts and its own PBV business.

We keep you posted further on Kia soon as next week we will test the Kia EV6!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Renault removes wraps of its New Austral, its new electrified SUV.

VERSION ICONIC – ESPRIT ALPINE

Renault wants its new SUV to be high-tech, efficient, and connected: they say it embodies the spirit of the Renaulution and Renault’s ‘Nouvelle Vague’ for C-segment SUV’s.

All-New Austral introduces also a “sporty-look” Esprit Alpine version, available for the first time on a vehicle in the Renault range.

The Austral is designed on the 3rd generation CMF-CD platform, developed within the Alliance. It offers various electrification technologies including a new E-TECH Full Hybrid engine.

More modern and technological, All-New Austral incorporates advanced, proactive and intelligent technologies including 4CONTROL Advanced and 32 driving aids.

VERSION ICONIC – ESPRIT ALPINE

More connected, its large OpenR screen hosts the OpenR Link multimedia system, which integrates the best of Google services and applications. More news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel