With INCIT-EV, Renault takes bold steps to test out charging solutions in Europe…

2019 – Porto Santo ecosystem – a bold experiment of insular bi-directional charging already launched by Renault

Together with major industry partners and the help of the European commission through their Horizon 2020 project, Renault takes the (electric) bull by the horns. We all are well aware of the problem: charging infrastructure is still cruelly lacking in many European countries.

The project is called INCIT-EV, and Renault is coordinating it. It aims to encourage the development of electromobility in Europe through field experiments.

7 innovative charging technologies for electric vehicles will be tested in chosen locations in Europe, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

2019 – Porto Santo ecosystem another project by Renault

The project is worked out in collaboration with 32 partners in Europe. Spanning the 48 months from January 2020 through December 2023, the INCIT-EV project will be broken down into two primary phases:

·Phase 1 will first involve analysing user needs and requirements, followed in April 2020 by an assessment of charging technologies and their integration into infrastructures.

·Phase 2 will focus on 7 tech demonstrations on selected sites and will run from the second half of 2022 to the end of the project. These 7 demonstrations are:

– A dynamic induction charging system for the urban environment in Paris, France;

– High voltage charging systems in the outskirts of Tallinn, Estonia;

– Optimised bidirectional “smart charging” in Amsterdam and Utrecht, the Netherlands;

– A dynamic induction charging system in peri-urban/long-range areas in Versailles, France;

– A charging hub in a car park for car-share vehicles in the outskirts of Turin, Italy;

– Low power bidirectional charging (for two-wheeled vehicles also) and static wireless charging in taxi lanes located at the airport and central station in Zaragoza, Spain.

2019 – Porto Santo ecosystem

 ·

A pan-european project brought to life by the Renault Group…

To address the needs to test the charging technologies in real-life conditions – such as the Contactless Dynamic Charging technology – and to structure the whole ecosystem, Groupe Renault took the European Commission’s call for new projects as an opportunity to create a consortium. In the capacity of coordinator, Groupe Renault serves as intermediary between the European Commission and the consortium partners, and oversees the technical development, budgeting, and scheduling.

Not less than thirty-two leading industrial companies, universities, institutes, cities, start-ups, and SMEs positively answered the call put out by Renault, with the shared desire to promote electric mobility in Europe by carrying out electric car’s user-centric experiments.

Groupe Renault experiments already on alrge scale with bi-directional charging, here in the Netherlands…

These 33 members of the consortium are based in Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey.

Needless to say that we will follow up closely on this initiative, as an electric powered car is only so useful as it can be practical in daily (commercial) life.

Having said this, we will in these columns also concentrate in the future more on the professional mobility, i.e. LCV’s and all purpose pick-ups and offroads, a segment which has become eminently important in Europe. We wrote in these columns already about the electric Fiat Ducato for instance and the people behind it. We will soon look more closely at the state of electrification of LCV’s and what it holds for the (near) future.

Stay (E)tuned…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Jeep Wrangler 2.2 Multijet 200 HP: only Jeep will always be Jeep…

If there is an absolute icon for rugged outdoors motoring, then it is Jeep. The original 1941 Jeep still celebrates in parades how it liberated our shores. And up to the present days, it uplifts our hearts and liberates our minds.

The Jeep Wrangler is an icon which continues to uphold the fascination for the original. Just look at it standing in front of your home. The looks are all there.

The legendary seven-slot grille, with the outer grille slats intersecting with the headlights, paying homage to the legendary CJ model. The trapezoidal wheel arches, the visible hinges, the removable top, all this continues the tradition, albeit in a very modern manner. As this Jeep is king on the rugged terrain, it is also royal to drive on the road, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Don’t you just love a car which will never, ever let you down, and just brings you to your destination whatever the weather, the road conditions? A car which breathes timeless authenticity, looks and conveys exactly what it stands for, nothing more, nothing less? Then this Wrangler is the car for you. It certainly was the car for us, all during this test.

We just love the ideal, well honed proportions of this fourth generation Wrangler. We are smitten by its wide stance and lowered beltline with larger windows, making the car look “just right”.

The windshield is tilted to an optimal degree to improve aerodynamics, and features a new four bolt design at the top of the windshield’s frame to allow the windshield to fold down quickly and easily. It is also the only authentic full open-air 4×4 SUV available on the market. It has for instance an easy-to-use Freedom Top, a removable, three-panel hard top.

Our car also had the Overland pack, and this offers unique 18-inch aluminium wheels, a body colour grille with bright accent throats and headlamp bezels, body colour hard spare tyre cover and Overland logo. The exterior of the Overland pack is complemented by dedicated leather interior and LED lights.

The cabin also breathes the Jeep purposefulness. The dashboard stands deliciously upright, and features round and very clear instruments combined with the soft-touch surface with accent stitching. The completely restyled centre console houses the gear shift selection, transfer case and parking brake. Real bolts featured on the shifter, grab handles and frame the infotainment screen highlight genuine construction methods. Yeah, this is Jeep.

One of Wrangler’s unique characteristics are the entirely washable interiors and the protective rubber cover for the infotainment system screen, that allows easy clean up in complete peace of mind.

Not that you are devoid of modern infotainment or or creature comfort. The Wrangler has heated front seats, and even a heated steering wheel. The armrests in the doors are also lengthened so you can comfortably lean back on motorway journeys.

The central console also features a 7.0-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreens (both with Android auto Car Play connectivity). The fourth-generation UconnectTM system enhances the user interface and system performance with quicker start up times and improved screen resolution. The LED display is full-colour and allows the driver to configure information in more than 100 ways. All the functions are intuitive, well explained, utterly logical and we can say this is a car which you can use in its more than basic functions without ever having to look at the manual.

Going for that unique driving experience…

Pushing the dashboard weather sealed starting button lets the latest generation 2.2-litre MultiJet II turbo diesel jump to life. A state of the art diesel unit, with second-generation MultiJet technology, four valves per cylinder, belt-driven Double Over Head Camshafts (DOHC), 2,000-bar Common Rail injection system, solenoid injectors and a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT). It is good for 200 horsepower at 3,500 rpm and a torque of 450 Nm at 2,000 rpm. Enough to propel the Wrangler from 0 to 100 km in 9,6 seconds and push it further to a top speed of 180 km/h. But in everyday driving, you just enjoy the massive torque which is artfully passed on to the wheels by a supersmooth and alert 8 speed automatic. The Wrangler invites you to adopt a relaxed and anticipatory driving style, with the engine humming along hardly above 2000 rpm. Urban driving is a pleasure: you are sitting high above the traffic, and you are almost always well noticed by many other road users, as its imposing dimensions impress but find sympathy with many. Indeed, the Wrangler is quite popular, and as soon as the car is parked, it collects interested and admiring looks.

So you can potter along, with the engine and transmission providing silky smooth progress. The suspension is remarkably comfortable too, and of course our damaged and potholed urban roads and pavés are just the thing for your Wrangler.

The driver satisfaction continues on the open road. Not that the Wrangler begs you to throw it around corners, but it will provide excellent stability at speed and fast corners are taken with ease. As expected it is an excellent motorway cruiser, and the high gearing keeps consumption well within very reasonable limits. Cruising at legal limits on the motorway delivers an average consumption between 6-7 liters, urban errands let the consumption rise to 9-10 litres, although a cool, fluent driving style can work wonders here. CO2 emissions are still within boundaries with 202 g/km.

Off road champion

Of course, the brave really get going when the going gets rough. There are stories (and films) about Wranger owners who pull 30 tonne trucks out of snowy ditches, and this Wrangler is a true champion off-road. The terrain selector tells you already the story.

By shifting this dedicated lever to the 4WD High position, the driver can switch to four-wheel drive mode This 4H mode can be selected to operate either in the new “Auto” mode – ideal for any driving condition thanks to the continuous monitoring and management of the torque and the automatic engagement and disengagement of the 4WD as needed to maintain traction -, or in the 4H “Part Time” mode that ensures the torque is always evenly distributed between front and rear axles. To tackle extremely challenging and demanding off-road tracks,you can use the 4WD Low mode with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio that multiplies the engine torque.

We can assure you, there are no limits to what this Jeep can do. We tested this also out already for you some time earlier in the Austrian forests around Zeltweg and the muddy quarries in the region of the Lago di Garda, and you have to experience to believe it. In open forestland terrain in Belgium this Wrangler is hardly challenged, and what a delightful feeling it is that you will arrive at your destination no matter what.

Suffice to say here that two four-wheel drive systems are available on the Wrangler: Command-Trac – on the Sport and Sahara trim levels, i.e. our test car, and Rock-Trac – which is standard on the Rubicon trim configuration. Both systems feature the new “Selec-Trac” full-time two-speed transfer case for a continuous monitoring and management of the torque sent to front and rear wheels.

Creature comfort

This Wrangler is also quite a comfortable car. Not only are the seats excellent with plenty of bolster and lumbar support, the Wrangler continues to utilize the proven five-link coil suspension configuration. Front suspension features a lateral control arm and four longitudinal control arms, while the five-link rear suspension features two upper and two lower forged steel control arms for longitudinal control, and a track bar for lateral axle control.

The long suspension travel and progressive damping warrants excellent comfort, and on tarmac potholes as well as rough and rocky terrain, passengers are never unduly jolted. It is good living with the Wrangler too. Plenty of 12 V and even a 230 V plug for your electric devices, USB connections on dashboard panel and centre console, everything is at your disposal. Luggage space is quite adequate, with 533 liter minimum up to 1044 liters. Of course, there is still the roof, and Jeeps can carry a lot there too…

On top of all this, every Jeep lover knows all too well that Mopar has all the nifty accessories you always wanted, to make your Wrangler even more terrific.

Conclusion

This Wrangler really took our heart with its authenticity, its style, its on- and offroad performance, its comfort, its endearing solidity. A companion who will bring you everywhere you want, come what may. Its timeless shape will seduce you for years to come, its Euro 6d diesel engine is future (low-emission zone) proof. Last but not least a respectful right foot, which understands what proper Jeep driving is all about, will deliver you more than adequate economy, and put a broad smile on your face when you are behind the wheel in its cool and cosy cabin, cocooning while the kilometers unroll under its solid wheels.

You would never like it to stop, really, at least we never did…

Hans Knol ten Bensel            

2020 Brussels show report: BMW electrifies the future…

The BMW Vision INEXT was to be seen in Brussels…

The Brussels motor show is always a unique event. Last but not least because this is a true buyers’ show, to be taken in the literary sense: about 30 % of the annual car sales in our country is done on the grounds of the Motor Show!

“Our” show is also unique because all the brands are present here in Brussels. First of all because no car manufacturer wants to miss the sales opportunity, but also because the Brussels show is also an ideal “test” market, it allows brands to assess what global (European) market share they can achieve overall and for their respective models individually, judging by their penetration in the Belgian market, where no national brands can distort the situation in our market place.

We took a walk through some of the stands, and here follows our report, where we focus on the brands we did not yet discuss already in our show preview, starting here with BMW.   

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW and MINI unveiled two world premieres with respectively the BMW plug in hybrid versions for the X1 and the X2 models, the BMW X1 xDrive25e and the new BMW X2 xDrive25e. BMW is pushing its electrification very hard forward, and on the accompanying photo you can see the table they displayed at the show, showing the further steps they are taking towards an electrified future. An  electric drive and a lithium-ion battery enable an electrically powered range of up to 57 kilometres in the two new plug-in hybrid models. In the near future, four BMW X models with plug-in hybrid drive will be available. BMW intends to have more than one million vehicles with electrified drive on the road by the end of 2021.

The plug-in hybrid system of the new BMW X1 xDrive 25e and the new BMW X2 xDrive25e consists of a 1.5 litre 3-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology and an electric drive specially developed for this model. It is taken from the eDrive technology modular system of the BMW Group. The petrol engine mobilizes a peak output of 92 kW/125 hp and a maximum torque of 220 Newton meters. It transfers its power to a 6-speed Steptronic transmission and drives the front wheels.

The electric motor generates an output of 70 kW/95 hp and delivers 165 Nm of torque to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. This makes for a hybrid specific all-wheel drive…Together the combustion engine and electric motor produce a system output of 162 kW/220 hp. The maximum system torque of both drive units is 385 Nm. The new BMW X1 xDrive25e accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. The new BMW X2 xDrive25e does the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 6.8 seconds. The top speed of the new BMW X1 xDrive25e is 193 km/h. Maximum speed of the new BMW X2 xDrive25e is 195 km/h.

The MINI crowd was also spoiled with a world first of a Sidewalk Edition of the MINI convertible. The MINI is already cute, desirable and truly iconic, and a cabrio version adds to all the pleasure a MINI can offer its driver and occupants. Variants of the exterior paintwork, soft top design, rim styling and interior fittings are developed especially for the edition model. The version of the fully automatic textile soft top, specially designed for the edition model, can be opened or closed electrically and almost silently in 18 seconds. It features an artistically woven-in arrow graphic in the particularly high-quality finish typical of MINI Yours. The 17 inch light-alloy Scissor Spoke 2-tone wheels of the new MINI Convertible Sidewalk are also a model-specific design feature. There are also the side indicator bezels, known as side scuttles, which bear the “Sidewalk” model designation.

Presenting the MINI John Cooper Works GP and the M8 Gran Coupé

Three engine versions are available, The new MINI One Convertible Sidewalk develops 75 kW/102 hp from the 1.5 litre 3-cylinder engine. The new MINI Cooper Convertible Sidewalk is also powered by a 1.5 litre 3-cylinder engine which produces 100 kW/136 hp. The 141 kW/192 hp 4-cylinder engine of the new MINI Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk provides the sportiest fresh air experience.

European premieres for BMW and MINI

There were also European firsts in Brussels, like the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé, interesting as it is beautiful, and we are certainly keen to drive one soon to tell you more about it. The same goes for the BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe. It has a 200 mm longer wheelbase makes extra room for the rear passengers.

Furthermore there is the insipring MINI John Cooper Works GP, with a 4 cylinder 306 HP engine, catapulting this Mini from 0 to 100 km in merely 5,2 seconds. It is produced in Oxford in 3000 units, and is on sale from March 2020.

Things to come: The Vision INEXT dashboard…

The BMW BMW X5 M and X6 M have their Belgian premières, the 4,4 litre V8 is good for 625 hp and this formidable engine makes these cars sprint form 0 to 100 in merely 3,8 seconds. Last but not least there is the Belgian first of the MINI electric, or the 3-door MINI Cooper SE.

On the stand, we stood also eye to eye with the BMW Vision iNEXT, the optical highlight of the exhibition stand, which also showcases the interior design principle “My Favorite Space” with harmonious, natural surfaces and technology that is kept discreetly out of sight.

Just look at the photos here… which answers the question: “What will cars look like when they no longer have to be driven by a person, but still can be?” The interior can be a place for relaxation, interaction, entertainment, or concentration, as preferred. It is more like a comfortable and fashionably furnished “living space” on wheels – a new “Favorite Space”. A new design principle, referred to as “Shy Tech”, plays an especially important part in this.

To preserve the high-end, yet cozy character of the rear compartment, and place its occupants center-stage, the intelligent technology behind the operating controls is integrated out of sight. It only becomes visible and operable when required by the driver or passengers…

Soon more about other brands and novelties we saw on the Brussels show…

Hans Knol ten Bensel    

We drove the Audi Q3 Sportback 45 TFSI Quattro: enjoy elegance and thoroughbred performance…

We all know the Audi adage “Vorsprung durch Technik” and this is indeed what the brand masterfully embodies through its products.

The elegant Q3 we tested makes no exception to this rule. It brings you the ultimate in state of the art classic, non electrified technology, and with its 230 HP makes driving this elegant 4WD a true feast… just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Living in style.

Audi cars breathe style. Their designers carefully honed the already well proportioned Q3 to a distinct, elegant, coupé-like SUV/Crossover, with the good dimensions further enhanced by bigger wheels in the S line Quattro version we tested. The front end is angular and decidedly masculine, as Audi puts it, underlined by the trapezoidal air inlets, which are connected to each other by a narrow blade in the bumper. The sloping roof-line makes the car appear considerably longer than its sister model, the Q3, although the difference is just 16 millimeters. The Audi designers positioned the roof frame lower by 29 mm, and indeed, this Q3 looks sleek. In the S line exterior, the bumpers, the wheel arch trims, and sill trims are distinctively colored.

Here just one word about the Matrix LED headlights: Nine LEDs generate the low beam light and ten more LEDs create the high beam light.  

When the camera detects other road users, they are masked out of the light beam in a targeted fashion.

The matrix LED headlights also feature front and rear dynamic turn signals.

The cabin and dashboard also breathe the cherished Audi design language and philosophy. Clean, rakish yet fluid contours dominate the dashboard layout, and we find of course the virtual instrumentation, which is clear to read and stylish.

The instrument panel is designed in two zones, which makes it appear particularly wide. The upper zone integrates the air vents while the lower zone constitutes the operating level.

We tell you more later about the lavish array of infotainment functions, just suffice to say here that the central element here is the centre console with optional MMI touch display in our test car, which is together with the climate control unit tilted toward the driver by ten degrees.

In “our” S line, the seat backrests feature the embossed S logo, and the sport leather steering wheel bears a corresponding emblem. There is ample room for four if not five adults, the rear seats can be moved 130 mm (5.1 in) longitudinally as standard; their backrests are divided into three sections, and their inclination can be adjusted in seven stages. The volume of the luggage compartment ranges from 530 l (18.7 cu ft) to 1,400 l (49.4 cu ft). The loading floor can be adjusted to two levels, and the rear shelf is located beneath it. Our test car had the electric tailgate that can also be opened and closed with a foot motion.  

Driving is believing.

Pushing the starting knob revealed the feline smoothness of the 2 litre TFSI petrol engine. State of the art responsiveness is what you can expect from this unit: it delivers 169 kW (230 metric hp) at 5,000–6,200 rpm and 350 Nm (258.1 lb-ft) of torque between 1,500 to 4,300 rpm. Coupled to the 7-speed S-Tronic, you can expect some serious performance. And indeed, this Q3 truly delivers.

In supersmooth staccato the engine redlines and catapults the Q3 in 6,5 seconds to 100 km/h, hurtling further to a top speed of 233 km/h. Close to supercar performance, let this be said. And the beauty here is again, as befits a well engineered thoroughbred, that all this is achieved completely effortlessly, with chassis and drivetrain being always well mannered, keeping the driver in complete control. The engine is never obtrusive, and the S-Tronic always changes judiciously and at lightning speed. Of course one has the choice over different driving modes, and the consumption changes distinctly according to the selected mode and driving style. The manufacturer quotes between 7.7–7.3 l/100 km as combined fuel consumption, with CO2 emissions being 174–166 g/km.

It takes a very gentle foot indeed to stay between 8 and 9 litres/100 km in urban traffic, driving at legal limits on the open road will bring your consumption down to the 7 litres level. But of course, power costs fuel. We witness now an intensive “hybridisation” of the Audi range, and soon we will be able to drive the first Audi hybrids on the road. Suffice to say here for those enthusiasts keen on economy that the 1.5 TFSi in the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI uses the cylinder on demand technology, which switches off two cylinders at low and medium loads.

Later this engine will follow with S tronic and 48 volt mild hybrid system. During deceleration, it recovers energy; during acceleration from low speeds, it supports the engine. In real-life driving, it can save up to 0.4 l of fuel per 100 km.

At the moment of writing, we are driving the new Passat Hybrid GTE, and to tell you right away, it is an impressive plug-in hybrid indeed, with VW manifestly knowing very well what engineering and building a state of the art hybrid is all about.

Superb agility and balance

This SUV/Crossover coupé has also all what it takes to shine on curvy roads. First of all, it’s a Quattro, so it will certainly stand its own on wet and snowy roads, but it is also a very fine handling sporty companion on dry tarmac, being able to handle effortlessly all the power you unleash with your right foot.

At the limits of performance, the quattro drive works closely together with the wheel-selective torque control, It makes handling even more dynamic and stable by gently applying the brake to the inside wheels with the quattro drive and the inside front wheel with the front drive. The central element of the quattro drive system is a hydraulic multi-plate clutch on the rear axle. Its electronic management combines outstanding stability and strong traction with driving pleasure, the manufacturer tells us, and right they are.

The Audi digital world…

Our top of the range Q3 took us convincingly into the wonders of digital infotainment, and it is intuitive and easy to use. The flat menu structure is complemented by a control unit that uses natural language and can also understand free-form communication. Entering a navigation destination and the MMI search are based on free-form text input.

The system recognizes the driver’s most frequent destinations based on previous journeys, allowing it to generate suitable suggestions. When doing so, it takes into consideration statistical empirical values regarding the traffic load and time of day. Wow!  

…and being connected

The future doesn’t stop here of course. Together with MMI navigation plus, the online services of Audi connect are made available on board at LTE Advanced speed via a permanently installed SIM card.

This includes, for example, online traffic information and the online points of interest service, which complements route guidance with photos, opening hours and user evaluations.

Thanks to the inter-connectivity of the Audi fleet, the Q3 Sportback receives and provides information about parking spaces on the roadside, hazard areas and speed limits, which are detected via the on-board camera and vehicle sensors.

Navigation with Google Earth and the hybrid radio, which automatically switches between FM, DAB and online streaming depending on the reception conditions, also form part of the Audi connect navigation & infotainment plus package. The voice control system uses the detailed knowledge in the cloud to answer the driver’s questions and commands. The future has arrived with this package!

Of course, this Audi also takes care of your smart phone. The free myAudi app and the Audi smartphone interface ensure interconnectivity between the car and smartphone. This integrates Android and iOS cell phones into the on-board infotainment system.

The content of the smartphone is shown on the MMI display via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and no cables are required if the top infotainment system is used with an iPhone. The Audi phone box and the Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System with virtual 3D sound complete this comprehensive offer.

Of course, there is the whole array of electronic driving aids, which makes both urban and long distance touring a true pleasure…

Conclusion

A stunning compact yet roomy SUV, offering in this powerful version tons of driving pleasure, yet remaining utterly sophisticated and docile.

With its superb styling, workmanship and finish, this Audi is a car to love and behold, and care for during its long, reliable life, if you have the pleasure and privilege to own it for some time. It constitutes undoubtedly the pinnacle what classic medium size petrol engined drivetrains can offer, and as such constitutes a benchmark indeed.

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

The Concept Alfa Romeo Tonale is to be seen on the press and gala day of the Brussels Show…

Faithful readers will remember that we stood in the FCA Centro Stile eye to eye with the stunning design concept car, the Alfa Romeo Tonale. For those lucky ones who will be invited to the gala evening and attend the press day on January 9, we have good news : it will be on show on that day in the Hall 7 of the Brussels Salon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Indeed, you can admire it for one day in Hall 7 of the Motor Show buildings, and you will see its design language close up. This is rather important, as its shapes will be seen back in the second SUV which will bear the Alfa Romeo badge.

Its expressive design and compact shape bode well for the future styling of Alfa’s, whilst maintaining and even rather enhancing and accentuating further the organic Alfa styling DNA of the past. One only has to look at the formidable 21-inch alloy wheels, which evoke the “telephone dial”, a pure execution of the circular theme of the wheel itself. It was first seen in the 60’s and proudly carried by the Alfa 33 stradale. The wheel design has been further enhanced by special custom-made Pirelli’s…

The lateral profile of the car is reminiscent of the shapes of the Duetto and Disco Volante Spider, and the “Linea GT” profile of the Tonale is a modern day interpretation of the shapes seen on the GT Junior.

The “Trilobo” front end bears proudly the “Scudetto” grille, and the “3 + 3” headlights remember proudly the SZ and the Brera.

The cabin shapes have a distinct thoroughbred touch, and the materials are rich and inviting, with transparent panels in the centre console, and of course the DNA driving mode elector is a prominent element.

The Tonale is named after the Tonale mountain pass, which lies not far from the iconic Stelvio pass, and is equally breathtaking with eternal snow and water falls. Just come to admire it in Brussels…on the 9th of January. If you missed it, there is always a nice consolation for you: you can admire on the following days instead the new Giulia MY 2020…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Kia XCeed 1.4 T: above and beyond your expectations…

There are cars which indeed exceed what you would think of them. Such a car is the latest Kia XCeed. We know that at the moment of writing there are already hybrid and electrified versions being built and they are to be seen on the Brussels show. Just read our comments elsewhere in these columns.

Intrigued as we were about this bestselling Kia, we tested it for you in the 140 HP 1,4 litre petrol engine version, and to tell you right away, we were stunned by its mechanical refinement and smooth manners…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Kia XCeed 1.4 T: above and beyond your expectations…”

We drove the new Renault Clio Tce 100: a much awarded bestseller…

Did you know that the Renault Clio has been the bestselling car in its class in Europe since 2013? Deservedly so, we would think. It has style and panache, both inside and out. It sets new standards in its class, the automotive media world says, and we can only agree. It drives, looks and spoils you with advanced tech. Last but not least it introduces Level Two autonomous driver assistance systems to its sector.

Its interior is another highlight, featuring the option of larger 9.3-inch EASY LINK infotainment screen and a ten-inch TFT instrument cluster. We drove the lively and frugal Tce 100 HP version. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel 

Nice to live in…

The cabin and its infotainment is indeed one of the very strong points of this Clio. Its many features give you the distinct feel and impression you are sitting at the wheel of an upmarket car. The large central screen is a breeze and joy to use, and it spoils you if you want with the new EASY LINK multimedia platform featuring Android AutoTM, Apple CarPlayTM and 4G connectivity.

In our test car we were also spoiled with park assist, regulated air conditioning, keyless entry, reversing camera with 360 ° view, just to name a few.

The used materials on panels and seat upholstery have also definitely a premium look and feel to it. But that is not all. The seats are also comfortable, and there is enough room for four.

All the commands are intuitive, also last but not least thanks to the central touch screen with a myriad of functions effortlessly at your fingertips.

and to drive

Driving is (again) believing, and also here the Clio truly scores. Setting up a comfortable suspension and marrying it with excellent handling and road manners is not something you have to learn a French car builder. Indeed, here the Clio masterfully excels.

It irons out all the nasty bumps and potholes, still gives you excellent feedback through the steering wheel of the road, and handles smoothly and with precision. The steering has been made more responsive thanks to a reduction in ratio from 15.2 to 14.4, while the electrical assistance has been calibrated to provide more natural feedback.

There’s also a more solid and stable mounting of the front suspension that helps boost steering accuracy. Here is a true compact Gran Turismo which is build to whisk you over hundreds of kilometres or miles in comfort…

Mind you, this Clio is the first Renault to be built on CMF-B platform, and so you are literally driving the future, we can say. Did you know that all versions get features such as Active Emergency Braking System with pedestrian detection, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning?

Driving at night is also a breeze, as LED headlamps standard across the range.

Smooth petrol power…

The Clio comes with a choice of five powertrains, comprising three petrols and one diesel, with, as we told you already in these columns, the E-TECH hybrid to come in 2020. We drove the 3-cylinder 1 litre 100 HP version. It is packed with a raft of cutting-edge features, including a turbocharger with an electrically controlled recirculation valve, an exhaust manifold partially integrated into the cylinder head, twin variable intake valve timing and a bore spray coating for reduced friction.

Delivering 100 hp and a muscular 160 Nm of torque at just 2,750rpm, the new-generation engine makes the Clio quite lively, providing an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 11.8 seconds. Top speed is 187 km/h. It’s clean and frugal too. CO2 emissions are just around 100 g/km, and we clocked throughout the test quite often averages of 5,1 l/100 km. Of course, we know that much depends on your driving style, but it is good to know that these averages can be achieved with the standard 5 speed gearbox, which is slick and smooth, by the way.

Practical

There is quite some handy stowage room in the cabin, to a total of 26 litres, and the boot architecture has been optimised to make load area as square and unencumbered by intrusions as possible, while capacity has been increased to 391 litres, making it in top of its class. We also liked the double-height floor.

Conclusion

“The street is always right”, investment managers and bankers say when they comment about financial markets, interest rates and asset prices, and the same we can say about cars. When the international motoring press awards it and the public across Europe makes it a bestseller, then you know that this Clio has what it takes to win over your heart too… We from our part can say that we rarely found a car which was more satisfying and pleasurable to drive and use than this Renault…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Volkswagen on the Brussels show…

Volkswagen will of course be quite present at the show in palace 11 with a very impressive stand, under the new VW logo, reminiscent of its early beginnings, and we must admit we like its style.

There is a lot to see: in the first place the brand new Golf, the iconic bestseller and of course the electric ID.3. We will be very keen to admire it “in the flesh.”

At launch, a special range of ID.3 1ST will be available in three trim levels and with an electric driving range of up to 420 kilometers (WLTP). All ID.3 1ST versions are equipped with the most popular battery variant, which has a useful energy content of 58 kWh.

The series models will later also be available with a smaller battery (45 kWh), with a driving range of up to 330 kilometers, and a larger battery (77 kWh), with a maximum driving range of 550 kilometers.

VW is also presenting some fun cars, like the T-Roc Cabriolet and the sporting version of the range, the T-Roc R.

On the new Golf, not less than five hybrid versions are offered. Three eTSIs (mild hybrids) make their debut. A belt-driven 48 V starter generator, a 48 V lithium-ion battery and the latest generation of the groundbreaking efficient TSI engines offer performance but also significantly reduce fuel consumption.

The mild-hybrid powertrains, which are always combined with a 7-speed DSG, have a powerful energy recovery and deliver power of 81 kW (110 hp), 96 kW (130 hp) and 110 kW (150 hp). The 48 V system also makes it possible to roll out with the engine switched off completely and to save fuel.

Of course, there are also Plug-in Hybrid (eHybrid) versions. The eHybrid program is divided into a 150 kW / 204 hp version optimized for driving range and a performance-oriented GTE version with 180 kW / 245 hp (system power each time). The plug-in hybrid drive line consists of a 1.4 TSI, the hybrid module with electric motor, a six-speed DSG and a lithium-ion battery. The new battery is distinguished by a 50 percent larger storage capacity (13 kWh) and therefore a larger electric driving range: almost all daily journeys in the city can be done locally without emissions.

The family of the Multivan, Caravelle and California 6.1 with a nod to the first-born, the T1, is also to be seen at the show.

The T-Roc Cabriolet is already a classic with its foldable cabrio roof which can be opened in merely 9 seconds and which is powered by a choice of two petrol engines, the 1 litre 110 HP 3 cylinder and the 1,5 litre 150 HP four cylinder. 

T-Roc R, fun, sporty and safe with the integral transmission

The modern 2.0 engine with TSI technology and the 4MOTION intelligent four-wheel drive gives the new T-Roc R quite some zest. Pressure feed and direct injection ensure an impressive torque of 400 Nm even at low speeds.

You can also admire two electric concept cars: the ID. BUGGY and the ID. BUZZ Cargo.

Here the basis is formed by the new and already much discussed MEB platform. The high-voltage battery in housed in the floor of the vehicle. This lithium-ion battery provides in the case of the ID. Buggy a capacity of 62 kWh to power the 150 kW / 204 hp electric motor in the rear for a driving range of approximately 250 kilometers (WLTP).

Last but not least the importer D’Ieteren is showing electric charging solutions. With Electric D’Ieteren Solutions, or EDI for short, D’Ieteren Auto wants to expand a portfolio of intelligent charging and energy solutions.

The EDI range includes charging stations for home and work, but also a charging card for charging on the road, which offers access to more than 100,000 charging points in 25 European countries. In addition, EDI provides a range of services for both private customers and professional accounts.

As you see, a lot of interesting news to see in hall or “palace” 11 of the Brussels Motor Show on the Heysel…  

Hans Knol ten Bensel

EQ power for Mercedes in Brussels…

Mercedes-Benz is launching at the Brussels Motor Show with a scoop: after the digital premiere of the GLA in mid-December, the youngest member of the Compact Car segment makes its very first worldwide physical appearance in Brussels.

The brand new GLA will be joined by the Belgian premieres of the CAP and the GLS – both available as seven-seater.

In addition, the EQ offensive from Mercedes-Benz is gradually coming up at full speed: from the newest and therefore most efficient generation of diesel engines and EQ Boost on petrol engines to the EQ Power Plug-In Hybrids from A-Class to S-Class to fully battery-powered EQC, the smart EQ facelift and the EQV in Belgian premiere.

In the next year we will drive the E-300, and indeed, as you can read in our columns, the EQC has greatly impressed us…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Renault presents its hybrid technology at the Brussels Salon…

Hybrid E-Tech Engine

In palace 5 of the show, Renault will present the New Clio, under a full hybrid version from 2020, christened E-TECH. This is a major first for Groupe Renault, which relied on its pioneering know-how as the European market leader in electric mobility to develop a unique hybrid experience for New Clio. New Clio E-Tech is presented as a world premiere at the Brussels 2020 Salon.

Renault CLIO in Portugal…

Another world premiere is the new Captur, the first affordable model in its segment to be offered in 2020 with a fully rechargeable hybrid engine. Renault calls its hybrid technology E-TECH Plug-in.

New Renault CAPTUR in Greece…

Renault presents its hybrid technology, under this E-Tech label, to the general public for the first time at the Brussels Motor Show.

That is why a special technological zone will be dedicated exclusively to New Clio E-Tech and New Captur E-Tech Plug-in at the Renault stand in Palace 5. Visitors to the salon will be able to learn everything about this new technology thanks to demonstration modules, but also thanks to technical experts with whom they will be able to talk.

A 1,6 litre petrol engine is used in the hybrid layout, alongside with two electric engines. More about all this soon, when we discuss all this more in technical detail.

2019 – New Renault ESPACE Initiale Paris

The new Espace has also its world premiere in Brussels. There is also the new ZOE, a next step in terms of versatility, quality and technology. With 52 kWh, the battery offers Z.E. 50 in New ZOE now a range of 395 km WLTP, an increase with 25%.

Two years after it was launched on the European market, New Koleos is making progress in all areas, with a more pronounced body design and a higher level of comfort. He also has new, more efficient and more efficient engines and more technologies in the interior.

The new ZOE with a bigger range…

The New ZOE sets a next step in the field of versatility, quality and technology. With 52 kWh, the battery offers Z.E. 50 in New ZOE now a range of 395 km WLTP, an increase with 25%.

We just let you look at the photos here… and needless to say that we are very keen to make a test drive soon with the new E-Tech cars!

Hans Knol ten Bensel