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

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

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

The Bulgari logo on the 500…

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

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

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

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

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

Genuine gold flakes adorn the Bulgari 500…

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

The Armani 500 got a special dressing…

And also a wood sculpted dashboard…

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

…by a special wood cutting machine…

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

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

Bvlgari jewelry in the 500 logo…

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

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

Bvlgari used its foulards…to enhance the dasboard

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

Kartell the seats…

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

…and elements of the car…

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé and Cabriolet get a fresh look and more…

The styling has a more sporting touch with a fresh look for the front sections. The all-LED headlamps have been given flatter housings, while the interior of the LED tail lights has been reworked.

At the same time the two-door models take on the key upgrade features of the other body variants as part of the facelift. These include electrified, and therefore more efficient, petrol as well as diesel engines with integrated starter-alternator, the next generation of driving assistance systems and the infotainment system MBUX infotainment system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience).

The E-Class Coupé and Cabriolet will be making their debut with sales partners in Europe in autumn 2020.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

In good Mercedes tradition, The E-Class Cabriolet with the classic fabric top offers spaciousness and comfort on long journeys for up to four people. And does so all year round: as an option, the Cabriolet can be fitted with the AIRCAP electric draught-stop system and AIRSCARF neck-level heating. Unrestricted usability all year round is similarly ensured by the acoustic soft top, a standard feature that helps to optimise the level of noise experienced in the interior.

The coupé has pleasing flowing lines, and has its own enthusiastic followers, who like a roomy four seat Gran Turismo with coupé character and panache.

The “A-shape” design of the new diamond radiator grille, which is likewise standard on all versions, adds a particularly dynamic touch. The grille also features chrome-plated dots, a single louvre and the Mercedes star in the centre.

Typical Mercedes comfort

The adaptive driver’s seat adjustment is a particularly intelligent feature: when the height of the body is entered on the media display or via Mercedes me, the seat automatically moves into a position generally suitable for someone of that height, which then only needs to be fine-tuned by the driver.

The integral-look sports seats feature prominent side bolsters and integrated head restraints.

Next-generation driving assistance systems: better assistance in tailbacks and when parking

As standard, the E-Class comes with Active Brake Assist. The system is also able to brake for stationary vehicles and crossing pedestrians at typical city speeds and even to prevent collisions, depending on the situation. As part of the Driving Assistance Package, this is now also possible when turning off across the oncoming lane. A range of further Intelligent Drive functions can optionally be added to the Driving Assistance Package.

A new generation of steering wheels, plus MBUX

The E-Class is fitted with an entirely new, intelligent steering wheel as part of the facelift. This is available as a leather steering wheel and in a super sports variant. The control surfaces sport a high-gloss black finish, while the trim elements and surrounds have a silver shadow finish.

The new E-Class is equipped with the latest generation of the MBUX multimedia system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). As standard, it includes two large 10.25-inch/26 cm screens arranged side by side for a sublime widescreen look. Two 12.3 inch/31.2 cm screens are optionally available.

Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupé (Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 8,9-8,6 l/100 km, CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 204-198 g/km), 2020, Outdoor, Vorderansicht, dynamisch, Night Paket, Carbon Paket II, Exterieur: graphitgrau metallic;Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 8,9-8,6 l/100 km, CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 204-198 g/km Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupé (combined fuel consumption: 8,9-8,6 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 204-198 g/km), 2020, Outdoor, front, dynamic, Night package, Carbon package II, exterior: graphitgrey metallic;combined fuel consumption: 8,9-8,6 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 204-198 g/km

New to the E-Class Coupé and Cabriolet is the ENERGIZING COACH. This function is based on an intelligent algorithm and recommends one or other of the programmes depending on the situation and the individual concerned. If a Garmin® wearable is integrated, personal values such as stress level or quality of sleep optimise the accuracy of the recommendation. The aim is to ensure the driver feels well and relaxed even during demanding or monotonous journeys.

Your Mercedes is safe…

In conjunction with Mercedes me, the two packages URBAN GUARD Vehicle Protection and URBAN GUARD Vehicle Protection Plus enable all-round monitoring of the parked vehicle. URBAN GUARD comprises an anti-theft alarm system, tow-away protection with visual and audible warning in the case of a detected change in position, an alarm siren, interior monitoring (triggers in the case of movements in the interior) as well as a pre-installation for theft and parking collision detection. 

Increased electrification of the powertrain…

The electrification of the powertrain takes another major step forward with the facelift of the E-Class. The new two-door models also see the top version of the four-cylinder diesel engine (OM 654 M), rated at 195 kW, fitted for the first time with an integrated starter-alternator (ISG). It therefore has a 48-volt on-board partial electrical system. A recuperation function and the ability to “glide” with the engine switched off make the engine even more efficient.

Clever: integrated into the transmission

Ongoing development work means that the integrated starter-alternator used here is a second-generation unit that is now part of the transmission (rather than of the engine). This means that it can be more easily combined with different engines. The extra boost that is available right from the first turn of the engine, known as EQ Boost, can deliver as much as 15 kW and 180 Nm, thus ensuring that the driving enjoyment offered by both of the sporty two-door models is even more pronounced.

The 48-volt technology with ISG is also a feature of the in-line six-cylinder petrol engine (M 256), now available for the first time in the E-Class. As with the Saloon, Estate and All-Terrain models, this unit has now been added to the engine line-up for the two-door models.

There is also the new Mercedes-AMG E 53 4MATIC+ Coupé and Cabriolet, of which more later in a special report!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new BMW 5 series…

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

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

Externally with even more character…

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

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

More luxury and technology in the interior…

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

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

More choice in power…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choice of petrol and diesel engines…

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

Superb chassis and suspension…

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

Driver assistance systems offering additional functions…

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Lamborgini Huracán EVO Rear-Wheel Drive Spyder: superb open air pleasure….

Automobili Lamborghini reveals the new Huracán EVO Rear-Wheel Drive Spyder virtually, using for the first time Augmented Reality (AR) on its official website lamborghini.com.

The new V10 model provides drivers with an open-air celebration of lightweight engineering, with rear-wheel drive and a specially tuned Performance Traction Control System (P-TCS). Roof up or down, daily driving and high-performance fun are accompanied by the inimitable sound of the V10 aspirated power plant, delivering the same 610 hp (449 kW) and 560 Nm of torque as the coupé version.

With a 0-100 km/h acceleration of just 3,5 seconds and a top speed of 324 km/h, like its coupé stablemate the Spyder is an instinctive driver’s car, delivering a fun-to-drive experience via hardware rather than software.

The Huracán EVO RWD Spyder’s design optimizes the integration and function of the extremely lightweight soft top. The Spyder is a true Lamborghini with roof open and closed. The Spyder’s exterior lines ensure drag reduction and the downforce matches that of the coupé without requiring additional aerodynamic appendages, while enhancing the rear-wheel drive car’s balance and dynamism with roof both up and down.

Driving modes…

The Huracán EVO Spyder’s ANIMA button on the steering wheel puts the pilot in control of driving modes, with the P-TCS calibrated to suit.

STRADA provides stability and safety in all conditions by minimizing rear-wheel slippage, and more proactively managing torque delivery on low-adhesion surfaces.

In SPORT mode, the driver enjoys drifting fun, allowing the rear wheels to slide and skate during acceleration, with torque limited when oversteer angles increase rapidly so the driver can stabilize and control the car.

CORSA mode optimizes the car’s traction and agility when exiting a corner in high-performance conditions, maximizing dynamics and speed.

Low weight…

The Huracán EVO RWD Spyder’s aluminum and thermoplastic resin body sits on a lightweight hybrid chassis in aluminum and carbon fiber, with a dry weight of 1,509 kg and a weight-to-power ratio of 2.47 kg/hp.

Front/rear weight distribution of 40/60, with double wishbone suspension with overlapped quadrilaterals and passive shock absorbers, providing optimized driver feedback. Ventilated and cross-drilled steel brakes are fitted to 19” Kari rims with specially-developed Pirelli P Zero tires, with optional 20” rims and carbon ceramic brakes.

Just look at the photos and dream with us…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Porsche Targa enters its 8th generation…

Porsche has now completed its sports car trio: following on from the Coupé and Cabriolet, the third body variant of the new 911 generation now makes its debut with the all-wheel drive 911 Targa 4 and 911 Targa 4S models. The Targa remains unique with its fully automatic roof system. As on the legendary original Targa from 1965, it consists of a wide Targa roll bar, a movable roof section over the front seats and a wraparound rear window. The roof can be conveniently opened and closed in just 19 seconds. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

More power…

It is powered by a six-cylinder, three-litre boxer engine with twin turbochargers: in the 911 Targa 4, it delivers 283 kW (385 PS) and, in combination with the optional Sport Chrono package, allows the 0-100 km/h sprint in 4.2 seconds – one tenth faster than before. In the 911 Targa 4S, it boasts 331 kW (450 PS), enabling the new model to reach the 100 km/h mark in just 3.6 seconds under the same conditions – four tenths faster than its predecessor. The top speed of the 911 Targa 4 is 289 km/h (up 2 km/h), while the 4S peaks at 304 km/h (up 3 km/h).

Both sports cars are fitted with the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (PDK) and intelligent all-wheel drive Porsche Traction Management (PTM) as standard to deliver maximum driving pleasure.

…and a choice of transmissions

Alternatively, the 911 Targa 4S can be ordered with the newly developed seven-speed manual gearbox, which includes the Sport Chrono package. New technology has also been integrated to extend the range of features for both 911 models and, for the first time, Porsche InnoDrive, which includes adaptive cruise control, is available. 

AWD further developed…

The enhanced performance of the new all-wheel drive models goes hand in hand with further development of the front-axle drive system. The clutch and differential unit is water-cooled and has reinforced clutch discs for greater robustness and a higher load capacity. The increased actuating torque at the clutch improves its adjustment accuracy and also improves the function of the additional front-axle drive system. Overall, the enhanced front-axle drive system with PTM (Porsche Traction Management) contributes to even better traction in all road conditions.

Suspension also taken a step further…

The electronically controlled variable damping system PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) is part of the standard equipment on the new 911 Targa models. This system automatically adjusts the damping characteristics in terms of driving comfort and handling to each driving situation and has two manually adjustable maps: Normal and Sport. Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), which includes an electronic rear differential lock with fully variable torque distribution, is added as standard equipment on the Targa 4S and is available as an option on the Targa 4.

Like the other eighth generation Porsche 911 variants, the Targa models are also equipped with Porsche Wet mode as standard. If sensors in the front wheel arches detect significant levels of surface water, a signal is issued in the instrument cluster as a recommendation for the driver to manually switch to Wet mode. The drive responsiveness is then adapted to the conditions to guarantee maximum driving stability.

Driving dynamics up another level…

The driving dynamics set-up for the 911 Targa 4 includes 235/40 ZR tyres on 19-inch alloy wheels on the front axle and 295/35 ZR tyres on 20-inch wheels on the rear axle. As standard, the 4S model is fitted with 245/35 ZR tyres on its 20-inch front wheels and with 305/30 ZR tyres on its 21-inch rears. On the Targa 4, deceleration is taken care of on both axles by 330-millimetre brake discs with black four-piston monobloc fixed callipers. The red-painted brake callipers of the Targa 4S have six pistons on the front axle and four pistons at the rear,  while its discs measure 350 mm front and rear. The Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) can be ordered as an option.

Needless to say that we are anxiously awaiting to see this Targa in the flesh and report to you about our driving impressions…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Alfa GTA can now be had in its true racing colours…

The Alfa GTA was always an iconic thoroughbred for car lovers. We all remember them on the race circuits in the seventies, racing for well deserved victories. In 2020 we are commemorating 110 years of the brand, and the best way to celebrate this is to go back to its origins and resurrect one of the legends of motorsport: the Giulia GTA. Now the Alfa Centro Stile adds a further unique touch…by  developing dedicated liveries for the Giulia GTA. Just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

GTA tradition of power and lightness reborn…

From a technical point of view and in terms of concept, the new Giulia GTA is inspired by the Giulia GTA of 1965: the “Gran Turismo Allegerita” developed by Autodelta based on the Giulia Sprint GT that racked up sporting successes worldwide.

The new GTA is based on the Giulia Quadrifoglio and is fitted with a more powerful version of the Alfa Romeo 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo engine with 540 hp. With its extensive use of ultra-light materials, it is 100 kg lighter than the Giulia Quadrifoglio, achieving a best-in-class weight/power ratio of 2.82 kg/hp.

The 500 Giulia GTA and GTAm, tailor-made

For the 500 lucky owners of the Giulia GTA and GTAm, Alfa Romeo wanted to offer a “project within the project”, making the Giulia GTA not simply a car to buy but an experience to be had.

What could be better than getting into an Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA? Only one thing: to get into the GTA of your dreams, built around you, able to meet to every aesthetic need. That’s why Alfa Romeo has developed a series of ad hoc modifications and customizations to the exterior and interior of the car, offering a unique and authentically tailored experience.

History and creativity available to the customer

The Centro Stile Alfa Romeo’s creative and technical commitment in designing the car included wide-ranging research of the liveries that have been associated with the GTA’s historic pathway and long list of victories. These liveries have been analyzed and appropriately reinterpreted. The front, characterized by the historic white “mask”, is undoubtedly the first element of distinction that, combined with the lateral stripes, immediately brings the heart and mind to racing. The hood incorporates iconographic elements of the Alfa Romeo logo such as the cross, the Biscione and the Italian flag.

Some of the most representative and evocative liveries include those in ocher and white and in red and yellow.

The ocher recalls the 1750 GTAm and the 2000 GTAm, in which Toine Hezemans won the European Touring Car Championship in 1970 and 1971 respectively. Its symbolic features included the Biscione on the bonnet, along with lines on its sides, both specific to the GTA 1300 Junior. The longitudinal stripes, meanwhile, were the aesthetic quirks of individual drivers.

As for the red and yellow livery on the other hand, the choice of painted fronts arose from the need to distinguish the drivers in the same race from each other. While developing the liveries, the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo coherently and creatively drew on the Brand’s diverse history. For example, the painted front of the 1965-1968 Sprint GTA was not symmetrical, although it was in the GTA 1300 Junior. A yellow front end marked out the car that won the 1971 and 1972 European Touring Car Championships, while in certain races in 1971, Gianluigi Picchi drove cars with their lower front end painted yellow. These were all links with the GTA’s most prestigious victories.

Individual customers may request one of these liveries for their car, with an additional option of selecting the side number and a Goodwool car cover in the same livery.

In addition to the Centro Stile’s liveries (limited availability), the Giulia GTA and GTAm will come in GTA Red, Trophy White and Montreal Green, a range of colors that pay tribute to the Italian flag. Another layer of customization lies in the selection of a color for the brake calipers, and in the interior, roll bar, seat belts and stitching.

Starting today, a dedicated online configurator allows the customer to view the various possible combinations on Giulia GTA and GTAm, available at https://gta.alfaromeo.com.

GTA buyers get a unique experience package…

The same exclusivity found in the Giulia GTA and Giulia GTAm will also be found in the dedicated customer experience, designed to treat the 500 lucky owners to a unique interaction, 100% Alfa Romeo.

For those who booked one, there will be a dedicated sales process, with a Brand ambassador product specialist following up each customer from order to delivery.

The purchase also includes a personalized experience package, with a Bell helmet in special GTA livery, a tailor-made Goodwool car cover to keep their GTA or GTAm safe in the garage, and a specific driving course devised by the Alfa Romeo Driving Academy. The GTAm will also ship with full Alpinestars racing apparel (suit, gloves and shoes), available on request with the GTA.

But there’s more! Customers may also request delivery of their GTA or GTAm to one of the Brand’s most iconic locations, the Autodelta workshop in Balocco. Uniqueness and exclusivity are determining factors for every Alfa Romeo fan and for every collector.

Giulia GTA and Giulia GTAm are priced starting from €143,000 and €147,000 pretax respectively throughout Europe.

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

Takashi Watanabe, Chief Engineer at Lexus, reveals what Lexus E-driving is all about…

In an exclusive interview with Lexus Electrified Chief Engineer, Lexus has recently unveiled its vision for an upcoming generation of electrified vehicles, under the banner “Lexus Electrified”.

The interview, which offers very interesting aspects and opens new horizons, can be seen using the following link: https://newsroom.lexus.eu/lexus-electrified-chief-engineer-exclusive-interview/

The “Lexus Electrified” vision targets a fundamental leap in vehicle performance, handling, control and driver enjoyment – even as mobility within our society continues to change with autonomous driving and vehicle electrification.

Evoking the original fun of driving, Lexus intends to use its 15 years of experience in electrification technologies to further evolve driving pleasure, and to fundamentally transform the essence of luxury vehicles of the future – creating a unique Lexus driving signature with exceptional ride comfort, quietness and craftsmanship.

Takashi Watanabe, Chief Engineer at Lexus, takes us through the key aspects of this “Lexus Electrified” strategy in an exclusive interview.

The man behind it all…

Takashi Watanabe started his career with Toyota in 1993 with engine systems development. He has worked on many different types of engines and exhaust systems. Since 2012, he has worked also on the development of several Lexus vehicles and became in 2017 leader of the Lexus Electrified Project.

Just watch and listen, and be transported into the electric future…by Lexus, using their unique “Lexus-ness.”

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

New Toyota Yaris Cross is turning heads…

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

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

True hybrid, true SUV

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

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

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

New hybrid powertrain

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

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

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

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

Compact

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

Practical

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

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

Intelligent all-wheel drive

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

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

Advanced Driver Assistance System

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

Designed in Europe and Japan…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Audi A3 sedan: elegant and efficient…

The second generation sedan is there: beneath its elegant body, new drives and refined suspension tuning ensure a driving experience that is as efficient as it is dynamic.

The A3 Sedan will be on the lots of European dealerships beginning in summer 2020.

Compared with its predecessor, it is now 4 centimeters longer at 4.50 meters , while its wheelbase remains unchanged. Its width has increased by 2 centimeters, and with 425 liters (15.0 cu ft), the luggage capacity is exactly the same as in the predecessor model. The car looks coupé-like:  The roof line slopes down from the B-pillar dynamically – just like on a coupé – and finishes in a striking spoiler on the tailgate.

The aerodynamics benefit from the higher rear end compared with the predecessor as well as the large diffuser. As a result, the new A3 Sedan with the 2.0 TDI 110 kW (150 PS) achieves a Cd value of 0.25 and is therefore 0.04 Cd points better than the first generation.

Digitalized cockpit

The cockpit of the A3 Sedan is entirely focused on the driver. This begins with the interior design and ends with the display and control elements. Thus, the instrument panel with the central MMI touch display is inclined slightly toward the driver. It has a 10.1-inch diagonal and is intuitive to operate. As standard, it includes handwriting detection as well as natural language control that can optionally draw on the capabilities of the cloud.

The 10.25-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is digital even in the basic model. As the Audi virtual cockpit plus, it measures 12.3 inches and offers three different views, including sporty graphics with inclined digits and a particularly dynamic layout.

The RPM and speed are shown here as bar diagrams with angular red graphical elements. Upon request, a head-up display complements the display concept, whereby it projects important information onto the windshield in the driver’s direct field of vision.

Connected…

The top infotainment system in the new A3 Sedan is the MMI Navigation plus, which uses the third-generation modular infotainment platform (MIB 3). The MIB 3 boasts computing power ten times higher than in the predecessor model, connects the car via LTE Advanced speed, and connects the smartphones of the passengers to the Internet via Wi-Fi hotspot.

The MMI Navigation plus offers a multitude of Audi connect services as standard, including online traffic information, news, and additional information such as photos, opening times, and user reviews relating to points of interest.

The new A3 Sedan is available with a choice of two TFSI engines and one TDI engine at launch.

The 35 TFSI, a 1.5-liter direct injection engine, produces 110 kW (150 PS) and is available in two versions – with a newly developed six-speed manual transmission (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5.0 – 4.7).and with a quick-shifting seven-speed S tronic. (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 4.9 – 4.7). CO2 emissions are between 107 to 114 g/km.   

 Besides the cylinder on demand technology, the powertrain in conjunction with the S tronic dual-clutch transmission uses a 48-volt mild hybrid system. It recovers energy during deceleration, supports the engine with up to 50 Nm (36.9 lb-ft) of torque when driving off and accelerating from low engine speeds and allows the A3 Sedan to coast with the engine switched off in many situations.

In everyday driving, it reduces consumption by up to 0.7 liters (0.1 US gal) per 100 kilometers.

The 2.0 TDI with 110 kW (150 PS) also works in conjunction with a seven-speed S tronic, whereby gear shifts are performed via a new switch using shift-by-wire technology.  

The suspension of the new A3 Sedan has been tuned to be sporty and harmonious – a touch more precise than in the predecessor model. To a large degree, this precision and reaction speed is thanks to the central dynamic handling system that ensures optimal interaction between all the components relevant to the transverse dynamics. As an alternative to the standard setup, there is a sport suspension and a suspension with controlled dampers.

Market launch

Presales of the new A3 Sedan will begin at the end of April 2020 in Germany and many other European markets. Deliveries will commence in the summer.

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

The new Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV’s now have E-power for 66 km…

We were invited yesterday by the PR Manager Jaguar Land Rover Belux Annick Van Cauwenberge to attend a webinar to witness the launch of the new PHEV versions of the best selling Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

We were invited yesterday to an exclusive webinar, presenting both PHEV’s…

They are now available as efficient plug-in hybrids with CO2 emissions from only 32g/km and an all-electric range of up to 66km (41 miles) – enough for many to drive the average daily commute distance without recharging.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Highlights

The technical heart of both these cars is a new 200PS three-cylinder 1.5-litre Ingenium petrol engine coupled to an equally new eight-speed automatic transmission, driving the front wheels. But these cars are 4WD SUV’s, so a 109PS Electric Rear Axle Drive motor guarantees Land Rover’s signature all-wheel-drive capability. This motor is powered by a 15kWh lithium-ion battery located below the rear seats.

These new Rovers are also very kind on your wallet, with a fuel consumption being as low as 1.4L/100km. Of course, all this depends on the way you use and integrate E-power in your daily driving, but again, this is frugal indeed. The PHEV system can operate in electric-only mode, combustion engine-only mode, or a combination, using GPS and navigation data to optimize efficiency on every journey.

Charging can be fast: 0-80 per cent in as little as 30 minutes using 32kW DC public charging or just 1hr 24mins using a 7kW AC wallbox.

You have a wide choice, as the Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport PHEV models, which are badged P300e, are available in S, SE and HSE specifications, each as standard or R-Dynamic, with a range of wheel designs from 18 to 20 inches.

State-of-the-art Premium Transverse architecture

Both the new Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport plug-in hybrids are based on Land Rover’s , which was designed to support electrification while maintaining Land Rover’s signature off-road capability. The new plug-in hybrid P300e models join the existing 48-volt mild-hybrid SUVs, bringing new levels of efficiency to the premium compact SUV sector.

With total output being 309 PS and offering 540 Nm of torque, the performance is up to scratch, with an acceleration of 0-100km/h in just 6.4 seconds (0-60mph in 6.1 seconds) in the Range Rover Evoque. Meanwhile, the Discovery Sport offers 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds (0-60mph in 6.2 seconds). Both can reach speeds of up to 135km/h (84mph) using electric power alone.

Driver-selectable modes

As said, drivers of both models can select from three driving modes. 1.HYBRID mode (the default driving mode) – automatically combines power from the electric motor and petrol engine. The operating strategy adapts to driving conditions and the remaining charge in the battery. Entering a destination in the navigation system enables the Predictive Energy Optimisation (PEO) function to intelligently integrate route and GPS data to maximize efficiency and comfort for the selected journey.

2.EV (Electric Vehicle) mode – enables the vehicle to run solely on the electric motor using the energy stored in the battery, for quiet, zero-tailpipe emission journeys.

3.SAVE mode – prioritizes the combustion engine as its main power source, maintaining battery State of Charge at the chosen level.

PHEV technology

As pointed out, the new compact SUVs are produced using Land Rover’s Premium Transverse Architecture, which was designed from the outset to accommodate plug-in and mild-hybrid technologies. The hardware is cleverly packaged beneath the cabin floor without compromising interior space.

The Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) is powered by a compact 15kWh lithium-ion battery located below the rear seats. The battery is made up of 84 prismatic cells, arranged in seven 50Ah modules of 12, with a 6mm-thick steel undertray that protects the battery without compromising the vehicles’ hallmark all-terrain capability.

The advanced Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) features a light, compact and efficient synchronous permanent magnet motor. To optimize package space, the drive-shafts are concentric with the motor and single-speed transmission, while the inverter is also integrated within the ERAD casing. The ERAD module is neatly integrated within the Integral Link rear suspension system.

At speeds above 135km/h (84mph), the electric motor is decoupled to reduce drag and therefore optimise efficiency, and then seamlessly re-engages when the speed falls below this.

Ctrl + to enlarge…

The compact high-voltage junction box (HVJB) under the front seats is another engineering innovation. This comprises the DC: DC converter (changes high-voltage current from the hybrid battery to low voltage to support the 12-volt network) and the 7kW on-board charger used to charge the hybrid battery when the vehicle is plugged in.

Packaged next to this is the Belt-integrated Starter Generator (BiSG) Inverter which, through intelligent electrical management, can send recuperation energy to the high-voltage battery for storage to use later or for immediate redeployment to support full all-wheel drive capability.

A new brake-by-wire system replaces the traditional brake vacuum servo, and seamlessly blends regenerative and friction braking to provide a consistent and precise pedal feel. The system can deliver up to 0.2g of deceleration under regenerative braking, maximizing energy efficiency by using the vehicles’ kinetic energy to recharge the battery on the overrun.

Intelligently locating the PHEV system throughout the structure improves dynamics, lowering the centre of gravity by six per cent and further optimizing front-rear weight distribution.

A state-of-the-art 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine

This is at the heart of the new PHEVs: the latest member of the modular Ingenium engine family, which now has three-, four- and six-cylinder variants.

The lightweight aluminium engine is 37kg lighter than the four-cylinder.

This small-capacity engine achieves exceptionally low levels of friction, which contribute to its excellent efficiency. The exhaust manifold is integrated into the aluminium cylinder head, contributing to the rapid warm-up times and minimizing the distance from the exhaust ports to the turbocharger’s turbine wheel for improved responsiveness.

The three-cylinder configuration delivers a better flow of exhaust gases, ensuring the turbine wheel delivers boost pressure almost instantaneously. A highly efficient Water cooled Charge Air Cooler means the density of air being drawn into the combustion chambers remains high, further enhancing performance and efficiency across the engine’s operating range.

The three-cylinder – like the four-cylinder mild hybrid models – also features a belt-integrated starter-generator (BISG) unit. This works alongside the ERAD to deliver regenerative braking, recharging the battery on the overrun, and also enables smoother, quieter and faster stop-start operation than a traditional starter motor.

New eight-speed automatic transmission

This matches the power and torque delivery of the three-cylinder engine and work seamlessly with the ERAD. As well as being 5kg lighter than the nine-speed transmission used in the other models, the new eight-speed delivers enhanced refinement and shift feel, and is an integral part of the hybrid system.

Cost of ownership is very low, so no use waiting any longer to order your Range Rover Evoque or Land Rover Discovery now, combining rational economy with the Rover’s unique 4WD SUV qualities…

Hans Knol ten Bensel