The new Kia Sportage is soon available in the Belgian dealer network…

The Kia Sportage fifth generation, specifically designed and developed for Europe, is available from €30,990 onwards. Orders can be taken from December 10 with delivery in January. This is one of the most comprehensive offers in the segment in terms of drive technologies: petrol, MHEV petrol, diesel, MHEV diesel, HEV, PHEV, 2X4, 4X4, manual and DCT.

Thanks to its new ‘N3’ architecture, driving behavior and handling are further improved, especially tuned for our European roads. Kia states that the Hybrid and rechargeable hybrid models provide excellent efficiency and lower consumption.

The advanced “DriveWise” driver assistance systems were developed to seamlessly support the driver in difficult driving situations and parking maneuvers. We are keen to get our hands on this new Sportage, and find out soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Citroën ë-C4 in Maffliers…

Alongside the E-powered Berlingo, we also had our first drive in the electric version of the C4 in the scenic surroundings of Paris. To tell you right away, with this velvety smooth e-power, the C4 really comes into its own. You get the impression, only after a few kilometers behind the wheel, that this car is actually built for this.

Because, as we told you already in our test of the C4 diesel, this car is all about superb comfort. Add to this the refinement of the electric drive, and subjectively, a sort of noble Rolls Royce feeling invades you.

Indeed, the progressive hydraulic cushions, like we explained, irons out the road ahead for you. Meanwhile, you sink with a smile in the advanced comfort seats. They give you just the right amount of support and comfort to let you almost feel you are in four wheeled superlimousine heaven. The superlight steering still underlines this impression. You can literally steer this C4 with your fingers…

With its 136 HP electric motor, this C4 is indeed meant to let you taste the exquisite joys of just quiet, unhurried motoring. It invites you to do this, but this does not mean that this car is sluggish at all. With 260 Nm of torque always there whenever you need it, it certainly responds eagerly at the slightest movement of your right foot. 0 to 100 km/h is absolved in 9,7 seconds. Top speed is limited wisely to 150 km/h. Add to this the unerring sure footedness of Citroën handling, whatever the road and the weather, and you will agree that it is a very nice experience to be behind the wheel of this car.

We told you here in these columns that due to the heat pump sensor changes and a modified final gearing, the WLTP cycle range is now 357 km.  

Charging times are very reasonable indeed; On a 7 kWh wallbox, you can charge the ë-C4 overnight in 7,5 hours. When you are in a hurry, it is good to know that it accepts 100 kW fast charging, and will charge in 30 minutes from 0 to 80 pct charge.

We look forward for a longer test of this smooth goddess of the road soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW presents the Concept M: a bold new vehicle concept…

We will be driving the coming month the stylish M4 Coupé, and we are looking forward to it. But in the meantime, we show you here some (very) interesting news from BMW, which is a harbinger of stylish things for the brand to come…

At Art Basel’s 2021 Miami Beach show, BMW M GmbH is presenting an expressive new vehicle concept on the global stage. The BMW Concept XM looks ahead to the most powerful BMW M car ever to go into series production, which is set to begin at the end of next year.

The BMW Concept XM provides a first glimpse of the new front-end design for BMW’s forthcoming luxury-class models. It will also introduce its audience to a highly progressive and distinctive take on BMW X model design and an all-new form of luxury and sense of space for the interior.

The series-production model – the BMW XM – will be built from the end of 2022 at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in the USA, the most important sales market for the new high-performance car. BMW M will therefore be introducing its first standalone vehicle since the legendary BMW M1 in the year it celebrates its 50th anniversary.  The BMW XM will be available in plug-in hybrid form only and exclusively as an M model.

The bold exterior styling of the Concept XM reflects the car’s exceptional performance attributes: dynamism, agility and precision, plus an all-electric range of up to 80 km. The newly developed M Hybrid drive system in the BMW Concept XM brings together a V8 engine and a high-performance electric motor to develop maximum output of 550 kW/750 hp and peak torque of 1,000 Nm (737 lb-ft). The first electrified vehicle from BMW M GmbH in the high-performance segment is therefore pointing the way for the future of the brand.

BMW M goes its own way in the luxury segment…

The BMW Concept XM sees BMW M GmbH forging a distinctive path in the luxury segment. The car’s exterior majors on presence and extrovert appeal. Inside the car, a special take on the driver-focused cockpit typical for the M models meets an all-new rear compartment design: high-comfort seats and an illuminated, sculptural headliner add panache.

“The design of the BMW Concept XM is an extravagant statement by BMW M in the heart of the luxury segment,” says Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design. “It has a unique identity and embodies an expressive lifestyle like no other model in the BMW line-up.”

The front end: progressive design for maximum presence.

The BMW Concept XM debuts the new, progressive front-end design for BMW’s luxury-class models, a version of which will be seen for the first time in 2022 as part of the BMW model offensive in the luxury segment. The headlights have been split into two separate modules. The horizontal kidney grille sits between the headlights and tapers towards the outer edges, producing a near-octagonal outline that emphasises the front end’s character. The black kidney grille elements are enclosed within an intricate surround and appear almost to be floating freely within a High-gloss Black surface. The new XM logo in the kidney grille and the large air intakes hint at the power of the V8 engine, which teams up with the electric motor to form the M Hybrid system.

M-specific details point to compromise-free performance.

The glasshouse of the BMW Concept XM rises up vertically, accentuating the front end’s imposing feel. The colour of the roof contrasts with the black finish of the A-pillars. The windscreen seems to have an even heavier rake as a result, injecting modern dynamism into the front end. Slim LED searchlights have been incorporated into the roof above the A-pillars.

The powerful and heavily contoured proportions of the BMW Concept XM highlight the car’s identity and draw the eye to the coupé-like character of the body. The visually striking front end, long bonnet and stretched, sloping roofline present a characterful two-box design with a distinctive outline.

The two-tone paint finish of the BMW Concept XM further accentuates its lines: the upper section is in matt gold-bronze, while the lower section sports the Space Grey metallic shade. Below the window graphic, a broad, High-gloss Black line – the “black belt” – separates the two exterior colours. The charging flap rearwards of the front-left wheel is a reminder of the M Hybrid drive system at work.

The rear : bold stature

The design of the rear end likewise accentuates the car’s powerful stance, and the BMW Concept XM cuts a low and sporty figure from this angle. The BMW logo is laser-etched into the window below each of the two cant rails. This is a stylistic reference to the BMW M1, to date the only example of a standalone model developed exclusively by BMW M GmbH.

The interior design – high performance and extrovert luxury.

Inside the BMW Concept XM, the driver will find a distinctive M interpretation of driver-focused cockpit design. The lines and surface design of the instrument panel, centre console, door trim and seats give the ambience in the front compartment a progressive feel with their powerful geometry and high-quality materials. Brown, vintage-look leather, copper and carbon fibre create a bridge between luxury and motor sport. A bold trim element provides clear visual separation between the driver’s area and the other sections of the car.

The new BMW Curved Display screen grouping creates a neat balance between traditional driver focus and modern digitality. Red accents on the steering wheel and centre console are M-specific references to the car’s sporting DNA. A trio of vertical elements presented in the three colours of the BMW M brand logo form the heart of the centre console.

Spacious and luxurious: the M Lounge.

The unwavering driver focus of the front compartment contrasts with the extravagant and luxurious lounge-like ambience in the rear of the BMW Concept XM. Special materials, visually powerful surfaces and expressive details turn the rear seats into the unique M Lounge, black-tinted rear side windows underscoring the abiding sense of privacy here. While warm brown leather dominates the cockpit, the rear is decked out in the rich colour shade Petrol. The large rear seat bench with its deep seat recesses forms an inviting space to relax. Only the diamond-shaped area of the head restraints – which provides the supporting function familiar from BMW M Sport seats in other models – is leather-trimmed.

Illuminated and sculptural: the  headliner .

The visual highlight of the cabin is its headliner with a three-dimensional prism structure. A combination of indirect and direct lighting produces a relief-like structure. The ambient lighting can be activated in the three BMW M colours.

BMW Curved Display with M-specific user interface.

Based on the latest generation of BMW iDrive, the M-specific version of the control/operation system translates the high-performance character of the BMW Concept XM into the digital world. Showcased in the familiar three M colours, it visualises the modes of the hybrid drive system as well as the pure-electric driving mode with captivating aesthetic appeal.

Stay tuned on these pages!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A bigger autonomy for the DS3 Crossback E-Tense

Early next year we will drive for you the DS4 and the DS9, and we are looking forward to have a taste of French refinement, elegance and panache.

But did you know that thanks to an electrification strategy pursued since its inception, DS Automobiles is the multi-energy brand with the lowest average CO2 emissions in Europe?

Indeed, it registered 100.2 grams CO2 per kilometer per vehicle in the first half of 2021 according to the WLTP cycle. Not surprisingly, as its production mix of electrified cars exceeds a third. This strategy is now only gaining momentum: from 2024, all new DS Automobiles models will be 100% electric only.

The first 100% electric model in the DS range is continuously under further development. The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE, on the market since 2019, now has a range of 340 kilometers according to the combined WLTP cycle, an increase of almost 7%.

During development, the focus has always lied on improving the practical use of the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE. In particular, the heat pump has been improved through the use of a humidity sensor to improve efficiency. The heat pump, supplied as standard, produces heat by compression to generate warm air. This significantly reduces the need for E-energy.

As a result of continuous development and ongoing discussions with the Formula E championship team, supported by DS Performance, the transmission ratio has also been optimized to improve the efficiency of the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE.

The hand stitched steering wheel upholstery stands out in an interior full of French panache…

Greater autonomy in real-world use is also achieved through the use of new 17″ class A tires developed by Continental. The Continental EcoContact 6 Q is available in 215/60 R17 96H and has a new high-tech silica compound to improve rolling resistance. improve and reduce noise emissions.

In Belgium, the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE is available from €38,400 (incl. VAT) with a 100 kW (DC) and 11 kW (AC) charger.

More DS news soon on these pages! Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Mercedes full-electric EQB can now also be ordered in Belgium.

Recently, the new EQB has been added to the Mercedes full-EV fleet. An interesting car, which we hope to drive soon. In the meantime, we are looking forward to test for you from 7 December onwards the CLS 220d, and see what a modern Mercedes Diesel can still offer in these electrifying times. Also soon our faithful 1,6 litre petrol engined (now already more than 4 years old…) 180 B Class gets its Type A service at Hedin Automotive in Kontich, about which we will report too.

Then there is more intriguing company news about the Mercedes revolutionary production techniques they are unfolding in their Berlin factory, where they are rolling out electric motors for their EV cars. More about this in a forthcoming special report.

But now to some more news about the EQB. The EQB 300 4MATIC can be ordered now in our country, from € 63,041 VAT incl.

The EQB is quite roomy, and is optionally also available as a seven-seater. After the EQA, the EQB is already the second fully electric compact model from Mercedes-EQ.

The model range initially consists of the EQB 300 4MATIC (combined power consumption: 19.4-18.1 kWh/100 km). It has a motor developing 168 kW/228 hp. Then there is also the EQB 350 4MATIC (combined power consumption: 19.2-18.3 kWh/100 km) Its electric motor develops 215 kW/292 hp. The price of this more powerful version starts at € 65,945 VAT incl.

The sale price of the EQB includes one year of Mercedes me Charge. Mercedes-EQ customers have easy access to a network of more than 600,000 charging points worldwide via Mercedes “me Charge.” At the same time, they benefit from an integrated payment function with simple invoicing.

The EQB will be available as Edition 1 for a limited period after its launch. Externally, this limited edition combines elements from the “Night package” with AMG styling. But there is more: 20-inch AMG light-alloy wheels, matt copper and high-sheen finish complete the sporty look. Highlights of the Edition 1 interior are the upholstery in neva gray leather with CYBER CUT blue, the rear-illuminated trim in spiral look and air vents with the outer ring in silver chrome and the inner ring in energy blue.

Here are the main options and packages of this 4WD EQB, which is offered in Luxury Line and AMG line trims:

The third row of seats with two additional individual seats comfortably accommodates people up to 1.65 meters tall. The comprehensive safety equipment includes extendable head restraints, seat belts with belt tensioner and belt force limiter on all outer seats and a window bag that also protects the passengers in the third row of seats.

The Premium package further enhances comfort with the KEYLESS GO comfort package, the THERMOTRONIC 2-zone automatic air conditioning, a rich sound system and a wireless charging system for mobile terminals.

The EQB comes with intelligent driver assistance systems with cooperative driver support. The Driving Assistance package now includes additional functions. It includes for example the exit function, the emergency lane function, the exit warning function that warns the driver of passing cyclists or vehicles, and a warning when pedestrians are detected near a zebra crossing.

We show you here some photos of the EQB in the meantime. Stay tuned for, as said,  more news about the cars with the iconic star!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Five world premieres at Porsche…

The 718 Cayman GT4 RS and 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport

Indeed, there is no Motor Show in Brussels this year. But in the showrooms, there is no lack of news. Also from one of the most iconic sports car manufacturers around: Porsche. Your servant had a good taste of these unique cars in his early days as a (test) driver. Just look at my report in these columns “Some early photos from my automotive beginnings”, where I am to be seen behind the wheel of a 914-6 VW Porsche, or an early 911… Just klick on the link here: https://autoprova.be/2021/03/27/some-early-photos-from-my-automotive-beginnings/

Needless to say that we want to repeat the experience, and collect for you some driving impressions of their latest products. In the meantime, we will present Porsche news on a very regular basis in the future!

Just read on here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A three lane future for Porsche…

Porsche is seen cruising into the future in three lanes: alongside exhilarating petrol engines and powerful plug-in hybrids, electric powertrains form the third pillar of the powertrain strategy.

This diversity was clearly seen on display at the LA Auto Show. In total, Porsche exhibits there five world premieres. In addition to the new 718 Cayman GT4 RS – the highlight of the motor show – the 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport, the Taycan GTS, the Taycan GTS Sport Turismo and the Panamera Platinum Edition are making their first appearances.

The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS is the new flagship model in the 718 family. On the Nürburgring Nordschleife, it outpaced its sibling, the 718 Cayman GT4, by more than 23 seconds with a time of 7:04.511 minutes on the 20.6 km version of the circuit.

The heart of this sports car is the 368 kW (500 PS) naturally aspirated six-cylinder boxer engine. The maximum torque is 450 Nm. The low-ratio Porsche dual clutch transmission (PDK) underpins the incredible acceleration. The 718 Cayman GT4 RS sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 315 km/h.

In Belgium, the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS can now be ordered at a base price of 153.065 euros (including 21 per cent VAT).

At the same time, the 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport racing version will celebrate its premiere in Los Angeles. From 2022, the customer sports car will be launched in multiple national and international racing series.

Truly electrifying: Taycan GTS and Taycan GTS Sport Turismo

With a range of up to 504 km, based on WLTP figures, the new Taycan GTS is the first of the model series to hit the 500-km mark. The new GTS is the sporty all-rounder of the model range. With up to 440 kW (598 PS) of overboost when using Launch Control, its power is impressive to say the least…

The third body variant of the first all-electric Porsche model series is the Taycan GTS Sport Turismo. The newcomer shares its silhouette and rearward-sloping roof line with the Taycan Cross Turismo. It ps practical too: the luggage compartment offers more than 1,200 litres of load capacity under the tailgate.

Both model variants will roll out to dealers in spring 2022. Further engine options for the Sport Turismo will follow soon!

Elegance with the Panamera Platinum Edition

The new Panamera Platinum Edition combines elegant, sporty design and high-quality equipment at an attractive price.

The exterior is characterised by accents in Satin Gloss Platinum. These can be found on the air outlet trims, the PORSCHE logo, the model designation and the standard 21-inch exclusive Design Sport wheels. The side window trims and the sports tailpipes are finished in High-Gloss Black to match. The interior is up to the mark with 14-way electrically adjustable comfort seats, the Black décor made of brushed aluminium and the door sill guards with the Platinum Edition logo. This extensive list of standard equipment also includes LED main headlights with matrix beam including PDLS Plus, adaptive air suspension including PASM, a BOSE® Surround Sound System and much more.

Depending on the market, the Platinum Edition is available as the Panamera, Panamera 4 and Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. The first models will be delivered to customers beginning 2022.

More news (and driving impressions) soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Renault presents Belgian and World Premières…

Due to the harsh Covid times, the Belgian Motor Show early next year has been canceled, which is unfortunate for many manufacturers. Renault has some very good news, and since it is not on the show, we will present it here for you on these pages. We have also fond memories of testing the E-Tech plug-in hybrid Mégane Grandtour, Captur and the all electric ZOE. But in the meantime many more interesting Renaults and last but not least Dacia’s are launched, and we hope to collect some test and driving impressions for you soon.

Let’s here have a look at what Renault has up its sleeve for our market(s) here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mégane E-TECH Electric in Belgian premiere

Renault is exhibiting in its dealer showrooms for the first time the all-new Mégane E-TECH Electric, in line with its announced offensive in the compact car segment (C-segment), the largest segment in Europe.

With Renault’s new ‘Nouvel’R’ logo, the Mégane E-TECH Electric represents the transformation of the brand: it symbolizes the reinvention of the core market. It presents itself as unique and technological with the jewel in its interior, the “OpenR” screen that merges the data from the dashboard with the multimedia system as a whole.

New Dacia Jogger

The New Jogger will be the star of the Dacia showrooms. The Dacia Jogger offers up to seven seats and offers the efficiency of a station wagon, the interior space of a van and the look of an SUV.

With its Spring, Dacia is starting its electric transition. By offering the cheapest electric car on the market, Dacia is making mobility affordable again, just like it did with Logan back then. The success testifies to the market enthusiasm for a simple and affordable electric car, as 40,000 orders have already been registered in Europe, of which more than 650 in Belgium (between July and November).

New Alpine range in world premiere

The new Alpine A110 S

Visitors to the Alpine showrooms can experience the brand new Alpine A110 range in a world premiere. The sporty coupé is now available in three versions, each with its own character. Alpine A110 with its 252 hp 1.8 engine is the entry model and the “purest” version of the range, according to some aficionados. New is the Alpine A110 GT, which shows itself more opulent and more powerful with its 300 hp 1.8 litre engine, is the sports car for everyday rides and long journeys.

Also the new Alpine A110 S presents itself with its specific sports chassis. It can now be fitted optionally with semi-slick tires and an exclusive aerodynamic kit, consisting of a carbon fiber rear spoiler for increased downforce, a carbon fiber front splitter and extended front fairings under the car to increase the efficiency of the rear diffuser and flat floor. We will be keen to collect some driving impressions for you!

In the meantime, just have a look at the photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The next-generation Ford Ranger delivers…again

At my recent visit to the Ford Europe proving ground in Lommel I got a taste of Ford cars, and I must admit that I was very impressed by their excellent dynamic qualities. A good reason to take a closer look at their products and what Ford is up to lately.

Today they announced the following generation of their evergreen in the pick-up scene, the Ranger. In fact, Ford engineers and designers teamed up with customers around the world to create a pick-up they can rely on for work, family and play. They changed the exterior design and designed a more high-tech, inviting interior.

The design features a defined new grille, and signature C‑clamp headlight treatment at the front while we also see bolder wheel arches which gives Ranger a sure-footed stance. For the first time, Ford Ranger offers matrix LED headlights.

Beneath the new bodywork is an upgraded chassis riding on a wheelbase 50 mm longer and a track 50 mm wider than the prior Ranger.

New powertrain choices

Customers wanted a choice of more power and torque for towing heavy loads and extreme off‑roading, so the team added Ford’s proven 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel and developed it for the Ranger.

The next-gen Ranger will also come with a choice of proven Single-Turbo and Bi-Turbo 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder diesels.

Improved ride and handling

To develop the ride and handling expected of a truck customer’s use for a wide range of work, family and play – engineers focused on the fundamentals.

Engineers moved the front wheels forward by 50 mm for a better approach angle and outboard for better off-road articulation, both of which improve the off‑roading experience. They also shifted the rear suspension dampers outboard of the frame rails to give drivers and passengers a better ride both on- and off‑road, no matter if they’re carrying heavy cargo for work, or just taking the family out for dinner.

Customers will have a choice of two four-wheel drive systems – an electronic shift-on-the-fly system, or an advanced new full-time four-wheel drive system with a reassuring set-and-forget mode, designed for capability when and where customers need it. Off-road recovery is made easier with prominent dual recovery hooks in the front bumper.

Customer-focused interior

Customers wanted a flexible, modern cockpit that caters to both work and family duties. So, Ranger needs to serve as both a workspace and a haven, providing smart and connected features with more comfort and storage options than ever before.

The heart of the Ranger’s connective experience is the large 10.1-inch or 12-inch touchscreen in the centre stack. It complements the fully digital instrument panel.

Many of the traditional driving mode controls have been moved from the dash and centre console to their own dedicated display on the SYNC™ screen. With one button press, drivers can go to Ranger’s dedicated screen for all off-road and drive modes where they can monitor the driveline, steering angle, vehicle pitch and roll angles and other controls.

Better access…

Ford designers created an integrated side-step behind the rear tyres of the next‑generation Ranger, to create a strong, more stable way for them to access the box.

Additional thoughtful, customer-focused touches include a new, tough plastic-moulded bedliner that helps protect both the truck bed from scratches and owners’ knees from kneeling on a steel truck bed.

Durable, flexible load box caps around the sides of the box and across the tailgate conceal structural attachment points for canopies and other aftermarket accessories.

In addition, Ranger offers a new cargo management system designed with dividers to hold various sized items – like timber or toolboxes.

Accessories to help you personalize your Ranger…

Customers in Europe will be able to personalise their next-gen Ranger from launch with a range of over 150 fully factory‑backed work, urban and adventure accessories.

Order books for next-generation Ranger will open in Europe in late 2022 for customer delivery in early 2023. The current Ranger is Europe’s pick-up segment leader and recently set a new September year-to-date sales record of 45,539 units, with market share of 39.9 per cent.

 We just let you look at the photos for now…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Audi Q4 40 e-tron: stylish and dynamic…

Audi has ambitious plans for further electrification: in 2025, it will have not less than 20 pure EV’s in its model range. Besides the big Audi e-tron Quattro and its Sportback version and the stunning e-tron GT, another pure EV joins the party: the compact SUV Q4, which is also available right away in a stylish Sportback version.

The Q4 comes in two battery and power versions. The base model is the Q4 35 with a 55 kWh battery. Its range is said to be 350 kilometers and it has a 125 kW/170 HP motor driving the rear wheels. We tested for you the Q4 40 which has the 77 kWh battery and the 150 kW/204 HP motor we also find in the VW ID.4.

The Q4 is built… in the VW factory in Zwickau, where also the ID.3 and ID.4 are rolling off the production lines. Only logical if one knows that the Q4 runs on the same MEB platform as the two Volkswagens.

So the Q4 is a dressed up VW? Not at all, the Audi engineers and designers have succeeded in giving the Q4 its unmistakable premium character and Audi identity.

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Stylish

The bodywork of the Q4 breathes the timeless Audi styling language, with very good proportions throughout. The front end grille betrays its “pure” EV character, as it is closed. Indeed, electric motors need a lot less cooling.

The dashboard and cabin breathe Audi panache: the instrumentation is directed towards the driver here, rather untypical for a SUV. Bravo for Audi, and they did also very well with the instrument layout: two large dials are seen in front of you, on the digital display which is almost equally as large as the central touchscreen.

The ventilation commands are thankfully also on a separate panel with extra knobs, and also the audio volume knobs are of the rotating touch type as found on the early Apple I pods.

When you opt for the MMI package, you can also enjoy an augmented reality head up display. Our test car came with it and we liked it very much.

In the posh “S line” equipment level of our test car the seat upholstery with its typical cross stitched patters was very pleasing to the eye, and the seats are also very comfortable indeed.

While we are talking about the cabin, we can mention here that also the Q4 offers plenty of room, also for its rear passengers, taking advantage of the good qualities of the MEB platform. This SUV is certainly not compact here…

There is also plenty of room for storage in the interior, a good 24,8 liters. On the central console between the two front seats you have already 4,4 liters at your disposal.

Luggage space is more than adequate with 520 liters, with both rear backrests down you have a maximum of 1490 liters at your disposal, when you use the available space up to the roof.

The charging cables are neatly tucked away under the luggage floor. Only a bit cumbersome to reach them when the boot is fully loaded when on holiday. For the rest of the year it’s very fine.

Dynamic and smooth…

Let’s get behind the wheel now and start driving. As an EV befits, this Audi is again supersmooth. It is “Zen” driving all the way. EV’s are just a delight to drive in town, with their feline power delivery. 310 Nm of torque is at your disposal, always. It makes this Audi beautifully agile and nimble in dense traffic. Stop and go traffic is now for you an ideal moment to relax behind the wheel, and enjoy the beautiful sound coming from the Sonos system we had in our test car.

Performance is of course excellent, with a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of 8,5 seconds. Top speed is limited to 160 km/h, as in the ID.4.

German Autobahn aficionados would like this to be more, but then we would not speak of a useable range anymore.

When it comes to range, your driving style is here of paramount importance. You see it clearly on the photo showing the instrumentation: when collecting our test car, we drove it gently to the motorway, where we drove a constant 95 km/h, just a bit faster than the trucks, to reach our photo spot. Consumption was then a very reasonable 15,2 kWh/100 km, over 19,6 km at an average speed of 42 km/h.

A cold start in the morning, with heater full ablaze and just some slow stop and go traffic paints another picture. There the consumption over 5,4 km was a whopping 43,6 kWh. The following photo tells the story.

When we take the WLTP consumption as the norm, being 19,3 kWh, then the effective range would be 530 km. In practice, you can expect a useable range of a good 400 km.

There are different driving modes on the Audi, one of them being the “Range” mode. It limits power and sets a maximum speed of 90 km/h.

Charging at the home wallbox is possible up to 11 kWh, and on public charging points you can “fast charge” your Audi at not less than 125 kWh. Then it takes only 10 minutes to add an extra of 130 km to your range.

Practice in our country is of course rather different to say the least. 98 % of our existing condominium and apartment buildings have NO wallbox provisions in their underground garages, not even electricity sockets in many cases, limiting possibilities of enjoying EV propulsion greatly.

My nearest public charging point is about 1 kilometre away, and this is not a “fast” charging point. Allowed time for charging is also limited to 3,5 hours. Belgian municipalities – at least those near Antwerp – have still to wake up to reality that the charging points have TWO sockets and can actually charge two cars simultaneously. The square they paint on the pavement actually is clearly meant for ONE car. Users of the charging point are so kind and gentlemen-like to ignore this, so your servant could charge the Q4 too, as the following photo shows, which leaves one certainly perplex…

Driving the Q4 to Knokke, we found no unoccupied charging points within a reasonable walking distance from the place we stayed, so the next day we used the “Range” Driving mode to get us home again. It was a magnificent and leisurely drive…

Car manufacturers are certainly not to blame here. Their products increasingly offer useable ranges, and we could easily plan a longer route on the Audi, where the touchscreen clearly indicated which charging points en route we could use, how long we had to charge, which were open, etc.

Of course, providers are working hard to change the situation. At the moment of writing, IONITY is invetsing 700 million € for 5.000 extra HPC charging points in Europe.  

Comfortable and agile

Besides room of its occupants, the Audi Q4 also offers a genuinely comfortable ride and steering is also precise and engaging. Audi’s are build to deliver driving pleasure, and this is also found in this Q4. A well balanced car, certainly making the very best of what the MEB platform has to offer. The same goes for the brakes, which can be well dosed to come to a smooth stop.

We also mention here the “coasting function”. When one hasn’t chosen the “B” mode, the Audi will just coast along when you lift the throttle, and this adds greatly to the “Zen” driving pleasure, once you have mastered the art of anticipative driving.

Of course you can recuperate energy when decelerating, or you can leave everything to the wisdom of this Q4. Indeed, you can put the Predictive Energy Assistant at work, which will interpret road signs and navigation data. Then the system will calculate for you continuously the right balance between sailing and energy recuperation, no less!

Conclusion

Audi has succeeded in designing and building a magnificent compact EV on the MEB platform. A car with impeccable finish, oozing with style, panache, good comfort and handling, very good range and performance, and on top of all that roomy too.

Of course this has a price tag, but it is a timelessly styled premium car, one of the very best which ever rolled of VW production lines.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Kia e-Niro: an EV-range trendsetter…

The Kia Niro is already a few years amongst us, first electrified as hybrid, then plug-in hybrid, and finally as a “pure” EV.

The competition has become a lot stronger since its introduction, notably with newcomers as the Volkswagen ID.3, the Peugeot 2008 and the Citroën ë-C4, but this Kia still has a lot of qualities which make it still earn very well an excellent place its segment. Of course, Kia is ready for this competition, and at the moment of this test going to press, it presents a completely new version of the Niro at the Seoul motor show, but the present model is still relevant enough to put it through its paces for you here.

We should also not forget that this Kia EV with its 64 kW battery set the trend towards longer ranges: according to the WLTP norm, it is still good for 455 km…and on top of that, it offers very good value for money, with a 7 year guarantee!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Kia Niro still has very pleasing and now already familiar looks, with some specific blue coloured accents for the EV version. The front end clearly shows its EV character, and also the flap of the charging sockets is clearly visible. The cabin is well laid out, with classic disposition of instrumentation, commands and central touchscreen, so indeed one would hardly suspect sitting in an EV vehicle. This is all for the better, as one is very soon familiarised in using and driving this Niro.

The display in front of you clearly indicates of course battery status and range, as well as the immediate or average consumption in KW/h. Soon one notices that this 150 kW or 204 HP Kia is quite frugal, where your driving style is of prime importance of course.

The manufacturer quotes 15,9 kW/h according to the overall quite realistic WLTP cycle. We took the test car on a lengthy trip to Holland, using the ECO mode throughout, and easily achieved an average of 17 kW/h.

It was delicious to be able to make this trip without the usual range anxiety, and on top of that to find plenty of public charging points in the Netherlands, not even 50 meters away from the house of the family member where we stayed over the weekend. All in all, in this ECO mode, a range of over 400 kilometers is even in more wintry conditions easily achievable when adopting a normal driving style.

Having said this, EV cars have decidedly come of age with our northern neighbours, where the e-Niro has been the top selling car in 2020 by the way…

Smoothness combined with power…

As a pure EV befits, “Zen” like feline and vibrationless power is for you to enjoy here. On the centre console is a familiar circular knob which lets you choose between drive and reverse, as we have seen in Jaguars and Land Rovers.

Off you go, and indeed, this Kia has under the hood what it takes. The front wheels are driven, and will pull you from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 7,8 seconds, which is no small feat as one knows that the kerb weight of the e-Niro is 1712 kg. Top speed is a very creditable 167 km/h. So performance wise, one is rather spoiled too, besides of course the uncanny smoothness and silence of the drivetrain.

There are paddles at the steering wheel column which let you choose the amount of regenerative braking, so “one pedal” driving is easy to achieve.

On the technical side, let us tell you here that our test car was equipped with the lithium-polymer 64 kW/h battery and that the permanent magnet synchronous motor has a power of 150 kW/204 HP and 395 Nm of torque.

For home charging, one is of course well advised to install a three-phase wallbox. With the optional three phase onboard charger, you can be fully charged in some 4,5 hours.

Roomy and practical

The e-Niro is quite roomy, with sufficient legroom also for taller passengers in the rear, with standard luggage space being a good 451 and 1405 liters.

With the rear cover in place, the volume is reduced to 280 and 1175 liters respectively. In the cabin, there is enough storage room in the central console and beneath the central armrest as well as the door bins. As we said, using infotainment and all the commands for heating/airco/ventilation is intuitive, and we also used the voice command to good effect for navigation amongst other things.

Safe handling

The e-Niro will not exactly invite you to throw it around corners, but its handling is fine to say the least. Sudden steering wheel movements will be met with initial understeer, with well controlled oversteer by the ESP when you lift the throttle. This e-Niro will not lean unduly in fast corners, has good straight line stability and is comfortable too.

Conclusion

The present e-Niro with its attractive range is still very much a desirable EV, combining excellent performance with low E-consumption. Add to this the good value for money considering the space and equipment found, with last but not least the 7-year warranty. You will agree that this EV-range trendsetter which will accompany you for many years in to wonderful “Zen” world of EV motoring and mobility.

Hans Knol ten Bensel