With 8,472 units registered in Belgium in 2022, the Citroën C3 is the most popular car in our country. Citroën’s compact saloon is clearly very wanted for its pleasing size, which makes it easy to use in the city, its driving comfort and its original, empathetic design. Citroën’s compact sedan appeals to a large number of customers in Belgium, both individuals and companies.
“Citroën has always had a strong presence in Belgium,” says Damien Martin-Cocher, General Manager of the brand for the Belux market. “We are therefore pleased that our current range maintains this special connection with the Belgian public. The C3 is indeed very visible in the Belgian car landscape and we are very enthusiastic about it. We are on the eve of the 2023 Brussels Motor Show and we are convinced that we can use the success of the C3 to further strengthen Citroën’s position.”
Citroën builds further on is success and is planning a number of attractive offers for the Citroën C3 for the 2023 Brussels Motor Show. The C3 You! (e.g. equipped with air conditioning, BlueTooth radio and cruise control) is available from € 13,480 (€ 5,000 unconditional discount). More Citroën news soon!
We drove the Alfa Romeo Plug-in Hybrid Q4 Veloce in the historic roads near Biella…
Alfa Romeo is at an important turning point of its long history. With the Tonale, this potent, 280 HP stylish compact SUV, it wants to make a fundamental transition. It is the first milestone on the way to zero emission(s) – within 5 years the brand wants to see all its Alfa’s electric. It makes us shiver, quite frankly, and hopefully not literally, when a cold winter will bite us all in conflict ridden Europe nowadays.
But indeed, a positive mind and hope should fulfill our hearts, and looking at the mechanics of this Tonale, there is still plenty to let it beat a bit faster.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
An excellent and very convincing thoroughbred hybrid.
The Tonale is conceived when the merger between FCA and PSA was not yet achieved, and this is one of the (main?) reasons we find a so-called FCA “GSE” or Global Small Engine, also marketed as Firefly, under the hood as its combustion engine. This is a family of engines produced by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or (FCA) starting in 2016, and subsequently Stellantis.
The unit in the Alfa is also dubbed as the “FCA e-engine” and is to be seen in slightly different power versions now also in the Jeep Renegade 4xe, in the Jeep Compass 4xe. It is being produced in the Brazilian Betim plant, now the largest vehicle plant in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. It was the production unit with the largest capacity installed of the entire Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group. The Tonale itself rolls of the production lines at the Stellantis plant in Italian Pomigliano d’Arco, a municipality of the Metropolitan City of Naples in Italy, located north of Mount Vesuvius.
Of course, this engine embodies the very latest state of the art technology. Indeed, this new generation MultiAir III, present in the GSE family, has even more flexible valve control. The new cam profile with pre-lift allows the opening of the suction valves during the exhaust phase, aiming at the realization of the internal EGR, with reduction of nitrogen oxides and increase of the efficiency of the engine in the partial load. Besides, the lifting profile of the MultiAir III intake valve is more extensive and makes it possible to manage the effective compression ratio of the engine, keeping the tendency to detonation under control regardless of the fuel used. Wow!
The unit produces 180 HP or 132 kW, and is coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which provides traction to the front axle. We must say that the unit is not only smooth and very willing, it also produces the unmistakable, typical throb of a classic Alfa; the sound engineers did truly excellent work!
But then, this is a fully fledged hybrid, and this Tonale Q4 has an electric motor capable of supplying 90kW of max peak power and 250 Nm of torque to the rear axle.
The battery at the centre and the electric motor and its battery junction control box at the rear warrant an excellent weight distribution…
The 306-volt, 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery supplies an electric range of over 80 km in the urban cycle and more than 600 km of total range. It is also excellent in terms of sustainability thanks to the new hybrid drivetrain which reduces Co2 emissions to 26kg/km, bringing the range’s total emissions down by 40%. A reduction has also been made in fuel consumption, which has been brought down to 1.14 liters per 100 km in the WLTP cycle. Plus, with the aim of providing maximum efficiency, it takes less than 2.5 hours to fully charge the battery when the 7.4 kW onboard charger is in use.
Driving is believing…
We took the Tonale “Q4” -as we shorten its name here – on an interesting 102 km road circuit laid out by the Alfa people in the surroundings of the Balocco proving ground. It led us via an interesting picturesque city Ricetto di Candelo and its beautiful Castello di Castellengo towards Biella, then took us on a nice curvy stretch back to the Autostrada direction Balocco. Endearing is the precision of its steering, and the feedback of the road surface in your hands at the wheel. You can really place this Alfa on the ideal line and adopt some razor sharp driving, even in the “natural” or “N” mode. We found the steering a bit too light however, except in the “D” or Dynamic mode, where the steering is more direct, even more responsive and feels a bit heavier.
The gleaming row of Alfa’s ready for the road test, aligned in front of the Balocco Proving Ground headquarters…
But pleasure at the wheel is to be had every inch of the way, and we found the Alfa also display excellent neutral handling, also thanks to its ideal weight distribution. Icing on the cake was a stint on the curvy circuit section of the proving ground, behind a Giulia Quadrifoglio pace car. It gave us the opportunity to drive flat out and (safely) close to the limits of this endearing Tonale, and the car could prove its qualities masterfully. Remember, the four wheels are driven, the front wheels being powered by the internal combustion engine and the rear wheels driven by the electric motor. Your servant could thanks to the e-AWD system, enjoy the instantaneous deployment of 100% of available torque from the electric motor, with a rear axle responding as soon as one steps on the throttle, and this resulted in excellent and stable out of corner acceleration, truly exhilarating indeed!
The performance is of course nothing short of astonishing. On the short straights of the circuit speeds well over 170 km/h were easily achieved, with stopping power to match. The “Q4” Tonale shoots from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 6,2 seconds and hurtles further to a top speed of 206 km/h. On e-power alone, the Tonale can achieve 135 km/h.
The suspension is well calibrated. For technical buffs we tell you here that the Tonale, as a result of its development history, runs on the FCA Small Wide platform of the Jeep Compass of the second generation.
The D.N.A. selector at the centre of action…
You can drive this Alfa exactly how you feel. We already applauded its qualities in the Dynamic mode, and the subdued but sporting roar of the engine still rings in our ears. But then you can also enjoy the agility, responsiveness and nimbleness of the Alfa Tonale in a more refined, “zen” way, which Alfa calls “modern sportiness”. We do agree, as the transgression between engine and E-power is ever so smooth as to becoming completely imperceptible, and that is no small feat. So when you select “N” or “Natural” mode, it keeps hybrid driving to all-wheel drive to optimize performance. The use of combustion engine and electric motor is automatically managed and allows for energy and fuel savings without giving up on performance.
Last but not least there is the “Advance Efficiency” mode, calibrated to obtain maximum energy efficiency in full-electric driving mode. It is the ideal driving mode in urban traffic. When you lift the throttle, the car continues driving in “Sailing.” Meanwhile, when one is going downhill, the new eCoasting Descent Control is activated to maintain a constant speed of 50 km/h, which is however adjustable with a light dab on the throttle or brake. Specifically, “E-Save” allows one to recharge or maintain the battery level when the internal combustion engine is on, and there is also the regenerative braking system.
Premium comfort and safety
The Tonale is quite roomy, remember, it rolls on the second generation Jeep Compass platform. Sound insulation is also quite good, enhancing the “zen” driving experience. Moreover, on-board comfort is also ensured by dual-zone climate control, pleasing ambient light, a sophisticated Infotainment system, ventilated and heated front seats, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
It also includes ADAS systems for level 2 automatic driving, a hi-res camera which provides a 360° view of the car, a Blind-Spot Detector and Rear Cross-Path Detector, as well as superior structural and industrial quality which earned it a 5-star NCAP rating.
Amazon Alexa allows one to remain constantly updated on the state of the vehicle from the comfort of one’s home, as it provides useful information like the charge Tonale Plug-In’s battery. The built-in Infotainment system comes standard and offers contents, functionalities, and services which are constantly being updated via its customizable Android operating system and 4G connectivity with “Over The Air” (OTA) updates.
Thanks to a hi-res screen whose overall dimensions are 22.5”—a 12.3” totally digital screen and a 10.25” main touchscreen unit, the Tonale Plug-In ensures easy-to-use connection. The centre 10,25” screen is also seen by the way in the 500e. The Tonale Plug-in Hybrid Q4’s circular dials include ad-hoc upgrades like the electro-biscione in the lower part of the right dial which changes color based on the electric motor’s status (off, on, on and charging) and so provides all the information related to power and charging. Clever!
Four new functionalities of Alfa Connect Services make their debut on the Tonale Plug-in Hybrid Q4:
E-control: it allows the customer to control various functionalities based on the EV features—like charging and the climate control system—at a distance directly from the My Alfa Connect App, which you have to install on your phone.
Dynamic Range Mapping: it allows drivers to travel with peace of mind as it shows them the destination they can reach based on the battery charge both on the navigation system map and the My Alfa Connect app.
At the end of our 105,9 km road trip, the instruments tell the story: we drove 50,6 km on engine power, 55,2 km on batter e-power. This resulted in a consumption of 3,86 litres/100 km, but then with 8 km left in the battery, so we estimate some 14 kW consumed…
Charging Station Finder: it allows the customer to see the nearest public charging stations both on the navigation system map and the My Alfa Connect app.
My eCharge: it allows for the use of the My Alfa Connect app to directly access Free2Move eSolutions services to manage public and private charging. In fact, it is possible to locate the public charging stations, check the charging methods, make payments, visualize the charge history, manage one’s own Wallbox to decide how much electricity to use and even increase, decrease, suspend, and reactivate the charge.
Your Tonale has an NFT which lets you generate a certificate…
This means that specifically, based on the customer’s selection, the NFT generates a certificate which guarantees the identity and good maintenance of the vehicle, and thus supports its residual value. The NFT certificate provides a further source of credibility on the used car market and is even more valuable on the Tonale Plug-In Hybrid Q4 as it contains even more information.
A special “Edizione Speciale” at the launch…
The Tonale Plug-in Hybrid Q4 is the top-of-the-range model and is in line with the simplification and rationalization of Alfa Romeo’s lineup strategy. In fact, it can already be ordered in the exclusive EDIZIONE SPECIALE launch version and in the VELOCE trim which has been made to reach the most in terms of performance and sportiness.
The EDIZIONE SPECIALE offers inserts on the titanium body, a special badge on the fenders, and a “Tonale” black badge, 20” alloy wheels, metallic pedals, red Brembo brake calipers and aluminum shift paddles which are integrated into the steering column. Later on, customers will be able to order the Tonale Plug-In Hybrid Q4 in the Ti trim for a more elegant and distinctive character.
We have to wait a bit to get our hands on this remarkable Alfa for a more extended test, but stay tuned for more Alfa news soon!
Right after having unveiled its new brand identity, Citroën stunned the international press last Friday, when it presented its OLI concept car in Paris.
You can judge yourself from the photos I took with my flagship Samsung S22 (I am getting increasingly used to it now) how completely groundbreaking the design and the whole concept of the car is actually.
I decided to bring the news of this concept car in different episodes, as thanks to the excellent PR people, I was able to have interviews with not only the CEO of Citroën, Vincent Cobée, but also with Laurence Hansen, Head of Citroën Product Development and Citroën’s Head of Design, Pierre Leclercq. I will bring this extensively in further reports, together with also a further interview with Laurent Barria, responsible for marketing.
So read on, and you can expect much more soon!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
In the footsteps of the Ami…now for mobility of the whole family.
Citroën already showed with its Ami (in a few days, we will also attend in Brussels the introduction of the Ami Buggy) that it believes strongly in offering affordable mobility, and it builds further on this concept, taking ‘unconventional’ to a new level with this conceptual oli [all-ë].
The Citroën oli concept is designed to do the same for family mobility that Ami achieved for personal urban mobility. Significantly, oli acts as a precursor to the concepts and innovations that will be available in future Citroën electric models.
The oli concept car focuses on how more can be achieved with less, first and foremost with less weight, how the inventive use of responsible materials and a sustainable production process can lead to inexpensive yet desirable zero-emission vehicles that meet multiple lifestyles.
In his introduction speech, CEO Vincent Cobée stated “Three societal conflicts are happening simultaneously – first is the value of and dependence on mobility, second is economic constraints and resource uncertainty, and third is our growing sense of desire for a responsible and optimistic future.”
Then he commented on the trend that cars are becoming bigger, heavier and more complex…
“A typical mid-70s family car weighed around 800kg and was 3.7 m long and 1.6m wide.” He continued. Today’s equivalents have grown to more than 1200kg, are at least 4.3 m long and 1.8m wide. Some even weigh more than 2500kg. Legal and safety requirements have driven some of this, but if the trend continues and we carry on parking these vehicles 95% of each day and driving 80% of journeys with a single occupant, the conflict between the need to protect our planet and the future promise of sustainable, electrified mobility will not easily be resolved.”
He concluded: ““Citroën believes electrification should not mean extortion, and being eco-conscious should not be punitive by restricting our mobility or making vehicles less rewarding to live with. We need to reverse the trends by making them lighter and less expensive and find inventive ways to maximize usage.”
So true we would say, and it is this unerring vision which inspired Citroën to build this concept car.
They focused instead on creating a pure, honest vehicle that is above all lighter, less complicated and truly affordable, as well as inventive and joyful.
With oli, Citroën is raising the stakes for future family mobility by re-thinking every detail to reduce resources and needed materials without compromising on quality or versatility.
A car conceived and built for a (very) long life
Who does not crave for a car which becomes your classic, beloved, (life)long companion? Well, that’s the beauty of it, the oli will be at your side, no matter what or how long. This conceptual multi-activity family vehicle has sustainability at its heart and demonstrates how ‘best-in-class’ Life-Cycle-Assessment (LCA) can be achieved, from conception onwards with restrained, optimal use of lightweight and recycled materials, to sustainable production processes, and from durability for an extended ‘life in service’ to responsible end-of-life recyclability. The front and rear end parts can be easily changed, upgraded, customized, and the oli can within the family be passed from one generation to another…
Clever details are found throughout. The seats, for example, are simply constructed and use 80% less parts than a traditional seat. They are made of recycled materials and clever ‘mesh’ backrest designs enhance the natural light inside the vehicle.
They can also be easily upgraded or personalized to suit the taste of individual owners. It’s indeed the result of a chosen and adopted lifestyle, and the concept car reflects that. Your servant also suggested to Citroën Head of Design Pierre Leclercq that in the aftermarket, a company like Ikea could offer their version of the seats to rejuvenate the interior after many years of use, for instance. Pierre Leclercq liked the idea…
Less weight means less power needed and more range…
The oli offers reasonable, useable performance for many. Through the use of lightweight materials, oli can extend the range of the 40kWh battery on board to up to 248 miles between charges. Citroën has also limited the top speed of the oli to 68mph to maximise efficiency, while rapid charging capability ensures a charge from 20% to 80% takes just 23 minutes.
Extraordinary looks, harbinger of a total revolution…
The reasonable performance – read top speed – gave extra room for the designers to shape the concept car. Striking and clearly making a statement, oli’s unconventional stance and silhouette exude personality, productivity and positivity in a footprint similar to a compact SUV at 4.20m long, 1.65m high and 1.90m wide.
It defies traditional labelling. oli can be whatever it needs to be – family limo, urban explorer, adventure vehicle, workmate, or even an extension to the family home thanks to its ability to power everyday appliances.
Pierre Leclercq, believes oli embraces purity and geniality for families who don’t care for automotive status and stereotypes. I couldn’t agree more…
In the oli, the aesthetic approach has been deliberately exaggerated to reinforce functionality and versatility. And, like Ami, it is not afraid to show its simple and intuitive approach and distinguishes itself with its playful use of colour highlights, bright trim materials and vivacious patterns that advocate opportunities for personalisation.
The oli truly threads new paths here. Oli’s flat bonnet, roof and rear ‘pick-up bed’ panels, as well as driving the vehicle’s unique silhouette, were chosen to meet the objectives for low weight, high strength and maximum durability.
Made from recycled corrugated cardboard formed into a honeycomb sandwich structure between fibreglass reinforcing panels, they have been co-created with partner BASF. They are coated in Elastoflex® Polyurethane resin covered in a protective layer of tough, textured Elastocoat®, which is often used on parking decks or loading ramps, and painted with innovative, waterborne BASF R-M Agilis® paint.
The panels are very rigid, light and strong – so strong that an adult can stand on them – and weight is reduced by 50 per cent when compared to an equivalent steel roof construction.
Load carrying versatility is not compromised either, as roof rails each side of the roof panel allow owners to attach accessories like bicycle racks and roof boxes for family vacations, while below the bonnet panel are neatly detailed storage areas including compartments for charging cables plus personal and emergency items.
Not afraid to go vertical…
All of the key design elements on oli are perfectly horizontal or vertical, indeed, Citroën is looking for honesty and efficiency in the form language.
The windscreen is vertical because it’s the shortest distance between top and bottom and uses the smallest amount of glass. As well as reducing weight and complexity, the smaller screen is less expensive to produce or replace.
To aid aerodynamic efficiency, oli features an experimental “Aero Duct” system between the front section of the bonnet and the flat top panel which blows air towards the screen, creating a curtain effect to smooth airflow over the roof.
The eye-catching windscreen frame is finished with a bright ‘infra-red’ wrap – a new signature colour Citroën will use in conjunction with its new brand identity.
The contrast between horizontal and vertical is evident in the rationally thought-through side panels and glass.
The front doors follow the example set by Ami and are identical on each side, though mounted differently. They are lighter, yet still strong, and much easier to make and assemble.
Reducing complexity and simplifying construction saves 20% in weight per door compared to a typical family hatchback. Half the number of components is required, and around 1.7kg per door is saved by the removal of the loudspeaker, soundproofing material and electrical wiring.
The external door panel is simpler to stamp and is designed to maximize interior storage. Gentle curvatures flow up the sides of the vehicle, and into the top of the side glass as it tumbles home to the roof.
Large, horizontal windows are tilted slightly towards the ground to help to reduce the effects of the sun, and manual, easy-to-operate “flip up” pantograph opening sections, similar to those used on Ami, provide fresh air ventilation.
The narrower rear doors are hinged at the rear of the vehicle and use vertical glass to give rear passengers more light and visibility. The change in form between the front and rear doors also gave an opportunity to add a passive air intake providing ventilation for rear seat passengers.
Access to the spacious cabin is wide, uncluttered and unhindered with both side doors open – ideal for when the driver needs to get straggling family members loaded efficiently.
Front and rear lighting modules are, again, uncomplicated but highly distinctive, and also play with the contrast between two horizontal lines and one vertical section. This approach will be evolved further as a distinctive Citroën lighting signature in future production vehicles.
A pick-up (load)bed in the boot…
Instead of a conventional boot, oli features an unexpected, inspired exercise in useful product design, and comes with a pick-up bed inside the boot for added practicality. The independent rear seat headrests pop up into the roof, the rear screen glass opens upwards, with the flat 994mm wide removable load bed expanding in length from 679mm to 1050mm.
The tailgate folds down and with the load bed panel removed there is up to 582 mm height between the vehicle floor and the rear glass. With the panel in place, 330 mm height of useful and secure trunk space is available below. The removable bed panel is light and flat, and made from the same recycled cardboard structure as the bonnet and roof panels.
But there is more, on the bodywork, the interior, the wheels and drivetrain. More soon!
The Scorpion brand’s first SUV will be exclusive to the LAT(in)AM(erican) region, at least for the time being.
The reason is simple: the Abart Pulse is manufactured and developed in Brazil.
After the Stilo Abarth in 2002 and the iconic Abarth 500 in 2014, the new Abarth Pulse marks an important turning point in the brand’s global development plans, going beyond the European and Asian borders, and spreading now throughout the world, offering its fans a specific model dedicated to South America.
“Abarth’s return to the Latin American market is a source of great pride for us – declared Olivier Francois, FIAT & Abarth Chief Executive Officer and Global Chief Marketing Officer of Stellantis -.
“The characteristics of performance and style, which have always distinguished Abarth, remain intact and will offer a true Abarth experience to our fans across the ocean.” He continued. “The Abarth Pulse is only the beginning and we want to keep completing the family. We couldn’t be more delighted by the positive momentum created in Latin America first by the Fiat Pulse and now by the Abarth Pulse.”
The brand has planned a series of initiatives to consolidate the relationship with the many admirers of the Scorpion overseas.
It starts with a digital (marketing) platform through which they can discover the news related to the model and the brand. This will be followed by the creation of dedicated spaces at Fiat dealerships in the country, where customers can learn more about the purchase of Abarth models thanks to specialized sellers.
Will the Pulse come to our shores? Maybe, or will we see another Abarth SUV for our market? Will it maybe a BEV or PHEV? Only the future will tell…
What we know is that the Abarth is based on the Fiat Pulse, which was developed under the codename Project 363. The car is built on the MLA platform which in turn is based on an improved platform used by the Argo hatchback.
We read more about this MLA (Modular Architecture) platform in the specialized press.
Fiat has indeed launched a completely new modular platform in the spring of 2021—for its cars in Brazil.
It is of course in the cards that this and current Fiat/Jeep small car platforms will be merged with Peugeot’s CMP to form a completely new Stellantis small car platform (STLA-Small) which can accommodate gasoline-powered, hybrid-electric, battery-electric, and hydrogen fuel cell power along with either front or all wheel drive.
The rollout of these STLA platforms will begin in late-2023 with a top-down approach. This means beginning with the STLA large platforms for segments D and E. The dedicated BEV-focused platform for the segments A, b and C will be launched only in 2026.
So for the time being the car will be seen in Brazil… but one never knows!
Kia announced its key targets to transform into Sustainable Mobility Solutions Provider. This corporate vision is supported by three key pillars – ‘people’, ‘planet’ and ‘profit’. It did this in presenting the roadmap to 2030 at the company’s 2022 CEO Investor Day virtual event.
Under these pillars, Kia will strive to enhance customer value and nurture talents, reduce carbon emissions in consideration for the environment, and generate profits while working as a responsible corporate citizen.
Kia also announced its four key business targets for 2030. These core business aims include: accelerating electrification and achieving annual sales of 1.2 million battery electric vehicle (BEV) units by 2030; reaching 4 million annual vehicle sales by 2030, including over 2 million eco-friendly models; expanding the application of connected car feature and autonomous driving technologies to all new vehicles; and become the number one brand in the global purpose-built vehicle (PBV) market by 2030.
Kia to establish a line-up of 14 BEV models by 2027. Indeed, starting in 2023, Kia plans to launch at least two BEVs per year. Compared to its previous plan to release 11 models by 2026, Kia will add two electric pickup trucks – a dedicated electric pickup truck and a strategic model for emerging markets – and an entry-level BEV model.
‘AutoMode’, Kia’s new autonomous driving technology, to be launched in 2023 with first application in EV9…
Kia’s range of autonomous driving technologies, branded ‘AutoMode’, will be rapidly expanded throughout the line-up starting with the EV9 in 2023.
Kia AutoMode supports performance optimization through wireless updates and will be improved as the technology develops. It will also include Highway Driving Pilot feature which would enable driving without driver intervention on highway sections. Kia aims to expand connected car features to all vehicle lineup by 2025
Aims to become No.1 global PBV brand by 2030···first dedicated PBV model in 2025.
Indeed, As a customer-centered company, Kia will provide flexible mobility services that reflect the diverse needs of people and businesses. A core part of Kia’s work in this area will focus on PBV. (Purpose Built Vehicle)
Kia is the one of the first movers in the global PBV market and plans to become a market leader. The demand for delivery and logistics services has increased significantly following the acceleration in e-commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the mid-to long term, Kia will develop dedicated PBVs. The dedicated PBV will be developed as flexible structure that sits on a flat, skateboard EV platform, so that the size and shape can be adjusted according to the purpose and customer needs.
Kia will launch its first dedicated model in 2025 when the PBV market is expected to mature. The first dedicated PBV will be similar in size to a medium-sized vehicle, with inherent scalability.
Company announces financial targets for 2026···gross revenue of KRW 120 trillion; operating profit margin of 8.3%
The company plans to garner 39 percent of operating profit from BEVs in 2026 with the reduction of fixed costs through volume expansion and cost reduction from technology development.
Furthermore, Kia expects that by 2026, the contribution to operating profit from all eco-friendly models will reach 52 percent, exceeding that of internal combustion engine models.
To achieve these goals, Kia will not only expand sales of its eco-friendly models but also greatly improve profitability, securing additional sales and profit structures due to the commercialization of new businesses and technologies.
Kia will also actively participate in Hyundai Motor Group’s next-generation projects, such as Advanced Aviation Mobility (AAM), robotics. Specifically, Kia plans to focus on creating synergy between the Group’s AAM efforts and its own PBV business.
We keep you posted further on Kia soon as next week we will test the Kia EV6!
Alfa Romeo presented on February 8th its Tonale, the model that marks the Brand’s metamorphosis. Of course Alfa remains true to its DNA of noble Italian sportsmanship since 1910, but the Tonale a radical evolution is taking place at Alfa Romeo. It enters a new era of connectivity and electrification.
We bring you here in this first report the main points, of course, more will follow when we see the car ‘in the flesh’ at further presentations.
The Tonale breathes unique Italian design, being extraordinarily faithful to the concept model which you see here on the photo above, which we could admire feel and touch at the Centro Stile.
The car embodies state-of-the-art technology, Alfa says, with software and electrification systems enhancing the Brand’s DNA. With the launch of this car, Alfa also deploys a universe of innovative, customer-focused services. See more below…
The Tonale has a clear mission: reinventing sportiness for the 21st century. The name marks the evolutionary continuity with Stelvio, a fascinating new road that leads to a new destination: the future.
The car is made in Italy, at the revamped “Giambattista Vico” plant in Pomigliano d’Arco, according to Alfa one of the most advanced production plants in the automotive world, where a dedicated assembly line has been built with cutting-edge technology and high levels of automation.
The technology in the Tonale is aimed at enhancing the unique Alfa driving experience, but not only that: it also wants to bring the customer experience at another level and sets steps to protecting its residual value.
Indeed, in a a world exclusive, Tonale is the first car on the market equipped with a NFT (non-fungible token) digital certificate. Based on blockchain technology and uniquely linked, the Tonale NFT certifies the car upon purchase, then evolves to represent its use during the car’s life cycle, with major benefits in terms of protecting its residual value. With the customer’s consent, the NFT will record vehicle data, generating a certificate that can be used as a guarantee that the car has been properly maintained, with a positive impact on its residual value. On the pre-owned car market, NFT certification represents an additional source of credibility for owners or dealers to count on. In the meantime, buyers will be reassured in their choice of car.
The Tonale also sports an all-new infotainment system. Totaling 22.5”, the two large Full TFT screens are installed.
The world of Amazon in your Alfa…
The infotainment system is designed to offer Over-the-Air updates and integration with Amazon Alexa.
There is a complete integration with Amazon: courtesy of the “Secure Delivery Service”, you can choose the Tonale as the place to deliver the packages you are expecting, by unlocking the doors and letting the courier leave them inside the car, all completely safely.
You can also receive constant updates on vehicle status from the comfort of your home, find out the level of charge and/or fuel, search for points of interest, find your car’s latest location, send remote locking and unlocking commands, and much more. “Alexa” can also be used to ask to add products to your shopping list, to search for a restaurant nearby or to adjust lights or heating connected to your home automation system, all while remaining focused on the road.
The technology is also focusing on safety, with level 2 ADAS systems.
Cabin comfort is of course not neglected. Alfa tells us that the cabin environment is designed for and around the occupants, with meticulous attention to detail, paired with a constant quest for the highest quality.
Two levels of electrification – Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Q4, developed by Alfa Romeo.
State-of-the-art electrification: this electrification serves the Brand and its DNA, with the mission of reinventing sportiness for the 21st century, Alfa announces.
The Tonale debuts the 160-hp Hybrid VGT (Variable-Geometry Turbo) engine, an exclusive for Alfa Romeo. Its variable-geometry turbocharger paired with 7-speed Alfa Romeo TCT dual-clutch transmission and the 48-volt 15-kW, 55-Nm “P2” electric motor makes it possible for the 1.5-liter gasoline engine to propel the wheels even when the internal combustion engine is turned off.
Alfa Romeo has opted for this technical solution to offer an authentic electrified experience. The transmission enables startup and travel in electric mode at low speeds and when parking and cruising. At launch, the 130-hp Hybrid version is also available, again paired with 7-speed Alfa Romeo TCT and 48-volt “P2” electric motor.
The 275-hp Plug-in Hybrid Q4 version with all-wheel drive is has an expected range in electric mode of up to 80 km in the city cycle. It is the most powerful and efficient version in the line-up.
To complete the engine range, there is also a new 1.6-liter, 130-hp diesel engine with 320 Nm of torque, paired with 6-speed Alfa Romeo TCT dual-clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
Customers at the center of the Alfa Romeo universe…
With Tonale, Alfa Romeo launches a series of new services, which redefine the customer experience and will cover the brand’s entire line-up.
A digital experience: the customer purchase experience can take place online from the comfort of home, in three simple steps, by accessing an interface identical to the one used in dealerships.
Extended warranty: Efforts to improve the quality of the end product have resulted in the availability of an innovative Alfa Romeo extended warranty, lengthening the protection of the vehicle’s main components to 5 years. The warranty for the batteries in the hybrid Tonale versions has also been extended to 8 years or 150,000 km traveled, becoming the best offer in the segment.
Alfa Romeo Certified is the dedicated to customers in the pre-owned car market. The aim is to ensure a shopping experience that is identical to that of buying a new vehicle. The main features of the service are as follows:
Warranty coverage equivalent to that of a new car.
“Satisfaction or your money back”, within 10 days or 1,000 km
No maintenance costs, for 15,000 km or 1 year
120 vehicle checks
Customized after-sales and financing services
24/7 roadside assistance in Europe during the warranty period
Finally, Alfa Romeo Videocheck is the service dedicated to after-sales, created in consideration of the special relationship its customers have with their car. One sole aim: service quality and transparency for customers. When at a workshop, if a car is found to need more work than agreed with the customer, the technicians will be required to follow a procedure via mobile app to certify the work, with a video to accompany the related repair costs. The customer will then be free to partially or fully accept or reject the new quote.
Rather impeccable, according to Alfa. It has the best weight distribution and the most direct steering in its segment (13.6), and the fact it is the only model in its class to be equipped with the Integrated Brake System (IBS). The adoption of fixed calipers by Brembo, with 4 pistons and self-ventilated discs at the front and full discs at the rear, contributes to the improved braking performance.
The Tonale opts for the fully independent MacPherson suspension system, with Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) shock absorbers. The new Tonale offers two drive solutions: Q4 all-wheel drive in the Plug-in Hybrid e-Q4 version, and front-wheel drive in the Hybrid and diesel versions. The latter are also equipped with Alfa Romeo electronic self-locking differential. The specifications are completed with a “Dual Stage Valve” active suspension with electronically controlled damping.
New line-up strategy
The Alfa Romeo Tonale introduces a new line-up strategy.
Two trim levels are available – Super and Ti, both with clearly defined specifications. The Super trim can be customized with the Sprint pack, which includes numerous options with a strong sporty connotation. Alternatively, the Ti trim can be added to with the Veloce pack, to reach the peak in terms of performance and sportiness.
Renault is a brand which moves boundaries now and then. It brought a new definition of a roomy and timeless city car with the Twingo, built the legendary 4L and the “Cinq”, its Espace brought nothing less than a revolution in car concepts and design: the “space” car was born.
Then we don’t forget the Avantime. A car which was truly totally ahead of its time. We drove it at its introduction in the streets of modern, united Berlin. When you saw it on the road, you would expect a V6 formula 1 turbo engine under the hood, running on hydrogen of course, with a sweet voice softly telling you what the history is of the street and buildings you driving through, in the language of your choice. That car made us dream. Its stylish panache and the promise it embodied still has to be equalled.
Then Renault embarked on the E-path, opening it up to the masses with the ZOE and recently also putting a very clever full hybrid on the road, culminating in the E-Tech family of cars. Affordable with a touch of genius. And then we don’t forget Dacia…
Now its talented designer Laurens van den Acker took a long hard look at the BMW 4X and brings the stylish silhouette of the iconic fastback SUV to the wider public. The Arkana, a name derived from the Latin Arcanum, meaning secret, first made its entry in the Russian market, based on the Dacia Duster B0 platform. This allows the Russian built Arkana to offer 4WD, a must for the Russian market.
But this is not the E-Tech Arkana we meet on our shores. Renault needed here a platform which allowed electrification. Just read further!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
So “our” Arkana started life in South Korea in January 2020 as the… Renault Samsung XM3, and we find this again a fascinating story in itself, showing how cleverly big groups are combining talents and allocating resources found in their world wide organisations. Showing that they are truly unifying the world, having learned to work, cooperate and thrive across boundaries.
So Renault Samsung Motors is a reality, and they build the Arkana for us in their South Korean factory in Busan.
Renault is maybe also teaching politicians a lesson nowadays: the “Russian” Arkana is built both in Moscow by Renault Russia as well as in… Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, in South eastern Ukraine, at ZAZ, the most important (former) Russian Automobile Manufacturer.
The European Arkana runs on the more modern CMF-B platform, which we find also for the Clio V and the Captur II.
Approaching the Arkana and walking around it, one is pleased by its excellent proportions and shape, from any angle. We liked also that it stands boldly on its wheels, with a ground clearance of not less than 20 centimeters. This allows you to negotiate sleeping policemen’s with ease of mind, as their dimensions always differ greatly from borough to borough, if not from street to street. The fact that this is not unified on a European scale, let alone not even on a national scale is utterly ridiculous. But the Arkana copes with all that, marvelous!
We found also the level of finish and paint quality of the bodywork top notch. The same can be said of the fit, look and feel of the panels in dashboard and cabin.
The layout is similar to what we find in the ZOE and Clio. The seating position is excellent, everything is logically within reach. Also the infotainment system with the large screen on the centre console is a breeze to use, and quite intuitive. Of course instrumentation is digital, and you can have also the road indications right in line with your eyesight if you prefer this.
The learning curve to get acquainted with infotainment in this car is wonderfully short, and it is also very practical and wise to let the heating/airco ventilation system be controlled through three big round manual knobs.
A fully fledged hybrid…
The Renault Arkana uses the Renault “E-Tech” hybrid solution, consisting of a petrol engine delivering 94 HP, a starter generator which delivers 20 HP or15 kW, and last but not least an electric motor incorporated in the transmission, which is good for another 49 HP or 36 kW.
The gearbox has four speeds in store for the combustion engine, and reserves two speeds for the electric motors. These are no synchro rings or clutches, the electric motor within the gearbox synchronises everything. This uniquely clever system is derived from Formula 1 technology, Renault says.
It works wonderfully. Driving away is always on E-power for the first meters at least, the electric motor in the gearbox with its close to 50 HP has more than sufficient zest for its task. If the small 1,2 kW battery runs out of power, the engine sets in smoothly, helps to power the car further forward, and also charges the battery. Total system power is 143 HP.
Depending on the chosen driving mode, the system will also keep the battery more or less constantly charged, and so it happens more than often that when having accelerated on E-power to say a cruising speed of 70 km/h, the petrol suddenly engine starts up and gets eagerly to work recharging the battery. It does this at relatively high revs, and the recharging time is therefore rather short.
The higher revs seem to be a bit out of place, but soon one gets used to it, even more so because everything happens smoothly as the revs between gearbox and engine are exactly matched and you understand why this is happening.
We noticed that in city driving the Arkana runs often on E-power, and indeed, the consumption during our test hovered around the 5 litres/100 km. Performance is more than adequate for everyday driving, with a 0 to 100 sprint in 10,8 seconds and a top speed of 178 km/h.
Comfortable and well balanced
The suspension of the Arkana has a rather firm undertone, but is very well balanced and comfortable, and will never show any hint of harshness. On winding roads, the car stays flat with very little body roll despite its 20 cm ground clearance. Steering is responsive and pleasant. Indeed, the Arkana is an excellent Gran Turismo with also very good urban qualities, and a pleasure to steer and drive.
There is sufficient head- and legroom for the rear passengers, and the E-Tech configuration only costs some 33 liters of luggage space, which remains at 480 to 1263 liters, more than adequate we would say. Living with the Arkana is truly nice…
A stylish, frugal, future oriented Renault, roomy, well finished, easy to use and pleasant to drive in everyday life. It offers good interior space despite its elegant coupé silhouette. Indeed, Renault sets again new standards in offering to many car buyers the panache and zest of a modern four dour coupé combined with some distinct SUV touches. And it can be had as a hybrid, which is a strong selling point for today’s environmentally conscious buyers…
In the hearts of many, the longing for a sleek, timelessly beautiful French limousine never fades. So when DS Automobiles was born, such a car was a must. The tradition of the original DS, serving as the true “voiture présidentielle” has also to be kept. So here she awakens again, as the noble “savoir vivre” alternative to the established German competition. The DS9. We tested the plug-in-hybrid version of course, fitting to this time and age…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
This DS9 is indeed elegant. With a regal wheelbase of 2,9 meters and a total length of 4,93 meters, the stylists were able to draw fluent lines and contours of an uncanny noblesse. The added details are reminiscent of its iconic predecessors, like the position lights close to the roof line.
This regal panache continues in the cabin. Noblesse oblige. Your eyes meet the superb clock in the middle of the dashboard, with the lozenge shaped start/stop button right below it.
You can select also this lozenge theme for the dials in the electronic screen ahead of you, to add a bit of Art Déco atmosphere to it all. Your servant just loved this, as well as the finely chiseled surfaces of the rotating knobs on the steering wheel and the centre console. We love this tension between rounded shapes and rakish angularity. Voisin also used this in his magnificent automobiles.
The cabin is beautifully finished, with the seats not only looking opulent, but also cocooning you in soothing armchair comfort. Leg room at the rear is of course nothing short of presidential.
The infotainment is top notch, the expertise of the former PSA and now even larger Stellantis group sees to that. Embedded in this now world wide group, for DS automobiles, further future oriented electrification and revolutionary system/software platforms are in the cards. As one knows and has been written already in these columns, DS is very ambitious when it comes to future electrification.
Smooth hybrid power
We tested the E-Tense 225 version, with the 181 HP 1,6 litre petrol engine coupled via an 8 speed automatic transmission to a 110 HP electric motor, resulting in a total system power of 225 HP. Sounds familiar? Indeed it does, as we found the same drivetrain on the DS4 E-Tense.
We already applauded the good qualities of this drivetrain, the prompt and vigorous accelerations, the overall smoothness. As the DS9 is somewhat heavier than the DS4 with its 1914 kg, the 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time is slighty slower, some 8,7 seconds, but on the other hand the top speed due to the more slippery limousine bodywork is a solid 240 km/h.
The DS9 will however rather invite you to some leisurely cruising, inspired as you are by the comfortable suspension which like in the higher end versions of the DS4 electronically scans the road surface ahead of you and adapts the active suspension accordingly. DS Automobiles calls it DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION, and we described it already in our columns.
Sound insulation is magnificent, remember that the doors have not less than three rubber seals to insulate the cabin from its surroundings, and double glazed windows. Needless to say that one truly enjoys the excellent sound system, and can listen delightfully to French chanson or baroque music.
Our test car had an electric radius of about 50 kilometers, thanks to its 11,9 kW battery. In our columns you could already read that there’s now a DS 9 E-TENSE 250 in the showrooms, featuring a 200 hp 4-cylinder PureTech engine, accompanied by the same 80 kW (110 hp) electric motor. The car has a new 15.6 kWh (total capacity) battery, with an unchanged number of cells, delivering now up to 70 kilometers on the WLTP city cycle (EAER City) or 61 kilometers on the WLTP combined cycle with an unchanged vehicle weight. The 7.4 kW on-board charger also allows charging from 0-100% in merely 2 hours and 23 minutes. See our article with the following link: https://autoprova.be/2021/12/03/the-ds-9-e-tense-gets-an-increased-e-range-and-extra-power/
Built in China…
I find it always fascinating to read how the present large automotive groups go about manufacturing their products on a global scale. The DS9 is also typical example. The DS9 runs on the EMP2 modular technical platform of the PSA group, and is built in the Chinese city of Shenzhen by the Baoneng group.
Related (bigger) cars built on this EMP2 platform are the Peugeot 508 and the… Donfeng FengshenA9, an executive sedan produced by the Dongfeng Motor Corporation under the Dongfeng Fengshen sub-brand, until 2019.
Citroën sells a new car named C6 in China on this platform since the end of 2016 and apparently until now, also as an executive saloon. All these cars have the same 2,9 meter wheelbase. This C6 is built in Wuhan, of all places…
Frugal… depending on how you use it.
With PHEV’s it is always the same story. Consumption depends on how you use it. Frequent recharging and short distances will enable you to run it on E-power, if you let the petrol engine do all the work, then it depends on the efficiency of the engine and your driving style. The manufacturer quotes a minimum consumption of 1,5 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of 34 g/km.
The DS9 is first of all a comfortable limousine, and your excellent companion on long distances or a posh urban drive to restaurant or opera. Boot space is sufficient with 355 litres, as you can fold the rear backrests back to enlarge cargo space to 825 litres.
For the rear passengers, there is a wide central armrest with lots of space for drinking glasses and sundry.
This sleek executive saloon makes a statement in the Executive segment, with its stylish panache and focus on ultimate comfort. It represents a true alternative in design and concept, and its lavish standard equipment makes it also stand out versus the competition.
So we repeat what we said about the DS4, if you want to take a different path in luxurious and refined motoring, grab the leather stitched wheel of this one…
The electric age has certainly also arrived at Seat. Not that they produce impressive petrol engined cars. I am presently driving a very able Seat Arona 1.0 TSI Xperience, its three cylinder 110 HP 1 litre engine purrs very nicely indeed, coupled to a 7 speed DSG, and feels very well at home on the motorway as in the city. The somewhat higher stance of the Arona proved also a blessing and we would judge it “just right”. But as said, the electronic age is certainly dawning at Seat.
The SEAT S.A. team is producing working for instance at the Martorell plant the SEAT Leon e-HYBRID, the first hybrid model manufactured in Martorell. But there is more.
Beatriz Matute, head of Project Management for the launch of the CUPRA Born, has spent this year going between Barcelona and Zwickau (Germany). She’s led a team of more than 50 employees from different areas in charge of overseeing the start of series production for the CUPRA Born, CUPRA’s first 100% electric car, in Europe’s largest electric vehicle factory. “It’s been a valuable learning experience that we will certainly build on for the electrification of Martorell” she says.
The CUPRA Born signals the start of CUPRA’s electric offensive and is a key element in the brand’s international expansion. For this reason, “we knew that the International Press Presentation of the CUPRA Born needed to be different” says SEAT S.A. Global Communications Director Cécilia Taieb. “We made it happen thanks to the help and participation of many of our employees” she continues. The first 100% electric car brought together 440 journalists from 27 countries in Barcelona. In total, 62,000 kilometres of testing were carried out over four weeks by the invited media.
The brand’s marketeers and top experts around the world have been just as dedicated in preparing to sell the CUPRA Born. More than 1,000 CUPRA Masters from 43 markets took part in the CUPRA Master Convention 2021 to deepen their knowledge and transmit their expertise to customers.
The IAA International Motor Show in Munich last September was the backdrop for the world premiere of the CUPRA UrbanRebel concept, the CUPRA team’s unconventional challenger. “The concept laid the foundations for our future 100% electric city car, which will arrive in 2025” says CUPRA Director of Strategy, Business Development and Operations Antonino Labate.
Leading the electric competition. CUPRA made motorsport history this year by winning the first ever electric touring car championship. Along with Mattias Ekström, they have been named “Kings of the season” for the PURE ETCR. With the CUPRA e-Racer, a technical feat of 500 kW (680 hp) of power, the brand successfully completed the challenge it set itself in 2017: to create the first electric racing touring car in history, and win. “The future of racing is electric, and we have already taken the lead” maintains Xavier Serra, head of CUPRA Racing.
A step forward with 1.3 Megawatts of power…
The Test Center Energy (TCE) is another of the company’s major commitments to electrification. “We’ve made a great effort to create this pioneering battery research and development centre in Southern Europe, which will enable us to develop the energy systems for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles” says Francesc Sabaté, head of the TCE. To give an example of its testing capacity, 1.3 megawatts is equivalent to the energy consumption of 350 homes operating at maximum power.
We attended a very interesting presentation by Stellantis Belux CEO Stéphane Lévi, last but not least about Stellantis Belux itself. We start with this topic in this report.
But of course, the future of the Stellantis Group holds many different interesting aspects, and this will be covered in further reports. Just stay tuned!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The merger between FCA and PSA leading to the birth of the Stellantis group has been very well managed in Belgium, and is now properly settled indeed.
Mr. Lévi explained that it was a very good strategic decision to bring the different brands with their respective departments as soon as possible under one single roof, notably at the premises at the Avenue de Bourget in Brussels. Indeed the implementation of Stellantis Belux in this “Stellantis House” in Evere took merely three months after the merger, which was done in January 2021. The organisation of Stellantis Belux was finalised in July this year. 20 % of the employees working in Stellantis Belux have now taken a new position within this organisation.
“It is important that the staff also feels physically that they belong to one family, and are able to interact and meet on one single work and office space”, stated Mr. Lévi.
“The staff of the several brands immediately started to figure out not why, but concentrated rather on how they would work together”, he concluded.
New working spaces are being finalised at Stellantis House to adapt to the changing working conditions brought about by the Corona pandemic.
Strong market position… and investing in the future.
Stellantis Belux has an enviable market position in Belgium and Luxembourg with a market share of 23,07 %.
The Stellantis Group is further focused on investing in new technologies: the planned total investment in electrification and software will exceed 30 billion € between 2021 and 2025.
Stellantis targets to continue to be 30 % more efficient than the industry. This figure is based on the simple aggregation of capital expenditure and R & D spent by PSA and FCA, as a percentage of industrial revenues; this is then compared to the average of 6 large OEM competitors over the period 2017-2020.
EV launches were 11 models in 2021, and this will be not less than 22 models in 2022…
It expects also its LEV mix to grow fast. For Europe, it forecasts the LEV share of total passenger car and LCV sales to rise from 14 to not less than 70 %, for the US market, the corresponding figures would be a rise from 4 % to 40 %.
Earlier this month, actually on December 7, Stellantis announced that it targets about € 20 Billion in Incremental Annual Revenues by 2030 Driven by Software-Enabled Vehicles.
Indeed, it mapped out its software strategy to deploy next-generation tech platforms, building on existing connected vehicle capabilities to transform how customers interact with their vehicles, and to generate approximately €20 billion in incremental annual revenues by 2030.
This transformation will move Stellantis’ vehicles from today’s dedicated electronic architectures to an open software-defined platform that seamlessly integrates with customers’ digital lives. It greatly expands the options customers have to add innovative features and services via regular over-the-air (OTA) updates keeping vehicles fresh, exciting and updated years after they have been built.
We will come in detail back on this in a special report later. In the next report about this press conference we will focus on further presentations on what the different Stellantis brands will have in store for 2022…