We drove the Peugeot 508 SW Sport Engineered: your passionate Lion…

There are cars which make the life of a car journalist truly wonderful. This time it’s being behind the weel of the “Sport Engineered” Peugeot  508. What is this? You might ask. Well, there is since decades an active high performance division at Peugeot, called PEUGEOT SPORT ENGINEERED. Over recent years, this department has acquired considerable experience in marrying the power and performance of combustion engines with the unique characteristics of e-power. They have proven themselves time and time again: in international competitions such as the WRC (World RallyChampionship), DAKAR, Pikes Peak or the WEC (Word EnduranceChampionship), with the development of the 208 FE concept in 2013 (46 g CO2/km – 0/100in 8.2s) and the 308 R HYbrid in 2015 (500 bhp – 720 Nm – 0/100 in 4.0s).

At the same time as the launch of this SPORT ENGINEERED label, PEUGEOT is announcing its return to the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in the LMH (Le MansHypercar) top category this year.

So the 508 sedan and SW – the version which we tested here – is their first technical showcase and indeed their first chapter in series production under its new label.

With these cars, with a newfound alliance between sportiness and technology, PEUGEOT is – so they say – reinventing the codes for renewed performance, a responsible performance: they call it “Neo-Performance.” The signature of this new line with 3 Kryptonite claws refers to PEUGEOT SPORT’s new identity, to the light signatures of the production models and is drawing inspiration from the brand’s heritage with the rear lights from the iconic PEUGEOT 504 Coupé.

But let’s now have a closer look at this 508. It’s the most powerful production car ever built by PEUGEOT.

The powertrain can reach 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque by combining thermal and electrical energy.  This level of performance is unprecedented for the brand:  0 to 100 km/h in merely 5.2s, 1000 m DA in 24.5s, 80 to 120 km/h in 3s, finally last but not least a maximum speed of 250 km/h (electronically controlled). Need we say more?

Indeed, there are two electric motors besides the 1,6 liter combustion engine, making this 508 also a 4WD. The combustion engine – the well proven 1.6-litre PureTech turbo petrol unit – produces 197bhp, the front motor adds 108bhp, while the rear electric motor is good for 111bhp.

We can tell you, power comes totally unfussy, smooth and plentiful through the 8 speed transmission, and makes this 508 a truly superb car. Of course the gentlemen engineers at Peugeot took also proper care of the handling. These SPORT ENGINEERING series 508’s have an optimized chassis.

They fine tuned first and for all the variable shock absorber setups (Comfort/Hybrid/Sport), the springs are 50 per cent stiffer compared with the 508 Hybrid. They  widened the tracks by 24 mm at the front and 12 mm at the rear. For extra stopping power, they fitted 380 mm diameter front brake discs and fixed four-piston calipers, the 20-inch diameter alloys are shod with Michelin© Pilot Sport 4S tires.

The result is dynamic, precise, predictable handling. You can really throw this 508 around, and it displays up to the limit uncanny stability. What a wonderful Gran Turismo this car truly is.

Does this car move boundaries when it comes to combining efficiently super performance with docility and refined smoothness? It certainly does. But there is more…

Efficient and versatile…

Indeed, that is not all. It is also very versatile in combining e-power in various ways with the panache of a high performance combustion engine. Just note that the 8-speed automatic transmission controls the engine and the front e-motor.

With a mode selector on the centre console, and this lets you choose between 5 driving modes:

Electric: for smooth 100% electric driving in total silence, with a range of 42 km according to WLTP. This makes your 508 future proof, giving you access to the green zones in urban areas. But the sweetness of e-power is well known: it provides instant acceleration thanks to the ample and immediate pulling power of the electric engines fore and aft, and this from 0 km/h to 140 km/h.

Comfort: this is the hybrid mode with softened suspensions for sedate, restful “high comfort”driving.

Hybrid: this mode mode automatically selects combustion or electric power depending on the circumstances with a distinct bias towards optimized consumption.

Sport: maximum power of 360 hp for ultimate driving pleasure! This mode also affects steering, shock absorption, accelerator pedal mapping and adjusts digitally engine responsiveness and torque characteristics. The combustion engine also keeps the battery charged for maximum power at all times.

 4WD: maximum traction for slippery grip situations.

So the 508 ideally suits your driving moods… and is indeed literally very transporting when driven in “sport” mode. It then leaves very little to be desired, and the extra pulling power of the electric motors delivers rather formidable intermediate accelerations. We already mentioned it: you will sprint from 80 to 120 km/h in merely 3 seconds… Ok, your ears are not enjoying the sound of a high revving straight six, but all the performance is there!

Indeed, this 508 SW we drove literally stormed uphill and from one sharp bend to another, well reined by excellent brakes and a responsive suspension and chassis.

In addition to its 4-wheel drive, the 508 SPORT ENGINEERED comes with all the driving aids available within the PEUGEOT 508 range: night vision, adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, lane departure warning system, automatic emergency braking.

Sporting accents inside and out

That you are driving a very special 508 should also be noticed, and indeed it does:  the aerodynamic design of the bodywork is further enhanced with a sharp grille, rakish front bumper, scoops and Kryptonite monogram. In the sides of the car you find also the three foils with specific decorative elements, the three claws again on the front wing on the SW.

At the rear you will find electrolytic treated black exhaust outlets, black gloss central diffuser, last but not least 20-inch wheels fitted with MICHELIN© Pilot Sport 4S tires, with yellow painted PEUGEOT SPORT Kryptonite front brake calipers.

The PEUGEOT i-Cockpit® comes into its own with a compact steering wheel featuring the three Kryptonite claws, and a 100% digital head-up display. We just loved the compact steering wheel, adding greatly to the zest and personality of the car when you are behind the wheel.

The i-Cockpit® graphic animations and the central 10″ HD screen have adopted the label’s signature too.

The upholstery of the “comfort-fit” seats also has a distinctive look we liked very much with a tasteful and photogenic mix of leather, 3D mesh and Alcantara©. The passenger compartment is decorated with double Tramontane grey and Kryptonite stitching. The FOCAL® Hi-Fi audio system, which is certainly a delight to listen to, is also supplied as standard.

Conclusion

An elegant car with loads of panache, yet delivering this almost supercar performance with a hint of understatement. This Peugeot is comfortable and practical too, able also to shine in everyday use. You have good seating comfort and room also at the rear, and 530 litres of luggage space in the standard configuration.

As the graph clearly shows, this high performance estate can also be quite frugal… max 6 l/100 km in relaxed driving conditions!

On top of that this Peugeot goes through daily life as a hybrid, with all the consumption and tax advantages that entails. The Peugeot Sport Engineering also is quite original, and its e-efficiency is a good argument to win you over…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Kia EV6: a top EV car with lots of panache…

Soon after the elegant Ioniq 5, we could take the Kia EV6 for an extended test drive, and as both cars ride on the same E-GMP or Electric-Global Modular Platform, a comparison between the two cars is inevitable. Let it be said, also this EV6 scores very high indeed, and has the same excellent qualities and futuristic aura than its four wheeled sister, albeit altogether a bit sportier.

We drove the EV6 GT Line, pleasing the eye with its 20 inch alloys, its snow white pearl paint and black interior with white and aluminum accents and alcantara/leather seats.

Our test car was the rear wheel drive version with 168 kW/229 Hp motor and the 77,4 kWh battery. More than enough for exhilarating performance and an impressive range…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

More rounded, organic styling…

The Kia distinguishes itself from the angular lines of the Ioniq 5 by offering more fluent lines, reminiscent of the last Saab, Jaguar I Pace, and the likes. The rear end with the built in spoiler and the tail light running across the car is reminiscent of Porsches, with the curves of the rear lid shaped as a spoiler being even more outspoken. The panache of the whole car varies with the paint color chosen, and we like the pearl white finish of our car here, although we think the car looks even more stunning in a matte grey finish. A beautiful, well proportioned car it certainly is.

In the interior one has the same two big screens with identical digital instrumentation and infotainment layout, and we enjoyed also the same excellent head up display we found in the Ioniq 5.

But the shape of the centre console is different, has more curves and is a bit more adventurous. You have lots of space for your drinks, bottles and sundry, and a round selector knob for Drive, Neutral and Reverse instead of the rotating stick in the steering column in the Ioniq 5.

The car and its touch screens is simple and intuitive to use, and typical for Kia is the well designed centre console, where you can toggle between heating/ventilation or audio controls. You find your way in a breeze.

The seats are excellent; the front seats also fully recline as in the Ioniq 5, so you can have a (short) nap when you recharge the car. The rear seat backrests are also adjustable.

With a 2,9 meter wheelbase, there is plenty of legroom both in the front and especially in the rear, with slightly less headroom for the rear passengers than the Ioniq 5, but this is still more than enough if you are less than 1,90 m tall. Standard boot space is 520 litres, extendable to 1300 litres.    

Our test car came with the drive assist pack, which included the autonomous parking aid, the 360 ° camera view and as said the very easy to read head up display. The large and wide EV6 is therefore a pleasure to drive and park in town. The additional cameras are necessary, as the overall visibility of the bodywork is not so good, especially to the rear.  

Impressive performance and handling…

The 229 HP EV6 delivers punchy performance: it sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 7,3 seconds, and quite frankly, who needs more? The top speed is limited to 185 km/h. You have the choice between three driving modes, from “Eco” to “Sport”, and with the paddles on the steering column you can choose the amount of energy recuperation and also opt for automatic braking to standstill.  The brakes are sensitive and progressive.  

The suspension of the EV6 is sportier and firmer than the Ionic 5. The EV6 is slightly less comfortable, but never harsh, and has less body roll when driven with verve on winding roads. The car is neutral with an understeer bias, is very stable in fast corners and has excellent straight line stability up to its top speed.      

You would like even more performance? The EV6 can also be had with an extra motor driving the front wheels, and total power in this 4WD layout is 239 kW/325 PS. If you want nothing less than supercar performance, it is good to know that in autumn, Kia will present a GT version with some 430 kW/585 PS. This results in an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 3,5 seconds, with a top speed of not less than 260 km/h…

With a very big range, up to a good 500 km…

Our test car came also with a heat pump, costing less energy to heat and cool things. The EV6 is remarkably frugal, and it is no effort at all to achieve an average consumption of around 18-19 kWh per 100 km. This means that in practice, this EV6 has indeed a useable range of some 500 km, and that is no small feat! According to the WLTP norm, the distance is 528 km.

The EV6 runs – like the Ioniq 5 – on a 800 V system, and this means not only the possibility of using thinner cables and therefore gaining weight, but it also means larger load capacities and shorter recharging times. Even in less than ideal circumstances, you can recharge your EV6 in about 30 minutes to run another 380 kilometers.

 Like the Ionic 5, the EV6 has also a Vehicle-to-load-Function, which means an extra external plug to power lamps, microwaves, cookers when you are camping out, and you could even charge (with patience) another EV with it! You just need the small adapter which I housed in the front luggage bin, (called “Frunk”) under the engine cover lid, which contains some 52 liters of luggage space.

Conclusion

The EV6 is a top class EV, certainly when one considers its price tag. Our test car in the GT Line equipment level came with the Drive Assist Pack and the Premium pack, which included a 14 speaker Meridian Sound System together with the Head-Up display. It also had a panoramic sunroof, heat pump (1200 Euros extra) and 20-inch alloy wheels. The total price including VAT was 59.990 Euros. On top of that it is roomy, has stunning looks and offers sportiness. Last but not least, the range is superb and thanks to the 800 V system its recharging times are short. Indeed, also this Kia EV6 paves the way to a bright EV future…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes drives the luxury experience to new levels…

What is the most important desire for customers in the future of luxurious individual mobility?

 Mercedes found out that today’s customers are increasingly viewing luxury through the lens of values and benefits that extend beyond physical experiences. They are seeking priceless commodities such as time and want to show responsibility with their choices.

A LiDAR that sits in the radiator grille is essential for Mercedes-Benz for safe, conditionally automated driving.

As the leading luxury car brand, Mercedes-Benz is consistently driving the luxury experience to new levels. So it gives it new meaning for the electric and digital age – achieving more with less.

Driven by the innovative spirit firmly anchored in its brand DNA, and by its strategic goals of “Lead in electric” and “Lead in car software”, Mercedes-Benz is pioneering the electric and digital transformation of the global auto industry.

If the vehicle is in DRIVE PILOT mode, this is displayed in the instrument cluster with the corresponding assistance graphic.

The most recent proof of this is the Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX. The most efficient Mercedes ever built is a blueprint for the future of efficiency of electric vehicles and also a masterclass in a radically new approach to the UI/UX driven by software and artificial intelligence.

If DRIVE PILOT is activated, the driver may take his hands off the steering wheel and turn to certain secondary activities.

With DRIVE PILOT, Mercedes-Benz became the first automotive manufacturer in the world to receive the world’s first internationally valid system approval for conditionally automated driving (SAE-Level 3).

Before DRIVE PILOT can be activated, the availability of the system is displayed via a white flashing in the control elements.

Mercedes recently released some photos about their latest research and already working solutions. We lift a glimpse here of this bold new future…

More (technical) and driving news soon from the brand with the iconic star!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) and Alpine create a hydrogen concept car…  

Students at the Italian Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) presented the ‘A4810 Project by IED’, their new concept car made in collaboration with Alpine. The result of this collaboration between the Italian design school and Alpine is a hydrogen-powered two-seater supercar.

Twenty-eight Masters students studying Transportation Design at IED worked on the project.

Alpine proposed the students to design a ‘super berlinette’ for the year 2035. The two-seater supercar was designed to be a high-performing vehicle both in terms of performance and environmental impact.

After the brief was given last autumn, students worked individually to come up with their own interpretation and present it to the Alpine designers. Alpine then selected a combination of two main ideas. Based on the two selected proposals, the young designers created the ‘A4810 Project by IED’: a light yet powerful and agile concept car that boasts pure driving pleasure.

During the design phase, the students sought to combine vision and innovation, without losing sight of the traditional roots of the French car manufacturer.

Furthermore, they chose a name that conveyed the brand’s legacy. In fact, ‘4810’ is the height (in meters) of the Mont Blanc: the highest and most emblematic peak in the Alps that sits at the border between Italy and France, like a bridge connecting IED and Alpine. The car manufacturer is named after the very same mountains and evokes the joy of driving along their winding roads.

A STUNNING LOOKING CONCEPT CAR

The Alpine A4810 Project by IED (length 5,091 mm – width 2,010 mm – height 1,055 mm – wheelbase 2,717 mm) is a two-seater supercar with the experimental combination of the shape of a berlinette with a hydrogen powertrain.

While the engine and fuel tanks are built like those on a typical hypercar, the subtraction process is proof of considerable innovation. The design alternates between empty and full spaces, giving the vehicle a lightweight look and aerodynamic features inspired by Formula 1 models. Furthermore, the A4810 Project by IED was tasked with bringing the brand to the cusp of the sports car category.

The team of students used digital tools to design the interior through sketches, 3D models, renderings, animations, and HMI (Human Machine Interface) development.

The A4810 Project by IED was presented on Friday, 18th March with a livestream broadcast from OGR Tech in Turin. For more info, please visit www.iedA4810.makeitlive.it.

Just click your way to Alpine’s sporty future, and in the meantime, have a look at the photos…!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW presents details of the future BMW 7 Series

The distinctive grille of the new 7 series will get an extra light signature…

At the BMW Group Annual Conference held on March 16, Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development, presented the first details of the future BMW 7 Series.

The focus lies initially on technology highlights, a new front-end design based on hallmark BMW design features and a unique interior experience consisting of digital features and exclusive materials. In April, BMW will present the all-electric BMW i7, and with it the entire new BMW 7 Series.

In the BMW i7, the characteristic design elements of twin round headlights and BMW grille have been completely reinterpreted. Some of the special design statements are upper light elements made of exclusive crystal glass and the illuminated contour of the kidney grille.

BMW developed also a new “My Modes” and the latest generation of the iDrive operating system. My Modes enable the driver to precisely customise the car’s driving characteristics and interior ambience. In addition to the BMW Curved Display, a new type of light and function strip on the instrument panel and the doors provides a visual and haptic quality.

The BMW Interaction Bar is part of the ambient lighting and also features integrated control buttons. In addition, the newly developed Sky Lounge panoramic glass roof adds to the feeling of spaciousness.

Cinema entertainment for the rear passengers…

The rear of the BMW i7 sets new entertainment standards offering a unique cinematic experience. There is a BMW Theatre Screen, which moves out of the roof liner, an ultra-wide screen with a 31 inch screen, 32 : 9 panoramic display format and 8K streaming resolution. It transforms the rear seats into an exclusive, private cinema lounge where passengers can select their personal entertainment programme from a diverse range of streaming offers!

More BMW news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Hyundai Ioniq 5: an EV beyond your expectations…  

The Ioniq 5 is elegant with its retro-futuristic style…

There are cars which make a mark in history. Such a car is certainly also the Ioniq 5. In the EV-segment, its retro-futuristic style make it really stand out. This also goes for the interior. Brimming with superb and clever solutions, the Ioniq 5 is nothing less than a game changer. It is the first car for me where you really get the feeling of driving a car of the future, and this is already by just looking at the graphics of the instruments in front of you.

Behind the wheel, the future smiles at you

And then we have said nothing about the way you sit in it, what space you have and how it drives, handles and performs…and how much it (only) costs.  It moves boundaries, for sure. Just read on.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Hyundai created for its electric cars a proper sub-brand: Ioniq. Now it has created the car which can justifiably be called the iconic ambassador of this brand: de Ioniq 5. This uniquely styled car (we truly love it) is classified as a CUV, or Crossover Utility Vehicle.

It runs on a totally new, dedicated platform, which Hyundai has specially developed for its electric cars. The so-called Electric Global Modular Platform or E-GMP. This platform comprises the chassis of the vehicle including the battery, motor and power electric system, and its scalable wheelbase allows it to form the backbone of many different vehicles. Indeed, Hyundai has great plans with it: it will underpin the Ioniq 6, which will be launched in the middle of this year. This will be an electric sports limousine. Then followed in 2024 by the Ioniq 7, a “classic” large SUV.

When it comes to EV’s, Hyundai is ambitious. It wants to have a technological top position in the EV-market by 2025. All this doesn’t seem to be unrealistic. The Hyundai Kona already impresses with impressive EV efficiency.

The electronic architecture of this platform also sets new benchmarks. Its 800V charging capability enables super-fast charging. In just five minutes the battery can charge enough for a range of 100km, and that is one of the very strong points of this Ioniq. With a 350-kW charger, the IONIQ 5 can charge from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes.

But there are more advantages offered by this platform. It enables total freedom in vehicle design. Designed exclusively for BEV’s, it has no transmission tunnel at all. A completely flat floor is an ideal playground for (interior) designers. So explains Vice President of design, Haksoo Ha: “The innovative platform means we can design for greater productivity in transit,” and “Seats reclining to a near-horizontal will provide a ‘zero gravity’ experience and will open up endless configuration opportunities.”

Indeed, the front seats convert into first class sleeping seats. Ideal when on a longer evening trip you can take a power nap when your Ioniq is quickly recharging to bring you home…  

There is no transmission tunnel, the front centre console can be moved backward, so front legroom is also limitless sideways.

Also in the back there is ample legroom, last but not least because of the Ioniq’s long 3 meter wheelbase. With the absence of the transmission tunnel, it seats three grownups relatively comfortable at the rear. The back seat can also be inclined and moved fore and aft! Indeed, the well proportioned and elegant Ioniq is big. It is 4,64 meters long, and 1,89 meter wide. Its boot offers 531 l space in standard setup, and with the rear backrests down, a maximum space of 1591 l is available.

Under the front hood, above the electric motor, you find a neat box with its lid having the appearance of an engine cover. When you drive the two wheel version of the Ioniq 5, this box offers 57 liters, with the 4WD version this is “only” 24 liters.

But let’s turn to the stylish dashboard. Notwithstanding its futuristic clean architecture with two wide screens, it is surprisingly intuitive to use, and you really don’t need an instruction manual to put all its functions to work. Beneath the central touchscreen you find the heating/ventilation functions, with classic buttons and controls.

Under the hood…

The E-GMP platform allows a wide choice of drivetrain combinations. The Ioniq 5 can be had with one or two electric motors, resulting in rear wheel drive or 4WD as the second motor drives the front wheels, and two battery capacities, 58 or 72,6 kW respectively.

Total available power ranges from 125 kW/170 HP to 225 kW/, with the top version accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 5,2 seconds. Top speed is for all the power versions limited to 185 km/h.

Our test car had the 160 kW/217 HP engine, developing 350 Nm of torque. This resulted in an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 7,4 seconds, coupled with the 72,6 kW battery. Consumption according to WLTP standards is 16,8 kWh/100 km, with a range of some 481 km. Range anxiety is in the light of the fast recharging capacities a thing of the past…

On a 101 km triip with dense traffic at varying speeds, we clocked a consumption of 16,1 kWh…

The larger battery also allows you to tow greater loads, up to 1600 kg for our test car…

Did you know that the Ioniq 5 also has a 230 V external plug adapter? It’s so-called “V2L” function in the car can also supply up to 3.6 kW of power. So when you are out in the open, and want to charge your laptop or use a spot light or portable fridge or recharge the battery of your electric bike, the Ioniq 5 helps you out…

The Ioniq 5 has of course the usual driving modes, from Eco to sport, and you have also two paddles at the steering wheel which allow you to choose the degree of E-recuperation when you lift the throttle. During our test, we used mostly the level 3 position, which we felt delivered the right deceleration, and with some experience, we managed to drive around town and on the open road without ever touching the brake pad pedal at all…

Driving is (again) believing…

Driving with the Ioniq 5 is nothing short of delightful. Twist the ring on the selector stick a click forward in “D” and there you go. The Head-up-Display with Augmented-Reality-Function is ultra visible and shows what you need to know. Progress is silent and smooth. The suspension is also quite comfortable, and the Ioniq seems literally to float over the road surface. Body roll is virtually absent and the suspension is not too soft either, but copes rather well with potholes and ridges.

This is your ideal mount for long urban and/or Gran Turismo trips. Handling is also much more precise and nimble than one would expect from a two-tonne car, but the low gravity point of the battery package results in impeccable and stable cornering. We found also the lane assist functioning very smoothly, and we liked also the electronic displays of blind spots when you operate the left or right indicator. A wonderful solution!

The Ioniq 5 is large, but just be surprised with us, this Ioniq offers distance parking! Just press the symbol on the key, and the Ioniq 5 will sweetly drive itself into or out of a narrow parking space. 

The superb smoothness and acoustic refinement of the Ioniq is further enhanced with a superb Bose audio system, and Classic Music and Jazz buffs as we are, our ears also enjoyed every ride…

Conclusion

Style, grace, space, this Ioniq has it all; add to this the panache in the design details of headlamps and rear lights, in ’80 retro futuristic fashion. It really stands out.

Also the 20 inch alloys are elegant and aerodynamically efficient. This Hyundai has been carefully thought out, is wonderfully designed with no detail being overlooked. Add to this the efficient motors, the impressive recharging capacity, the generous space, and you understand our enthusiasm. You will also be smiling when you see the price of the Ioniq 5 in whatever version you choose.

Hard to beat? We should think so. Except maybe by the Kia EV6, running on the same platform and using the same technology, which we are driving at the moment of writing, and of which you will also read our driving impressions soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel    

Kia presents 2030 roadmap to become global sustainable mobility leader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Opel Grandland Plug-in Hybrid: electrified with style and punch…

In the stormy February days, the new Opel Grandland stood admirably its ground against the elements…

My love affair with Opel really dates a long time back. To 1968, to be exact. As a university student studying law and economics, I replaced my father on a press trip in the South of France to test the sleek Opel 1900 GT fastback two seater. It was designed by Opel stylist Erhard Schnell, who had taken the ’67 Corvette as a model, and had the 1,9 litre single overhead cam four cylinder under its long bonnet. I remember driving it with verve over the twisty roads of the Massif de l’Estérel, as I did now with the DS9. It was bullet fast and nimble to me, as I remember it.

The Opels then had already plenty of panache and character. Then came the Commodore GS Coupés, the Manta’s, even the big Admirals and V8 Diplomats. They were appealing, rock solid and fast. All this good qualities came back at the wheel of the Opel Grandland Hybrid.

The “Blitz” or lightning still adorns the Opel emblem…

Stylish, with the new Opel Vizor front grille, the Opel has a distinctive and very clean, contemporary character. The dashboard and infotainment displays are an example of less is more, and indeed are just “right” for everyday driving. It also embodies the no nonsense approach of Opel. But it is mostly in the way this Grandland steers and drives that my good Opel memories came back. It invites you to adopt an active driving style, due to its overall responsiveness and handling. Again the car also feels solid and well built, for years to come, is roomy and has this unmistakable Opel “no nonsense” character.  But just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Dual tone paintwork and the glass panorama roof on our test car add panache…

The elegant Grandland rolls of the Opel assembly lines in Eisenach, and certainly pleases from any angle. Your servant liked especially the dual tone paintwork, also a typical hallmark of the Grandland…

The stylish Vizor front grille houses high-tech, such as the adaptive IntelliLux LED® Pixel Light. The light focus is adapted to every bend and corner, the beam has always the optimum range and cuts out uncoming traffic in seconds. While we are talking about the electronic wizardry in this Opel, let’s continue a bit on this subject.

The Vizor front grille houses the adaptive IntelliLux LED® Pixel Light.

Indeed, this Opel also includes Night Vision. This system is found amongst others also on the DS4. The system’s infrared camera detects people and animals up to 100 metres ahead of the Grandland in the direction of travel, based on their temperature difference from the surroundings. Night Vision warns the driver and shows the position of pedestrians, for example, in the digital Driver Info Center in the new “Pure Panel.” See also how the system works on YouTube, link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djieXHE9iBM&list=RDCMUCSr5PuKiJ5Zi00zfsiT-7jA&index=1

Also new in combination with 8-speed automatic transmission is Highway Integration Assist. The adaptive cruise control will brake to a standstill if necessary. Thanks to “Stop & Go”, the Grandland with Highway Integration Assist will also automatically resume driving from this standstill.

Intuitive and relaxing: The Opel Pure Panel cockpit.

The customizable screen in front of the driver gives you to the point information…

Two wide screens in a single unit form the Opel Pure Panel. There is the so called “Driver info Center”, a 12 inch screen right in front of you, and a 10 inch central touchscreen which is also turned towards the driver. Of course, the two screens can be personalized to your taste. In the driver’s central field of vision, there are now menu entries for the new Night Vision camera as well as for drowsiness warning, oil temperature and on-board computer settings.

The centre display can show the energy flow, but also the eSave function and charging as well as consumption statistics…

Further details on audio or navigation, which were previously only displayed on the infotainment system monitor, can now also be selected via the Driver Info Center, and on the Hybrid version we tested, the display of the energy flow can also be seen on the display straight ahead of you.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible multimedia infotainment systems up to Multimedia Navi Pro is of course also available.

We loved the “less is more” approach in the screen layouts, and the intuitive way everything could be used.

Behind the wheel…

A smooth 8 speed auto box and the choice between three drive modes: “Electric”, “Hybrid”, “Sport”

Stepping into the Grandland SUV is a breeze as it sits a bit higher, and you are welcomed in ergonomic active seats for drivers and front passengers certified by the “Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V.” (campaign for healthy backs). Indeed, they support you very well, and offer a wide range of adjustments, from electric seat tilt to electro-pneumatic lumbar support. They offer heating and in the leather trim even ventilation.

The Hybrid Grandland has, as we said, the same 8 speed auto box we find in the DS E-Tense versions for example, and this is a smooth one indeed. It is mated here to the also familiar four cylinder 1598 cc engine we find back in other Stellantis Group models, delivering here an impressive 133 kW/180 hp at a sporty 6000 rpm.

A total system power of 165 kW…

But of course, the Hybrid is assisted by an electric motor driving the front wheels, developing 81.2 kW/110 hp @ 2500 rpm. Total system power is 165 kW/224 hp, which is even 15 hp more than the 1964 3,4 litre six cylinder Jaguar Mk II which I now own for almost 40 years. You can understand that the performance is nothing short of exhilarating: 0 to 100 km/h is absolved in 8,9 seconds, top speed is 225 km/h, with 135 km/h reached on the electric motor alone.

Overall liveliness is however even more the result from the massive torque the Opel driver has at his or her disposal: the 1,6 litre direct injection turbo engine is already good for 300 Nm at 3000 rpm, but it is of course the electric motor developing 320 Nm over a broad range between 500 and 2500 rpm which makes all the difference. This pulling power is smoothly transferred to the front wheels by the automatic transmission, and this makes this Opel an absolute joy to drive, whether in tight urban traffic or on open winding roads. We rediscovered the Opel DNA, and absolutely loved it. The engine is barealy audible, only a subdued sporty roar is heard when one is pushing (very) hard.

Driving this 1,8 tonne car enthusiastically in “sport” mode costs energy, and therefore the test consumption suffered somewhat. Making rather dynamic (urban) errands cost us some 8 litres/100 km, topped with some extra kW’s in the process, but suffice to say that the consumption of a plug-in Hybrid depends greatly how you use it and recharge it, we said this already so many times. You can of course choose between different driving modes (“Electric”, “Hybrid”, “Sport”), and when you frequently recharge your Grandland, you will hardly consume any fuel at all. If the driver shifts the automatic transmission to drive mode B, this recuperation and the braking torque are further intensified, and there is also an “E-save” function which allows you to save the battery power to use it later when driving/entering in town areas.  The function can be set via the colour touchscreen of the infotainment system.

According to WLTP, the fuel consumption is 1.8-1.3 l/100 km, kWh consumption lies between 17.5-15.0. The E-range varies between 64-53 km. CO2 emisisions vary between 41-29 g/km. The Hybrid version has a lithium-ion battery with 13.2 kWh capacity. Charging time at an AC household socket with mode 2 cable is some 7 h 30 min.

The suspension is taut without being uncomfortable, conveying this typical “German car” feel, or, shall we say “Opel” character? It is quite busy on our bad Belgian and Flemish roads, which manage to have much pore potholes, ridges and irregularities than (many) other European countries. The result of the rather firm setup is that this Opel steers precise, and invites you to a dynamic driving style. On motorways the Opel Grandland is masterfully stable, and really feels in its element.

Practical

Opels are made to excel in daily (family) use, and offer the roominess to do it. Boot capacity varies between 390-1528 litres. You can order a sensor-controlled tailgate that can be opened and closed by a movement of the foot under the rear bumper. Here, too, the unlocking settings and opening angle of the power tailgate can be customised via the corresponding menus in the colour touchscreen. Doorbins are large, and also the central console offers good stowaway possibilities.

The Opel Grandland is elegant with a clean, contemporary styling language…

Conclusion

The Grandland PHEV has all the good, iconic Opel qualities. Very practical and simple to use, it is inviting in its responsiveness and agility, giving you genuine driving pleasure every time you take the wheel. The performance is impressive, but altogether smooth and effortless. The Grandland feels taut and stable, the finish and quality of the materials used is impeccable, the car is practical, has this unique no nonsense character, and is on top of all that is very stylish indeed.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the DS9 E-TENSE 4×4 360 in Nice: style, elegance and smooth high performance…

The French automakers have a unique tradition of building “Grandes Routières”, distinctive in style, comfort and performance. DS Automobiles takes this custom to new heights in this electronic times and age, putting also their vast experience gained over recent years in E-formula racing into their automobiles.

The result is the E-TENSE 4×4 360. A 4-cylinder 200 horsepower engine and two electric motors, one 110 horsepower (integrated with the gearbox at the front) and the other 113 horsepower (linked to the rear axle), are aided by intelligent four-wheel drive transmission. The 11.9 kWh battery features advanced management to save energy so as to handle different applications, says DS Automobiles.

The result is of course breathtaking performance, not in the least thanks to the ample torque developed by the two electric motors. 0-100 km/h takes only 5.6 seconds, top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h, with the capability of reaching 140 km/h on electric power alone. Total torque, engine and E-motors combined is an impressive 520 Nm.

The figures displayed here at the press conference about the DS9 E-Tense 360 tell it all…

But there is more than just sophisticated power. It means also that the DS9 is designed to combine the virtues of E-power with combustion power to achieve the environmentally responsible footprint of a modern, electrified high end performance limousine.

At the morning press briefing before we took the cars on the road on a well chosen 148 course around Nice, Christophe Château of Product Communication DS Automobiles explained us a unique feature of the DS9, which put us in the footsteps of the E-formula racing pilots: the “Energy Coach”, an exclusive app installed on the DS9.

On the 148 km long varied test course, your servant managed a score of 92 % recuperation of kinetic energy!

Developed with DS Performance and double Formula E champion Jean-Éric Vergne, the DS ENERGY COACH app helps drivers to maximize energy regeneration during deceleration. Scores are shown on the central screen. The trick is to fine tune your pressure on the brake pedal, so that the brakes are not activated and all the kinetic energy is transformed again into E-energy. It takes clever anticipation to achieve this in all traffic situations. The Formula E-drivers have to do this too, to enable them to have sufficient battery power for these last extra fast laps in the final stages of the race…

Your servant decided to have a go at this, and indeed, while being totally unfamiliar with a very mixed course comprising sharp bends on the corniches in the beautiful Estérel, the autoroutes and the city streets in Cannes and Nice, I managed a score of 92 %, meaning that 92 % of the kinetic energy in all my decelerations was transformed into E-energy. By doing this, we still maintained a rather brisk pace, as we had to respect the “moyenne” or average speed because we had to be back at the starting point of the course at 12.00 h to have lunch and attend the second press conference in the afternoon. I had to hurry even slightly more as I had to allow also some time to take some photos you see here.

So the DS9 was driven with verve over the winding roads on the cornices, and here I discovered again how well the comfortable suspension behaves in these conditions. We already applauded in our previous test of the DS9 225 the merits of the DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION, which scans the road ahead of you to fine tune the suspension to an ideal setting to cope with the road surface irregularities immediately in front of you. You can see a 1 minute You Tube film by DS automobiles on this system with the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE-1MolcvAI

Indeed, remaining stable and predictable as on rails with virtually no body roll in corners, the DS9 remained utterly comfortable.

This slide shows the modifications made by DS Performance on the DS9 4 x 4 360…

The DS 9 E-TENSE 4×4 360 uses special front and rear axles with a wider track. The braking system is uprated with four-piston calipers for better power distribution under heavy braking with 380 x 32 mm discs at the front (up by 50 x 2 mm compared with DS 9 E-TENSE 225) and 290 x 12 mm at the rear. 20 inch MUNICH alloys are used and the suspension is lowered.

We could not measure exactly due to time pressure our consumption on the trip, but suffice to say here that after 148 kilometers, only a quarter of the small 41 litre petrol tank was emptied…boiling down probably to a fuel consumption of some 7 litres/100 km, with also a good 15 % of the battery still remaining charged. 

In zero emissions mode, the DS 9 E-TENSE 4×4 360 covers 52 kilometres on the WLTP urban cycle or 47 kilometres on the WLTP combined cycle.

According to the WLTP Cycle, fuel consumption is restricted to 1.8 litre / 100km with homologated CO2 emissions of 41 g/km.

During our trip, we (re)discovered what an excellent GT this car really is, indeed a totally relaxing and an undisturbed joy to drive. The 1598 cm3 engine remains quiet, subdued and refined, aided by the smooth 8 speed automatic transmission. Last but not least we tell you here that the 360 is available in PERFORMANCE LINE + and RIVOLI + specifications.

The DS9 250…

With this car, we rediscovered the DS9 we tested earlier (see our report on https://autoprova.be/2022/01/29/we-drove-the-ds9-e-tense-225-french-elegance-and-panache/) with the total system power now raised to 250 HP. This DS has only front wheel drive, and somewhat lesser performance: 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) in 8.2 seconds, a maximum top speed of 149 mph (240 km/h). But it still remains a superb car, and in daily driving practice, apart from the delightful out-of-corner accelerations of the most powerful 360, driving impressions on the sunny dry road course at the Côte d’Azur were not radically different. Suffice to say that total torque, engine and electric motor combined, is here still some 360 Nm.

According to WLTP, fuel consumption is 1,5 l/100 km, the electric range on its 15.6 kWh (total capacity) battery is up to 61 kilometers on the WLTP combined cycle with an unchanged vehicle weight.

The DNA of DS…

Superb quality of materials, intricate stitching and styling, is the DNA of DS Automobiles…

At the lunch, your servant had a very interesting conversation with Alexandre Stricher, (communication Brand and Prototype DS Performance), who applauded me on my achieved results on the ENERGY COACH app. “I wish every owner of the DS9 would adopt your driving style”, he complimented. Our conversation then drifted to the unique styling language which defines DS Automobiles, being a crucial element of their DNA. I remarked that the angular styling touches in the interior and instrumentation layout are reminiscent of the “art deco” styling language and rakish shapes found amongst others in Voisin automobiles.

Alexandre Stricher, (communication Brand and Prototype DS Performance), speaking at the afternoon press conference…

My conversation partner agreed. “A refined, elegant styling language and the use of unique materials and (stitching) patterns is what we are aiming for. We want to differentiate ourselves from the competition as a young, up market brand, combining a sense for refinement in styling and used materials with superb electrified technology,” he told me.

 “But there is more, much more, he said with a smile in his eyes. “What to think of 800 hp? an acceleration of 0 to 100 km/h in less than 2 seconds? 

And during the press conference, he revealed the E-Tense Supercar, of which much more in a separate report…

Last but not least, seen here on the photo above, Dominique Fontignies, PR & Communications director – Stellantis Belux, briefed us about the situation for DS Automobiles on the Belgian market.

We show you here the slide with the sales figures, which speak for themselves…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Stéphane Lefebvre wins Haspengouw Rally with the Citroën C3 Rally2 from DG Sports…

BELGIAN CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1 HASPENGOUW RALLY 2022, won by Stéphane Lefebvre-Xavier Portier Citroen C3 RC2 Rally 2

The Rally of Haspengouw last Saturday proved a magnificent opener of the Kroon-Oil Belgian Rally Championship in Sint-Truiden and the fruit region.

The iconic “classic” was dominated from start to finish by Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre in his Citroen C3 Rally2. Gino Bux, the revelation of the match, and winner of the 2021 Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup came in second.

StéŽphane Lefebvre and Xavier Portier happy with their win…

DG Sport Compétition proved that the Citroëns C3 Rally2 were more than up to the competition…

Not only did Stéphane Lefebvre and Xavier Portier storm to an outright win, team mates Jos Verstappen and Kris Botson, Maxime Potty and Renaud Herman, and Richard Pex and Johan Findhammer also made quite an impression.  Four cars on the start, four at the finish, with excellent results.

“Last Saturday DG Sport Compétition had a wonderful team day”, stated team principal Alain Georges. “Not only did we perform well, but each one fulfilled his or her role impeccably.”

First outing, first win…

 Stephane Lefebvre came to win and succeeded. But also his teammates with less – and sometimes no – experience contributed to this success. Besides the actual results, we are also very pleased with the magnificent team spirit.”

Indeed, an excellent start of the season!

Hans Knol ten Bensel