We drove the new Fiat 500 electric…an icon with e-power.

The iconic Fiat 500 is entering into the electric era, and it is doing this very convincingly with superb technology and style.

It even has the panache to add a third door to its well-shaped body, to set it apart from the rest.

And indeed, apart from the rest it is. It has a whole new body, and is six centimeters longer and 3 cm taller than the “normal” Cinquecento, yet it retains fully its ideal and iconic proportions.

We drove the “prima” Cinquecento, sprayed in very pleasing Rose Gold, and we liked very much its performance, ride and style, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The New 500 3+1 “la Prima” has it all, and stands out with a range of exclusive details: full LED headlights with an ‘Infinity design”, two-tone 17” diamond-cut wheel rims and chrome-plated inserts on the windows and side panels.

In the interior, the pleasant ambiance continues: soft-touch seats studded with Fiat monograms, a two-tone steering wheel flattened at the bottom and an exclusive “la Prima” tag on the console. We also liked very much the finish of the dashboard panels on our test car.

Comfort is also paramount: six-way adjustable front seats, mats, an “electro chrome” internal rearview mirror and 360° ‘drone view’ parking sensors. The steering wheel is also adjustable in height and length over a wide range, so an ideal seating position is soon found. Add to this the spacious glove box, the wide door bins and trays on the center console, and you notice that this New Electric 500 is geared to make your daily life a lot rosier.

“Zen” electric driving is addictive…

But let’s turn now to driving this Torino-built electric icon of style. It is not only constantly pleasing to the eye, it is also a soothing, relaxing experience to move it from A to B.

Even if you are driving with kind smoothness, only caressing the right pedal, you feel its whispering power. All 118 HP or 87 kW of it, with 220 Nm of instant torque. Technically very refined, motor and drivetrain being vibrationless and totally inaudible over the whole speed range.

Zesty it is indeed. It will whisk you from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 9 seconds. And when pulling away from standstill, you reach 50 km/h in just 3.1 seconds. But it is the “Zen” character of e-driving which gets you sold, and puts a broad smile on your face.

No frantic revving, no jolts from clumsy gearchanges, just a smooth, utterly silent, silk smooth flow of power. You can fully concentrate on the traffic and everything around you, undisturbed, enjoying the purity and elegance of your progress. Only e-power can convey this feeling, and we have to admit it, it is addictive.

We caught ourselves cruising on urban boulevards even below the 50 km/h speed limit, just to enjoy the ride. Urban driving at the corresponding lower speeds delivers of course also excellent economy, and throughout our test the consumption was a very reasonable 8.1 km/kWh. We have to admit that we drove this “Elettrica” very smooth indeed. On a fully loaded battery, which has a capacity of 42 kWh, the TFT 7 inch instrument panel indicated a 260 km range, which is totally adequate for our country. The 500 Electric can be charged with a fast 85 kW charger, so you can recharge from a flat battery to 80% range in 35 minutes, or to 50 km – the average daily distance driven – in around 5 minutes.

We used the 11 kW standard charger, getting from 40 % to 80 % charge in about 3 hours. In our neighborhood, with only two charging points for a few thousand inhabitants, we are allowed to stay maximum 3,5 hours at the charging point, but this was luckily enough for us.

As everyone knows, the charging infrastructure in Belgium is completely below any standard, and will very probably remain so for considerable time to come. It is therefore almost essential in our country to have a private home and/or garage/driveway, if you want to call an fully electric car your own and use it regularly.

The electric 500 is about 300 kg heavier than its petrol engined counterpart, so the suspension setup is somewhat stiffer, without being uncomfortable however. Despite its 1,3 tons weight, the car still feels quite nimble and agile, and the excellent 9,7 m turning circle and super light steering make it your ideal partner in town.

On the open road, the electric 500 stands very well its own, with a regulated maximum speed of 150 km/h. It doesn’t feel fussy at all when driving at the legal maximum motorway speeds. Of course, look out for fast(er) charging points and plan your trip carefully…

One word about the driving modes. In the “normal” driving mode, the car will coast essentially when you lift the throttle, retaining the kinetic energy for you to use. In the “range” mode, the electric motor will use this kinetic energy to charge the battery, allowing you to use a “one pedal” driving style with ease, as the braking effect of the motor is quite marked. Last but not least there is the “sherpa” mode, where motor and battery are carefully governed to allow you to squeeze a maximum distance out of the remaining battery charge.

Infotainment and driving aids…

“La Prima” is equipped with the most advanced ADAS systems available:

What to think of Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (iACC) and Lane Centering, Traffic Sign Recognition, Autonomous Emergency Brake with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, Intelligent Speed Assistant, Lane Control, High-resolution rear camera with dynamic grid, 360° parking and urban blind spot sensors, Automatic twilight and dazzle sensors, Emergency call and Electronic parking brake?

Last but not least it features automatic air conditioning…need we say more?

Connectivity is also hardly neglected.

This electric 500 has the new UConnect 5 infotainment system, which means a 7″ TFT Display, a 10.25″ Touch Screen With navigation, an excellent DAB Radio, Wireless CarPlay / Android Auto, the Uconnect Box (a telematic box enabling the connected services) and a wireless smartphone charger.

We were very impressed by the functionality and computing power of the central touchscreen, with excellent and fast graphics.

Practical

The third door, which can only be opened when the corresponding front door is opened, proved very practical, and allowed much easier access to the rear seats. The rear accommodation is essentially meant for kids or (very) small grown-ups. In a 500, noblesse oblige… this is a car with style. Nevertheless, it has a standard boot space of 185 liters, and of course the backrests of the rear seats can be folded.

Conclusion

The Cinquecento is alive more than ever, and the transplant with an electronic heart has succeeded masterfully. It was a very wise decision – also technically necessary of course to house the batteries in the chassis floor – to build an entirely new body for this car, and it was even more judicious to retain faithfully its iconic proportions too.

Technically, the car is totally mature, providing premium character smooth transport, assisted by driving aids and made to measure top notch infotainment.

If you are looking for attractively priced (urban) electric transport with iconic panache and style, take a long hard look at this car…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographer’s notes: for the photos of this test, we took our recently acquired Fujifilm X-A5 through its paces. We like the excellent contrast and contour sharpness of the Fujinon Apherical Zoom lens, delivering the fine definition you see here on these images. We used the TV or shutter priority mode set at 1/125 s, to avoid any eventual motion blur. We found the autofocus a bit on the slow side compared to our Nikon DSLR, but this was not much of an issue as the car was stationary anyway.

We drove the VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI eHybrid R-Line: an electrifying bestseller…

The VW Tiguan is Europe’s best-selling SUV since its launch, and VW wants obviously to continue this succes. As the competition has come to the market with plug-in hybrid versions, notably the Peugeot 3008 and the Opel Grandland X, VW decided to bolt the drivetrain of the Golf GTE on the Tiguan platform, which is actually still the one of the previous generation Golf. The result is a smooth and very frugal performer, which will convince many crossover buyers to take the step towards electrified transport. Indeed, this Tiguan plug-in Hybrid stole our hearts with its state-of-the-art technology, honed to perfection already on the Golf GTE. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our stylish R version seduced us, both inside and out. The previous Tiguan generation had already good looks, and VW just brought the grille in line with the angular styling we see in the Golf 8. The front is bolder, the hood is a bit higher, the lower bumper has also been reorganized. Led lighting is now standard and includes now also the more tech style tail lamps.

Photographers’s note: we used besides the trusty Canon G9 X also our big digital Canon DSLR with an older generation Canon 35-80 zoom lens used on an analogue (film) Canon DSLR. We were astonished with the result. The contour sharpness is truly top notch. Canon does an excellent job, seeing that the older generation autofocus lenses are completely compatible with their newest generation digital DSLR camera’s…

In the interior the digital age has certainly made further headway. Virtually all the controls are now of the electronic slide and touch type. This takes some getting used to, but we already familiarized ourselves with these capacitive controls in the Golf Alltrack, and soon enough one starts to like it even.

Again taken with the older generation Canon 35-80 zoom…

It is a rather bold step for VW to introduce this type of touch commands, but it makes very much sense and indeed documents the readiness of VW to make their mark in this all electronic age. One also finds a new steering wheel, adopting also these capacitive buttons on the R equipment level of our test car, and it has now a flattened bottom.

On this R Line equipment level, the infotainment offered leaves nothing to be desired, as you can guess. Here we have the optional 9,2 inch screen in the center, with even gesture control. All the functions, down even climate control, can be controlled to the touch screen. Just familiarize yourself with it and a world opens for you.

Smooth and state-of-the-art drivetrain

The drivetrain of the eHybrid Tiguan is strictly similar to the GTE Golf. A 30 kWh battery is located in the platform floor ahead of the rear wheels, giving the Tiguan a pure electric range of about 50 km. We achieved some 45 km of mostly motorway driving on a full battery load. Alongside the 85 HP electric motor sits the well proven 150 HP 1,4 liter TSI petrol engine, resulting in a total system power of 245 HP or 180 kW. Both drive units together generate a maximum system torque of 400 newton meters.

This means brisk performance, with a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of 7,5 seconds. Top speed is also a rather impressive 205 km/h, far outclassing most of the pure EV’s. In pure electric mode, the top speed is still a very creditworthy 130 km/h.

On the center console, you can push the E mode button for pure electric driving, or push the same button again and shut it off, allowing you to enjoy optimal hybrid driving.

Last but not least you have the GTE mode button which gives maximum E assistance to achieve maximum performance. With all this avalanche of power, the front wheels will spin on wet tarmac, however soon brought under control by the electric driving aids.

When driving, you can select with the gear lever to be in “D” or “B” mode. In the “D” mode it will coast when you lift the throttle, in the “B” mode, it will recuperate the kinetic energy to charge the battery, and therefor decelerate more. This mode seems more logical, as you want usually to decelerate anyway when one lifts the throttle.

Frugal, when you want it to be…

Fuel/E-power consumption depends of course on how you use your Tiguan. When the battery is depleted, one reverts of course to using only the petrol engine, and average fuel consumption is rather around 7 litres/100 km. In hybrid mode, the drivetrain acts quite judiciously, and balances very well between E and petrol engine power. With some restraint in your driving style, you can achieve also about 7-8 liters/100 km in tight urban traffic with an empty battery. On a 100 km trip on the open road with very sedate driving, we achieved 5,8 l/100 km.

The Tiguan eHybrid will start its trip on ePower, giving you about 50 km range…

VW quotes the fuel consumption in l/100 km (NEDC) combined as 1.7–1.5, power consumption in kWh/100km: combined 14.1-13,5. CO2 emissions in g/km are quoted combined 33-38.

When your daily driving distance is less than 50 km and you charge your Tiguan regularly, it is actually used as an all-electric vehicle, and has all its advantages, not in the least its absolute “Zen” smoothness. It is fiscally also treated very well in our country, as it is 100 pct deductible…

A breeze to use daily…

Electric charging via the flap on the drivers’ side is 3,6 kW maximum. Charging speed is not such a big issue with this or any other hybrid, as most of it is done mostly overnight anyway. Charging time takes a few hours, but if you are in a hurry, you can simply interrupt it and drive away, as you have always the petrol engine to get you to your destination.

Again a shot with the older Canon lens…

All the creature comfort you could wish for…

Seating comfort has always been top notch in the Tiguan, and there is ample head and legroom, also for the rear passengers. There is very good stowing room in the doors, as there is also a fair amount of luggage space, to be further enlarged using the split foldable rear backrests. This Tiguan is a very practical companion in your busy and varied daily life, and its popularity has very good reasons indeed.

Predictable handling

In the R version, we enjoyed the adjustable suspension, giving either a very comfortable or sporty ride. Handling is everything you would expect from a modern SUV, and the older Golf platform still does a very good job here. Very sure footed and predictable, the front wheel drive Tiguan will hardly surprise its owner, also thanks to the electronic handling controls built in. Steering is sensitive, direct and precise, and a joy to use on winding roads.

Still the older 35-80 Canon zoom…

We were very impressed by the utter smoothness and progressivity of the ACC, or automated cruise control. It kept the distance to preceding traffic very smoothly, and was a joy to use. It has been honed to perfection, to say the least.

Conclusion

A stylish, mechanically very matured SUV or crossover, roomy, very well built, optimally prepared for an electrified future mobility. You can enjoy the restfulness of a pure EV when you drive short urban distances, which is the case for many of us anyway. Keep it charged overnight if you are so lucky to have a home E-socket on your driveway or private garage, and this Tiguan is an absolute E-dream.

Driving longer distances in hybrid mode with (intermittent) use of the smooth petrol engine is no punishment either.

Taking into account that a plug-in hybrid still enjoys very advantageous fiscal treatment in most European countries is an extra reason to take a long hard look at this eHybrid Tiguan, and make it soon your own…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Golf Alltrack 200 HP 2.0 TDI

The eighth generation of the iconic Golf has it all. This goes also for lovers of station wagons, as VW offers the Variant with a wide range of drivetrains, and on top of that the so-called Alltrack, which can be defined as a fully equipped of the Variant with AWD, a higher stance for mild offroad driving and a 147 kW/200 PS 2 litre Diesel engine coupled to a 7 speed DSG. The result is superb performance, handling, roominess, comfort, all in still a rather compact and very stylish package.

We drove this Moonstone coloured beauty, and were very impressed indeed…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Fast and frugal

Volkswagen defines the Golf Alltrack is a crossover of Golf Variant and SUV. Admittedly, it has a higher ground clearance, and it actually handles still a bit sharper than an SUV. On the motorway, it is also aerodynamic, and offers plenty of speed: not less than 229 km/h.

All this with very good overall economy, showing what modern diesels can do. NEDC fuel consumption is only 4.9 to 4.8 l/100 km. This means that ranges of around 1,000 kilometres are possible between two refuelling stops. Indeed, on our first motorway drive when collecting the car, we achieved without trouble an average consumption of 4,5 litres/100 km. CO2 emissions are quoted at 130 g/km.

Modern this engine truly is. This TDI engine (400 Nm torque) is one of the cleanest of its kind worldwide. This is achieved by the use of innovative twin-dosing technology: here, double AdBlue injection in two SCR catalytic converters arranged one after the other convert nitrogen oxides (NOx) into hydrogen and harmless nitrogen. What surprised us most was the utter silence and smoothness of this engine. Even when starting from cold, it is inaudible almost without the slightest hint of the usual diesel clatter. It just shows how perfect diesel engines have become.

Just wait friends, diesel fuel will still be around for a very, very long time. World trade is still powered by diesel trucks, and they will drive even when there is an electricity power collapse…

So it still makes sense to offer a Diesel engine in a do-all versatile 4WD compact like the Alltrack? It certainly does, and for the moment, it is offered even exclusively with a diesel engine, with its excellent towing capacity in mind. It seems however that for markets outside Germany petrol engined versions will be available with the Alltrack configuration.

Stylish

As the flagship of the Golf Variant models, the Alltrack offers exclusive standard equipment that cannot be configured in this combination for other models in the product line. The all-round all-terrain cladding is finished in matt black. Accents in matt chrome look are also used on the side sills and in the front bumper. These visually match the alloy wheels and the silver roof railings. As the only Variant model, the Alltrack is also equipped as standard with an LED light strip in the radiator grille (between the LED Plus headlights) and LED fog lights in an X formation. Looks very nice indeed!

Fully equipped

The other standard equipment of the Golf Alltrack includes interior background lighting (adjustable in 30 colours), elegant interior accents (Nature Cross Brushed), the so-called “Discover Media”navigation system including App-Connect Wireless (smartphone integration) and DAB+ (digital radio reception), heated comfort seats at the front with Alltrack lettering in the backrests, a multifunction steering wheel in leather and stainless steel pedals.

Our test car was also equipped with a panoramic opening roof, which however stopped to function during our test, luckily in a tilted backward position, so the car was not too vulnerable to eventual pouring rain.

In addition, all Golf Variant models feature details such as the lane keeping system Lane Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking Front Assist with City Emergency Braking System and Pedestrian Monitoring, an oncoming vehicle braking when turning function, Driver Alert System, the electronic differential lock XDS and the Car2X local warning system.

Also always on board: the Digital Cockpit Pro (digital instruments), the We Connect and We Connect Plus online services and functions, the Air Care Climatronic automatic air conditioner, the keyless comfort start function Keyless Start, a Bluetooth mobile phone interface, comfort seats as well as LED headlights and LED tail light clusters including automatic headlight control. Need we say more?

Driving impressions…

Behind the wheel, one is impressed by the premium feeling this Golf exudes. The engine and drivetrain are supersmooth as they are silent and powerful, the steering is precise, the handling is agile, with slightly more roll as the Alltrack stands 15 mm higher on its wheels.

The seating position is superb, with plenty of adjustment fore and aft, and one enjoys the excellent seats which give very good lateral support. Also in the back there is ample room for passengers and their luggage. Standard the boot size with the rear backrests up is already over 600 liters, and it is well over 1600 litres with both backrests folded down.

As we hinted earlier, the Alltrack is also quite useful as a towing vehicle: you can pull up to 2000 kg, and the 4WD comes in very fitting when pulling your trailer over offroad terrain.

All these excellent dynamic qualities put this Alltrack in a top position when compared to SUV’s, and it is quite judicious for VW to offer in the Golf range this versatile and usefully spacious Alltrack and Variant range.

Conclusion

A very impressive car indeed, with premium class performance, spaciousness, superb finish and equipment, and excellent agility and handling. It combines genuine driving pleasure with outstanding versatility, considering its excellent towing abilities and vast useable boot space.

Last but not least there is the excellent economy, with a state of the art and very “clean” diesel engine, which seems to have solved the NOx pollution problem. Who knows, these “clean” diesels might be still the proper (intermediate) answer in the rocky path towards zero emission mobility, as these diesels have lower CO2 emission values than their petrol engined counterparts, and on top of that, possess greater thermal efficiency…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Abarth Scorpioneoro revisited…

Faithful readers know that we have already enjoyed the panache and performance of the 595 Abarth Scorpioneoro. Just read at our test report on december 20 last year. Link: https://autoprova.be/2020/12/23/we-drove-the-fiat-abarth-595-scorpioneoro-a-golden-thoroughbred/.

The car we tested then had the five speed manual transmission, this time we enjoyed the sequential five speed box, which can be driven in automatic mode or manually controlled with the gearchange paddles at the steering wheel. But besides this the unique driving pleasure remained, and this was more than a good reason to put this Abarth again through its paces…

Just read further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Abarths are built for those amongst us who enjoy driving. As we pointed out earlier, this does not mean that you have to be a true aficionado who knows and can repair every bolt on your “bolide.” Far from it. You just have to love cars, and enjoy to take the wheel.

Nor do you have to know also all the subtle secrets of inducing power slides and maintain oversteer by playing the throttle. You don’t have to pass a racing or car handling course, although this would certainly help. But it is not a conditio sine qua non to enjoy this Abarth. Its builders have seen to it that all the electronic driving aids keep you out of trouble, the only requirement is that you understand somehow the laws of physics and know their boundaries.

All in all, the masterfully set up sporting suspension teaches you to become a better driver. Day by day, step by step.

A formidable cockpit..

All the controls are in their proper place for the sporting driver. Even the central parts of the front seats have a special padded surface to keep you firmly in position. The steering wheel falls ideally in your hand, the gearchange paddles are always close to your finger tips.

A breeze to use them for those spirited shifts under acceleration. 165 HP warrant exhilarating performance. 0 to 100 km/h is reached in merely 7,3 seconds. The sequential gearbox is lightning fast and efficient. You can concentrate on the braking, the box will downchange for you, even when in manual mode.

But if you feel more lazy, or just want to admire the urban scenery when pottering down the streets, push the “A/M” button to select the auto mode and the transmission will do it all for you. Soon you learn to induce the gearchanges by lifting your right foot slightly. Smoothness is your reward.

Thoroughbred engine…

The 1,4 litre four cylinder is everything you want a truly sporting engine to be. Freely revving, ultra responsive, even more so in the “sport” mode, it delivers formidable punch, with a wonderful staccato when fully “on song”, combined with a characteristic burble at idling and low revs. You just get never tired of it. Never.

At the same time, this engine will not protest when you potter through urban streets and slow traffic for hours on end. It will not foul its plugs or start running unevenly. It will always run razor sharp and react immediately on the slightest blip of the throttle. This Abarth is totally fit for daily use, both by experts or novices, and this makes this “bolide” even more endearing.

Infotainment up to scratch…

Daily use is also made more pleasant with its excellent infotainment. As we told you already, the Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro offers the best infotainment currently available: the 7″ HD UconnectTM system fitted with Apple CarPlay and Google Android AutoTM* – a fast platform with high definition monitor, GPS and DAB digital radio – as well as the sophisticated BeatsAudio™ system with overall output of 480 W and a 8-channel digital speaker including a cutting-edge equalization algorithm capable of reproducing the full sonic spectrum of a recording studio. Need we say anything more?

Frugal, if you want it to be…

On fuel economy, this Abarth is of course as frugal or thirsty as you want it. All depends on your right foot here.

When you cruise along on the motorway at the legal limit, a consumption between 6 and 7 litres/100 km is totally normal, and if you drive along with the urban traffic flow, a city driving consumption of around 8 litres/100 km is also in the cards.

When it comes to service costs, all the drivetrain elements are well proven and reliable, so it will not be beyond what you expect from any normal compact car…

Conclusion

This Abarth is the endearing sporting thoroughbred which begs you to explore its panache, but will also be a pleasant and docile companion on your urban errands. This makes this Abarth so unique, for those who enjoy cars with character, but also want to live with it. And it will only mature further over the years, never lose an inch of its charisma. So you will cherish it, for years to come… maybe alongside a New 500 elettrica in your garage, who knows?

We drove the new Jeep Compass: a true Jeep with a European touch

The Jeep Compass 2021 is now a completely new model, with changes to the features which are close to the hearts of European customers: stylish inside and out, with state-of-the-art technology under the hood, besides being also sustainable and functional.

This is also the first Jeep launched (and developed) by the Stellantis Group, and it is also produced exclusively in Melfi, Italy. This is only logical when you know that in Europe, the Compass accounts for more than 40% of Jeeps sales and today one in four Compass vehicles sold is a plug-in hybrid model.

An important car therefore, with plenty of good reasons to put it here through its paces for you. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Compass fitted with the new GSE four-cylinder 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine, and we immediately selected on the configurable digital instrument display the consumption indicator function, to show us permanently average and immediate consumption. More about the results later…

This new engine develops 150 HP in our test car, and is therefore paired to a 7 speed Dual Dry Clutch Transmission (DDCT).

A very smooth engine it is indeed, almost inaudible both at urban and motorway speeds. The gearbox is also ultra smooth, and mates perfectly with the engine. The level of silent sophistication and smoothness a thoroughbred 1,3 litre petrol engine can offer nowadays is truly stunning. Of course the excellent transmission helps here too. The same engine, the 4-cylinder 1.3-litre turbo unit, comes in the Compass models with plug-in hybrid technology with even more power, 190 hp or 240 hp and 270 Nm of torque, coupled then to a six-speed automatic transmission. Last but not least eAWD powers the 4xe versions and completes the New Compass engine range.

Performance

The 150 HP version offers more than adequate performance with a sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 9,2 seconds and a top speed of 199 km/h. Accelerations in intermediate speeds are excellent, and one hardly needs higher revs to enjoy the pulling power this drivetrain offers. There is also a “sport” mode for dynamic driving, letting the engine rev longer and higher in the gears and making the gearbox more alert to throttle movements.

The manufacturer quotes 5,5 litres as combined consumption, with an urban average of 6,6 litres/100 km. One needs a very prudent foot on the throttle and much anticipation in one’s driving style to achieve this, and the average during our test was 7.2 litres/100 km on the open road, cruising at the legal speed limits on the motorway, with spirited accelerations in between and motorway congestions and slowdowns thrown in too.

In urban driving, a sensitive right foot works wonders, the gearbox settling in at the highest possible gear when cruising at 30 or 50 km/h, with the engine running at 1200 rpm, and immediate consumption hovering around the 4-5 litre mark. Caressing the throttle will keep it there, a more vigorous blip will send it swiftly above 10 litres. An average of 7.8 litres/100 km in urban conditions was however rather easily achievable. The very clever and readable consumption display will soon teach you the consumption difference between a more spirited and a relaxed driving style… CO2 emissions are quoted as 153 g/km in the WLTP cycle.

In this drivetrain configuration, the Compass has only front wheel drive, which doesn’t mean however that you cannot steer this Compass on off-road terrain and country roads. For our photo session, where we tried out our Fujifilm X-A5 which we had recently bought used for less than 300 €, we went on open terrain which was still rather wet and soggy from the torrential rains which have devastated many towns and villages in Wallonia, parts of Germany and Holland. It proved no problem at all for our Compass to turn tightly and move from standstill without any loss of adhesion or slippage of the front wheels on the rain-sogged grass.

Connected and practical

The vocation of our Compass is, as Stellantis puts it, to address the wishes and needs of rational, factual people, which are also fascinated by the possibility of getting away from their daily routines: Stellantis calls them “pragmatic dreamers”.

Besides stronger aesthetics, with good capabilities off road as well as on the open road, the new Compass offers features an all-new cabin, designed to improve comfort and life on board, and to make the urban driving experience smarter.

Major highlights include the full-HD digital 10.25-inch instrument cluster, DAB radio, Uconnect 5 system with touchscreens from 8.4-inch to 10.1-inch, moved to the middle of the dashboard in a higher position so the driver can remain focused on the road, a five times faster processor, Android operating system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, interactive 3D TomTom navigation and natural voice recognition, and last but not least Uconnect Services.

The interior has also been made even more functional with a new arrangement of the central console and augmented storage compartment space (providing nearly 4.4 litres of additional storage – a three-fold increase versus the 2.8 litres of the previous version, now with a total of 7.2 litres).

Still more safety features…

The New Compass is the first Jeep vehicle in Europe to offer level 2 autonomous driving and is equipped with the latest generation ADAS, as standard across the range. These include: Traffic Sign Recognition, which reads and interprets the road signs; Intelligent Speed Assist, to automatically keep the car within the speed limit advertised; Drowsy Driver Alert, to alert the drivers when their attention falters or if they drop off for a moment; and Automatic Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, which slows the vehicle down to a complete stop, to avoid (or mitigate) accidents that could occur.

Our test car was sprayed in a beautiful matte green…

But the biggest new feature is the Highway Assist, combining Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering, to automatically adjust the vehicle’s speed and trajectory. The vehicle therefore automatically stays in the middle of the lane, at a sensible distance from the vehicle in front, for a driving experience with total peace of mind.

Comfort…

Driving long distances or making short urban errands are a breeze in the new Compass. Seats are well contoured and comfortable, the suspension is overall rather firmish, but irons out potholes and ridges very well. Noise levels are low, with any mechanical noises virtually absent at any speeds.

Conclusion

This new Compass indeed marries very well both worlds: that of urban sophistication as well as the ruggedness and bewildering attraction of the freedom of on- and offroad. The power and refinement of the 150 HP engine coupled to the 7 speed DDCT transmission is convincing, as well as the overall stylishness of body and cabin.

Of course we look forward to testing the 4xe variant, but let you enjoy the photos of this new Compass already here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographers’ notes:

For the photo’s of this test, we put our recently acquired used but pristine Fujifilm X-A5 through its paces. We just love the velvety sharpness and contrast of the Fujinon lenses, one of the reasons we bought this camera. It also looks very good, and has some Leica aura over it. We studied its manual thoroughly, as it has many clever features… just look at the photos. We will use this camera also extensively in the future…so you will see soon a lot more of what this good looking camera can do.

We drove the Fiat Panda Sport: your agile and stylish City Car…

The stylish Panda in its proper place: before the premises of the Royal Golf Club du Zoute…

If there is a type of car where the know how of car builder Fiat truly excels, then it is the compact city car. Indeed, both the iconic 500 and the endearing Panda are undisputed leaders in the segment A. Deservedly so. This Panda Sport with its 1 litre three cylinder FireFly engine coupled to a Belt Generator Starter motor is a very clever hybrid, which, driven with intelligence, puts down some pretty astonishing consumption figures.

It is also masterfully equipped, comfortable both in city driving as well as on long stretches, being a very entertaining and pleasing all-rounder which we were sorry to part with, and that alone says a lot…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The most interesting part of this good looking Sport version of the in 2020 revamped Panda is its style and equipment. Our test car was sprayed in a very elegant matte grey, actually called unsurprisingly “Matte Grey.“ It is shod with elegant 16 inch “Sport” alloys with black and red accents.

If that was not enough, our test car came with the Pandemonio Pack, an hommage to the 100 HP Panda which saw the light of day in 2006. Red brake calipers, dark tinted rear windows, a technoleather steering wheel with red stitching are the most important hallmarks of this Pack.

In the interior, the stylish approach continues. The dashboard has a titanium finish, the door panels are executed in so-called eco leather, one finds a black roof lining and new grey coloured seats, which are surprisingly comfortable for hours on end.

Infotainment is also well cared for. The 7” touchscreen with digital DAB is configured for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you can place your smartphone in a handy slot right behind the touchscreen so the integration is also very practical indeed.

A drivetrain built for intelligent drivers

The Panda harbours some very intelligent technology. First of all there is the state-of-the-art 1 litre 7O HP three cylinder engine of the FireFly family, which is vibrationless, flexible and will – if called for – rev with beautiful staccato to its 6500 rpm redline. But this is not how this Panda should be driven of course when you want to achieve those wonderful consumption figures.

The engine works in pair with a BSG electric motor (Belt Integrated Starter Generator), which recuperates the kinetic energy when you lift the throttle or brake, and charges the 11 Ah lithium battery. The motor has a power of 3,7 Kw, and uses the available battery power to restart the engine in the start-stop system and assist the engine when accelerating.

The fact that the engine is assisted when picking up speed allows also the selection of higher gears at slow urban speeds, and that is where the cleverness of the system really comes into play. You can potter along at the legal 30 km/h in third gear, and when you drive on boulevards at a constant speeds of 50 km/h, fifth gear is suggested by the eco assistant. When more pulling power is required, the engine is helped by the electric motor to climb in revs and speed. Soon you learn to estimate correctly the deceleration caused by the generator when lifting the throttle and you recuperate the kinetic energy fully, hardly braking at all. The six speed manual gearbox is also a delight to use.

The instrument cmuster between rev counter and speedometer indicates consumption (averaging still the results of previous testers) and the state of charge of the battery as well as the petrol gauge…

You understand that this results in some astonishing consumption figures. In urban driving, we managed to stay around 5 litres/100 km, in all smoothness and comfort. The manufacturer quotes 5,5 litres/100 km as average consumption. CO2 emissions according to the WLTP cycle are quoted as 121 g/km. As said, 70 HP is developed at 6000 rpm, and when you rev the engine fully in the gears, the sprint from 0 to 100 is absolved in 14,4 seconds. Top speed is a very creditable 164 km/h.

Comfortable and practical

Where else: the Panda at the Place m’as tu vu in Knokke…

The suspension of the Panda is very comfortable indeed, and urban pavés and tram ridges are taken are taken very well. Also on the open road, the Panda remains very comfortable with excellent straight line stability. Roadholding is everything it should be, and you can steer the Panda with confidence through the worst weather and slippery roads.

The four doors prove immensely practical and take the pain out of having a compact car. There is even adequate luggage space, 225 litres of it, and of course the rear seats can be folded back for more room, up to 870 litres.

Conclusion

A very endearing, compact all rounder, which showed during this test all its very good qualities. The hybrid system makes a lot of sense when you approach and use it cleverly, providing also the smoothness and comfort in urban driving, besides chalking up these impressive consumption figures.

The Panda is also surprisingly comfortable, making it also a car fit for long trips on Europe’s motorways. It is also surefooted and stable.

Add the four doors, the adequate head- and legroom as well as boot space, and you understand that the Panda scores very high in the A segment, and will continue to do so for years to come…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the new Fiat Tipo Cross: the type of car your family needs…

To tell you right away, we have always liked the Tipo. Well styled, it offers lots of car for the money, and every inch of it shows the expertise and savoir faire of a world class car maker like Fiat. Not surprisingly, the Tipo has already carved itself a firm market share in its segment, and is further gaining in popularity. The latest facelift has made it even more attractive than ever, and we drove for you the well-equipped Cross version here. This Cross version is geared towards families which like crossovers, and want a car which brings more zest and emotions to their daily commute and weekend outings. We can tell you right away, this Tipo delivers and convinces– again.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A bolder stance and look…

The Tipo Cross is wider and taller, with a grille which now runs under the headlamps. Thanks to a new suspension and wheels taken from another crossover in the Fiat stable, the 500X, the Tipo Cross is now 4 cm higher. This Tipo is also 7 cm longer than the Tipo Life and has some exclusive styling details like bigger wheel arches, a protective front end decorative strip which is integrated into the front bumpers, as well as a protective bar which runs along the side skirts. Last but not least there is also a spoiler and roof bars which were hitherto reserved for the Station Wagon version.

A formidable 1 litre engine…

The Cross can be had with the 1,6 litre Multijet Turbodiesel, either 95 or 130 HP, but the more interesting engine is the new 1.0 GSE T3 FireFly petrol unit, developing 100 HP or 74 kW at 5000 rpm, which we found in our test car.

Compared to the previous 1,4 litre petrol engine, it is especially the pulling power in the lower and mid rev ranges which has been vastly improved. Instead of the previous 127 Nm developed at a high 4500 rpm, this new state of the art 3 cylinder delivers an impressive 190 Nm at merely 1500 rpm, and indeed, your servant had the initial impression that a potent 1,6 litre petrol engine was working under the hood. This ample pulling power gives the Cross plenty of zest, moreover as it is coupled to an ideally geared and very smooth 5 speed gearbox. In urban traffic, the unit is very flexible and smooth, and only a light foot on the throttle is needed to glide along at low revs with the boulevard traffic. This keeps also urban consumption within very reasonable levels, and it is possible to achieve anything between 7 and 8 litres/100 km in urban driving with ease, and even lower if you really concentrate on driving with anticipation.

The manufacturer quotes an average consumption of 5,7 litres/100 km, and less than that is very easily achieved on the open road. The Tipo Cross feels of course also at home on our Autoroutes, where the engine remains virtually inaudible at cruising speeds of say 130 km/h, corresponding with 3200 rpm.

When you put your foot down, the engine will rev up eagerly with a nice 3-cylinder staccato and pull you from 0 to 100 km/h in 12,2 seconds, then further to a top speed of 183 km/h, so you have all the performance you would ever need…  

CO2 emissions have also improved over the previous 1,4 litre engine, with 121 g/km (WLTP).

Digital instrumentation and state of the art infotainment…

An important improvement is also the 7 inch TFT digital instrument cluster, monitoring also the car’s status, multimedia and phone. This cluster is combined with the brand new Uconnect 5 infotainment system with a wide 10,25” touchscreen. This system was introduced in the new 500, and now also finds its way in this Tipo Cross. The Uconnect 5 system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and so you have a wireless connection with your phone, showing its display on the touchscreen and having all its functions at your fingertips. It allows also for not less than 5 configurations.

Practical

Of course, this Tipo excels in sheer practicality. As a hatchback it offers 440 litres of standard luggage space, and the rear seat backrests can of course be folded backwards in split fashion to provide extra room. There is also an extra USB port in the back, with wireless charging of your phone and a 12 V connection also provided in the centre console at the front. Fiat has always offered much cabin and seating space in its cars for their size, and the Tipo is no exception. Even taller persons of say 1,80 m still have ample head- and legroom in the back. 

 

Conclusion

This Tipo Cross keeps its promises. Pleasing to look at, superbly equipped, zesty with state the art drivetrain technology and up to scratch infotainment, it offers a lot of car for the money.

In Belgium, the Tipo Cross can be had for €24.250, including VAT. If your family wants a Crossover which has it all, just take a long look at this one…

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

We drove the Subaru Outback: a refined go anywhere companion…

If we have to summarize our driving impressions of the new Subaru Outback after our test, the terms mechanical refinement, capability and space and comfort come first to our mind.

Well honed and refined, the latest version of the Outback certainly is. Technically extensively revamped and rolling on the Subaru Global Platform (SGP) for increased safety, driving performance and ride comfort, is has a super smooth engine and transmission, perfectly geared to glide around town in vibrationless silence, that is what this Subaru offers the urban dweller daily. But he or she can take the Outback elsewhere when nature calls. The legendary Subaru symmetrical AWD sees to that.

The new Outback is also on top of all that also more stylish and its interior has had a thorough makeover. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel


The Subaru Outback has a quite pleasing exterior, with fluent, stretched lines, with an excellent choice of paint colors too, as the photos amply show. When you step in, a posh cabin awaits you, certainly in the premium version we tested here for you. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the large centrally placed touch screen, which is a delight to use, with all the controls well placed and self explaining. Infotainment and connectivity is well cared for, as you will read further.

Seats are supportive and excellent, and soon a good position behind the wheel is found.


Drive train brought to perfection…

Pushing the starting knob one hears the trusted boxer engine coming to life. We said trusted, but it is good to know that the direct-injection 2.5-liter NA horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, has about 90% of its engine parts redesigned and boasts a higher compression ratio. Idling at 2000 rpm or thereabouts when cold, it soon drops to 1000 rpm when you shift the smooth CVT transmission in D or R. The Lineartronic CVT has been renewed with the gear ratio coverage expanded to a wide range equivalent to 8-AT. The hydraulic system has been revised and the oil viscosity lowered, which reduces horsepower loss by 22% compared to the previous model.  

So the result is that when you then are cautious with the throttle, this Subaru will smoothly pick up speed keeping revs down to just above idling speed, say 1200 rpm or so. The engine is inaudible and perfectly vibration free here, giving the impression one drives on E power. This enables you to drive at the now usual 30 km/h urban speed limit with utmost ease, also with very little fuel coming out if the injection ports. Driving in slow urban traffic in this relaxed manner cost us merely 7,3 to 7,8 liters/100 km, and this is no small feat.


The Subaru engineers did a very good job here, and it amply shows also what a good internal combustion engine coupled to a state of the art transmission can do nowadays. In our opinion, it again proves the point that a good petrol engined car has certainly not said its last word. Indeed, with the presently still abysmal state of the charging infrastructure in our country and also many other European countries too by the way, it is still a very attractive practical proposition indeed.

As said, we can only applaud the Subaru engineers here. Of course, hybrid and plug-in hybrid and full electric solutions will be on the cards in the coming years, as many (mega) cities will be imposing exclusively E-powered mobility in their inner city centers within not even a decade. Subaru wil soon have also a full EV vehicle, named the SOLTERRA.

This excellent economy is of course only reached when you adopt a relaxed and anticipative driving style. Putting the throttle deeper will result in higher revs, more power and more fuel consumed. The 169 HP/124 kW boxer engine guarantees zesty performance: 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 10,2 seconds, top speed is a good 189 km/h.
The manufacturer quotes 7,3 l/100 km as average consumption, with CO2 emissions being 166 g/km. The CVT transmission is very responsive as well as smooth, and will let run the engine in the ideal rev zones under full load, resulting in very brisk accelerations.

Predictable handling, with excellent comfort

The Outback with its symmetrical AWD is your ideal companion on wet and muddy roads, and the suspension is well laid out to cope with potholes and rough country roads. This means that well ridden urban pavés are also very well negotiated, and the Subaru is under every road condition a very comfortable car indeed. The Outback does not necessarily invite you to throw it around corners, but this said it responds well to spirited driving, and its handling is precise and predictable.

The standard S-AWD provides all-weather capability paired with a standard active torque vectoring for improved handling and cornering performance.

We mention here too that the Subaru is an excellent towing car, up to two Tonnes (!). It can then also throw in its excellent traction capacity, and is the preferred mount for horse owners who want to ferry their horses off and on the grounds at jumping events and the like.


When going off road or when negotiating slippery surfaces, the Outback driver has life made quite easy with a new X-Mode with dual functions of “snow/dirt” mode and “Snow/mud” mode for additional off-road capability.

It offers good road clearance for a wider range of activities, with an increased ground clearance of now 213mm, and an approach of 19.7° and of 22.6° departure angles (JIS) and ramp break over angle of 21.0°.

The new SGP platform brings significant enhancement to the body and chassis rigidity (front lateral flexural rigidity +90%, torsional rigidity +70%, front suspension rigidity +70%, rear sub frame rigidity +100%).

A rear view camera washer has been added so that the camera lens is always clear of dirt, mud and grime…

Practical



The Outback is a roomy station wagon, seating five with comfort. Luggage space is of course also leaving nothing to be desired. The cargo space opening width has been enlarged by almost 30mm, the space floor length is longer by 23.9mm, and the cargo capacity is increased with 10L, of now 522L (with the seats up). The Outback also offers standard roof rails with integrated and retractable cross bars, now enhanced with tie-down holes so ropes can be tied directly on the roof rails.

There is also plenty of stowage room in the door bins for large bottles and sundry. There are also several USB points, up to even 2,1 Amp charging power.

Safety first…

Indeed, safety is written very big at Subaru. We all now have become very familiar with Subaru’s safety vision, i.e. featuring the next generation EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, Subaru’s stereo camera prevention collision system, now with an expanded angle of view, nearly doubled, and new image recognition software, available with 11 safety functions, among which new ones were added:

Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering Function, Emergency Lane Keep Assist, Speed Sign Recognition with Intelligent Speed Limiter, Lane Departure Warning with steering wheel vibration, Lane Departure Prevention, recognizing also dividing line like grass or road edge and Pre-Collision Braking System with expanded support for collision avoidance at intersections.


The Subaru tells you also for instance to keep your eyes on the road as it is able to notice that you are looking sideways for a moment.
It also reminds you to take a look in the back seat just in case you would forget your (sleeping) toddler there…

Conclusion


This Subaru certainly merits your attention. It is refined, roomy, comfortable, at home on and off the beaten track, a reliable companion for work and pleasure, taking the whole family or your friends wherever they want to go.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Jaguar E-Pace R-Dynamic P 300e

On the Jaguar Media Drive Day we sampled driving impressions of the exhilarating E-PACE…

We told you earlier on our pages that we put the entire Jaguar Range (literally) through its paces, and it proved to be a unique experience indeed. (To read it, just click the link https://autoprova.be/2021/06/15/we-put-the-whole-range-of-jaguars-and-land-range-rovers-through-their-paces/)

We start our overview of the more detailed driving impressions with – in our opinion at least – one of the most interesting cars of the range: the E-Pace, here in the most dynamic version. We find this Jag good looking, of ideal dimensions, and of course wonderfully dynamic. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our (UK registered) test car came with the so-called “Black Pack”, with unique black mirror caps, panoramic roof, privacy glass and red brake calipers, which complement Satin Grey 19-inch alloy wheels. There is Gloss Black detailing to the front bumper and lower grille surround, main grille surround and grille tips. The side window surround and side vent – complete with the Jaguar leaper – also feature a Gloss Black finish, along with the Jaguar script and rear badging. The R-Dynamic Black is available with all E-PACE exterior colours, including new Ostuni White. Our test car came with the latter colour.

Also the interior is up to date with the curved 11.4-inch HD touchscreen integrated into the central instrument panel.

The large touchscreen operates the intuitive Pivi Pro infotainment system, which provides greater clarity and allows the driver to carry out 90 per cent of common tasks within two taps from the home screen thanks to its simplified menu structure.

But besides the good looks, there is of course state-of-art technology awaiting you.

Jaguar Land Rover’s Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA) ensures the E-PACE has the latest electrified powertrain technologies, as well as delivering improved ride comfort with the performance and handling agility Jaguar customers expect. Indeed, the handling and agility of the E-PACE is nothing short of superb, as we found out on the winding roads near Namur.

We drove the whole Jaguar Range on the scenic winding roads near Namur….on June 15, 2021 Press Day JLR Belgium

New engine mounts contribute to enhanced throttle response, while the suspension layout ensuring indeed a comfortable ride.

The Jaguar E-PACE is available with an efficient three-cylinder P300e PHEV powertrain, plus the most advanced four-cylinder petrol and diesel Ingenium engines, utilising MHEV technology to deliver enhanced performance, refinement and efficiency.

The current engine line-up includes:

Diesel

·163PS 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, six-speed manual, FWD

·163PS MHEV 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, nine-speed automatic, AWD

·204PS MHEV 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, nine-speed automatic, AWD

Petrol

·160PS MHEV 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo, eight-speed automatic, FWD

·200PS MHEV 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, nine-speed automatic, AWD

·249PS MHEV 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, nine-speed automatic, AWD

·300PS MHEV 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, nine-speed automatic, AWD

·309PS PHEV 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo, eight-speed automatic, AWD

The P300e PHEV powertrain of our test car combines a 200PS 1.5-litre three-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine and a 109PS (80kW) Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) motor to deliver 0-60mph in 6.1 seconds (0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds) with CO2 emissions from 44g/km and fuel efficiency of up to 143.1mpg (2.0l/100km) (WLTP TEH combined).

We were indeed utterly impressed by the liveliness of this E-Pace.

The  P300e powertrain operates in one of three modes: Hybrid, EV or Save:

·HYBRID mode uses both the petrol engine and the electric motor in the most responsive and efficient way, intelligently switching between pure EV driving and using the petrol engine

·EV mode provides zero-emissions driving for up to 34 miles (55km)

·SAVE mode enables the driver to recover up to 85 per cent of battery charge, which can be deployed later in a journey, for example in urban areas.  

Enhanced connectivity

The latest E-PACE comes with even greater technology and connectivity options, with wireless Apple CarPlay® becoming available soon as standard*. Wireless Android Auto™ will also become available as standard at the same time,* with both available via a SOTA update for all Pivi and Pivi Pro equipped E-PACE models – seamlessly replicating the customer’s smartphone display on the central touchscreen and giving drivers multiple methods of controlling infotainment and phone functions. The E-PACE is also available with wireless device charging.

The Jaguar Range was neatly lined up on the Media Drive JLR Belgium

Jaguar’s advanced Pivi Pro infotainment system has a range of embedded apps, fast start-up from its own dedicated power source and dual-SIM technology so you can stream media and download updates simultaneously.

Pivi Pro technology is complemented by the 12.3-inch HD Interactive Driver Display that features enhanced graphics, a fully configurable layout with digital dials, media information, phone functions or full-screen mapping for the navigation system. With the optional Head-Up Display, the E-PACE’s interior technology ensures the driver is provided with numerous ways of configuring the set-up in the most convenient way possible.

Pure cabin ambiance…

The Cabin Air Purification system improves interior air quality through Nanoe technology.  The advanced system features PM2.5 filtration, which captures ultra-fine particles – including PM2.5 particulates – to improve occupant health and well being and is activated by pressing the ‘Purify’ button within the central touchscreen.

The latest enhancements ensure Auto High Beam Assist is fitted as standard on E-PACE S models, previously standard on SE and HSE derivatives, while the seating options have been simplified, ensuring customers can specify the perfect E-PACE with ease. High-quality Meridian Audio Sound is now standard from SE specification and memory functions for the door mirrors and seats are now standard on S models.

The E-PACE we drove on the sunny roads near Namur on the Media Drive JLR Belgium…

All R-Dynamic models feature Configurable Dynamics as standard, allowing drivers to hone detailed aspects of the E-PACE’s driving dynamics, including throttle and gearbox responses, as well as steering settings and suspension (where Adaptive Dynamics is specified) to tailor the driving characteristics to suit individual driver preferences. We just loved it!

More driving impressions of the Jaguar range to follow soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Experiencing E-mobility for all: we drove the new Citroën AMI in the streets of the Capital of Europe…

Citroën has always been THE brand for breakthrough mobility solutions. It responded this time to today’s challenges by offering 100 % electric mobility literally for all: a cute, roomy two seater with an 8 HP (6 kW) electric motor which can be charged in 3 hours on your home socket and which offers up to 75 km electric range in town or country/village roads. What’s more, since it is only 45 km fast, you don’t even need a drivers’ license for it. In France, 14 year old’s can drive it, in most European countries this is possible from 16 years onwards. But it is also excellent news for the (very) elderly, they have the ideal, roomy two seater which protects them from the elements, it is easy to step in and out of, has two wide opening doors and is the proverbial breeze to drive.

Citroën has done it, and we were delighted thanks to the dynamic PR team to experience the first kilometers behind its cute steering wheel in the streets, squares and boulevards of Brussels. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Light and roomy

Like the iconic 2 CV, this AMI is designed with nothing but practicality in mind. Its symmetrical body shape is unique, with a long roof and cabin, offering a sea of space for its two happy occupants. Only the driver’s seat can be moved fore and aft, the passenger’s seat is fixed, and therefore one sits normally a bit further back than the driver.

Room for a cabin space suitcase, and an elegant hook to hang your bag…

But she/he enjoys formidable legroom, and can actually stretch its legs fully. This means that seating with your legs in a normal position, there is even room for a cabin size suitcase in front of your feet! So there is always enough room for your errands, as besides in the cabin, the AMI has still an extra luggage space in the back.

Citroën has decided to make this long cabin as light and airy as possible. Therefore, a glass panoramic roof is fitted standard. So it is la Vie en Rose in your AMI. One gets in through the wide opening doors, which are identical and because of that opening in different directions. The driver’s door sways out in the front, making getting in and out super easy.

You can throw your pocket camera, bottle and sundry in one of the three customizable bins just behind the window, hang your city/handbag on the elegant hook provided on the passenger’s side, and get behind the wheel. The dashboard just reveals speed and battery charge level, indicating also the remaining range in km. Further, there is a switch for heating and fan. Next to it is a smartphone holder, so your phone can provide for navigation and music.

The row of knobs for “Drive”, “Reverse”, “Neutral” and “Park” sits on the left side of the driver’s seat. Just push “D” and off you go. Acceleration is lively, but don’t expect miracles from 8 HP moving a cute car with a total weight with battery of 485 kg, where one still has to add the weight of one or two passengers. But it is certainly enough to move along with the flow of urban traffic, and with some restraint one soon notices that a cruising speed of around 40 km/h needs just a push of 1 or 2 centimeters on the throttle. You don’t get any deceleration from the E-motor when you lift the throttle at speed, so adapt your driving style and drive with more anticipation as the distances to make good use the kinetic energy are longer. But it can be done, and soon you get the hang of it…

Driving in Brussels one soon notices that the indicated range is absolutely realistic, and that’s a big plus. Also remember, three hours is enough to fully (re)charge the AMI.

Brussels paves are ridden with potholes and ridges, but the AMI took it very well in its stride with a surprisingly comfortable suspension.

Make it your very personal AMI…

As said, life is good in this AMI. Typical and reminiscent of the 2CV are the side windows, which open by manually tilting upwards.

Citroën offers, in a “Do It Yourself” fashion, the possibility of creating the object that suits each customer’ tastes through a kit of accessories that can easily be installed yourself. This kit incorporates functional decorative items: a central separation net, a door storage net, mat, storage tray on the top of the dashboard, small hook for a handbag, smartphone clip, DAT@MI box (dongle device) connected to the My Citroën app to retrieve essential information from your Ami on the smartphone.

4 main shades are available for these accessory kits, costing 400 Euros: MY AMI GREY, MY AMI BLUE, MY AMI ORANGE, and MY AMI KHAKI.

2 characterful packs are available on AMI for even more customization. These 2 packs contain all the above decorative elements and large format stickers that cover the outside and thus give AMI its very own style.

– My Ami POP with Orange personalization and a fun, young and sporty look, with a rear spoiler, is available for €8,190 incl. VAT.

– My Ami VIBE in gray with a more upscale, chic and graphic design that integrates roof coverings in addition to the stickers, is available for € 8,690 incl. VAT.

The installation of these 2 personalization packs is entrusted to professionals before delivery.

The specific exterior body colour is neither too feminine nor too masculine and works with the different colour packs Citroën has developed (blue, white, khaki and orange).

So the Ami is a base that can become a completely customised object with exterior and interior accessories that are either pure style or offer real extra functionality, as well as stickers that give it a completely different characters, tells us Pierre Leclercq, Head of Citroën Style.

Prices…

AMI AMI: 7.290€ incl. VAT

MY AMI ORANGE, KHAKI, GREY, BLUE: 7.690€ incl. VAT

MY AMI POP: 8.190€ incl. VAT

MY AMI VIBE: 8.690€ incl. VAT

MY AMI CARGO : 7.690€ incl. VAT.

Hans Knol ten Bensel