Europe pioneers the electrification within Nissan Ambition 2030 vision…

We will drive for you at the end of this year the latest Qashqai, and look forward to have a go next year at their new (EV powered) products; In the meantime, there is some interesting Nissan news.

Did you know that by 2026, this is merely within some four years, more than 75% of all Nissan passenger cars sold in Europe will be electrified?

Nissans “CHILL OUT” concept foreshadows the future 100% electric crossover to be built in Sunderland, and there is a new battery recycling facility planned in Europe…

Just read further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Unveiled the Nissan Ambition 2030, the brand’s new long-term strategy that goes beyond mobility.

Earlier this year, Nissan launched the EV36Zero concept, the world’s first fully integrated EV production ecosystem, which connects mobility and energy management to help achieve carbon neutrality for Nissan. The future hub is centered around the production facility in Sunderland, UK, and will include the production of an EV, a new giga production facility and use of 100% renewable electricity. Initially, £1 billion will be invested.

The AMIEO Region, centered on the EV36Zero, will play a leading role in realizing the “Ambition 2030” vision, which will help Nissan achieve carbon neutrality across the entire lifecycle of its products by fiscal year 2050. Here are some key points:

By the end of fiscal 2023, Nissan will offer electrified versions of all models offered in Europe, and by fiscal 2026, more than 75% of all Nissans sold are expected to be electrified.

The now-unveiled CHILL OUT crossover concept, as announced in Sunderland in July as part of the EV36Zero project, uses the Renault-Nissan Alliance CMF-EV platform to deliver the European handling and performance customers expect. The model has a sleek and modern design, is both attractive and aerodynamically optimized, fun-to-drive, has advanced safety technologies and has a practical and comfortable interior, according to Nissan.

Nissan plans to expand battery recycling and reuse facilities outside of Japan with a new location in Europe during fiscal year 2022. This infrastructure will support a circular economy for energy management. Nissan plans to fully market its ‘vehicle-to-everything’ and ‘home battery’ systems in the coming years.

Building on the success of the Nissan LEAF, Nissan will soon introduce innovative e-POWER technology in the all-new Qashqai and X-Trail. With the 100% electric crossover Ariya and the future all-electric Townstar Van on the way, an electrified European model program is in the works.

‘In the past period, Europe has been leading in the transition to electrification. Our goal for the next decade is to accelerate this development, with new products and technologies that will enhance the driving experience for Nissan’s customers,” said Guillaume Cartier, President of Nissan AMIEO Region.

Not only will we be offering an electrified version of every Nissan model in Europe, our 360-degree vision of sustainable mobility also means using 100% renewable electricity in our EV Hub in the UK. New battery recycling and reuse facilities will also be built in Europe.

To spearhead the transition to full electrification and carbon neutrality, our teams and products in Europe will serve as a source of information and support for our plans for electrified cars in the rest of the AMIEO Region and other markets.”

Bold new plans… we will report on them regularly as they unfold!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Porsche Vision Gran Turismo: a stunning virtual racing bolide…

This time we are entering the fascinating world of gaming. Did you know for instance that Gran Turismo™ is a video game developed by Polyphony Digital Inc., a subsidiary of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc? It was launched in Japan first in 1997, and is now regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulator due to true-to-life graphics, authentic physics technology and careful attention to detail. Addictive it must be. Your servant was decades ago already crazy about the first versions of flight simulator. Imagine this…

The news is that Porsche and the Japanese video game development studio Polyphony Digital Inc., present a spectacular virtual vehicle concept. Porsche has been a partner of Polyphony already a few years now.

Indeed, the ‘Gran Turismo’ game series has featured Porsche sports cars since 2017, most recently the Taycan Turbo S. For the launch of the game’s seventh edition, Porsche has, for the first time, developed a vehicle purely for the virtual world. The Porsche Vision Gran Turismo is the sports car manufacturer’s first concept study created specifically for use in a computer game. It will be available exclusively in Gran Turismo 7, which will be released on 4 March 2022 for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

Exciting freedom for Porsche designers…

By partnering with Polyphony Digital, Porsche is not only demonstrating its special visionary approach, but is once again also demonstrating the high level of expertise among its designers. Freed from the constraints of developing models for series production, they were able to put their own ideas for a Gran Turismo concept car into practice.

“A vehicle designed purely for the virtual world opens up exciting possibilities for us that are otherwise heavily regimented in a regular design process for a series production car,” says Michael Mauer, Vice President Style Porsche. “Projects such as the Porsche Vision Gran Turismo are particularly valuable for us in the creative process. Further developing our clearly defined Porsche Design DNA and exchanging with designers from other industries is an important part of our work.”

The Vision Gran Turismo indeed features future-oriented versions of familiar Porsche design elements. The concept car exhibits the brand’s typical proportions with a sporty height-to-width ratio, a low-set bonnet and very pronounced wings. The lights in the purist front and the integrated air intakes create a visual link to the design language of the Taycan – a nod to the car’s purely electric drive.

The rear is adorned with a markedly narrow light strip – a further development of the light signature that is familiar from the 911 and Taycan models. The clear emphasis of the brand identity continues in the interior, with the curved hologram display, tailored to the driver, which appears to float above the steering wheel. The low seating position underscores the car’s dynamic feel. The realistic surface appearances in the interior also play a major role. “We spent a long time considering the right material design consisting of carbon and titanium. The aim was to reduce weight while increasing performance,” says Markus Auerbach, Head of Interior Design at Porsche. “In addition, sustainable aspects also play a role in forward-looking projects. For example, we only used entirely vegan materials in the concept car.”

“The appeal of a Porsche comes from its purist design,” says Kazunori Yamauchi, President, Polyphony Digital. “And in terms of engineering expertise, both we and Porsche follow the same perfectionist philosophy. We share the same passion for racing and are looking to the future of the car.”

In addition to purely design-related themes, there are also new functions that contribute to a strong sports car feeling, with players experiencing haptic feedback via the controller, which mimics the feel of the steering wheel. This fast and direct feedback is reminiscent of a real racing car.

Strategic for Porsche…

Expanding its gaming activities also has strategic significance for Porsche. “We can engage young and digital target groups in the place where their automotive dreams are born: the world of gaming,” says Robert Ader, Vice President Marketing at Porsche AG. “The partnership with Polyphony Digital and ‘Gran Turismo’ is a perfect fit for Porsche, because motorsport – whether real or virtual – is part of our DNA.” The integration of the first Porsche sports car developed purely for the virtual space is an important milestone in the strategic partnership between Porsche and Polyphony Digital Inc.

Actually, Porsche has been cooperating with various companies from the gaming industry for several years and these activities are now an integral part of the marketing mix. The overriding goal is to create a lasting brand experience…

We show you the photos here… and I look forward to a Polyphony Gaming experience!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

IONIQ 5 is electric “VAB Family Car of the Year 2022”…

A significant award for Hyundai’s stylish EV…

All over Europe, the Hyundai IONIQ 5’s trophy case has grown significantly in recent weeks and months. The 100% electric Hyundai also managed to distinguish itself in the annual and firmly contested election of the VAB Family Car of the Year.

The prestige of this award lies also in the election process. Not only a panel of specialized sector journalists can vote, a large and diverse group of families from the readership of VAB Magazine are also invited to put all nominated cars to a thorough test, and cast their vote…

Needless to say that we are keen to put this IONIQ 5 next year for you through its paces…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The DS 9 E-Tense gets an increased e-range and extra power…

Continuing its electrification strategy which was already established when the brand was founded in 2014, DS Automobiles is continuing its energy transition with the launch of a new plug-in hybrid package for the flagship DS 9. We will drive the new DS9 for you mid January, and we are certainly looking forward to it!

The DS 9 E-TENSE 250 features a 200 hp 4-cylinder PureTech engine, accompanied by an 80 kW (110 hp) electric motor. A new 15.6 kWh (total capacity) battery, with an unchanged number of cells, delivers up to 70 kilometers on the WLTP city cycle (EAER City) or 61 kilometers on the WLTP combined cycle with an unchanged vehicle weight. The 7.4 kW on-board charger allows charging from 0-100% in merely 2 hours and 23 minutes.

CO2 emissions drop to merely 26 g/km, with a certified fuel consumption of 1.1 litres/100 km according to the WLTP combined cycle.

Performance leaves nothing to be desired: top speed of the DS 9 E-TENSE 250 is electronically limited to 240 km/h, with the possibility of reaching 135 km/h on electric drive only.

The DS 9 E-TENSE 250 costs €55,990 (incl. VAT) in Belgium in its PERFORMANCE LINE + version and €59,990 (incl. VAT) in Belgium in its RIVOLI + version.

More on this stylish flagship DS9 here below. Just read further!  

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Refinement for the eye and touch… in different equipment levels

As its top of the range model, the DS9 stands out, as you could expect, in sheer refinement.

The DS 9 PERFORMANCE LINE + has chrome front door badges with the DS PERFORMANCE LINE logo, DS WINGS and a chrome boot lid. The radiator grille in brilliant black is topped off by the DS PERFORMANCE LINE emblem. The 19″ aluminum MONACO Black wheels are enhanced up by a Carmine wheel core.

In the interior, one finds mixed Alcantara®/black leather seats with Carmine and gold stitching complementing the Alcantara® center console and dashboard.

On the dashboard, your eyes rest on a DS PERFORMANCE LINE badge executed in turned aluminum.

A crystal insert on the control panel below the central screen adds a further touch of sophistication. The multifunction steering wheel is crafted in perforated full-grain leather with a leather-wrapped airbag cushion and handmade Carmine and Gold stitching.

The DS 9 RIVOLI + is inspired by the Tuileries district and combines noble materials with high-quality diamond-shaped decorations. Three different interiors are offered: Basalt Black in grained leather or OPERA with a choice of two shades of Nappa leather, highlighted by Ruby Red or Black strap-on seats.

The elegance of the OPERA version is illustrated by the use of nappa leather on the seats, rear seat, center console, door panels and upholstered instrument panel.

A high-quality rear center armrest and adjustable Lounge headrests complete the comfort package for the rear seats.

The nobility of materials sooths your senses with an all-leather steering wheel, smooth leather-covered gear knob, leather-wrapped grab handles, aluminum accents on the pedals and center console, Alcantara® headliner, sun visor and parcel shelf, and haute-couture-inspired mother-of-pearl stitching.

Building on the research carried out since the brand’s inception, acoustic insulation is also further enhanced.

Acoustic and laminated glazing is combined with a state of the art welded body which dampens vibrations. You can also enjoy the sound of a 515 W FOCAL Electra® Hi-Fi system, developed especially for the DS 9, with stainless steel tweeter grilles beneath the fourteen speakers, ideally placed throughout the cabin for an auditorium-like audio experience.

Behind the wheel, you are safely assisted by the latest tech…

The DS 9 benefits from the advanced technologies that make the other models in the DS range so outstanding. With DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION, a camera at the top of the windshield scans the road, while four position sensors and three accelerometers record all movements and transmit the information to a computer that can react to each wheel individually to improve safety, comfort and ease of use.

With DS DRIVE ASSIST, the DS 9 allows its driver to enjoy a level 2 semi-autonomous driving behavior.

The speed is controlled according to the environment in which the DS 9 is driven. The system uses sensors to precisely position the car in its lane of the driver’s choice by acting on the steering. DS DRIVE ASSIST can be used at speeds of up to 180 km/h and controls speed and trajectory under the driver’s supervision to ensure comfort and peace of mind.

The speed is controlled by an adaptive controller, which makes it possible to manage the driving conditions in traffic jams: the car restarts automatically after a stop of less than three seconds. If the car is stationary for a longer period of time, the DS 9 is restarted in traffic with a simple push of a button or a touch on the accelerator pedal.

DS DRIVE ASSIST’s on-board camera detects solid and broken lines. While driving, it constantly analyzes the image and deciphers situations. It keeps the vehicle in its lane, or even in the part of the lane desired by the driver. If the driver prefers to regain control of the steering, he or she cancels the correction by holding the steering wheel firmly. The change is also interrupted when the direction indicators are activated. The system can be activated from 30 km/h.

When parking, the DS PARK PILOT function detects parking spaces when driving at a speed of up to 30 km/h. The driver then indicates on the touchscreen that he or she wants to park in a stroke or a slot. Then there’s only one thing to do: press the Park button and wait for the technology to work. Acceleration, braking and steering are controlled automatically. DS PARK PILOT also makes it possible to leave a parking space.

On long journeys, DS SAFETY combines a series of key functions: DS NIGHT VISION, DS DRIVER ATTENTION MONITORING, DS ACTIVE LED VISION, blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, comprehensive traffic sign recognition and active lane departure warning.

DS NIGHT VISION offers an exceptional view of the road at night. The infrared camera, located in the radiator grille, detects pedestrians, cyclists and animals on the road up to 150 meters away. The driver sees the scene of the accident on the large digital handset, with hazards displayed in yellow and then red depending on the degree of hazard. He can then respond.

DS DRIVER ATTENTION MONITORING uses an infrared camera on the top of the steering column and a camera on the top of the windshield to continuously monitor the driver’s eyes for fatigue (blinking), face (direction of gaze) and head movement for distractions, as well as the trajectory of the driver. car on the road, especially driver anomalies or steering inputs. For example, it can identify any drop in vigilance due to an anomaly in any of the factors – blinking, non-linear and erratic movements – and automatically trigger an audible and visual alarm on the central screen, day and night.

In addition to the visual pleasure provided by the modules that light up and rotate 180° at the counter, the DS ACTIVE LED VISION can be adapted in width and reach to the driving conditions and the speed of the car. Different lighting modes are automatically activated: Parking, Town Beam (increased beam from the third second of driving), Country Beam (focused on the front from 50 km/h), Motorway Beam (increased range from 110 km/h), Adverse Weather (activated when the windscreen wipers are on, increased module power and reduced high beam intensity) and High Beam (maximum illumination combined with automatic high beam switching). The “revolving headlamps” function completes the offer. By illuminating the road better and further, or with a wider beam of light, the driver – and the passengers – gain in safety.

Needless to say that we are looking forward to sample driving impressions of this new version of this refined “grande routière”, and as said, we can tell you already that we will drive the new DS9 for you mid January, so stay tuned on these columns!

We will unveil also soon some more Citroën news, a bigger range for the ë-C4 and Citroën informs its B2C and B2B clients to make still better use if their plug-in hybrid C5 aircross…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Opel unveils a new Astra Tourer…

Opel Astra Sports Tourer (2021)

On the heels of the world premiere of the next-generation Astra hatchback in September, Opel has today unveiled the estate model version, the all-new Astra Sports Tourer.

The newcomer will be available with two levels of plug-in hybrid electric drive, making it the German carmaker’s first electrified estate. The new Astra Sports Tourer also continues Opel’s successful tradition of compact estates, which began almost 60 years ago with the Kadett Caravan, the first such car in this class from a German brand.

Opel Astra Sports Tourer (2021)

In addition to electric drive, the new Astra Sports Tourer will be available with highly efficient petrol and diesel engines. Power ranges from 81 kW (110 hp) to 96 kW (130 hp) with the petrol and diesel variants and up to 165 kW (225 hp) system output with the electric plug-in hybrid variants. A six-speed gearbox is standard on the petrol and diesel power units, with an eight-speed automatic transmission (electrified on the plug-in hybrids) optional on the more powerful engines.

Practical

With vital statistics of 4,642 x 1,860 x 1,480 millimetres (L x W x H) and a loading height of around 600 mm, the practical new Astra Sports Tourer further strengthens Opel’s reputation in the estate market sector. However, the overall length is 60 mm shorter than that of the previous model, thanks to the particularly short front overhang, and despite the considerably longer wheelbase of 2,732 mm (+70 mm) that is even 57 mm longer than that of the new Astra hatchback.

Flexibility in the boot: “Intelli-Space” moveable floor

The boot of the new Astra Sports Tourer provides up to more than 608 litres of useful storage space with the rear seatbacks upright, and up to more than 1,634 l when folded. In addition, when the 40:20:40-split rear seatbacks (standard equipment) are folded down, the floor is completely flat. Even with their underfloor lithium-ion battery, the plug-in hybrid variants still offer cargo volumes of more than 548 l and 1,574 l respectively.

Opel Astra Sports Tourer (2021)

The boot volume of combustion engine variants is optimised with the optional “Intelli-Space”. This moveable load floor can be easily adjusted with only one hand to high and low positions, and parked at a 45-degree angle. In addition, for even higher convenience, the retractable boot storage cover can be stowed when the moveable floor is in both the upper as well as the lower position – in contrast to competitors that only allow stowage of the cover when the floor is in the upper position.

The new Astra Sports Tourer with “Intelli-Space” can also make life easier in the event of a flat tyre. The kits for tyre repair and first aid are stored in underfloor compartments that can be accessed from the boot or rear passenger seating area.

Bold styling: New Astra Sports Tourer with Opel Vizor and Pure Panel

Together with its five-door hatchback sibling, the stylish new Astra Sports Tourer is a true design statement and Opel’s first estate to interpret the brand’s new design philosophy. The Opel Vizor new brand face follows the Opel Compass where the vertical and horizontal axes – the sharp crease in the hood and the wing shaped graphic of the daylight running lamps – intersect with the Opel Blitz emblem in the middle. Stretching across the front, the Vizor also seamlessly integrates technologies such as the adaptive Intelli-Lux LED® Pixel headlamps and the front camera.

The all-new Opel Astra Sports Tourer (2021)

At the rear, the Opel Compass is repeated by the centrally mounted Blitz, the vertically aligned high-mounted brake lamp and the especially slim tail lamps. The latter are identical to those of the five-door hatchback, further strengthening the Astra family-ties.

In the cabin we find the fully digital Pure Panel human-machine-interface (HMI). Operation is via an extra-wide touchscreen, just like a smartphone. Important settings such as climate control can still be selected directly via switches. There is no need for cables either, since the new generation of multimedia infotainment and connectivity systems can be connected to wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via compatible smartphones, already available on the entry-level variant.

Lighting the way for compact estates: Unique Intelli-Lux LED® Pixel Light headlamps

The new Astra Sports Tourer boasts the latest version of the adaptive, glare-free Intelli-Lux LED® Pixel light. The system comes directly from the Opel flagships Insignia and Grandland, with 168 LED elements.

Comfortable

Developed in-house, the front seats of the new Astra Sports Tourer are certified by Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V. / Campaign for Healthier Backs (AGR).

Drivers receive additional support from optional state-of-the-art assistance systems such as the Intelli-HUD head-up display and Intelli-Drive 2.0. Hands-off detection on the steering wheel ensures that drivers remain engaged at all times. We just let you have a look at the photos here. More news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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

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

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

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

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

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

BMW M goes its own way in the luxury segment…

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

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

The front end: progressive design for maximum presence.

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

M-specific details point to compromise-free performance.

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

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

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

The rear : bold stature

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

The interior design – high performance and extrovert luxury.

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

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

Spacious and luxurious: the M Lounge.

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

Illuminated and sculptural: the  headliner .

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

BMW Curved Display with M-specific user interface.

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

Stay tuned on these pages!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Five world premieres at Porsche…

The 718 Cayman GT4 RS and 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport

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

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

Just read on here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A three lane future for Porsche…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truly electrifying: Taycan GTS and Taycan GTS Sport Turismo

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

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

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

Elegance with the Panamera Platinum Edition

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

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

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

More news (and driving impressions) soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The ŠKODA KAROQ will soon be updated…

Škoda is conquering markets in a very decisive way, and it is more than necessary that we direct our automotive spotlight more to the impressive cars they put on the road nowadays. So we got in touch with Liana Picard, the dynamic PR manager of Škoda Belgium to remedy this once and for all. Soon you will able to read driving impressions of their products.

We turn our attention here to the Karoq, the compact SUV of the brand which hit our markets four years ago. It has now undergone a design and technology update. We lift the veil here already with some design sketches. Its digital media presentation will take place on 30 November.

One of the two design sketches shows the freshened ŠKODA KAROQ’s new front. The ŠKODA grille has increased in width and now features impressive double slats as well as a new hexagonal design, with a wide air intake underneath. The headlights are overall more slender and extend all the way to the grille.

Redesigned daytime running lights are now composed of two separate elements each. Underneath is a second lighting unit for the fog lights or, in the top variant, a separate LED module. This headlight configuration enables a characteristic four-eyed driving lights look after dark.

The second sketch previews the KAROQ’s redesigned rear. In addition to a longer rear spoiler and a visually updated rear apron with a black diffuser, the tail lights now sport a new, sharply drawn design as well. Like the headlights, they have been slimmed down and emphasize the vehicle’s width. In signature ŠKODA style, crystalline structures add a special visual effect to the tail lights, which will retain their characteristic C-shaped graphic.

But soon more in a few days… just look at the sketches for now!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Volkswagen ID.4 Pro: the electric crossover-SUV for the world…

With this ID.4, Volkswagen is taking another bold step forward: it is building an SUV which will be offered worldwide, notably built and sold in China, the US and Europe. For us here, it is produced in Zwickau. It is the second model to use the celebrated MEB platform, the EV platform which is also sold to Ford. The car embodies a quite important if not formidable step for VW, where every aspect of this car has to please many customers, all over our globe.

We drove the so-called “Pro” version, with the 77 kW battery, about 500 km range, 204 HP or 150 kW, and lively performance. It certainly did please us, and this pleasant impression got better the longer we drove it. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Friendly and harmonious looks

Stylists of a world car have no easy task. It looks that they have succeeded though. Just know that the ID.4 has recently been singled out for the “2021 World Car of the Year” award. When we approached the ID.4 and walked around it, our eyes meet iconic, timeless and pleasing shapes. Lines and contours with character, evoking exactly what this car wants to be: a family-friendly roomy SUV, which will accompany its owner with style for years to come. The rounded styling language is never aggressive, the front end is clean, not without elegance, has a timeless touch. The proportions are well chosen, look just right from every angle, also the big wheels with their aerodynamic alloys add panache to this SUV. We took some photos close to the runway of Zaventem airport, so the flatness of the empty landscape adds to the clean lines of this ID.4.

The same simplicity and clean lines are found in the interior and the dashboard layout and instrumentation. It is very similar to the ID.3, with an instrument cluster forming one unit with steering column and steering wheel, and a large touch screen in the centre of the dashboard. Its driver assistance and infotainment system is everything you could wish for. Of course you have to familiarize yourself with its controls, so we suggest you to read the instruction book carefully.

Reading the instructions is the proper thing to do when you buy a car of this refinement, engineering excellence and build quality. It is by the way ALWAYS the thing to do when you purchase any car, actually. Also, remember, there is YouTube. Many VW car dealers have a film made for you, so-called instruction films, where you can see and hear the workings of every accessory and functionality.

In our test car, suffice to say the diagonal size of the touch display was 10 inches, and it is good to know that natural voice control with an online connection and the ID. Light come as standard. You will not read any critique here about the workings of any of the functions of the ID.4, it takes getting used to, and even a week can be too short for this to have everything intuitively in its fingers.

I always keep in mind that the owner or user of this car will be behind the wheel of this VW for months, if not years, and will have familiarized him (her) with every function, that is if he (she) was not too lazy to read about it in the manual or try it out. I mentioned ID. Light. It is a light strip below the windscreen, and tells you when to take a left or right turn, when it has understood a voice message from you, after you said first “Hello ID.” Indeed, the future has arrived in this car.

The driver uses the central display to manage the telephone system, navigation system, entertainment functions, assist systems and the vehicle setup. Sliders for volume and temperature adjustment are located below the display. Clean and purposeful.

Daily life with the ID.4 has become simple. Just step in, push the brake pedal and select “D”. Off you go. On the right side of the steering column is a big switch which you have to turn towards or from you, to select D, B or Reverse. At the end of this switch us a big knob “P”. Just push it and the parking brake is on.

With “D” you drive normally, with “B” the electric motor regenerates energy when you lift the throttle. It will decelerate the car of course. When you are a master in anticipative driving, remain in “D”, you can coast then almost forever. Using kinetic energy by just coasting is still the most efficient, albeit the most difficult thing to do as you have REALLY to anticipate traffic situations.

“Zen” driving…

The biggest advantage of EV’s, I find personally, is their supersmooth progress. Gone is the so disturbing jerkiness of sticky transmissions and unwilling cold engines. So the ID.4 is also a very soothing vehicle. Silent, vibrationless, with smooth feline power thanks to its impressive torque. 310 Nm if it. Good enough to take this rather heavy ID.4  from standstill to a speed of 100 km/h in 8,5 seconds. Almost pushing your back firmly in the seat. Almost, but remember, this is meant to be a family car. Top speed is limited to 160 km/h. It is also a towing vehicle. Up to 1,000 kg in our test car’s configuration.

The suspension is rather firm, but not uncomfortable. The laws of physics command some firmness as there is a good 500 kg of batteries in the platform underneath the seats. The electric 150 kW motor sits above the rear axle and drives the rear wheels. The advantage is that it allows a small turning circle of just 10.2 metres. Rear wheel drive then, but do not expect to make any power slides. Steering is precise and handling is quite good, even on the rather sporting side.

The WLTP range with the 77 kW battery is according to the manufacturer up to 522 km. There is no secret. Using kW/h costs range. If you cruise at say 85 km/h on the motorway (the truck drivers won’t like this and disturb your “Zen” progress) everything is fine. In winter, and/or when driving faster, the practical range can be estimated as being a good 360-380 kilometers, which is still quite OK. At a DC quick-charging station, the ID.4 with its 77 kWh battery and a charging capacity of 125 kW can be recharged ready for the next 320 km in around 30 minutes (according to WLTP).

Roomy

The VW engineers and stylists have kept one thing firmly in mind: this is a family SUV. So indeed, it offers room which is actually that of a SUV which belongs to a class higher. Ample legroom in the rear, (similar to the Tiguan Allspace), three passengers can sit easily, and even tall drivers do not touch the roof when they put their seat in the highest position. Need we say more? Suffice to say that the wheelbase is a good 2766 millimeters.

The ID.4 has also lots of room in the front centre console, as there is no gearchange lever to disturb things. The luggage space is also impressive: 543 litres of luggage, a figure that increases to 1,575 litres after folding down the backrests (loaded to roof height).

And comfortably equipped

Standard features in all ID.4 models include the ten-colour ambient lighting, the speed limiter and Air Care Climatronic. This is coupled with an electric stationary air conditioning system, which can also be activated when the car is not charging from the mains power grid. Life is good with the ID.4.

All nine ID.4 models are equipped with the Discover Pro navigation system and 10-inch display as standard. All models above the ID.4 City and ID.4 Life come with the Infotainment package. (We tested the “Pro” version.) Its highlights include the Comfort mobile phone interface, which is able to connect a smartphone to the vehicle’s electronic system and charge it inductively. The standard App-Connect function enables media to be streamed via a smartphone, which can be embedded in its native environment using Android Auto, Apple Car Play and Mirror Link. In the Infotainment Plus package (which comes with the ID.4 Tech and ID.4 Max), the navigation system has a 12-inch display.

The ID.4 is equipped with the lane keeping system Lane Assist as standard. Front Assist monitors the area in front of the vehicle and responds with warnings and braking interventions to warn the driver of impending collisions with other road users. The acoustic Park Distance Control function is able to avoid parking collisions or reduce the level of damage using the automatic manoeuvre braking function. The speed limiter is also included in the ID.4’s standard equipment.

Another technology that every ID.4 has on board is called Car2X, which allows the car to exchange information about local hazards with other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure – via the wireless standard WLAN p. The maximum distance here is 800 metres, with warning transmission taking only milliseconds. Car2X is currently active from a speed of 80 km/h, but is also intended to improve safety and traffic flow in urban traffic in the future.

Conclusion

A very able, roomy and stylish compact SUV and a marvelous EV, that’s what this ID.4 essentially is. It is a true Volkswagen, setting standards in timeless modernity, embodying purposeful and clever engineering.

Add to this the know-how of a world manufacturer, the vast dealer network, you will agree that this new generation VW EV have a lot going for it. It ranks already in some countries where the charging infrastructure is decent among the bestsellers, so this ID.4 has a bright future ahead, electrifying the world…

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

We drove the Citroën C4 BlueHDi 130 HP: the magic of the Double Chevron…

Citroëns have always been quite exceptional cars for me, not onIy the “big” Citroëns, but also the compact cars, beginning with the GS. In the early days of my career as a car journalist, I vividly remember the stylish GS as a test car. Indeed, not only the boxer engine, also the suspension and styling where totally of another league.

I also recall fondly a very fast trip to the Frankfurt Motor Show, with a 1,6 litre petrol engined C4, the generation prior to the Cactus, driving totally relaxed at speeds between 160-180 km/h in pouring rain on the Autobahn, showing superb GT qualities in total comfort. But also the 1,9 litre Diesel versions were extraordinary. I remember the used red BX and the used dark blue Xantia, both of which I drove as long-term test cars for Autokrant. They offered excellent performance, GT panache and comfort, combined with exemplary economy.

But now let’s turn our nostalgic hearts to the present day C4. To tell you right away, it continues the tradition with its equally unique suspension, Progressive Hydraulic Cushions® and Advanced Comfort seats. It has the same unique personality and character as its predecessors, and even a lot more. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

With the new ë-C4 and New C4, actually Citroën’s new-generation compact hatchback, the iconic brand is targeting this time the still very important (European) hatchback market. This C4 has a rather elevated posture, not unlike we see with Asian competitors like amongst others the Toyota CH-R, with the same quite busy styling language.

Citroën says that it wants to combine the dynamism of a hatchback with SUV design forms for added character. With its sloping rear window and spoiler, Citroën says, the rear end draws its inspiration from the 2004 C4 Coupé with its original two-piece rear window topped by an aerodynamic spoiler.

Sliding behind the wheel, we are pleasantly surprised by a restful and uncluttered simplicity, indeed every effort has been made not to distract the driver unduly. The instrument cluster is a superb example of less is more: small dials for water temperature, revs and a digital speed indicator are the only things to attract your attention. The designers have kept these indicators rather small, and indeed your eyes should rather focus on the road and the large colored head-up display. Restful and efficient!

In the centre, at the top of the dashboard sits the ultra-thin borderless 10-inch touchscreen, which is of course the nerve centre of the vehicle’s controls. The controls of the dual-zone automatic climate control – thankfully also physical for immediate access to change the settings – have chrome dials and gloss black push buttons.

One finds easily his way in this C4. There is also an elegant guilloché metal automatic gear lever. It has the three usual positions (R, N and D) that are backlit for clarity. There are also two backlit push buttons: P to activate Parking mode, M to activate manual driving mode (for conventional engine versions) or B to activate the “Brake” energy recovery mode for the electric version. The console also incorporates the electric parking brake and a driving mode selector that has three settings on automatic transmission versions: Eco, Normal, Sport.

Smooth diesel power combined with a fluent 8 speed automatic…

Indeed, we drove here the BlueHDi 130 S&S in combination with the EAT8 Auto gearbox. Here we again were impressed by what a modern 1499 cc four valve turbocharged diesel engine (still) has to offer in terms of velvety power delivery and sheer economy, all this in paired with a state of the art transmission.

Starting from cold, the once so familiar diesel clatter is totally absent: this engine runs smooth, virbationless and silent right from the word go. At speed, it is totally inaudible, and very unobtrusive indeed at urban crawling speeds. The transmission is ideally mated to the engine’s torque characteristics. Indeed, the unit has ample pulling power, developing 300 Nm at a low 1700 rpm. Performance therefore leaves nothing to be desired: it will accelerate smoothly in 10,6 sec to 100 km/h, further to an impressive top speed of 206 km/h. Revs are kept low due to the high final gearing of the transmission, providing very restful high speed cruising. Indeed, maximum power of 96 kW or 130 HP is developed at a very sedate 3700 rpm.

So this C4 has everything in house to excel as a fast “grande routière”, and on top of that there is a truly astonishing fuel economy: we reached an average during our test of merely 4,4 l/100 km!

Legendary comfort…

The C4 is equipped, as standard, with the Citroën brand’s innovative suspension system featuring Progressive Hydraulic Cushions®, which were first introduced on C4 Cactus and C5 Aircross SUV. The suspension setup offers supreme comfort and a “magic carpet ride” effect, according to Citroën. Indeed, comfort is truly top notch. Not less than twenty patents were filed in the development of this suspension system. Its operating principle is simple: the Citroën Progressive Hydraulic Cushions® system adds two hydraulic stops – one for compression, the other for decompression besides the classic metal springs and shock absorbers. The suspension works in two stages, depending on the stresses it encounters.

For light compression and decompression, the spring and shock absorber control vertical movements together with no assistance required from the hydraulic stops. However, the presence of the hydraulic stops means the engineers have greater freedom to tune the setup to achieve the fabled “magic carpet ride” effect, which gives the impression that the car is gliding over uneven road surfaces.

Indeed, with major impacts, the spring and shock absorber work together with the hydraulic compression or decompression stops, which gradually slow the movement to avoid jolts at the end of the range. Unlike a traditional mechanical stop, which absorbs energy, but then returns part of it as a shock, the hydraulic stop absorbs and dissipates this energy. Clever!

The C4 is also quiet: particular attention has been paid to acoustic insulation, with a focus on running and aerodynamic noise. Special attention has been paid to the insulation around the engine block.

…is also found in the seats

The special foam on the surface of the seat, thickened by 15 mm, offers softness and support from the first contact. The new high-density foam at the core of the seats holds the occupants in place during long journeys. The seats are also pleasantly wide and generously dimensioned.

The front seat passenger is also spoiled…

A Smart Pad Support Citroën™ is a World Premiere on New ë-C4 and New C4. It is a retractable system designed to hold a tablet computer. It is solid, functional and directly built into the dashboard. It enables the front passenger to make the most of the time spent on-board. Ideal to put your co-pilot at work to read for you the stories and information about the towns or the regions you travel through, which you have prepared on your IPad or tablet prior to your voyage of course…

The Dashboard tray itself is a large sliding drawer with a cushioned action, positioned in front of the front passenger. It has a special anti-slip surface to store personal items or hold a tablet in place in complete safety. Just great!

Of course there is an open wireless charging area for smartphones, which comes combined with two USB sockets, one of which is Type C.

Infotainment and connectivity galore…

The 10-inch touchscreen, with a capacitive screen that needs only be touched with the tip of a finger, allows the driver to configure the vehicle, access the multimedia system, telephone, air-conditioning and navigation. It also features voice recognition.

Wireless charging for smartphones allows a wide range of Qi-compatible devices to be induction-charged using a charging mat incorporated into the centre console. The wireless transmission of electrical energy is based on the principle of magnetic induction. Connect Play, using the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay™ compatible Mirror Screen function are installed of course.

ConnectedCAM Citroën® is an independent camera system integrated into the base of the rear-view mirror. It uses full HD and GPS technology. The camera allows you to take a photo or video of the outside scene in front of your vehicle, with the corresponding data stored on the integrated 16 GB memory card. Thanks to the WiFi connection, the data recorded by the camera can be transferred to a smartphone to be shared via e-mail or social networks. ConnectedCAM Citroën® continuously films the road in front of the windscreen and automatically saves the recordings in the event of an accident.

As well as driving aids…

The new ë-C4 and New C4 are packed with driving aids – no less than 20 latest-generation technologies in all. That is as many as on C5 Aircross SUV, which is the benchmark for driving aids at Citroën.

Practical and spacious…

The C4 has a wheelbase measuring 2,670 mm – one of the longest in the segment – delivering the “Best in Class” knee room in the rear at 198 mm. The 1,800 mm exterior width easily accommodates three people in the rear – providing 1,380 mm of width at the shoulders and 1,440 mm at the elbows. Headroom in the back is a bit restricted for the tallest among us though.

With a 380-litre boot and a low, flat loading sill (715 mm), the C4 is at the heart of the segment. For added convenience, a two-position floor allows the boot to be divided into compartments and provides a flat floor when the rear seating is folded down. For even more practicality in everyday life, hooks are present to hang bags, while a ski hatch allows particularly long objects to extend into the cabin.

Last but not least we tell you here that this Citroen C4 is built at its Madrid plant, and Stellantis has spent €144 million in upgrading the factory and designing the new C4.

We also had a short drive with the electric ë-C4, and we tell you soon about our driving impressions… stunning indeed!

Conclusion

In terms of driving comfort, long-legged cruising performance, and last but not least exceptional economy and smoothness, this C4 truly stands in a class of its own. It is one of the most harmonious cars we have come across lately. Its 1,5 litre 130 HP diesel showed us again how formidable these engines have become, offering a useable range of well over 1,000 kilometers.

This C4 breathes originality and character, even more so in the interior, and we can tell you this: just slide behind the wheel of this one, and you will notice, Citroën driving is addictive, and this feeling grows further with every meter you drive it…

Hans Knol ten Bensel