We drove the Ford Mustang Mach-E X: a very well-balanced EV…

Ford has moved decisively in the electric age with this Mustang. A name which is reminiscent of its illustrious past, but actually the name is the only thing that is left over when you feel how this pleasing SUV actually drives. It is a nice handling and well performing five seater, offering practicality and sufficient range. It shows no weak points whatsoever, is actually quite fun to use and drive. Like Fords always have been, and that’s then again following the good tradition of the brand…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Mustang can be had in two battery pack sizes, namely 76 kWh and 99 kWh. You can also choose between one or two electric motors. The entry-level Mustang Mach-E has an electric motor at the rear, delivering 198 kW or 269 HP. Enough to make your driving quite zippy and entertaining, as this means an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 6,1 seconds. Yes, that’s even faster than a Jaguar E-Type, gentlemen. The torque is equally impressive with 430 Nm. Ford quotes a useable range of 440 kilometers. You can choose the bigger battery, and then the range stretches officially to a good 600 kilometers. Of course, your driving style will decide whether you will reach these distances…

With the bigger battery comes also a more powerful motor, this time in this “premium RWD” version, it develops 216 kW and 294 HP, mainly to compensate for the extra weight of the bigger battery. It will accelerate in 6,2 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h. If you choose 4 WD with two motors, one in the front and one in the rear, total system power is then 258 kW and 351 HP respectively, with torque now being 580 Nm. Performance is further enhanced, with an almost supercar league 5,1 seconds to 100 km/h. Range is now somewhat reduced with 400 or 550 kilometers, depending on the battery size chosen. Last but not least there is also a GT version, where total system power is now further beefed up to 358 kW and 487 hp. This results in a 0 to 100 km/h sprint in merely 3,8 seconds. Need we say more? Range with the 99 kWh battery is now officially 490 km. Top speed is here 200 km/h, in all the other versions it is limited to 180 km/h.

As said, the “base” performance is certainly exhilarating enough.

Behind the wheel…

In the car one immediately notices the super large central touchscreen, which is indeed intuitive to use. One is never more than two clicks away from any function you choose. The dashboard is clean and stylish, and its level of finish is also excellent. We also like the round selector knob for selecting gears and driving modes.

Smooth one pedal driving

After having enjoyed the formidable performance with a few sprints, it is time to enjoy the smoothness and refined silence of E-driving. When you select one pedal driving in the menu, you can indeed drive it totally intuitively with just using the accelerator pedal. Lifting the throttle will not cause immediate deceleration, the slowing down will set in quite gradually, which adds to the smoothness and lets you drive this Mustang in a totally “zen” manner. Also one can choose between three driving modes, active, whisper and untamed.

The range looks quite reasonable, and given an anticipative and smooth driving style, quite realistic. You can charge on AC with 11 kW, on DC up to 150 kW (if you can find this fast charging point). Experienced users already know that it is of little practical interest to charge the battery to more than 80 pct of its capacity, from then on the charging rate will be much lower, and not exceed 15 kW or thereabouts.

Responsive and agile handling…

Fords are known for their very entertaining and pleasant road manners, and this Mustang is no exception. The Mustang Mach-E is built on the Global Electrified 1 (GE1) platform, which is a heavily reworked version of the C2 platform that is used on the fourth generation Focus and third generation Kuga/fourth generation Escape. It certainly performs well. The suspension in itself is quite comfortable, even on urban cobblestones, and certainly comes into its own on the open road. The low point of gravity and the 50/50 weight distribution does the rest: this Mustang effectively steers on rails. If your corner speed is somewhat too enthusiastic, it will gently understeer, but with the ample torque and pulling power under your right foot, it is very easy to balance the car with the throttle and even induce a smooth oversteer reaction. So yes, sporting driving pleasure is certainly to be had. Steering is precise, but the self centering reaction is quite noticeable, so grabbing the wheel firmly is “de rigueur” when you want to put this Mustang through its paces.

Safety first and lavishly equipped

Of course, this Mustang has the usual raft of driving aid systems and what’s more, you can enjoy over the air updates, so it is future proof too.

The Mustang is loaded with accessories, even in its “base” version. What to think of electric adjustable front seats in 8 directions with memory function? These seats are also heated of course. Then there is the superb B & O sound system, which you can enjoy so much in this silent EV. The 15,5 inch central touchscreen is also standard, as is the panoramic sun roof. Then there is the latest generation Ford Sync, with connected navigation and voice command. The electric boot lid lets you open it “hands free”.  


The Mustang offers very good passenger room in the back, and has 400 l luggage space in the rear, with a front “frunck” good for an additional 81 liters. Handy to stow away your charging cables. Note also that the Mustang can tow up to 750 kg unbraked, and 1500 kg braked.


 This Mustang is a good looking, well balanced SUV, as we said in the beginning. It has many good qualities, and shows virtually no weaknesses. It is sporting, a pleasure to drive, is well finished, offers lavish equipment, exhilarating performance and is roomy and practical. It is easy to use with its large central screen and intuitive commands. Altogether, it also offers a quite reasonable range and good charging performance. A car to live with?  For sure, and indeed, the iconic Mustang name and badge has lost nothing of its appeal, albeit in a very different (EV) form…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the new DS 7 E-Tense: elegance, comfort and power, the French way…

DS Automobiles is going from strength to strength: it succeeds admirably in making cars with a very distinct character and style, with French “savoir faire” and bold, elegant design of both bodywork and dashboard and interior, creating a unique proposition in today’s car market. They also embarked into electrification: their model range is virtually completely electrified.

The new DS7 shows this again: it is available with not less than three so-called “E-Tense” plug-in hybrid versions, but then also still offered with the well proven BlueHDI 130 Diesel engine… fit for those who drive long distances on a (very) regular basis. We tested here for you the E-tense plug-in version, fit for electrified mobility. Read more about it here below…

The latest version of the DS 7, dubbed the “New” DS 7, has a restyled front with sharper lines, adding indeed further panache and “noblesse” to its stance. The work was carried out in close cooperation between the team of the Paris DS Design Studio and the production team at the Mulhouse factory.

Special attention has been given to refining the light signature. The headlamps – DS calls them DS PIXEL LED VISION 3.0 – are slimmer, and the daytime running lights are also seamlessly integrated. DS calls them LIGHT VEIL, and this consists besides the classic daytime running light also of four vertical luminous bands with not less than 33 LEDs. DS used an innovative process here: the laser-etched polycarbonate surface is only painted on the inner side. This results in a look alternating between light and body coloured parts, and gives the lighting effect of a piece of jewelery. Very refined indeed…

The Pixel Led Vision 3.0 headlamps have pixel modules which optimize the light output. For example the lighting in corners is controlled by the exterior LED’s of the pixel modules, depending on the steering angle. The LED rear lights are slimmer, boot lid and badge have been restyled and the “DS Automobiles” name is now wide lettered on the rear, adding a premium touch…

Our test car, in Opera trim and painted in a very fitting Eclipse Blue, had 20 inch “Tokio” alloys, which suited the car fine.

Interior with panache

We absolutely loved the styling and finish of dashboard and interior. The commands for the windows are neatly lined up on the centre console, are uniquely elegant and at the same time very ergonomic indeed. The central 12 inch instrument panel is intuitive to use and can be totally personalized.

We also loved its graphics, and the sound volume control in its center, a finely chiseled tube which one rolls up and down, marvelously simple and ergonomic. Of course we loved the clock in the centre of the dashboard. All round visibility is also greatly en enhanced by new high-resolution digital cameras. We also loved the comfortable seats, which have also – noblesse oblige – a high quality Nappa leather upholstery inspired by the metal bracelet of a luxury watch.

Also the steering wheel has the unique “feel” which custom made leather stitching offers, and adds to the overall sense of refinement this DS 7 evokes. We also loved the superb Focal Electra sound system.


The DS 7 has standard a formidable camera controlled damping system, called DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION. It has to be experienced to be believed. Electronics make it possible. Indeed, the camera scans the road surface ahead, and then adjusts each wheel independently to deliver this unique “carpet” ride. We just loved it, and it makes this DS 7 really stand out.

We left the drive mode throughout the test mostly in “comfort” mode, and it was a dream to drive the DS 7 like this. This comfortable setup does not impair handling, and indeed you can drive this DS 7 in a spirited manner over winding roads. Stability and surefootedness in the wet is also beyond reproach.

Sound insulation at speed is also top notch, and this makes the DS 7 a true “grande routière”. Wind noise is also absent, and motorway cruising with the DS 7 is literally an undisturbed pleasure. It remains completely smooth and silent at speed, and it is rather easy to surpass the speed limits, so one is well advised to use the cruise control on motorway journeys.


The DS 7 “E-Tense” we tested was the 225 HP version, which has a 180 HP 1,6 litre petrol engine driving the front wheels through an 8 speed automatic, as well as a 110 HP electric motor. A very smooth combination, with imperceptible transitions from combustion to E-power, offering the delightful feel of E-power in urban traffic, and a smooth power flow of the petrol engine on the open road.

Of course, plug-in hybrids need to be charged frequently to enjoy this (urban) electric propulsion, good for the environment and your car loving heart. The cost of this depends greatly on your charging situation, public charging stations tend to become rather expensive, and this rather sooner than later. The battery is new, with a 14.2 kWh capacity. This means that you can charge it in about 2 hours on a 7.4 kW charger. The range is – according to WLTP AER combined – a good 65 km. Acceleration is of course excellent with all this pulling power. The petrol engine is rather sporting when more power is called for, but otherwise is almost inaudible. The DS 7 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h is 8,9 seconds, the top speed is an impressive 225 km/h.


This is the thing with plug-in hybrids. The E-power possibility distorts the consumption figures of course, and they can be seen as largely theoretical, but then again, they form a basis of comparison. The DS 7 225 HP E-tense has officially 28 g/km of CO2 emissions and the fuel consumption is homologated at 1,2 litre/100 km.

 When the battery is flat, then the real life petrol consumption becomes important. Much – if not everything -depends here on how you drive. We achieved a consumption between 7 and 8 litres/100 km, adopting a fluent, anticipative driving style with nevertheless a lot of urban traffic included. One should always keep in mind that this is a 1,7 tonne SUV, and there is no escape from the laws of physics…


The DS 7 offers a good array of electronic driving assistance systems; of course one can also enjoy Apple Car Play. Our test car was also equipped with DS Drive Assist, an adaptive cruise control with stop and start without driver intervention. The DS 7 has ample room for five, boot space is also adequate with a volume of 555/1712 litres. The petrol tank is rather small with 42 litres, reminding you to recharge the battery of your plug-in Hybrid. The DS 7 is also a fairly good tow car, with 750 kg weight allowed unbraked, and 1275 kg braked.


The DS 7 appeals to customers who are looking for refinement, elegance and individuality when it comes to choosing a car. They also get a good portion of “savoir faire” Français, the Gallic way of doing things, and this makes a DS automobile really stand out. Then there is the fabulous comfort of this DS7, which is also unique in its segment. Performance and economy also tick all the boxes, and the plug-in hybrid layout gives you all the liberty of movement one could wish for in our Europe where the E-energy providers are hardly certain that they can supply enough electricity to cope with a fast transition the coming years towards full EV, and the availability of charging points still needs a massive effort from the EU member states, except the Netherlands…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Mercedes GLC 300 de 4Matic: the perfect star for your mobility…

We are living in fast changing times, full of transition. Car markets have grown massively in China (did you know that the GLC has also been built in Beijing since 2011?) and India, influencing the strategy of European car makers, while the EU commission projects for a greener Europe transform the outlook and the nature of our mobility. Besides all that, the choice of a new car is now also influenced by the fiscal treatment it receives, besides of course the concerns for our environment. What car to choose?

We drove here for you this Mercedes which provides an answer to all the changes which will affect our mobility. It is electrified, lets you drive some 100 km in full EV mode and at the same time gives you unlimited long distance mobility with its diesel engine. It is also fit to carry you to far flung places amidst pure nature: it has four driven wheels assisted by all the clever electronics to make you an experienced unpaved terrain driver. Besides that, it is roomy and is also a good towing car.

Does this Mercedes indeed tick all the boxes? Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Impressive, classic looks…

One instantly recognizes a Mercedes by its styling language, and the overall shape and proportions show clearly what the designers meant it to be. This GLC has a solid stance, but has a sporting flair akin to the C Class. Not unpleasing, and unmistakably Mercedes. The front end has been revised and the headlights are more integrated in the 2023 edition. The interior breathes also the philosophy of the brand: big screens in front of the driver and the same on the centre console, where it takes an eminent position. Well curved and upholstered seats, all functions and knobs solid and well finished. German premium brands make very good use of electronics, and also Mercedes has given this aspect much importance and has given it much thought.

Therefore all the functions are well balanced, ergonomic and mostly intuitive. Of course using it demands nevertheless a distinct learning curve for novices, as the many functions can sometimes be overwhelming. You are therefore well advised to read the manuals about the infotainment and screen functions carefully, it will lead to years of happier life with your Mercedes…but as we said, Mercedes has got things right when it comes to functionality of its infotainment.

We liked a bit less the haptic touches on the steering wheel. Sometimes you touch them while driving with sometimes annoying results. One thing: opening and closing the panoramic roof is not intuitive, so read the manual first.

Workmanship and engineering standards truly impress…

In the good tradition of the oldest manufacturer in the world, the level of finish and the quality of the used materials is what truly impresses. You are surrounded by non frivolous, long-lasting luxury… Typical for the brand are also the seat controls in the door panels, letting you adjust your seating position electronically in a breeze. It pays to carefully study the manual and go through the menus. You will discover that on the large central screen you can touch in your height, and the car will find for you automatically the proper driving position. The ideal climate setting is also soon found and off you go, after having pushed the big starting button. Put the small gearchange lever in D and off you go under silent E-power. As this is a plug-in hybrid, Mercedes has developed their now fourth generation (plug-in) hybrid concept even further. It has developed a so called “improved hybrid driving programme”.

This means that Artificial Intelligence electronics think with you: once you have put in your route, the car’s AI will calculate what is the most economical and environment friendly way to make the journey. If the route leads through urban areas, E-power is automatically preferred, when the route includes open roads and motorways, the car will use the diesel engine. The latest GLC hybrid generation now has a 100 kW electric motor. Marvelously smooth, as E-power goes. You can enjoy its 440 Nm of torque too. When you cruise leasurely on the motorway at 100-110 km/h or so and drive smoothly along with the urban traffic flow, the useable E-range is well above 100 km. In EV mode, it is no sluggard either. You can reach a top speed of not less than 140 km/h solely on E-power. Average E-consumption according to WLTP standards is between 27,2 and 24,4 kWh/100 km.

The battery has an enlarged capacity compared with the previous plug-in hybrid GLC generation. It now carries a 31,2 kWh battery, which is an in-house Mercedes-Benz development. The maximum DC charging power of the GLC PHEV is 60 kW. Even with a completely empty battery, full charging is possible in some 30 minutes. This means that the GLC is an eminently useable EV for urban use and shorter hauls with nevertheless an impressive range thanks to the larger battery. Mercedes has indeed created a very clever balanced concept of how a plug-in hybrid should perform. You can drive your plug-in hybrid Merc in different modes, i.e. Hybrid, Electric and Battery Hold. When you choose the electric mode, you feel in the accelerator pedal a haptic pressure point. Push further and the engine starts too.   

Stability is as you would expect excellent, the suspension is comfortable, wind and road noise are of course well insulated. You can enjoy the sound system, let your eyes wander to the big central touchscreen, and see for example the info of the music which is played over the excellent DAB radio. You are also experiencing how good the seats are, always a strong point of the brand with the good star.


This plug-in hybrid GLC 300 de is built for those who do not want to sacrifice performance and range in these E-times. Indeed, this Mercedes still feels very much at home on the left lane of the Autobahnen. Top speed is a solid 216 km/h, and it accelerates also like the proverbial bullet, a sprint from 0 to 100 km/h is absolved in merely 6,4 seconds. Mind you, this is the performance of a well tuned Jaguar E-type…

The diesel engine is the well proven double overhead cam 1.993 cc 4 cylinder intercooler turbo common rail unit, developing not less than 145 kW or 200 HP at 3000 rpm. Did you ever believe this was possible with a diesel engine? The ponton 180 D, the first Mercedes my father owned in 1955, had also a four cylinder 1,8 litre long stroke unit, was developing some…38 HP. We were so lucky, my father and me, to drive the factory entered 180 D in the Mille Miglia, invited as a member of the official Mercedes Mille Miglia team, together with Stirling Moss, who drove a 300 S… Mind you, our brave Diesel was still able to be almost as fast on the course as the Lancia Aurelia’s, although this called for some very spirited driving! Of course I covet the Shopard watch I have as a memory of this adventure, with our starting number 147 engraved in the back…

Pulling power of this 300 d is abundant, 440 Nm at merely 1600 rpm. The engine has a slightly longer stroke due to a new crankshaft. Total system power is 245 kW (333 HP) and total torque is 750 Nm, hence the excellent performance figures. Of course, this diesel lets itself heard with an unobtrusive deep throb when pressed hard, but even when you are driving your GLC 300 de in a spirited manner, the enormous torque hardly lets the engine rev higher, and everything is comfortably silent indeed.

The beauty of diesels is of course their frugality, they excel when quite substantial power is required over long periods/distances. So driving this GLC doesn’t cost you a fortune at the pump, even with a totally empty battery, you can achieve with this 2-tonne SUV a consumption between 6 and 8 litres/100 km, depending on your driving style of course, one simply cannot bend the laws of physics. The tank capacity is 62 litres, which gives you a radius of some 800 km on Diesel fuel alone. The WLTP consumption is between 0,7-0,5 l/100 km, CO2 emissions are 17-13g/km. The GLC is equipped with a 9 speed automatic gearbox, which in the PHEV layout guarantees a smooth power flow in all circumstances, as the electric motor with its ample torque steps in when the gearbox has to make up its mind which gear to choose under hectic driving.

Comfort and predictable handling with the good star…

We said it already, seating comfort is excellent. The suspension irons out urban street potholes rather well, and strikes a very good balance between handling and comfort. Choosing the “sport” driving mode shows quite decent handling on winding roads, stable, surefooted, predictable. It offers some driving pleasure, but it does not exactly invite you to adopt a brisk driving style. We already told you about finding the ideal position behind the wheel by simply choosing your height on the central touchscreen. But there is more.

There is a finger print sensor which recognizes who you are, and will engage your preferred sound settings. You can choose not less than 7 settings.(!) One word of praise is justified for the Burmeister sound system. Truly to be enjoyed. There is also a large and very readable head up display, with lots of information. It also shows you which driving mode you are in.

There is also a special offroad driving mode. It not only lets you control the drivetrain ideally, it also steers the cameras. Indeed, when you are driving in terrain, the front camera lets you even see what is underneath the bonnet and front wheels, as it “remembers” what it has seen in front and reproduces that again when you are driving over it…

There is enough leg- and headroom for three grownups in the rear, and the rear passengers even have their own climate controls and USB slots. The doorbins are absolutely massive, so there is more than enough room to store your bottles.

Boot space is sufficient, and you can charge your GLC with not less than 625 kg and tow not less than 2000 kg, so this 4WD will certainly prove its worth when you love horses, camping or boats…


This GLC 300 de 4 Matic has already convinced many buyers in its previous generation, and now thanks to its larger battery is striking an ideal balance between E-power and engine propulsion, electronically managed by its improved hybrid driving programme. This results in a well and truly very useable “pure” EV in many situations, thanks to its generous over 100 km “E” range. It is also well built, powerful, roomy, practical and has panache and style. Due to its versatile hybrid character, this might be your car in these times of transition…

Hans Knol ten Bensel        

We drove the Nissan Ariya : a noble e-beauty

We all know, EV’s offer refinement. Some also offer roominess and the stance of a big SUV. Nissan decided to take things a step further: they also offer pure beauty.

Indeed, the designers of the Ariya surpassed themselves: they transformed the clunky dimensions of a SUv into fluid lines, which are sleek, well proportioned and completely natural. If you look at this car, the volumes, shapes and lines are completely logical, achieving an unsurpassed purity which seduces the viewer at first hand. Nissan calls its design language “Timeless Japanese Futurism”; it certainly is. 

The interior breathes the same logical simplicity, underlined by a judicious choice of noble materials. The climate controls and the drive mode together with other essential functions on the console are – noblesse oblige in these modern times – haptic with a very positive feel. The styling of the dashboard is beautifully clean, the seats and steering wheel are electrically adjustable and soon an ideal seating position is found. One feels immediately totally at home in this Ariya, everything is totally self explaining what the commands are concerned, and a “Zen” feeling pervades you even before you have pressed the starting button.

The instrumentation has different modes and readings, you can have nice round dials if you want, the layout and functions of the touchscreen is top notch, with the “camera” functionality well placed in the top left of the screen, easy to push when you enter a tight garage entry for instance with your big Ariya. In the centre of the dashboard is an electric deploy-able tray, which is opened with one of the haptic buttons on the console.


The Ariya is of course completely silent and smooth, and one has the choice between three driving modes, eco, standard and sport. For our test, we left it mostly on standard mode, but we always used the clever e-pedal mode, which lets you, after having learned it a bit, drive with anticipation using almost no brakes. Lifting the throttle puts the electric motor in regeneration mode. You cannot completely stop the Ariya without applying the brakes however, which is actually a good thing, as you can approach the traffic light smoothly, slightly creeping and accelerate immediately again away when it turns green. It adds to driving smoothness, and smooth driving is actually what EV’s are all about. Always remember that you are driving a two tonne car, which needs to be accelerated and stopped, and this is costing much energy indeed. If you want to reach easily the official driving range of your EV, drive it smoothly in town, avoid any brisk accelerations, which disturb the “Zen” feeling of the car anyway and hardly impresses any girl above 10 years of age, just enjoy the music AND the journey. There was a 10 speaker BOSE system in our Ariya, together with a DAB radio. You can imagine how we felt in this Ariya…

It rewards you with consumption figures as low as 9 (yes nine) kWh. This was reached on a urban stretch of 2 km with FOUR traffic lights. (!) Over the test, we reached without effort a driving range of well over 500 kms. We mention here that our test car came with the 87 kWh battery pack. Reaching this range supposes of course you also have to take it easy also on the open road. Settle for a cruising speed of 95-100 km/h, just a bit faster than the trucks. You have a wonderful, silent, relaxing voyage. Yes, we know, the charging situation in our country is still abysmal. So for the time being, be easy on the throttle, and by the way, aren’t we environmentally conscious?

You can charge it up to maximum 130 kW DC. Charging times than dwindle, in 35 minutes you can charge for a distance from 44 to 348 km or let’s say, from 10 to 80 % capacity.


Let’s first point out that the Ariya is available in three versions (Ariya 2WD 63kWh, Ariya 2WD 87kWh, Ariya e-4ORCE AWD 87kWh). With performance to match… For the 178 kW (242PS) 2WD version, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is in 7,6 seconds, top speed being limited at 160 km/h. Largely sufficient for any needs!  

Handling and comfort

The suspension is not too firm, with the suspension being a bit noisy on bumps and ridges, with a responsive and precise steering. Road noise is very well suppressed; the Ariya is very silent at speed. The Arya is quite engaging to drive at speed on winding roads, there is hardly any body roll. So yes, (sporting) driving pleasure is certainly to be had!

Just note here that the the Ariya is built on the all-new Alliance-developed CMF-EV platform that’s optimised to deliver unparalleled performance. Suspension in the front consists of independent MacPherson struts, in the rear there is an independent mulit-link setup.

Let’s talk about visibility. The visibility up front is excellent. The C pillar is a bit wide, so it obstructs the three quarter rear view somewhat. Rear visibility is also further enhanced by the built in camera in the rear view mirror. The camera’s give also an excellent 360° surround view


There is good storage space in the Ariya, and indeed, the car comfortably seats five. With enough legroom in the back and no transmission tunnel, the third passenger sits comfortably too. One even gets heated seats in the back and the obvious USB sockets of course. The boot capacity is 466 litres, which is not enormous. There is no front boot space either. But the boot cover can be stored underneath the floor when you need more space and put the rear seats down. If you want to tow things up to 1500 kilos, you need the 4WD version, the Ariya with front wheel drive will only pull a good 750 kilos.


The Ariya is very well equipped. The Evolve version we drove featured a panoramic retracting sunroof, Intelligent Rear View Mirror, head-up display, power-adjustable center console and steering column, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio, Bose 10-speaker stereo and temperature-controlled front seats.  We liked the Intelligent Rear View Mirror, indeed, a special camera in the rear view mirror lets you “see through” the third passenger on the back seat… The center console can also be moved fore and aft electrically, which we liked very much and let you really settle in comfortably.


A beauty, which also gives you the ultimate “Zen” driving feeling, with its clean interior, its superb commands, excellent sound insulation, roominess and good comfort. Add to this the good, predictable handling and practicality, leaving the excellent range as a last, very decisive argument too take a good look at this Ariya. It will brighten up your motoring life…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Mazda CX-60 e SkyActiv PHEV : a flagship SUV the Mazda way…

Mazda has bold ambitions. It wants to be an absolute premium manufacturer within a few years, and it is building up its model range accordingly. Looking at its latest SUV, the CX-60, it is definitely succeeding. This PHEV Mazda impressed us. Read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mazda elegance and style

Mazda’s are well proportioned and styled, and have indeed a distinct, proper styling language which makes them stand out from the rest. The lines of this bigger SUV are not too busy, instead they are fluent and exude a distinct sportiness together with a quest for simplicity and elegance. The front end and radiator grille carry also the distinct Mazda DNA, which is now becoming well established and is quite pleasing.

The style and sophistication is also found in the interior. We absolutely loved the white colour of the surface panels, upholstery and seats, and the lavish use of chrome around the edges of the lateral vents. On the wide central console, which is impressive due to the simple fact that a transmission runs through it, one finds even a tropical white wood veneer finish. Very oriental, we would say, and a refreshing departure from the all black colour schemes we so often encounter.

The elegant interior design introduces the ideas of Kaichou – an element of disruption which mixes different materials and textures. With the flagship Takumi grade, which was the top equipment version found in our test car, materials such as maple wood, nappa leather combine with uniquely worked Japanese textiles and chrome details, and Musubu – the art of binding which was the inspiration for a specially detailed instrument panel stitching. We liked that also very much.

The treatment of the maple wood trim reflects the Japanese aesthetic of Hacho – asymmetrical balance, or intentional unevenness. The woven fabrics’ diverse patterns and yarns respond sensitively to changes in light, and a Japanese stitching technique called Kakenui creates ‘hanging stitching’ seams with spaces between the trim fabrics revealing a glimpse of the material beneath. As we said, very elegant indeed…

Very powerful

The Mazda CX-60 comes with several engines, and even a six cylinder in line Diesel in world markets, but for the time being, in our country it’s a 2,5 litre four cylinder “Sky Active” petrol engine which is doing part of the work, as the CX-60 is a PHEV. The electric motor sits between the engine and the gearbox, and even has its own clutch, so this Mazda remains a 4WD also when in EV mode. Power galore with this Mazda. What to say of an electric motor which develops already 134 hp, and which is able to propel this two tonne SUV with the inboard 17.8 kWh battery on EV power alone for a range of 62 km.

Indeed, when you have charging possibilities at home and the office, and if your daily commute is rather short, it is totally feasible to use your Mazda as an EV. Just choose with the “I mode” sliding lever on the console the EV mode and you’re ok. You can expect then formidable economy, as the engine then is hardly used. The benchmark and crucial WLTP CO2 emissions value is set 33g/100 km. The WLTP combined fuel consumption is just 1.5l/100 km.

Combined with the petrol engine total power is an impressive 327 PS/241 kW. This makes it the most powerful Mazda ever, having also not less than 500 Nm torque, with performance to match: this SUV sprints in 5,8 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h, and top speed is not less than a limited 200 km/h. For your information, the petrol engine develops a maximum power output of 141 kW at 6000 rpm and 261 Nm of torque. The electric motor delivers 129 kW of power and 270 Nm of torque at 400 rpm.

Does this CX-60 invite you to use all this power? Not quite, where I have to admit that we are a bit economy buffs, and seeing the cleverly designed instant consumption dial hovering fiercely in the red zone, with consumption well above 20 liters/100 km when we press our right foot a bit deeper, we tended intuitively to slow things down a bit.

Add to this that the engine makes itself well heard when called to duty, and you understand that we rather avoided using the “sport” mode. This Mazda will also use its engine rather often when the battery is low, which is understandable since one needs power to move this 2 tonne SUV around. Driving this CX 60 with restraint when the battery is depleted, one achieves an average consumption of some 7,8 litres/100 km as we registered during our test, which is a very good score considering the size and weight of this 4WD CX 60. The efficient 2,5 litre Skyactiv unit is coupled to an all new 8 speed automatic, which doesn’t use a classic hydraulic converter, but a multi-plate clutch as well as an integrated electric motor/generator.

Mazda claims that by replacing the torque converter with a clutch, the torque of the engine and motor is transmitted directly, with fast and rhythmic shifting much like a manual transmission. A little bit of the Mazda MX-5 “Zoom zoom” philosophy is still felt here. Nowadays, Mazda is aiming to become a premium manufacturer more than ever. The larger public should only be more aware of this…

The transmission is indeed very smooth when driving away from standstill, some jerkiness is felt when the transmission changes down when coasting and slowly decelerating. But under power, everything just feels great.

Driving dynamics

Mazda put a great effort in the handling and agility of this big Mazda. It wants it to be nimble, responsive and engaging. Not a small brief for a big SUV. First of all, it should be noted that the CX-60 The new Mazda CX-60 is based on Mazda’s Skyactiv Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture, designed to be compatible with the SUV’s longitudinal front-engine rear-wheel drive mechanical layout.

The Skyactiv Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture features numerous enhancements to improve as Mazda calls it, the Jinba-Ittai driving.

The feeling of Jinba-ittai (oneness between car and driver) that can be experienced when driving the CX-60 in varied day-to-day situations, remains the same even on challenging off-road paths during weekend outdoor activities or on slippery winter roads covered in snow and ice.

The i-Activ AWD and Mazda Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) allow the car to maintain responsive on-road driving while also offering a safe and secure driving experience even on various off-road surfaces thanks to its high controllability.

The bodyshell rigidity lets you feel the car’s handling and movements without lag. We should also mention here the Mazda-unique vehicle posture control system – Kinematic Posture Control (KPC). This stabilizes vehicle posture when cornering, braking the inside rear wheel to mitigate roll and draw the car body downwards.

How does all this translate in practice? The suspension revealed itself as rather firm, understandably so if you have to balance a 2,1 tonne SUV. Steering is precise, but rather busy. Yes, the CX-60 could indeed be thrown around corners, is up to the job, but it doesn’t exactly invite you to do so. The CX-60 sports double wishbones at the front and a multi-link rear suspension.

Driving aids

This Mazda of course incorporates all the usual driving aids and then some. We greatly appreciated the so-called “see through” function, which enhances even the 360 degrees camera function in this sense that it projects an image on the screen which lets the driver see through the front and rear corners of the car. Advanced Smart City Brake Support uses a front camera to show cars and pedestrians ahead.

Command comfort…

We greatly appreciated also the large central armrest and the command knob to, steer the functions displayed on the screen. Mazda is in my opinion only to, be applauded for maintaining this circular command knob, which is so much easier and stable to use when on the move on bouncy roads and avoids the unhygienic, finger prints on the screen. COVID-19 times made us aware of this ever more…

There is also the so-called Driver Personalisation System, which detects with a camera the eye position of the driver and his physique, then automatically adjusts the seat and steering wheel, Active Driving Display and the door mirrors.

And practicality

The boot space is 570 litres, increasing to 1148 litres with the rear seats folded flat. The load space is equipped with a 12 V 150 watt outlet, which can be raised in the PHEV to 230 V with not less than 1500 watts…

The CX-60 is also excellent for towing, as it can pull a weight of not less than 2500 kg…


Mazda succeeds in making this CX-60 an absolute premium SUV, certainly when it comes to styling, finish and opulent elegance, especially in the interior. As a PHEV, it offers its EV qualities when it can be frequently recharged. On the other hand, when the battery is depleted, it remains reasonably frugal. It certainly handles well, but a fluent, relaxed driving style suits it most.

It is lavishly equipped, and this goes for all the equipment versions you choose. The top version we tested leaves strictly nothing to be desired, with 20 inch alloys and panorama roof included, and this makes the CX-60 also attractive…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographers notes

We shot the Mazda here entirely with our Fujifilm Finepix S100 FS , which was bought, as you know, for less than 70 Euros. We erroneously left the Dynamic Range at 100. Given the strong sunlight, we should have set it at least at 200 or 400. But there you are. The results are still pretty decent, considering also that we were also still shooting in JPEG. The sensor produces 11,1 megapixel images, which is plenty for our work. The 28-400 mm zoom lens even has a macro function and an ultra macro function, making close ups a breeze…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Volkswagen takes a bold step towards the affordable EV for the masses with its ID.2all* concept car.

It’s coming: Volkswagen brought us a first glimpse of an all-electric Volkswagen costing less than 25,000 euros with their “ID. 2all” concept vehicle.

It is of course front-wheel drive, range of up to 450 kilometres, innovative technological features such as Travel Assist, IQ.LIGHT or Electric Vehicle Route Planner and a new Volkswagen design language.

Technical buffs are interested to know that this new “E”VW for the masses will be based on the MEB Entry platform and is one of ten(!) new electric models that Volkswagen will launch by 2026.

In my modest opinion, VW takes here a formidable and bold gamble… will the European car markets (and more specifically its electric infrastructure) be ready for this?

Read further about this “milestone” E-VW…it is sooo interesting and will be a harbinger for things to come!  

Hans Knol ten Bensel

VW’s goals and ambitions with this new true “E”-VW…

It is certain that VW wants the wider public to again fall in love with its cars: Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars stated it clearly: “We are transforming the company rapidly and fundamentally – with the clear objective of making Volkswagen a genuine Love Brand.”

The concept of “Wertarbeit”, a concept so beloved by the Germans, which can be freely translated to “Quality work which creates value”, is also not lost in the boardroom and lobby’s of Volkswagen. Imelda Labbé, Member of the Brand Board of Management for Sales, Marketing and Aftersales, stated it clearly: “We are transferring the typical Volkswagen virtues to the new world of mobility: top quality and workmanship, outstanding software and digital services with genuine added value.”

Mechanical perfection and reliability is therefore of prime importance, and so VW adops well-tried solutions, present in the MEB platform, which by the way uses also all the automated product processes which are already well in place.

Kai Grünitz, Member of the Brand Board of Management responsible for Development, states it for us: “The ID. 2all will be the first MEB vehicle with front-wheel drive. We are exploiting the great flexibility offered by our modular electric drive (MEB) platform and will set new standards in terms of technology and everyday usability with the MEB Entry platform.”

This VW will also certainly be no sluggard: It has a powerful electric drive motor with an output of 166 kW / 226 PS and will have a calculated WLTP range of up to 450 kilometres.

A new design…

The ID. 2all concept vehicle was designed by Andreas Mindt, who took over as the new Head of Volkswagen Design on 1 February 2023. Volkswagen is in his blood, as his father was a designer in Wolfsburg before him. Andreas Mindt joined Volkswagen in 1996 after studying design. He created bestsellers such as the first Tiguan and the seventh-generation Golf. In 2014, he moved to Audi in Ingolstadt as Head of Exterior Design.

The next step followed in 2021 when Mindt became Director of Design at Bentley in Crewe, England. However, he has always maintained his close ties to Volkswagen and continues to be the proud owner of a Beetle. Andreas Mindt on his first project as Volkswagen Head of Design: “We are transferring the DNA of our icons into the future. The ID. 2all is therefore also homage to the Beetle, Golf and Polo.”

Andreas Mindt has developed a new Volkswagen design strategy – one that will ensure the brand’s DNA remains clearly recognisable in the future. Mindt: “I am focusing on three main pillars: stability, likeability and excitement.”

“The most important value for Volkswagen design is stability,” says Andreas Mindt. This includes value stability, stability of form, reliability and recognisability. “A second core element of the brand is likeability,” explains the designer. The Beetle, Volkswagen bus, new Beetle and ID. Buzz clearly demonstrate this. “Stability and likeability – we have to achieve these two values in every respect.” But there is much more to a successful Volkswagen than that: “We also want to create excitement in our customers.” For example, with added dynamics, improved operability or the classic “form follows function” of an ID. Buzz or Golf. Technologies, forms and concepts are what make a Volkswagen desirable. Stability, likeability and excitement are typical characteristics of the Volkswagen design, the Volkswagen feeling. Mindt assigns three design elements to each of these three values. They are all reflected in the ID. 2all.

I was happy to read Mindt’s comments on design, which I have repeated time and again in my guide tours at Audi Brussels: Automotive design is an art form, but there are still clear laws that apply – such as the golden ratio. I couldn’t agree more with Andreas Mindt: “Likeability is created by the golden ratio. This is quite simply the ratio of three fifths to two fifths.” Leonardo da Vinci already followed this geometrical principle in works such as the Mona Lisa. The designer continues: “The feature line running below the window shoulder is located on exactly the golden ratio line of the ID. 2all. Both the Beetle and Golf also always followed the principle of the golden ratio.” People perceive this division created by nature as being pleasant and likeable.

Easy to use…

VW has learned from the usability mishaps in the commands of the early ID’s. VW now calls it ‘self-explanatory operation’. The touch display (diagonal: 32.7 cm / 12.9 inches) of the infotainment system has a new menu structure. Below this there is a newly developed, separate air conditioning control panel. Other vehicle functions are operated by means of a menu control in the centre console, which can also be used to change the look of the digital instruments. The new multifunction steering wheel is designed to be clear and self-explanatory – two thumbwheels on the left and right and two buttons each, and nothing else.

Charged to 80 per cent in less than 20 minutes…

The battery permits a calculated WLTP range of up to 450 kilometres. At DC quick-charging stations, the battery can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in 20 minutes.

Provided we find these stations! In our country, the situation is still abysmal what these quick charging stations is concerned. Take Fastned: when I want for instance to drive from Antwerp to Knokke, I need to have enough range to make the 210 km trip back and forth to Antwerp, and to make things even worse, there is no Fastned charging station in the whole Antwerp region so far, and NONE in Knokke… so I would have to go towards Brussels in Steenokkerzeel, about 43,7 km from Antwerp, to find one… ridiculous isn’t it? I need at least 260 km range for the trip! To avoid any misunderstandings, we looked here only for Fastned charging stations. There are of course some other 4 to 38 kW charging stations, but any of the apps to find chanrging stations do NOT show whether you can use your bank card or not. At more than 90 %, it is not possible…

Back to our concept car…

Of course, this VW accelerates like a bullet: 0 to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds. Its top speed is limited to 160 km/h.

A bold step for Volkswagen, but a very logical one if you take a look at its strategy. Soon, we will live in (very) different times…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Alfa Romeo Tonale MHEV: fit for a long love affair…

The Alfa Tonale will always be a car close to my heart. Not least because I stood by its cradle, I have literally seen it born.

I was invited at the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo by Chief designer Klaus Busse and his team when the plaster and wood prototype of the Tonale was just finished. We admired its typical proportions in tune with the higher stance of an SUV, with a horizontal accent line reminiscent of the styling language of the famous ‘Disco Volante’ two seater, created by Carrozzeria Touring back in 2013 and the original Disco Volante 1900 C52 born 1952 also designed by the Milanese coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring…

In these columns you can also read our driving impressions of the 4WD Tonale Hybrid, which we tested on the Balocco proving ground and its surroundings. This time we took the ‘Mild’ hybrid FWD version for you on a road test through France. Does it offer the unmatched panache of a true Alfa?

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Sliding behind the wheel one is immediately engulfed by the Alfa atmosphere. Behind the classic Alfa three-spoked steering wheel, your fingers meet two very large gearchange paddles, the very same as one finds on other Alfas and Maserati’s. Round dials greet you, embedded in two large clusters. Nice! The starting knob is nestled on the left branch of the steering wheel, the DNA selector sits close to the driver’s side on the centre console. All this befits a true thoroughbred.

Smooth power

Pushing the start button will fire up the 48 V hybrid system, and the first few meters are driven on EV power from the 0.8 kWh battery. From the size of this battery one can really understand this is a (very) mild hybrid. Just to put things in perspective, the battery on my Lexus CT 200h, a model which was launched in 2011, is a 1.3 kWh nickel-metal hydrid (NiMH) one. The Audi Q5 Hybrid – launched back in 2014 – also had a capacity of 1.3 kWh. By the way, the big Mercedes E400 Hybrid, launched back in 2014, had (only) a battery with a capacity of 0,8 kWh, the same as the Tonale.

A smaller capacity battery has of course its advantages is size and weight. The battery here has a volume of about 11 liters and does not affect the size of the trunk because it is installed under the central tunnel, between the front seats. It weighs only 13,5 kg by the way. The “dual voltage” system with DC/DC converter from 48 to 12 Volts manages the interface with the electrical architecture of the Alfa.

In the Tonale, the battery drives a 48-volt 15-kW and 55-Nm “P2” electric motor. (135 Nm thanks to the 2.5:1 transmission ratio). Indeed, after the initial start, very soon the 1,5 litre four cylinder sets in. The transition from E-power to engine power is very smooth indeed, as the 1.5 liter-gasoline engine with a variable-geometry turbocharger is paired with 7-speed Alfa Romeo TCT dual-clutch transmission as well as the electric motor. In stop start situations at traffic jams, the Tonale is able to drive solely on E-power, but indeed, not for long, due to the limited capacity of the battery. Also as soon as one depresses the throttle a little bit deeper because more traction power is wanted, the engine sets in anyway.

One can choose between two power levels of the engine, either 160 HP or 130 HP. The “edizione Speziale” equipment version of our test car can be had with both power versions. We would think that performance wise, the Tonale leaves nothing to be desired. In the 160 HP version, you will shoot from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 8,8 seconds and reach a top speed of over 210 km/h. With the milder 130 HP version, the Tonale is no sluggard either, as our test car amply showed. The acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h is 9,9 seconds, and the top speed is a good 195 km/h. The engine sound is marvelous, and very well dampened. It never is obtrusive, on the contrary, it is quite melodious, and will please not only the Alfa aficionados.

The iconic DNA selector lets you choose between Dynamic, Naturale and the Advanced efficiency modes…

The engine, which redlines at 6500 rpm, is also turbine-like smooth and exempt from any vibrations.  At cruising speeds, it is almost inaudible. Alfa quotes an average WLTP consumption of 5.6 – 6.2 l/100 km. We managed an average consumption of 6,9 liters. Higher (cruising) speeds cost some fuel, and the Tonale invites to it… On secondary roads and slower urban speeds, the consumption hovers with some anticipative and smooth driving easily between 6 and 6,5 liters. We can only repeat ourselves that the driving style greatly influences your fuel consumption…

Acceleration at intermediate speeds is excellent and smooth, with the large gearchange paddles of course inviting you to intervene manually and let the engine “sing” in its ideal rev range when hurtling up and down mountain passes. Pulling power of the engine is quite good, as it develops 240 Nm of torque.

Curve master…

Indeed, on winding roads the Tonale really comes into its own, with its direct steering, (Alfa tells us it’s the most direct steering in its segment with a 13,6:1 ratio) and excellent suspension. The Tonale Hybrid has the Alfa Romeo Dynamic Torque Vectoring and FSD (Frequency Selective Damping) shock absorbers as standard equipment. We drove this Alfa on the mountain roads in the French Massif Central, also on the legendary Col de Burzet and the stretch towards the plateau at Lachamp Rafaël, an iconic stage in the Monte Carlo Rally, and it was a delightful experience. Stable, precise, virtually no body roll and excellent responsiveness, these were the ingredients which put a smile on our face.

Also the brakes earn a word of praise. The Alfa Romeo Tonale adopts the Integrated Brake System (IBS), an electromechanical system that combines stability control with conventional servo brakes. The system guarantees instantaneous brake response thanks to the integration between electronics and mechanics, together with weight optimization, optimal feeling and the total absence of pedal vibrations. In addition, the IBS manages the imperceptible blending between regenerative braking (to maximize energy recovery) and dissipative braking (achieved through the braking system).

What’s more, the Tonale adopts standard fixed calipers by Brembo, with 4 pistons and self-ventilated discs at the front and full discs at the rear.

…with dynamic vectoring

The front-wheel drive Tonale has standard an electronic self-locking differential. The system is built into the DNA selector and exploits the effect of the braking system by simulating a limited mechanical differential. It certainly works beautifully. It brings effective driving dynamics by controlling the vehicle stability, and by redirecting the power to the wheels when accelerating on corners. The system also provides improved greater control on slippery surfaces, as well as greatly reducing understeer, transferring torque from the inner to the outer wheel, ensuring better longitudinal acceleration and consequently better road holding. This Alfa feels truly nimble and can be thrown around corners in total confidence.

 Alexa assists you on (all) the way…

The Tonale has Amazon’s Alexa voice system built in. So you enjoy hands-free, voice-initiated interactions. Infotainment is further of course top notch with a customizable Android operating system and 4G connectivity with Over-the-Air (OTA) updates. This system includes a fully digital 12.3” screen, the main 10.25” touchscreen unit which is totaling 22.5”. The Alfa Romeo Tonale enables Level 2 autonomous driving by combining the “Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control” (IACC) and “Lane Centering” (LC) systems and the forward-facing camera, which longitudinally and laterally monitors all the car’s surroundings.

We also appreciated the dual-zone air conditioning, pleasant ambient light, sophisticated infotainment system, ventilated and heated front seats, and a formidable 14-speaker sound system by Harman Kardon. The reception of the radio is also quite good, even on FM. We were able to listen to France Musique and France Culture with crystal clear reception in mountainous areas…  The Tonale also has an electric tailgate and a wireless charging pad.


The Mild Hybrid Tonale is every inch a true Alfa, which is an excellent drivers’ car with formidable handling, combined with mechanical sophistication, docility and very good urban manners. It is also reasonably economical, provided you adopt a more sedate driving style. Finish and build quality is up to scratch, and equipment in our tested “speziale” equipment version is lavish to say the least.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Peugeot 308 SW GT Diesel Blue HDI: your stylish lion to go places…

Peugeot styling has panache and zest, and a short look at this 308 SW will convince you. The 308 SW we tested here for you came even in the GT version, which adds even more flamboyance.

The 308 finds a technical sister in the DS4, and its technology is well proven indeed.

Under the hood of our test car pounded the powerful heart of a 1,5 litre “Blue HDI” Diesel, and it impressed us greatly. Let it be said, modern day diesels have come a (very) long way, combining excellent pulling power with legendary economy. Here it was coupled to the Aisin 8 speed auto box we see also in many other models of the Stellantis group, as does the engine by the way.

We asked ourselves how a diesel would compare with our modern petrol engines and (fully) electrified drivetrains, so read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Sliding behind the stylish wheel of this 308 GT, our eyes immediately fell on the beautiful instrumentation. I think personally that the Peugeot stylists did a wonderful job. You have the impression to sit in a sports or racing car, reminiscent even of a formula 1 car, if you let yourself get a bit carried away. It certainly has character. The small steering wheel and the high positioning of the instrument cluster reinforce the feeling to sit in the cockpit of a very sporting machine. The size of the steering wheel also enhances the impression of agility and indeed encourages you to drive this Peugeot in a spirited manner.

Pushing the starting button lets the diesel come to life. It certainly changes from the velvety e-power we are now increasingly becoming accustomed to. Vibrations are clearly felt in the steering wheel, and even at cruising speeds some vibrations are felt. Indeed, the laws of physics inevitably come into play when the engine is very efficient and the gearing is very high indeed.

Of course, this efficiency results in stellar economy. According to the WLTP cycle, this 308 SW consumes merely liters in the urban cycle. On secondary roads, the consumption even drops to 4,5 l/100 km, and a modern Diesel is also absolutely king when it comes to high constant speed runs on the Autobahnen or Autoroutes. The WLTP cycle average quotes here 4,9 l/100 km. Co2 emissions are 129/148 g/km.

Are these figures realistic? Yes, if you drive accordingly. We repeat it time and again, one should drive with anticipation, use the available kinetic energy to the max to obtain decent fuel economy. This means coast as much as you can, instead of using the brakes. Drive in a fluid manner. You will in a few days be amply rewarded at the fuel pump. The average consumption in urban traffic of my Lexus CT 200h? 4,7 l/100 km, smoothly, no sweat. In the present state of affairs with still a fair amount of “grey” electricity, it wins the well to wheel CO2 contest still hands down.

So much for that. The torque of this 130 HP diesel is ample with 300 Nm. The 8 speed automatic takes well advantage of that, and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is a brisk 10,6 seconds. Top speed is 207 km, indeed, on the Autoroutes this 308 SW is fast.

Daily life with the 308 SW…

An aura of sporting panache pervades the interior. The quality of the materials and finish is impressive. We loved also the clean yet rather dramatic styling of the centre console and dashboard. Under the touchscreen is a smaller horizontal screen with a fixed layout where you can always select the main menu functions, and below that are manual switches for heating and ventilation, as one finds also in the DS4. This layout is logical, and you find your way soon enough, without having to consult a bible thick manual.

Peugeot wouldn’t be Peugeot if the seats were not excellent and the seating position is also beyond reproach.

Head- and legroom is good, also at the rear. Our modern cars have a very raked windscreen and when one wears a hat, as your servant invariably does, you have to be careful not to touch the roof rim. The Peugeot is no exception to the rule…

Boot space is more than adequate, 608 litres is available with both rear seat backrests up. Dropping them down expands the available load space to 1600 litres. This is where the longer wheelbase really pays off. Another bonus here is the ample legroom at the rear.

Top notch driving aids and connectivity…

The 308 SW in this GT livery offers a 360° camera, and parking is therefore a breeze. All the usual apps found in the more lavishly equipped cars brands of the Stellantis group are also found here, and of course Android Auto and Apple are available, and the ergonomics of the touchscreen which is slightly tilted towards the driver are also state of the art, as we said earlier.


The 308 SW is a typical modern day Peugeot. Well built and finished, a flamboyant styling language both inside and out, well performing and efficient, offering roominess and excellent everyday practicality. Its diesel engine makes it a candidate for frequent, high speed long distance use, and indeed when you are often on the road over a wider range, this is the version to choose…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Opel Mokka 1.2 Turbo 130 HP: the unique panache of a four wheeled lightning …

Opel cars carry proudly the iconic lightning or “Blitz” badge, and this since the Opel-RAK 1 or rocket record car made an unforgettable impression in March 1928, when it achieved 75 km/h and more than 100 km/h in April of the same year.

The Opel group was also working on liquid-fuel rockets in those days: In a cabled exclusive to The New York Times on 30 September 1929, Duke von Opel is quoted as saying: “Sander and I now want to transfer the liquid rocket from the laboratory to practical use. With the liquid rocket I hope to be the first man to thus fly across the English Channel.” It announced the dawning of a new age: that of rocket propulsion.

But we will stay with both feet on the ground, and enjoy the four wheeled products of the brand. And I must admit, I did already enjoy them massively in my early automotive life. My first Opel I tested as a car journalist was in 1968, actually replacing my father Theo ten Bensel, then Editor of weekly illustrated “De Post”. It was the beautiful Opel GT 1900, driven in the surroundings of Port Grimaux.

In the summer of 1971 we made a high speed trip to the Austrian Grand Prix in Zeltweg, with a Manta 1900, having the same 102 HP engine as the sleek GT two seater, coupled to three-speed TH-180 automatic. The Manta proved to be not only fast, it excelled with a stable, wonderful handling, making it a true Gran Turismo. Since then, my admiration for Opel cars was born.

When I slid behind the wheel of a Mokka, superb looking in its black livery, I immediately was again seduced by the no-nonsense Opel efficiency, build quality and style. Opel adopts in-car connectivity and instrumentation with the philosophy of “less is more”, and indeed the dashboard is an example of user friendliness and simplicity.

But it is stylish too. The new Mokka was the first model with the Opel Vizor as the future brand face, and indeed it symbolizes very well what Opel this decade wants to look like: pure, precise – reduced to the essentials. Like a full-face helmet, the Opel Vizor organically integrates the grille, the headlights and the brand logo in one single module that covers the new Opel face.  

The Mokka is also well proportioned: its bold looks are characterized by short overhangs and a well-planted, wide stance. It’s also is 12.5 centimetres shorter than the predecessor – despite the 2.0cm-longer wheelbase.

We told you about the first generation “A” Opel Manta. It inspired the initial concept of this elegant feature: for the new Mokka, the designers literally reinvented the Manta’s grille with twin headlight-modules on a black surface, framed by a thin chrome bar.

The legendary “Blitz” brand logo we also told you about has been redrawn and will adorn all upcoming models from the German carmaker. The surrounding ring is now slimmer, more elegant, more precise. This emphasizes the “Blitz” even more. All details are super sharp with a very small radius. The ‘Opel’ lettering is integrated in the lower part of the ring.

At the rear, The Mokka nameplate, executed in sharply crafted lettering, stretches in a wide landscape format to emphasize the width of the vehicle, “pure”, without irritating additives such as equipment lines or displacement abbreviations. It sits centrally on the tailgate below the legendary Blitz. Nice!

Under the hood: a variety of drivetrains…

The multi-energy platform CMP (Common Modular Platform) allows a variety of powertrains. Opel offers the Mokka-e with 100kW (136hp) electric drive, which we drove in beautiful Flemish Pajottenland at the end of last year. (See https://autoprova.be/2022/12/07/opel-mokka-and-the-best-barista-in-the-world/)

But it there are of course the well proven 1,2 litre three cylinder petrol engines with power outputs ranging from 74kW (100hp) to 96kW (130hp).

This engine family takes centre stage in the Stellantis Group and is found in virtually all brands and models. We tested here the 130 HP version coupled to the equally well proven 8 speed auto box, which we also find in many Stellantis models. Compared with the Citroen C5 X we tested with the identical drivetrain, it made a more sophisticated impression, with less vibrations and generally smoother pickup. Performance leaves also here nothing to be desired, with a top speed of a solid 200 km/h and an acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h in 9,2 seconds. You guessed it: this is by and large the performance of the original Porsche 911. Not bad…

Of course, very Porsche untypical is the consumption: this is where enormous progress is made over the years: where the 60’s Porsche would consume well over 13 liters/100 km in town, the 1,2 litre Mokka will consume about half, and even less, with an average of 6-5,9 litres. On the open road, the differences are just as large. Cautiously driven, the vintage Porsche would consume 9-9,5 liters on the open road, the Mokka will chalk up merely 4,3 liters… These WLTP figures require a very sensitive foot, and indeed also ask for rather sensitive cruising speeds, but let’s face it, what has been reached over the years is just enormous. This, lets’ not forget, will make our modern petrol engines future proof for many years to come…

We just loved the three cylinder throb of the engine, which was overall quiet anyway, and this made driving this Mokka a genuine pleasure.

Add to all this the impeccable handling, then you understand this Mokka is indeed a driver’s car. It does not have the absolute eagerness of a pure sports car, but is stability and steering precision is certainly inviting you to drive it with spirit. It feels at home in town, as it is smooth at slow speeds, and on the Autobahnen it is a true master. This is a machine built for (very) high cruising speeds, for hours on end. On country roads, its positive handling and stability lets you also tackle the route with verve.

Efficient aerodynamics

Of course, to make this Mokka a smooth Autobahn high speed master, some detailed work had to be done. So the carmaker’s engineers optimised the new Mokka’s aerodynamics in the wind tunnel of Stuttgart University (at the Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines).

Depending on the model variant, they cut the drag factor to an excellent 0.32 cD. The basis for the aerodynamic efficiency is the new Mokka’s frontal area of only 2.27 m2.

With the aid of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and attention to detail in the wind tunnel, Opel’s aero experts then chiseled down to the excellent drag coefficient by fine-tuning every detail that helps improve the aerodynamics. The engineers optimized the design of the new Mokka’s characteristic Opel Vizor, as well as the shapes of the A-pillars and the exterior mirrors. In addition, cladding covering the bottom of the engine compartment and the underside of the body improves the airflow beneath the car.

Other major sources of drag are the wheels, tyres and wheelhouses. The new Mokka therefore features innovative air curtains that increase aerodynamic efficiency in this area. An air curtain is an integrated duct on each side of the front fascia that creates a tall, thin jet of air across the face of the front wheel and tyre. The air curtain directs the flow smoothly across the wheel openings, decreasing the amount of wake and separation from these areas.

Need we say more? Yes actually. The Mokka also has…active aerodynamic shutters!

The new Mokka also benefits from an active shutter that further reduces drag and improves fuel efficiency by automatically closing the frontal opening when cooling air is least needed. Until recently, this innovation has been more common on more expensive cars from higher segments.

When closed, the shutter system enhances aero performance by redirecting airflow around the front of the vehicle and down the sides, rather than through the less aero efficient engine compartment.

The shutter is open or closed depending on engine coolant temperature and speed. For example, the shutter opens when the car is traveling up a hill or in hot city driving. The shutter closes when less engine cooling is required, for example at urban-road speeds.

The results of these efforts are impressive: compared with the previous model, which had a drag coefficient of 0.35, CO2 emissions in the WLTP2 cycle are up to 9.0 g/km lower, while drag at motorway speeds has been reduced by 16 per cent.

High tech LED headlamps and more…

But not only clever physics have been put in the Mokka. It has also a (very) fair share of high tech electronics. All models are equipped with latest generation LED lamps – from daytime running lights in typical Opel graphics to headlamps and front fog lights. The Mokka has adaptive IntelliLux LED® matrix light with a total of 14 elements. Cruise control, a smoothly operating lane assist and forward collision alert with automatic city emergency braking and pedestrian detection operates at speeds above 5.0km/h. Below 30km/h, the system can bring the vehicle to a complete stop. If the speed exceeds 30km/h however, speed is reduced and the driver must actively brake…

Inside: Opel’s “Pure Panel”

As we said, the good design continues. The structure of the Pure Panel, along two widely stretched screens, strikes a balance between digitalization and purely intuitive operation, without needing to navigate into sub-menus. We simply loved it.

The connectivity is also well served:  The top of-the-line Multimedia Navi Pro offers a high-resolution 10-inch colour touchscreen; in this configuration, the driver information display covers more than 12 inches. The Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto compatible multimedia systems have integrated voice control.

The new Mokka also offers the OpelConnect service with a direct link to breakdown assistance and eCall. If the airbags or seatbelt tensioners deploy in an accident, eCall contacts the local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) automatically.

Comfort and style…

Thorough seating engineering is typical of Opel. Various six-way ergonomic seats are available, which are individually adjustable. You can choose between alcantara or classic leather. What seduced us also was the GS trim of our test car. Alloy wheels in TriColor black, a black roof, black exterior mirrors and skid plates front and rear in SUV design. The Opel Blitz, the Mokka nameplate and the Opel Vizor frame are in high-gloss black. There is a characteristic red signature line across the car. The interior features a black ceiling, aluminium pedals and red décor. The black seats with side cushions in premium leather-look have red stitching and design accents…


This Mokka will wet your appetite. It’s good looking, lively, frugal, a pleasure to drive, well built and finished. It is equally at home on fast Autobahnen for fast cross country Gran Turismo driving as well as urban errands. It’s tough, built for a long life. To sum it up, it’s Opel…

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

We spoke with Béatrice Foucher, Brand Chief Executive Officer of DS Automobiles…

We met already Mme Béatrice Foucher at the presentation of the DS 4 last year in Chantilly, where she presented the strategy of DS Autombiles at the “DS Week” event…

DS Automobiles is carving a fine niche for itself in the premium segment. Your servant appreciates the refinement, comfort and last but not least the style of these fine DS automobiles. You can understand that we were delighted to meet Mme Béatrice Foucher at the presentation of the DS 4 in the “DS week” last year in Chantilly. Then, the entire press presentation of this noble automobile was in line with its qualities: we were not only able to meet Mme Béatrice Foucher personally at dinner, together with the communications people of the brand at lunch, we also had interesting workshops with the designers, engineers and last but not least the craftsmen and artists who make the DS 4 into the hand made four wheeled gem it is. You can read more about this event in our columns, see https://autoprova.be/2021/09/05/we-had-a-first-drive-with-the-elegant-ds-4-the-electrified-future-has-arrived-at-ds-automobiles/

At the Brussels Salon this year, we were again invited to have an interview with her. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A prototype of the DS 4 was displayed in Chantilly, symbol indeed of French “Savoir faire”…

HKtb: I have to congratulate you on your client approach and your philosophy to extend the refinement of your cars, not only in its external styling, but also in the interior.

BF: Indeed, that is our “raison d’être”, it is a combination of technology and the French “savoir faire” or know-how. Indeed, after having admired the exterior, customers must open the door of our cars, like for instance the DS4, see the new leather, the new solutions in the interior we developed in the DS3, the new DS7. From the next year onwards, we are going to create what we call collections, like there exist in the world of fashion.

The stunning interior of the DS prototype seen last year in Chantilly. Look at the contours and wood lined finish of the seats. A harbinger of things to come?

HKtB: We see here on the Salon, the very stylish DS E-Tense Performance 600 kW prototype, are there details of this car we will see in the production models?

BF: This will be more for the exterior than the interior, its bodywork lines which will be seen on our cars from 2024 onwards.(See our photo below of this prototype)

HKtB: But you emphasize the “savoir faire” Français, the French art of life…in automotive mobility.

BF: Indeed, that’s it. This lies in the materials we use, the art of treating them and producing exquisite textures. The French know-how in terms of stock market value lies now in the companies producing luxury goods, who have an established international reputation. This know-how is internationally recognized and appreciated, and this we put into our cars. Indeed, we see the car as a part of the interior one lives in, a part of one’s private home, and so the satisfaction and the reason people buy our cars is this choice of materials which appeals to them.

The reasons why our clients buy a DS is first of all the design, both as well exterior as interior, as this is a car which tells something about them. The second element is the elegance and the luxury and last but not least, the comfort. These are the three aspects which make people purchase a DS. The level of satisfaction is very high; clients are very pleased with their choice.

HKtB: Are your clients mostly women?

BF: No! When we look at the statistics, we have the same share of male clients than the other premium brands, even for the DS3, which appeals only slightly more to women. The reason why our clients buy a DS is because it’s a French premium brand, they like a different car in this premium segment, and indeed, the (male) clients show the car to their spouses, they enter the car, and they fall for it. So indeed we have a female clientele “on the second row”, they have a strong influence in the choice of the car which doesn’t show in the statistics.

HKtB: When cars are too feminine, women (and men) don’t necessarily buy it…

BF: Indeed, but as soon as the cars embody a social statement, as premium cars do, the (sexual) codes are not important. We put forward the codes of “savoir faire” Français, of luxury, of refinement, which appeals to both men and women.

HKtB: Indeed, a Cartier watch also appeals to men…

HKtB: The successes of your involvement in the Formula E racing does not really translate into the image of the brand…it did not create the “Audi” effect.

BF:  You mentioned Audi. Now their Quattro was a car entering in rallies with iconic figures behind the wheel. Rallies are very popular. We are a young brand, dating from 2014, we chose the Formula E because it tells the story of our brand, with its fast and early move towards electrification. Formula E is not as popular as F1 for example, but it is iconic and indeed quite amusing and interesting.

I mention also here that the DS 7 360 or the DS9 is built by the DS Performance team. This means that besides the drivetrain which is shared with Peugeot, everything else is specific, it has a unique “feel” on the road and offers an exceptional handling. We also optimized the regeneration also on this car, which clients consider important. But indeed, we don’t have decades of sporting history to tell here…

HKtb:  Also the typical DS client is not the one who drives (very) fast or seeks the ultimate in performance…

BF: Indeed, this is what we want, and that’s the reason why we call it also “the art of the voyage”. The quality of the time you spend in the car is important. The satisfaction enjoying the comfort of a car being surrounded by noble materials. Of course, you have not less than 360 HP. I can use them if I want it, but what is offered here with this car to me is comfort and refinement. One has more than enough power at hand, but it is not an issue.

HKtb: Are your clients young, and is connectivity important for them?

BF: Our clients are not young, which is the case for all premium brands, if one looks at the B to C statistics, they are between 58 and 60 years old, the B to B is younger, from 45 to 50 years, let’s say. Everybody wants to be seen as an amateur of technology, being a “technophile”, because one thinks that if you don’t love technology, you are missing out. So everyone wants a car which is up to this. It is a social statement of modernity. I tell to my teams, the value of a car is nowadays 50 % hardware and 50 % software.

HKtB: This digitalization takes still further steps, like is shown by BMW with its “Neue Klasse” with screen wide displays and dashboard instrumentation and touch knobs and buttons reduced to the minimum, as the underlying digital menus are doing the rest.

BF: Our philosophy is very clear and we showed it also on our concept car, it is to say that what makes the value of our cars is that when you open the door, you have the impression to enter in a Bugatti. We have refinement, savoir faire, and this we want to stress even more in the future. Of course we consider also the increasing digital infotainment needs, as a modernist social statement, but we want this digital element to disappear when the client wishes so. If you enter the car, there is nothing on the screen. Only when you put the contact, the screen appears. That is our philosophy and our goal. Because at a certain point, showing a plethora of screens is not premium. The faculty of having the information appear and again discreetly disappear is premium. This is the direction in which we work. Of course, we need the technology to make this happen.

HKtb: What I would also look for in future DS automobiles is incredible sound…

BF: We made a partnership with Focal, installed in our higher equipment versions like the Rivoli line, which reaches already very good sound quality… of course we have now more silent, electrified or fully electrified cars, which makes this even more important. Everybody works on this, and we also work with partners who have built an enviable reputation in pure sound management. You will see more in the future…

HKtb: When I travel on a motorway, in a certain region, I would like to tune in on my sound system for cultural, historic or general information about where I travel.

BF: This fits in our philosophy of cultivating “the art of the voyage”, and this is also want the digitalization to bring us. My name I Beatrice, and I want to know about the culture, or art places to visit in the region or city where I travel. This is what connectivity should give me.  

 HKtb: I thank you for this interview.   

Hans Knol ten Bensel