The Jeep Renegade Plug-in Hybrid electric is the star of a Jeep exhibition in the heart of Paris…

We are driving presently the Jeep Renegade with its brand new state of the art 1,3 litre 150 HP “Firefly” engine, and we can tell you it is very impressive indeed.

This leads us to bring you the news that the Jeep Renegade PHEV can be previewed at the MotorVillage Champs-Elysées until the 25th of September.

Following its world premiere at the Geneva motor show last March and its international on-road debut at Turin’s Parco del Valentino motor show in June, the new Jeep® Renegade Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) has arrived in the heart of Paris to be showcased at the exclusive Jeep showroom on the Champs-Elysées.

The PHEV Renegade will take centre stage in the Playground expo, which is dedicated to Jeep’s affinity with sports and includes partnerships with WSL (World Surf League), LNB (Ligue Nationale de Basket) and JeepELITE.

New hybrid technology…with plenty of punch  

Displayed in Trailhawk specification, the Renegade PHEV has a pure electric range of approximately 50 kilometres and of course no CO2 emissions in full-electric mode. In order to deliver these figures, the Renegade combines a 1.3-liter GSE turbo gasoline engine with an electric motor located between the rear wheels, powered by a set of batteries that can be recharged while driving or by using an external power outlet: at home with the domestic plug, using the efficient Wallbox, or with a public charge point. Recharging times can vary from an hour and a half to three hours depending on the type of outlet.

The combination of both internal combustion engine and the electric motor delivers outstanding performance and driving pleasure: 0-100 km/h is reached in approximately seven seconds, CO2 emissions are lower than 50g/km (NEDC2) and the full electric top speed is 130 km/h. The combined power output sits in the 190 and the 240 horsepower range, depending on the trim level.

Most of all, thanks to the new hybrid technology, the Jeep Renegade further improves its legendary off-road capability courtesy of the greater torque offered by the combination between the two power sources. Thanks to the new electric all-wheel-drive technology (eAWD), traction to the rear axle is not provided by a prop shaft but through the dedicated electric motor. This allows the two axles to be separated and control the torque independently in a more effective way than a mechanical system.

The Jeep Renegade PHEV features a unique interior and dashboard, plus an 8.4″ HD Uconnect system with specific pages to allow for the driver to control its day-to-day hybrid driving operation. The Selec-Terrain maintains its location in front of the gear shift lever, while the Hybrid selector appears right next to it allowing the driver to select between the following driving modes: (see photo below)

Hybrid: the mode that optimises power to minimise fuel consumption. Internal combustion engine and electric motor work together depending on the road type, with energy recovery phases when braking

eSave: the internal combustion engine can maintain or recharge the battery while driving (driver’s selectable options)

Electric: full-electric mode which allows for a pure electric range of approximately 50 kilometers.

The new 7″ TFT colour display shows new information in front of the driver’s eyes: the battery charge level, range in electric, combustion and combined modes, power percentage and recharge levels. The 8.4″ Uconnect colour screen features new tabs such as power flow, driving history, charging times, eSave and the different charge settings.

Needless to say that we are keen to take a test drive soon in this interesting hybrid!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Lexus UX 250h: a premium compact SUV for future-loving connoisseurs…

Driving the future. Now. Literally, without any strings or plugs attached. That is what Lexus driving is all about. Superbly engineered, dramatically styled. With an eye for quality and modern day luxury:  this is what Lexus’s most compact SUV offers you.

It runs on the new GA-C-platform, which is also seen in the new Corolla. It shares also (most) of its drivetrain. Indeed, the well known 2 litre Atkinson Cycle four cylinder plays here the fiddle in harmony with its electric cousin under the bonnet, in clever hybrid fashion, just like in the Corolla. This means absolute technical perfection and utmost reliability is yours to enjoy. But that is not all. The bodywork of this SUV has what it takes to please you, both inside and out. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Lexus UX 250h: a premium compact SUV for future-loving connoisseurs…”

We drove the Toyota Corolla hybrid: green power for millions

Toyota and Lexus are friends of the earth since decades. They offer E power in hybrid form across their whole range now, and this started already back in 1997 with the Prius, a car which has been a star on Californian (and many other) roads worldwide ever since.

The hybrid drivetrain of this car is nothing short of a stroke of genius, and therefore hardly surprising that it is also seen on the Lexus range. Faithful readers know that I am the happy owner of a Lexus CT 200h, a car which is running around with an average consumption between 3.9 and 4.6 litres/100 km.

The subject of this test is also to find out whether the continuously further developed hybrid system brings further gains in efficiency compared to my faithful Lexus.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Toyota Corolla hybrid: green power for millions”

BMW explores ultimate performance with E-power…

It had to happen. BMW cultivates pleasure of driving. And this also goes for their E-cars. Even more so, as they have excellent torque and therefore massive pulling power. And what’s more, you can use several motors at once.

So it was only a matter of time that a trial car with superpower is created. Here it is: BMW Group presented its “Power BEV” during its #NEXTGen event in Munich.

Just before we go further, just explain here a bit more on the #NEXTGen event: From 25 to 27 June 2019 the company invites selected international journalists, analysts and further stakeholders to “BMW Group #NEXTGen” at BMW Welt in Munich. With this event, The BMW Group chooses a new direction with regard to how it presents its future technologies, services and products.

But back to the car now. Indeed, BMW explores with this “Versuchswagen” what is technically possible. A BMW 5 Series was taken off the production line, and then fitted with three fifth-generation electric drive units, resulting in a maximum system output in excess of …530 kW/720 hp. This transforms the 5-Series into a supercar: with this power, it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in comfortably under three seconds.

But it is not only about straight line performance, it is also about handling. A true BMW also puts a smile on the driver’s face through corners, and so the engineers got to work on the chassis and suspension.

Separately controlled motors provide unseen agility…

To this end, the chassis and powertrain engineers worked together particularly closely to maximise the car’s performance. Key to its dynamic superb qualities is that the two electric motors at the rear axle are controlled separately. This brings e-torque vectoring into play, which enables maximum drive power to be translated into forward propulsion even in extremely dynamic driving manoeuvres.

Two separate engines in the back…

The result is more effective and precise control than with a limited slip differential, because actively targeted inputs are possible in any driving situation. By contrast, a limited slip differential always reacts to a difference in rotation speed between the driven wheels, and therefore is slower to react.

As said, the drive system comprises three fifth-generation drive units, each of which brings together an electric motor and the associated power electronics and power take-off within a single housing. One is mounted at the front axle and two (a double drive unit) at the rear axle. Another notable aspect of this generation alongside its eye-catching power is that it is entirely free of rare earths. An electric motor of this type will make its series production debut in the BMW iX3. The iX3 will only have one motor, though, rather than three.

A series production car forms the basis…

Experienced test drivers handle the power and extract the possibilities of high performance handling…

As said, a current BMW 5 Series production model serves as the donor car for the Power BEV. Integrating a drive system of this type into a production car represents a serious technical undertaking, but it has been achieved here with absolutely no restriction in passenger compartment space. This makes it far easier to assess this drive concept alongside alternatives.

It has also allowed the engineers to look even more effectively into the possibilities opened up by two separately controllable electric motors at the rear axle with e-torque vectoring.

And that means, in future series-production vehicle projects, that the right technology can be selected for the model at hand. Customers will therefore be provided with the most appropriate technology for their choice of vehicle concept. Wow! Needless to say, we are now looking to the E-future with a very broad smile! Driving pleasure will be certainly part of it!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The New Jeep® Renegade Plug-In Hybrid: on E-power now at Parco del Valentino…

A beautiful Turin setting was chosen for the first international on-road debut of Jeep’s both the new Hybrid Plug-Ins (PHEVs), the new Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass.

Indeed, at the the Salone dell’Auto in Turin, the new SUV will set off from Piazza Vittorio Veneto and parade around the city centre circuit, giving spectators a chance to realise how quiet it really is.

Both Renegade and Compass have CO2 emissions below 50g/km, and are both fitted with plug-in hybrid propulsion systems. Batteries can be recharged by the internal combustion engine or from an external power outlet.

They have a pure electric range of approximately 50 kilometres and about 130 km/h full electric top speed for both Renegade and Compass. The electric units work in synergy with the new 1.3-litre turbo petrol engines. There is ample power: the combined action of the two propulsion systems, internal combustion and electric, produces up to 240 hp.

The off-road talents of hybrid propulsion

Thanks to the high torque of the electric motor and the ability to adjust it with extreme precision during take-off and while driving on the most challenging terrain, off road behaviour is further improved.

Thanks to the new electric all-wheel-drive technology (eAWD), traction to the rear axle is not provided by a prop shaft but through a dedicated electric motor. This allows the two axles to be separated and to control the torque independently in a more effective way than a mechanical system. We cannot wait to collect driving impressions for you soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Pay only for your miles with your Jeep

Time to think of alternative ways about paying for your mobility, if you read this slide…

At the Jeep presentation at the Lago di Garda, we attended a gripping presentation by Marcella Merli, Head of Group Sales & Marketing of FCA Bank. We also had a long conversation with her, about how we use our cars, and how we should have a fresh look at car ownership and think about alternative and clever ways to finance and fund our individual mobility.

This article is also a first in a series where we will present on a regular basis alternative and clever ways of mobility finance schemes.

Marcella Merli, Head of Group Sales & Marketing of FCA Bank, presented with verve the “Jeep Miles” program…

Indeed, she presented here for Leasys, the rental and mobility company of FCA Bank, their “Jeep Miles” program, the new pay-per-use rental solution designed especially for Jeep customers.

Inspired by the “Pay per Use” trend, today increasingly popular with consumers in various sectors, it offers subscribers the possibility to pay for their vehicle only when they are actually using it. “Jeep Miles” is a long-term rental requiring no down payment, that offers a convenient monthly fee, plus a variable cost calculated based on the kilometres actually travelled. The Mopar Connect T-Box, installed on board the vehicle, registers the mileage travelled by the customer. There are no mileage limits, for a real “Pay per Use” experience!

Marcella Merli presented amongst others this typical example, seen here on the photographed slide, of Andrew, an international account manager

Jeep Miles will be available in selected European markets in 2019.

The fixed monthly fee will include the main mobility services, with different formulas. A variable component will then be added on, calculated by applying the rate per kilometre to the mileage actually travelled by the customer. The first 1,000 kilometres will be free of charge.

Jeep customers who, for example, only use the car in specific periods of the year, or are often abroad for work, will find Jeep Miles an ideal solution for their mobility requirements. It will also be suitable for those who mainly use their vehicle in the city, clocking up low annual mileages.

Marcella Merli presented amongst others this typical example, seen here on the photographed slide, of Andrew, an international account manager, single, goes on long international business trips had occasionally uses his Jeep Compass on weekends.

In his scheme, there is a small fixed instalment of 249 Euros, a “light” scheme of 0,09 Euro per km, including Third Party Liability, Road Tax, Road Assistance, the Leasys APP. The 0,18 Euro per km scheme includes further Fire & Theft, Collision Damage Waiver and last but not least Full Maintenance.

Soon, Leasys will also introduce soon a credit card, which like we said, gives you an extra 1,000 miles on your Jeep Miles contract, and enables also to buy with a discount all the Mopar accessories you can think of…  

Tempted? Indeed, think differently about financing your mobility…and enjoy your Jeep driving even more!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our first drive with the Audi e-tron…

We photographed the first e-tron we drove at the entrance of the beautiful Middelheim park in Antwerp…

When visiting Audi’s “The Place To-e” in Antwerp, we took the opportunity to slide behind the wheel of Audi’s all-electric SUV flagship. It is already quite familiar to us seeing it produced, as your servant has made already several guide tours around the Brussels factory where it is built.

I will also continue to do so and in the near future be able to welcome you there to show you around the production lines, but until now we never had the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of one.

Of course, Audi Import in the person of PR Manager Audi Belgium, D’Ieteren – Audi Import Sofie Luyckx will rather sooner than later offer me a longer test drive in one, but we tell you here already our “first drive” experiences.  

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Impressive in ingenuity, style and build quality

The e-tron makes a statement of quality and style when you approach it. This is even reinforced when you see the dashboard and cabin and slide behind the wheel. Clean, well balanced, superbly finished, this is what your eyes and hands see and feel.

All commands are digital/virtual, or via stylish knobs like the drive selector…

The instruments, dials and function knobs are all digital, embedded in shiny black surfaces, which are ergonomically ideally angled towards you. You would like to touch them with gloves, as your fingers leave marks on their semi-matte surfaces. Maybe we should go back – with pleasure – to this gentlemen drivers’ tradition of wearing fine leather gloves when driving a car, certainly with a noble example like this one.

It is all breathing this angular futuristic Audi styling language, which has a timeless balance to it.

Comfort in silence and refinement

We took this e-tron fro a very gentle urban ride, testing out the energy recuperation modes when decelerating and/or braking, which is very cleverly controlled in intensity by the paddles on the steering wheel. A very refined touch.

Progress is of course, as an e-car befits, silky smooth, with ample acceleration power delivered by both engines fore and aft. With this luxury SUV it is combined with excellent suspension comfort, and here the Audi really stands out. This is further enhanced by the superb seats, which make the picture of a fine quality car offering top level refinement complete.

In the neighbourhood of the “The Place To-e” in Antwerp is the magnificent Middelheim park, and this is where we photographed the e-tron for you.

Soon more about this superb car, when we have it for a longer drive…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We visited Audi’s “The Place To-e” in Antwerp

On May 1, Audi opened the doors of a three month pop-up “The Place To-e” at Desguinlei 100 in the heart of Antwerp. Until the end of July car fans and cosmopolitans can enjoy themselves in the e-scape room, discover electric mobility, enjoy a culinary spectacle at the rolling table and discover a hidden part of Antwerp in the rooftop bar ONTOP. Visitors can also book a test drive with the Belgian-tinted Audi e-tron; as you already know, it is built at Audi Brussels…

We made a visit last weekend, and were impressed! Of course we also took the occasion to make a test drive with the impressive e-tron. More about this in the next report…

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

The entrance hall of the complex…

The demand for viable and sustainable mobility solutions will only grow in the future in and around major cities. D’Ieteren, the importer of Audi, chose Antwerp for this pop-up “Place to be”- a city that is strongly committed to new, environmentally friendly mobility. “All with the purpose to better inform the general public and make them enthusiastic about electric mobility by offering a range of experiences and activities, ”explained Stefan Kerckhoven from, Director Audi Import.

Displaying the e-tron, charged by Belgian muscle power…

It is all about living the “e”-adventure

Experience is central to The Place To -e. Adventurous visitors can have a go in the “e-scape room” with an area of ​​80m², where players can help free the imprisoned engineer of the Audi e-tron while discovering electric mobility in a playful way.

The 80 m2 escape room…

The Audi e-tron and its optional virtual exterior mirrors are an essential key in the ultimate solution to the adventurous puzzle. A lot of attention was paid to the use of technology: holograms, interactive projections, mechanical installations … elements that we have not seen so often in an escape room. For nearly an hour, the participants puzzle, where they must use logic to solve the various riddles and go through a series of tests; only then will they be able to solve the mystery.

A changing exhibition will introduce the public to future electric Audi models in their concept form, including the Audi PB18 e-tron you see here above, an electric high-performance sports car which will be on display and the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo developed from a racing game.

Play the racing football game…

In the e-arena, esporters can play the “Rocket League” virtual racing football game on a real field. In this game, participants control an electric car developed for the occasion and try to score goals on a kind of soccer field.

A test drive is offered…

Electric driving can best be experienced during a test drive. The Audi e-tron is equipped with an ingenious recovery system that contributes 30 percent to the driving range of the Audi e-tron. Visitors can test this energy recuperation themselves during a test drive along a predefined test route, of course we took the occasion to put the e-tron briefly through its paces…

To have a chance to win a weekend with the Audi e-tron, and to preserve an unforgettable memory of his visit, every visitor is invited to take a nice photo in the sofa of Smile Safari, the very first Instagram museum in Belgium.

The visitor can then satisfy his hunger in an original way during a unique private dining concept and scoop in Belgium, where a culinary top experience literally comes to the guests via a … rolling table. Each dish is presented in its own decor and to stay completely in the theme is consciously worked with sustainable ingredients.

You can end the interactive day at the beautiful rooftop bar ONTOP on the roof terrace where you can enjoy a unique view.

Conferences too…

The Place To -e will be a meeting place in the coming three months where there is always something going on. In addition to the wide range of daily experiences, special events and interesting expert talks on topics such as fashion, styling, design, sustainable travel, urban mobility and technology will also be organized.

Last but not least the visitors can come and admire the Magnum photo exhibition: a breathtaking series of photos from the renowned agency Magnum Photos that was allowed to shoot images for five days at the Audi Brussels factory.

The two renowned photographers Paolo Pellegrin and Gueorgui Pinkhassov captured the power and elegance of robots and the dedication and passion of the factory employees in an intriguing way. In the photo series the innovation, quality and attention to detail come to the fore that also characterize the technology of the Audi e-tron.

Audi and Antwerp: together in sustainable mobility

The Place To -e also includes e-lectrify & mobility: an exhibition displaying the vision of sustainable urban mobility of Audi, the city of Antwerp, and their partners of “Antwerp tomorrow” and “Smart to Antwerp” such as Poppy , Scooty and Velo.

Some practical information:

Opening hours: every Thursday and Friday from 12 h to 20 h and each Saturday and Sunday from 10 h tot 18 h.

The event agenda can be consulted on http://www.theplaceto-e.be.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We spoke with Chief Designer Klaus Busse, about the Alfa Tonale and the Fiat Centoventi: two stunning concept cars, showing two unique sides of Italian design… part 1.

Klaus Busse talked with us in depth about the Alfa Romeo Tonale…

Our series about the visit to the FCA Centro Stile in Torino starts with an intriguing interview and talk with Klaus Busse, vice president of Design for Fiat, Abarth, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, offering us interesting insights into the sculptural design philosophy and language of the iconic sporting Milano brand.

Of course this is not all. This in depth talk and interview covers more aspects about the Tonale, and furthermore also the Fiat approach to automotive product design…so we decided to split this interview into a series, focusing in more detail on the various aspects. So stay tuned on these columns for further reports in this series!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

The original wooden styling sculpture of the legendary Multipla stands proudly in the entrance hall of the Torino based FCA Centro Stile…

Having walked through the impressive entrance hall of the Centro Stile, we started off with a question about how this styling centre is set up.

B:  “It is of course every day a joy for me to walk through the several studios of our Centro here. Every brand has a separate studio, and you met earlier here with Scott Krugger, the head of design for Alfa Romeo. (Note: this will be our next interview in this series). Every brand has their own head of design. We have 200+ individuals working here, from around the world. It is a very international team, we look at ourselves as the “espresso beans”, because as you know, espresso beans also come from around the world, but with the Italian process it creates an Italian iconic drink, and with the Italian process of design, we hopefully, you will agree, we are able to create Italian iconic design, even though the designers are not coming only from Italy, but from around the world.

We went first to the room of Alfa Styling department

Q: We are here seeing today shoulder to shoulder two different cars on our visit: the Tonale and the Centoventi…

B: I can tell you here first a few words about the Tonale itself, and notably also of the Fiat Centoventi. (Note: which we will also discuss later in separate interviews). It is a very rare thing for us to go to a show with two concept cars, and the beautiful thing we were able to do with the Alfa Romeo and the Centoventi, is that we were able to show the two sides of Italian design, the way we see it. So we have in front of us here with the Tonale the classic sculptural beauty of Italian design, and with the Centoventi we have the Italian approach to product design, applied to the car. So you see the two extremes of Italian design in the automotive sphere.

In the Fiat Centro Stile room, we stood eye to eye with the Centoventi… more about it later in this series!

With the Tonale, the challenge was, since it is again an SUV, and we have already an SUV with the Stelvio, to create something that is typical Alfa Romeo, but has nothing to do with the Stelvio in terms of the shapes. The Stelvio is a very muscular car, with emphasis on the wheels and the voluptuous shapes, here on the side you see we have a different construction of the car, we have a completely different front, so the challenge was that with our second entry to the SUV market, we do not create a copy of the big brother, like you see with other companies, who are just adopting a same design and adapt it to different sizes. We wanted to create something completely different with the Tonale.

The horizontal “eyebrow” line is clearly seen here…

Q: Will this car be a trendsetter for the future Alfa design?

The one thing you will not hear me talk about today is the future. I will talk about the present, about the Tonale, but I will not lift the veil more. All I can say is that I think we found something which is a beautiful progression. I saw that my team put the 8C model here, and maybe that allows me to highlight where I see the progression what the team has done here, when we look at the front. The 8C, the 4C, the Stelvio, the Giulia, all of these cars have basically have this hood line, it is a flowing design, and it nicely encompasses the grille. This face was applied to all current generation vehicles.

The muscle lines on the hood converging into the Scudetto, as seen here in the 8C, is now completely given up in the Tonale…

With the Tonale, we completely gave up this kind of interpretation, you still see the muscles of course leading to the Scudetto, but we went to a much more horizontal design. So we went from a vertical design to a horizontal design, and that of course is a completely different construction of the front, and this much I can tell you, we would not do this just for one car…

Klaus Busse dedicated a drawing to your servant… with the horizontal line clearly visible…

Because here, the 8C created a family of cars, and in this case again, it might create a new family of cars…

 As said stay tuned for the next part of this interview, where we will talk in depth about tradition and modernity embodied in today’s Alfa design language…

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

The visit to the Centro Stile of the FCA Group in Turin proved immensely interesting…

We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group Chief Designer Klaus Busse and his team…

What we saw and heard on our visit to the Torino based Centro Stile was nothing short of absolutely stunning. We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group head of design Klaus Busse and his team, both from Alfa Romeo and Fiat styling.

The beautiful instrumentation and interior of the Tonale, with Klaus Busse watching in the background…

Needless to say that we are the coming days eager to report on all this extensively, and indeed you can expect to read our findings in several reports…

Alfa DNA styling revived on the drawing boards provides the mould for the new Tonale design…

The next few photos just lift a tip of the veil of the vast material we collected and photographed…

Rewriting democratic mobility and opening many new doors in design: the Centoventi Fiat

We just want to thank here the magnificent efforts of the dynamic PR team of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium, notably Dominique Fontignies, PR & Communication Director and Wim Willems, Press Officer, for sharing the knowledge of these experts and their creations with us.  

Full of revolutionary, practical solutions: the interior of the Centoventi…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel