Maserati unveils its Levante Hybrid




The Levante Hybrid was presented at ist launch in Azzuro Astro color. This metallic paint consists of three layers and is available through the Maserati Fuoriserie personalization program.

The Maserati Levante Hybrid has today experienced both a physical and a digital world premiere. At the time of the car’s unveiling at the Shanghai Auto Show, a virtual presentation has taken place simultaneously on the houseof.maserati.com website.

With its first electrified SUV, Maserati is taking another important step in the future plan launched last year with the Ghibli Hybrid, which will lead to the electrification of all new Maserati models.

“Faster. Cleaner. Unique ” is the motto at the launch: the Levante Hybrid is faster than a diesel, more durable than a car with an internal combustion engine and unique thanks to specific features and details.

The Levante Hybrid combines a two-liter four-cylinder engine with a 48-volt hybrid system that recovers energy during engine deceleration and application of the brakes. The hybrid SUV is lighter than the six-cylinder version (petrol and diesel) and also has a more balanced weight distribution because the battery – without sacrificing luggage space – is placed in the rear of the car. One of the goals during the development of the Levante Hybrid was to take the dynamics and driving pleasure to an even higher level.

 With a maximum power of 330 hp and a torque of 450 Nm, which is available from just 2,250 rpm, the four-wheel drive Levante Hybrid delivers impressive performance: the car has a top speed of 240 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km in 6 seconds.

The Levante Hybrid was presented at ist launch in Azzuro Astro color. This metallic paint consists of three layers and is available through the Maserati Fuoriserie personalization program.

The Levante Hybrid is immediately recognizable by the unique details in the exterior and interior. Several elements are finished in blue, a color specifically chosen for Maserati hybrid models. Like the brake calipers and trident on the C-pillars, the iconic side vents are finished in this shade of blue. The same color returns in the interior, including the stitching of the seat upholstery.

With Maserati Connect, the Levante Hybrid is always connected to the outside world. The driver remains fully informed about the technical condition of the car: Maserati Connect alerts the owner when maintenance is required, thus improving the quality of the service. The owner is in contact with the car via the Maserati app on the smartphone or smartwatch. You can also contact the car from home with a virtual assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assist.

The digital world premiere of the Levante Hybrid on houseof.maserati.com has been attended by Maserati’s global brand ambassador David Beckham and Italian songwriter and producer Dardust, who has composed an exclusive soundtrack for the unveiling of the Levante Hybrid.

More soon about this Levante in technical detail. Stay posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel      

Audi unveils its first all-electric compact SUV’s: the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron…

Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Colour: Geyser blue, metallic and Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Edition One Colour: Typhoon gray

Versatile all-rounders for everyday use that transfer the progressive design of the concept cars into series production and that can be driven locally without any emissions: The Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron are the first compact electric SUVs from the brand with the Four Rings.

Both of them impress with a new spacious dimension in the interior and pioneering solutions when it comes to operation, display, and assist systems. The augmented reality head-up display connects the virtual and the real worlds in a totally new way.

Q4 50 Sportback e-tron Quattro Colour: Florett silver

The range comprises three drive versions, spearheaded by a quattro model with a maximum output of 220 kW (299 PS). Attributes that they all share are zero local emissions driving  and high ranges, charging times of around ten minutes for sufficient power to travel about 130 kilometers (80.8 mi) in ideal conditions (WLTP) and convenient charging with the e-tron Charging Service. The rear-wheel drive Q4 40 e-tron achieves a range of up to 520 kilometers (323.1 mi) in the WLTP cycle. It goes on sale in Europe in June 2021, with prices in Germany starting at EUR 41,900 – where the customer can claim a subsidy of EUR 9,000 (net).

Audi’s next step: the exterior design

With the Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron, Audi is taking the next step in the design language of its electric models.

The two compact SUVs bring into series production the body line that the Audi Q4 concept and Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept show cars demonstrated at the beginning of 2019.

In the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, the especially low coupé-style roofline ends in an expressively designed rear where the spoiler sits deep on the two-part window.

On request, both of these compact electric SUVs can be driven off the assembly line with Matrix LED headlights. What’s more, the driver can switch between four signatures in the MMI touch operating system. At the rear, a light strip links the taillight units to each other. A choice of eight colors is available for the paint finish, including the new metallic shade aurora violet. In addition to the basic version, there are the two advanced and S line exteriors.

E-mobility for everyone…

Audi wants its new Q4 line to be an all-round car which offers everything for everyone. The available space in the interior is comparable with the full-size SUV class; there is no center tunnel. The feeling of spaciousness is not just confined to the front seats – with the generous legroom, passengers in the rear also benefit from the advantage of the technological platform, which is designed as electric-only.

Depending on the positioning of the rear seat backs, the volume of the luggage compartment is 520 to 1,490 liters in the Q4 e-tron and 535 to 1,460 liters under a power trunk lid in the Sportback. Both models can tow trailers with a weight of up to 1,000 kilograms (braked, at 12% incline), with the quattro versions even able to pull up to 1,200 kilograms.

Another strength for everyday use is the high range – the Q4 40 e-tron travels up to 520 kilometers (323.1 mi) (WLTP) on a single battery charge. Thanks to a maximum charging capacity of 125 kW, in ideal conditions it can charge enough power for about 130 kilometers (80.8 mi) (WLTP) in around ten minutes. Using the myAudi app, the owner can activate charging at home and pre-entry climate control from their smartphone.

In the interior, there are also quite a few innovations. For instance totally new is the steering wheel with its seamless touch surfaces, which the driver uses to control the digital instrument cluster.

Infotainment and navigation are operated primarily using the central MMI touch display, which will also be available in the largest configuration level of 11.6 inches towards the end of the year. Natural voice control provides the third operating interface.

On request, the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron can be equipped with another innovation on board – the augmented reality head-up display.

Fully digital: the Q4 e-tron is an e-mobility device

The Q4 e-tron models offer a fully digital user experience. The infotainment package in the electric compact SUV is structured in three levels – from MMI through MMI plus to MMI pro.

Different functions are provided depending on the configuration level, including the augmented reality head-up display and the Audi virtual cockpit plus. The optional levels provide the online services of Audi connect, including the intelligent e-tron route planner for working out the optimal route that stays close to the public charging infrastructure. For premium sound, the Sonos sound system which combines lifestyle, technology and design in a new dimension.

Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Static photo, Colour: Geyser blue, metallic Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Edition One Static photo, Colour: Typhoon gray

For urban commuters and long-distance drivers: battery, drive and charging options

The drive portfolio of the two compact electric models lives up to the expectations of very different groups of customers – from the urban commuter to the long-distance driver. It includes two battery variants and three drive variants. The compact battery for the Q4 35 e-tron has a net energy content of 52 kWh (55 kWh gross), while the figures for the large battery in the Q4 40 e-tron and Q4 50 e-tron quattro are 77 (82) kWh.

The Q4 35 e-tron and the Q4 40 e-tron have an electric motor that drives the rear wheels, with an output of 125 kW (170 PS) and 150 kW (204 PS) respectively. The top-of-the-range version Q4 50 e-tron quattro has two electric motors for the electric all-wheel drive. They give it a maximum output of 220 kW (299 PS) – sufficient for a sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 180 km/h. For efficiency, the motor on the front axle comes into action only when high power or a strong grip is needed.

Another important factor in energy-saving driving is intelligent recuperation, which also incorporates navigation and topographical data.

Dashboard

Audi’s two new electric SUVs can be charged with different outputs using alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) depending on the battery. The compact battery can get up to 7.2 kW with AC charging and up to 100 kW when using HPC charging (high-power charging) with direct current. As standard, the larger battery allows for up to 11 kW with AC and up to 125 kW with HPC.

Audi e-tron Charging Service…

Drivetrain

The Audi e-tron Charging Service provides access to around 210,000 public charging points in 26 European countries, 4,400 of which are HPC fast-charging points (as of April 2021), using just one charging card. In the transit tariff, customers buying the Q4 e-tron do not pay any basic fee in the first year. They benefit here especially from the preferential conditions in the IONITY network: The charged kilowatt hour costs 31 cents, which corresponds to the price level when charging at home in Germany.

The Audi Q4 e-tron will appear in June 2021 on European markets, with the Q4 Sportback e-tron following in the late summer. Of course we are keen to sample driving impressions this summer!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

New ŠKODA ENYAQ iV earns five stars in Euro NCAP test.

The new ŠKODA ENYAQ iV truly scores: The new electric SUV has achieved the highest classification of five stars in tests conducted by the independent European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP).

It now ranks among the safest vehicles currently available with a total of 86% of the possible points.

And there is more: The ŠKODA ENYAQ iV achieved the best result ever in the Euro NCAP test for occupant protection, with 94% for adult passengers and 89% for children.

ŠKODA’s first model based on the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Electrification Toolkit thus continues the string of top scores for ŠKODA vehicles in the crash safety reference test, even with the now stricter assessment criteria. ŠKODA’s bestseller, the OCTAVIA, the compact model SCALA and the SUV models KODIAQ, KAROQ and KAMIQ, among others, have all been awarded the coveted five star rating.

Needless to say that the ENYAQ iV inspires, with its styling and build quality, and we will be keen to sample driving and test impressions in the coming months…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

First round for the European Ferrari Challenge has started at Monza…

In the opening act of the first round for the European Ferrari Challenge at the Monza circuit, the Passione Ferrari Club Challenge 2021 has started. During this exclusive circuit event, owners of the Ferrari 488 Challenge and 488 Challenge Evo were given the opportunity to perfect their racing technique and record a personal fastest lap time.

The Passione Ferrari Club Challenge was created to give Ferrari owners the opportunity to get to know their cars – without a competitive element – on the track. The program of these exclusive club meetings is aimed at both beginners and drivers with more track experience. The cars are equipped with telemetry thanks to which the lap times and track data can be read. These data allow the participants to analyze their performance and improve their driving technique. Professional Ferrari instructors personally supervise the participants, conduct driving technique workshops and assist with the analysis of the telemetry data.

The Ferrari 488 Challenge and 488 Challenge Evo are extreme sports cars, but their performance remains very accessible. With these cars, drivers experience the same sensations and excitement as a professional driver. For Ferrari owners who want to take part in the Ferrari Challenge, the Passione Ferrari Club Challenge is an ideal springboard. Drivers who dream of taking part in an official FIA Championship are being guided in the right direction.

Driving on six European circuits…

From April to September, owners of the Ferrari 488 Challenge and 488 Challenge Evo will be able to drive on six legendary circuits in Europe. In addition, they have the opportunity to start during the Finali Mondiali 2021, where all international Challenge series will ride the final race of their championship, according to tradition.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Leasys and FCA Bank launch from 12 to 30 of April the “Electric Days”…

Electric mobility is growing more popular worldwide, and even more so in Europe where the growth of electric and hybrid cars has been in three figures recently.

Leasys and FCA Bank want to play a leading role in this trend, and therefore they launched the “Electric Days”, three weeks of special offers dedicated to electric mobility, all entirely in digital fashion.

The offers will be active from the moment of writing until the end of April and they are designed to make the services offered by the Group and its rental company Leasys even more accessible and convenient.

Digital offers range in Europe from mobility to financial and banking products: from personal loans to GO4xe financing, from CarCloud to Leasys Miles, to Clickar.

Leasys and FCA Bank launch a cross-country commercial promotion that includes 10 European countries simultaneously dedicated to electric mobility and sustainability. Italy, France, Germany, Spain, UK, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Denmark and Belgium will offer their customers the best digital solutions to satisfy every green mobility and financial needs in every different market.

For Belgium, PR & Communication Director Dominique Fontignies announced that the first offer of this campaign gives professional clients the opportunity to drive a Jeep Compass 4xe Plug-in Hybrid from € 319/month (excl. VAT) in the financial renting formula.(60 months). Leasys offers this model in operational leasing from € 589/month (incl. VAT).

Leasys also offers the Fiat 500e Business Edition. This 500e is available from € 469/month (incl. VAT) in operational leasing. Finally, the Fiat 500C Hybrid Lounge is available in operational leasing from € 269/month (incl. VAT).

There is more news to come from Jeep, we will soon present here the new Compass…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Jaguar launches a stunning “R-Dynamic” version of their elegant F-Type…

Jaguar launches a mouth-watering version of their elegant F-TYPE: the Exclusive F-TYPE R-Dynamic Black. It boasts additional equipment as standard and is offered in Coupé and Convertible body styles

There is an even more desirable version: the so-called “Black Pack”, with 20-inch gloss black wheels, and choice of Santorini Black, Eiger Grey or Firenze Red metallic paint.

Refinement…

The driver-focused interior is equipped with 12-way adjustable Windsor Leather Performance Seats in Ebony with Light Oyster stitch or in Mars with Flame Red stitch. An Ebony coloured suede cloth headliner enriches the iconic ‘1+1’ cabin.  

The R-Type comes with many appealing details: A heritage-inspired monogram pattern is used for seat and door trim stitching and also embossing of the suede cloth wrap for the instrument cluster.

And abundant power…

The F-Type comes with what it takes: the 300PS Ingenium four-cylinder and 450PS supercharged V8 with rear- or all-wheel drive and eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ transmissions deliver engaging, exploitable performance and outstanding driver reward.

The new R-Dynamic Black models add to the purity and presence that already sets Jaguar’s definitive sports car apart.

The F-TYPE’s shape is further accentuated by the Black Pack and 20-inch, five split-spoke wheels with gloss black finish. Known as ‘Style 5039’, these wheels are not available on any other model in the range. Complementing these perfectly is the choice of three metallic paints: Santorini Black, Eiger Grey or Firenze Red.

Performance galore…

Exclusively rear-wheel drive, the 300PS, 2.0-litre turbocharged Ingenium four-cylinder engine generates maximum torque from just 1,500rpm, delivering exceptional throttle response throughout the rev range. It also provides the performance expected from F-TYPE and enables acceleration from 0-60mph in only 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. 

The 450PS, 5.0-litre supercharged V8 has been developed to offer exploitable, useable and rewarding performance – maximum torque of 580Nm is generated from 2,500rpm. It is offered with a choice of all-wheel drive with Intelligent Driveline Dynamics or – for purists – rear-wheel drive. Both 450PS powertrains feature an electronic active rear differential to optimise traction, and both enable 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds and a maximum speed of 177mph.

The 300PS and 450PS units are also available in other F-TYPE models, but for truly exceptional performance in all weathers and on any kind of road there is the F-TYPE R. Offered exclusively with all-wheel drive, its supercharged V8 delivers 575PS and 700Nm: the benchmark sprint to 60mph takes just 3.5 seconds, while maximum speed is an electronically-limited 186mph. 

Tailoring your Jaguar to your personal driving style…

The F-TYPE R and P450 models are equipped as standard with Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics system with Configurable Dynamics. Using electronically-controlled, continuously-variable dampers, Adaptive Dynamics optimizes both low speed comfort and high-speed control, while Configurable Dynamics enables the driver to tailor the settings for suspension stiffness, steering weight, throttle response and gearshifts. All 300PS four-cylinder F-TYPEs use meticulously tuned passive monotube dampers to deliver the ride and handling attributes which give these models their unique character.

Needless to say that we are keen to sample test driving impressions from these wonderful, sporting and elegant Jaguars soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We personally witnessed the unfolding of the Audi Quattro (Rally) Saga…

We were there: your servant in conversation with Michèle Mouton in Sankt Moritz, on December 8, 1982…

Your servant was already active as a freelance car journalist from the mid-seventies of last century, so we witnessed up close the birth of the Audi 5-cylinder engines and the (rally) cars powered by it were quite familiar. When we were telling you the long career of Audi’s 5 cylinder engine, we told you how your servant remembered a drive behind the wheel of the Audi 80 Quattro with this magnificent engine. Just look at our pages on this site, and more especially https://autoprova.be/2016/09/18/sweet-memories-our-drive-with-the-5-cylinder-audi-80-5e-quattro-in-sankt-moritz/

This memorable test drive of this Audi 80 5E Quattro took place in Sankt Moritz, on 8 and 9 December 1982. For the assembled international journalists, Audi had also organized a demonstration run with the Quattro Rally Cars, and had brought Michèle Mouton and Stig Blomquist to the venue.

You see me here chatting with Michèle Mouton before having a demo drive with her at the wheel in her Quattro Rally machine…

Sweet memories!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Maserati MC20 wins “Best of the Best” at the Red Dot Awards with its outstanding design…

The new Maserati MC20 receives the prize for “Best of the Best” at the Red Dot Awards 2021 in the Product Design category.

Competition run by a German design center…

The Red Dot Awards is well known, although not everyone is aware that this international design competition is run by Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Germany, which has been assessing and selecting the most aesthetically exciting, functional, intelligent, innovative products from all over the world since 1955.

Every year, this prestigious competition rewards excellence in the field of product and brand design and communication at the global level, with criteria constantly updated to the socio-cultural context.

A jury of 50 international experts chooses products in almost fifty different categories, from fashion to accessories and from furnishings to vehicles.

This reward puts of course a smile on the faces at Maserati…

We cite a few comments:

Maserati CEO Davide Grasso: “Our mission was to develop a car that would be remembered in the future as the model that launched the Maserati New Era. And I think we’ve achieved our goal with MC20. Maserati is innovative by nature, powered by passion and unique by design: the new super spots car embodies all these values and is a watershed, the founding model of this new phase in the Brand’s history.”

Klaus Busse, Head of Maserati Design, added: “We are honoured to receive this coveted accolade, which recognises the work of an entire team who have worked hard on this unique project, creating a car that opens a new chapter in Maserati’s history.”

Truly Italian

MC20 is designed by the Centro Stile Maserati in Turin and inaugurates a new Era for the Trident Brand.

The new super sports car represents the pure form of speed, with Maserati style: a work of sculptural engineering, showing the way to the Brand’s aesthetic future.

Developed by the Maserati Innovation Lab and built at the historic Modena plant, Maserati MC20 is genuinely an all-Italian car.

Besides its innovatige, good looks, it is also fast…

With the new 630 hp V6 Nettuno engine the MC20 catapults from 0 to 100 km/h in under 2.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of over 325 km an hour. The patented engine was conceived, developed, designed and built entirely by Maserati, and uses a pre-chamber combustion technology derived from Formula 1 engines… wow!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

My unforgettable drive with the Giulia Super over the Alps on the way to the Monza Grand Prix in September 1970…

Here I stand proudly as a 23 year old behind the driver’s door of the Alfa Giulia Super, with my nephew looking into the ravine of the Great Saint Bernard pass…

There are epic moments, already in the young life of a car enthusiast. I was barely 23 at the time, when I accompanied my father on a drive to attend the 1970 Monza Grand Prix. My father had a Olive Metallic Green 1,6 Giulia Super press test car for the occasion, and I have been smitten for Giulia’s and Alfa’s ever since, as the drive was so magnificent.

My father had his faithful Leicaflex with the 90 mm Summicon – R f 1:2  lens along, and this is the perfect camera to make impressive shots. You see them here.

My father and I had also taken my nephew along, and so we went on our drive, with me doing most of the driving, as my father found that I understood the car very well. Of course we were keen to let the Alfa perform. This meant cruising on  the German Autobahnen and the A27 through Switzerland and the Italian Autostradas at speeds between 150-160 km/h in fifth gear, when the law allowed it of course.

On our route, we decided not to take the Simplon Tunnel, but take the historic road winding over the Great St. Bernard pass itself, which lies a few hundred metres from the Swiss border with Italy, and is only passable from June to September.

Not only was the old classic pass road a dream for the Giulia, with its pleasantly short second and third gears, and I gladly helped the somewhat weaker synchromesh of the gearbox with expert double declutching. Descents were also epic, as this Giulia had already four disk brakes…

I still recall the eager sound and crisp exhaust roar of the 1,6 litre twin cam engine, and, as said, am totally smitten by Alfa’s ever since.

The Monza Grand Prix was rather dramatic. We arrived in Monza on the fifth of September, going down to the track after having got our press permits and parking voucher for our dear Alfa. Only to hear that Jochen Rindt had killed himself during the practice session on that day. He spun into the guardrails after a failure on his car’s brake shaft. He was killed owing to severe throat injuries caused by his seat belt. He was way ahead in points over the rest of the F1 field, so he became the only driver to be posthumously awarded the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship.

The Great Saint Bernard Pass was gruesome in winter, so prayer to our Lord was certainly appropriate…

We show you the photos, and dream away with you on the joys of holding the wheel of this magnificent four door Gran Turismo, which the Giulia was and still is right to this day…

Your servant would love to make a repeat edition of this drive on the Great Saint Bernard Pass with today’s Giulia… that would be truly great!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

My first Volkswagen Beetle, bought for 500 Belgian Franks or 12,5 Euros… here in a 1969 photo!

Faithful readers remember the article on the Autoworld Exhibition where I told about my purchase of the ’55 export Beetle from famous Television critic Johan Anthierens. Just click Volkswagen celebrates its history in Autoworld… – Autoprova – for the Connaisseur to read the story.

I found a photo of the VW, with my eldest sister – she is one year younger than me – posing in front of it, in July 1969. She lives happily married in the US and is a busy mother and grandmother now. Note how the simple and clean Mary Quandt fashion of the end of the sixties looks even very smart today…

I had removed the hubcaps of the car, put a circular racing number background to camouflage the somewhat scratched door. The former owner Johan Anthierens has also damaged the side board slightly, but neverteless, with our cosmetic changes, the VW looked very preppy and the paintwork was overall still excellent!

More to come from my archives…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel