Mercedes builds excellent vans, and the V-Class has gained mainy followers in the midsize segment. But many families want it to be just a bit smaller. So the people at Mercedes use a small van platform to create a new vehicle which is tailored to the needs of families, whilst also being a suitable companion for active leisure enthusiasts.
So a small van for private customers will be available from the first half of 2022. The class designation of this new model is “T-Class.”
Hans Knol ten Bensel
“With the T-class’s new layout and design we achieve a fusion of functionality and desirability”, says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler Group. “With our unique design philosophy of Sensual Purity we create an attractive family companion being the T-Class inspiring with its design, proportions and its perceived value.”
A typical Mercedes
The T-Class will be clearly discernible at first glance as a member of the Mercedes-Benz family and will feature unmistakably typical characteristics of the brand with the three-pointed star. Especially in terms of design, value, safety and connectivity, the new vehicle will bear the DNA of Mercedes-Benz.
A new class with a new concept
The private-customer market is the focus of the completely newly developed Mercedes-Benz T-Class. The T-Class will meet the needs of families and leisure-oriented people at an attractive price-value ratio. The letter T stands for efficient room concepts and is thus perfectly suited as a model designation for compact family vans bearing the three-pointed star.
The new Mercedes-Benz T-Class offers a large amount of space and is suited to a range of different uses, including passenger transportation as a reference within sharing services – all while not compromising on comfort. The wide-opening sliding doors on both the left and right-hand sides of the vehicle as an example allow easy and comfortable access to the interior. Alongside conventional drive systems, there will be also a fully electric version.
Cooperation with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi…
In August last year, the Vans division announced a successor to the compact urban delivery van, together with a fully-electric variant. Based on this small van platform, two vehicles will be created: while the Mercedes-Benz Citan is a no-compromise vehicle tailored to the requirements of commercial customers, the Mercedes-Benz T-Class is primarily focused towards private customers.
The T-Class and the Citan will be built in cooperation with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
This breathtaking journey, narrated by Olivier François – President, Fiat Brand Global and FCA Chief Marketing Officer, includes interviews with designers, tales of partners, close-ups on the details and selection of materials, where the aim is caring of the environment and its sustainability.
The short film (15 and a half minutes) presents a relentless succession of meetings and processes that highlight teamwork, the affinity between designers from different fields and the emotions involved in playing an active role in an extraordinary project: the creation of something unique, an interpretation of the New 500 alongside the very best of “Made in Italy”.
The result is the three One-Offs, embodiment’s of the style, creativity and craftsmanship characteristic of “Made in Italy” and of our partners in the project, in the path and in the vision of the Earth’s future.
The journey depicted in the film begins in Turin, cradle of the Fiat brand, passing from Rome on the way with its sunsets, colors and lines that symbolize Bvlgari all over the world, to arrive in Milan, the world capital of fashion and design, due in no small part to Armani and Kartell.
The twist in the tale has Milan as the setting for the entire presentation of the New 500.
A veritable gearshift takes place in the film’s account of the tense time when the Geneva International Motor Show was canceled, and a plan B had to be found and set in motion. The presentation of the New 500 and the One-Offs was completely rewritten to pull up stakes, to Milan.
The short film is created and produced by VICE Italy, with Rockets at the helm. It uses the language of documentaries to reveal aspects normally concealed from the general public, in an immediate and effective way.
In an authentic, realistic vernacular, the evocative film opens the doors of the Style Center in Turin to the cameras. We get an exclusive peek inside the “Color & Material” department led by Rossella Guasco, halfway between a sophisticated research center and an elegant fashion atelier.
The footage documents their almost-obsessive attentiveness to every detail, that “know-how” typical of Italian creativity, and dwells on the emotions of the whole team as they experience something truly unique.
The journey continues in an interview with Klaus Busse, Head of Design, explaining what lies beneath the creative process of style and forms, and the role of the 500 in the history of industrial design, even more so in the collective unconscious.
It was the Style Center that took a legend of the 50’s, the fabled “Cinquino”, and reinvented it in 2007 to “color” everyday life and streets all over the world, making it an authentic, unique and salient response to the requirements of international urban mobility.
At the Milan launch of the One-Offs in March, it was even announced that the Fiat 500 has been confirmed as an “Italian Icon and Honorary Member” of Altagamma, the prestigious Foundation that brings together the best of Italy’s companies, to promote the epitomes of the country’s excellence around the world.
Just have a look at the photos here, and also enjoy the film!
The styling has a more sporting touch with a fresh look for the front sections. The all-LED headlamps have been given flatter housings, while the interior of the LED tail lights has been reworked.
At the same time the two-door models take on the key upgrade features of the other body variants as part of the facelift. These include electrified, and therefore more efficient, petrol as well as diesel engines with integrated starter-alternator, the next generation of driving assistance systems and the infotainment system MBUX infotainment system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience).
The E-Class Coupé and Cabriolet will be making their debut with sales partners in Europe in autumn 2020.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
In good Mercedes tradition, The E-Class Cabriolet with the classic fabric top offers spaciousness and comfort on long journeys for up to four people. And does so all year round: as an option, the Cabriolet can be fitted with the AIRCAP electric draught-stop system and AIRSCARF neck-level heating. Unrestricted usability all year round is similarly ensured by the acoustic soft top, a standard feature that helps to optimise the level of noise experienced in the interior.
The coupé has pleasing flowing lines, and has its own enthusiastic followers, who like a roomy four seat Gran Turismo with coupé character and panache.
The “A-shape” design of the new diamond radiator grille, which is likewise standard on all versions, adds a particularly dynamic touch. The grille also features chrome-plated dots, a single louvre and the Mercedes star in the centre.
Typical Mercedes comfort
The adaptive driver’s seat adjustment is a particularly intelligent feature: when the height of the body is entered on the media display or via Mercedes me, the seat automatically moves into a position generally suitable for someone of that height, which then only needs to be fine-tuned by the driver.
The integral-look sports seats feature prominent side bolsters and integrated head restraints.
Next-generation driving assistance systems: better assistance in tailbacks and when parking
As standard, the E-Class comes with Active Brake Assist. The system is also able to brake for stationary vehicles and crossing pedestrians at typical city speeds and even to prevent collisions, depending on the situation. As part of the Driving Assistance Package, this is now also possible when turning off across the oncoming lane. A range of further Intelligent Drive functions can optionally be added to the Driving Assistance Package.
A new generation of steering wheels, plus MBUX
The E-Class is fitted with an entirely new, intelligent steering wheel as part of the facelift. This is available as a leather steering wheel and in a super sports variant. The control surfaces sport a high-gloss black finish, while the trim elements and surrounds have a silver shadow finish.
The new E-Class is equipped with the latest generation of the MBUX multimedia system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). As standard, it includes two large 10.25-inch/26 cm screens arranged side by side for a sublime widescreen look. Two 12.3 inch/31.2 cm screens are optionally available.
New to the E-Class Coupé and Cabriolet is the ENERGIZING COACH. This function is based on an intelligent algorithm and recommends one or other of the programmes depending on the situation and the individual concerned. If a Garmin® wearable is integrated, personal values such as stress level or quality of sleep optimise the accuracy of the recommendation. The aim is to ensure the driver feels well and relaxed even during demanding or monotonous journeys.
Your Mercedes is safe…
In conjunction with Mercedes me, the two packages URBAN GUARD Vehicle Protection and URBAN GUARD Vehicle Protection Plus enable all-round monitoring of the parked vehicle. URBAN GUARD comprises an anti-theft alarm system, tow-away protection with visual and audible warning in the case of a detected change in position, an alarm siren, interior monitoring (triggers in the case of movements in the interior) as well as a pre-installation for theft and parking collision detection.
Increased electrification of the powertrain…
The electrification of the powertrain takes another major step forward with the facelift of the E-Class. The new two-door models also see the top version of the four-cylinder diesel engine (OM 654 M), rated at 195 kW, fitted for the first time with an integrated starter-alternator (ISG). It therefore has a 48-volt on-board partial electrical system. A recuperation function and the ability to “glide” with the engine switched off make the engine even more efficient.
Clever: integrated into the transmission
Ongoing development work means that the integrated starter-alternator used here is a second-generation unit that is now part of the transmission (rather than of the engine). This means that it can be more easily combined with different engines. The extra boost that is available right from the first turn of the engine, known as EQ Boost, can deliver as much as 15 kW and 180 Nm, thus ensuring that the driving enjoyment offered by both of the sporty two-door models is even more pronounced.
The 48-volt technology with ISG is also a feature of the in-line six-cylinder petrol engine (M 256), now available for the first time in the E-Class. As with the Saloon, Estate and All-Terrain models, this unit has now been added to the engine line-up for the two-door models.
There is also the new Mercedes-AMG E 53 4MATIC+ Coupé and Cabriolet, of which more later in a special report!
We vividly remember them when I drove in the historic Mille Miglia with my father. The olive green Alfa Giulia Supers of the Carabinieri coached us along the way, watched over crossroads, helped to control traffic along our route, kept overenthusiastic spectators at bay.
The Carabinieri had not only taken out their fifties’uniform complete with riding boots, they also had polished their Giulia Supers. And of course, mechanically, these Alfa’s were in top form. What a delight it was to hear their 1,6 thoroughbred DOHC four cylinder revving up when they joined with panache and screeching Michelins again our fast moving column of Millia Miglia cars. Only to pass us swiftly with the blue police light flashing on the roof, with their engine on full song.
Delightful, simply delightful. On the return leg from Roma back to Brescia, on the lunch stop before Siena, me and my father took (too much) time to chat with Stirling Moss, and we forgot our schedule a bit. This meant we were late, and had to do some massive catching up through the field. As there were timed sessions ahead, and we had to be within our time slot again. Easier said than done, with the power of a Mercedes 180 D ponton. Fight your way past birdcage Maserati’s and the like with 40 HP. Also the normal traffic was busy and held us up too much, as it took always time to accelerate for us to our top speed of 120 km/h at best.
Then we saw the olive green Giulia Super at a crossroad. We waved frantically and threw our hands in the air, shouting “siamo in ritardi!” We are too late!
“Okay, Okay”, they shouted back, starting their Giulia, putting swiftly their Alfa in front of us. “Siguici da vicino, follow usse close” they commanded us in their marvelous Italian accent, and so we went as a two wagon speed train through traffic, and passed the field of surprised Mille Migla participants. Lancia Aurelia, BMW 328 and Jaguar XK120 drivers couldn’t believe their eyes. But we got after 30 minutes of frantic speeding again in our slot. We waved at the carabinieri thankfully, and they responded with two signals on their beautiful Fiamm horn.
So when the dynamic PR people of FCA came up with te story about the fast, invincible Alfa’s in the service of the law, our delightful memories came back again, and we had to tell you here this story.
Of course, the Polizia/Carabinieri Giulia’s were totally iconic and omnipresent in the sixties, but the love affair of the servants of the law with Alfa’s started already in the early fifties with the formidable Alfa 1900. We show you here the photos, and dream on with us…
Automobili Lamborghini reveals the new Huracán EVO Rear-Wheel Drive Spyder virtually, using for the first time Augmented Reality (AR) on its official website lamborghini.com.
The new V10 model provides drivers with an open-air celebration of lightweight engineering, with rear-wheel drive and a specially tuned Performance Traction Control System (P-TCS). Roof up or down, daily driving and high-performance fun are accompanied by the inimitable sound of the V10 aspirated power plant, delivering the same 610 hp (449 kW) and 560 Nm of torque as the coupé version.
With a 0-100 km/h acceleration of just 3,5 seconds and a top speed of 324 km/h, like its coupé stablemate the Spyder is an instinctive driver’s car, delivering a fun-to-drive experience via hardware rather than software.
The Huracán EVO RWD Spyder’s design optimizes the integration and function of the extremely lightweight soft top. The Spyder is a true Lamborghini with roof open and closed. The Spyder’s exterior lines ensure drag reduction and the downforce matches that of the coupé without requiring additional aerodynamic appendages, while enhancing the rear-wheel drive car’s balance and dynamism with roof both up and down.
The Huracán EVO Spyder’s ANIMA button on the steering wheel puts the pilot in control of driving modes, with the P-TCS calibrated to suit.
STRADA provides stability and safety in all conditions by minimizing rear-wheel slippage, and more proactively managing torque delivery on low-adhesion surfaces.
In SPORT mode, the driver enjoys drifting fun, allowing the rear wheels to slide and skate during acceleration, with torque limited when oversteer angles increase rapidly so the driver can stabilize and control the car.
CORSA mode optimizes the car’s traction and agility when exiting a corner in high-performance conditions, maximizing dynamics and speed.
The Huracán EVO RWD Spyder’s aluminum and thermoplastic resin body sits on a lightweight hybrid chassis in aluminum and carbon fiber, with a dry weight of 1,509 kg and a weight-to-power ratio of 2.47 kg/hp.
Front/rear weight distribution of 40/60, with double wishbone suspension with overlapped quadrilaterals and passive shock absorbers, providing optimized driver feedback. Ventilated and cross-drilled steel brakes are fitted to 19” Kari rims with specially-developed Pirelli P Zero tires, with optional 20” rims and carbon ceramic brakes.
One of the most legendary qualities of Citroën cars have been – certainly from the legendary “Traction” and the 2CV onwards – their comfort, which went arm in arm with just as unique roadholding qualities.
No small wonder, as one knows that Citroën had been taken over early 1935 by Michelin, and that since that day the genius of engineer and Pierre-Jules Boulanger was the inspiration behind the revolutionary design of Citroëns. Boulanger was the deputy of Pierre Michelin, who became the chairman of Citroën in 1935.
The long wheelbase version of the “Traction” offered superb comfort…
Pierre-Jules Boulanger became vice-president and chief of the engineering and design departments, and had a strong hand in the development of the 2 CV. He put his engineering know how to work with the revolutionary suspension, introducing the revolutionary concept of combining roadholding with a comfortable, very elastic suspension. They also made the world’s first radial tyres…for the 2 CV.
In the late stages of the life of the Traction, Michelin and the team of Pierre Boulanger also reached a helping hand with developing the revolutionary hydropneumatic suspension for the long wheelbase version of the Traction, which then later was adopted for the “Déesse”. Actually, this long wheelbase Traction served as a test bed for the revolutionary DS. Michelin then was at the basis of the development of the whole hydropneumatic system.
This high-pressure hydraulic system would form the basis of over 9 million Citroëns, spanning from including the DS, SM, GS, CX, BX, XM, Xantia, C5, all through the still so beautiful and iconic C6.
Revolutionary also in developing inboard space…
But of course there are more aspects to just suspension. Citroën has long emphasized the benefits of adaptable seating arrangements and maximum cabin space and storage.
In 1923, the B2Type offered buyers the choice of more seats or greater luggage capacity, with an early attempt at modular cabin design. The C3Type ‘Torpédo’ was a two-seater, yet offered a folding third seat behind the driver, creating more luggage capacity or passenger room as required.
In 1924, a new ‘Trefle’ (three-leaf clover) three-seat configuration was introduced, with a fixed third seat mounted in the middle of the cabin behind the two front seats, with cargo areas either side.
For the 1930s and beyond, the Traction Avant offered various seating layouts. These included a long-wheelbase sevenseat model, and a variant with a wagon-style rear lift-up door – possibly the world’s first production hatchback.
Even the 2CV ahd an adaptable, modular cabin. With removable seats, a convertible roof, wash-down floor, and an extendible cargo area, the 2CV could well be seen as the car that started the trend for functional or technological cabin design – more than half a century ago.
Both the DS and the CX were sold as wagons (or ‘breaks’), offering maximum living comfort with intelligent seating layouts, long before more recent trends for six- or seven-seat cars.
The multi-seat CX Familiale was unique in its market class and it took many years for its competitors to catch up.
Citroën has also produced a series of design concepts as ‘one off’ show cars, with living comfort key to their motor show stand appeal, notably the 1980 Citroën Karin concept. This pyramid-shaped three-seater, built with composite materials, featured new storage ideas, moulded seats, and a stunning control ‘pod’ and steering wheel interface with fingertip controls. Such ideas are now familiar in the company’s production cars.
There is much more to come on Citroëns unique story around creature comfort, so stay tuned on these columns, and enjoy the photos here with us…
Before Corona hit our shores, we went in February to Florida to soak up the early sun. Undoubtedly this proved to be a wise choice, as at the moment of writing, we are still not allowed to travel. We visited Miami and made a drive to Key West, in a rented Nissan Altima. A very comfortable mount with a well pulling and smooth 2,5 litre 188 HP four cylinder petrol engine coupled to a soave CVT transmission. This CVT performed well, raising the revs gradually following the push of your right foot, and restraining fussy revving even when you accelerate full throttle. Once above 4,000 rpm, it will make crisp upshifts.
With lots of support from the power steering the Altima is very easy to steer, stable and comfortable, and offers lots of room for its occupants. An ideal, and stylish travelling machine, which left little to be desired.
On Florida roads, the usual pickups abound, but there is a lot of room left for supercars and European (noble) brands. Indeed, Florida is the realm of the well to do, and also one of the states with a 56,14 % majority of foreign brands in its total car market. It counted in 2018 some 7,6 million registered vehicles. California is actually the top car state with not less than 14,6 million registered vehicles, and a foreign car market share of 64,9 %.
Go in the posh shopping and hotel areas of Miami beach, and you will see it is the home of Lamborghini’s, Maserati’s, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Range Rover, Bentley, Rolls Royce. Many buyers of the noble European brands opt for SUV’s as well as cabrio’s and coupés.
On the road, big SUV’s and pickups from American and Japanese brands abound, with the open Mustangs being frequently seen too, as well as Chevy Camaro’s.
Every now and then an American built classic meets you, as a fifties or sixties open Ford or Thunderbird. Indeed, Cuba is not far away…
Of course, there are the Cinquecento’s. We saw a new one on Miami Beach, and a vintage or “classic” Cinquecento used by a Sicilian Ice cream vendor…
Also a two decades old SUV was totally sculpted in sand, if there ever was a beach car, this is the one…
We just let you enjoy the photos here, and dream with us of these sunny shores and their nice cars…
Audi will gradually initiate the restart of production at its plants in Europe during the coming weeks.
As everybody knows, in mid-March, the company announced the temporary suspension of production at its European sites.
The background to the decision was supply bottlenecks and a drop in demand due to the corona pandemic. Now the Volkswagen Group will coordinate the upcoming regulated restart in the worldwide Audi production network together with suppliers and service providers.
The main focus in this restart is of course a comprehensive package of measures that targets on the safety of employees.
In this respect, Audi is following the guidelines of the Robert Koch Institute and the regulations of the health authorities of the respective country.
Altogether an admirable undertaking, which will bring us all soon again on the right path…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
“A joint European Act”
Following the suspension of production at all AUDI AG plants in Europe, it is now a matter of taking the first step back towards normality: “We will manage the restart as a joint European act,” said Board of Management Member for Production Peter Kössler. This is because supply chains and production and logistics processes are closely interlinked within the Group and with partners at the international level. Kössler continued: “The focus is on the employees, because they need a safe working environment. Audi teams of experts have therefore adapted processes with a view to health protection in consultation with the specialist departments and works councils. I would like to thank all Audi employees and our partners around the world for their flexibility and joint efforts in times like these.”
The restart includes, for example, clear rules on distance and hygiene, a modified shift system to avoid contact, and the obligation to use mouth and nose protection in areas where distances of 1.5 meters are not possible.
The company has also created physical barriers at critical workplaces. In door pre-assembly, for example, two employees work simultaneously on the same transport rack and stand directly opposite each other. Here, the employees themselves have developed a transparent barrier made of plastic sheeting.
Managers of production sections and groups, together with experts from occupational safety, health care, industrial engineering and the works council, have looked at each individual workplace, analyzed it and developed suggestions for improvement. Only with the agreement of all those involved is a workplace considered “corona-ready.” The workgroup also took a close look at the working environment: group spaces, factory gates, parking spaces and internal factory traffic, as well as catering and factory restaurants. Audi has developed appropriate solutions for all areas.
Vehicle production at the Audi sites will be gradually ramped up from the end of April onwards according to a fixed plan. Engine production in Győr already started gradually ramping up again this week. For those employees at the factories in Germany who will only be able to resume their work fully in later phases of the restart, short-time working regulations will continue to apply until then…
Your servant remembers it vividly. Back in 1980, photographing a brick stone red Panda in the Galerie de la Reine in Brussels, on an early Saturday morning. Those were the times when you could pull this off, without asking anybody. Of course we had to be quick. To make our presence a bit more official, I asked also some garcons of the nearby restaurant Aux Armes de Bruxelles – who were just putting out the tables in the early morning – to pose for me, putting some of their ornamental flower trays in the opened hatch of our Panda.
My test car’ had the zesty four cylinder 903 cc engine in the front, borrowed from the Fiat 127. It was fast with it. Top speed not less than 140 km/h.
I just loved the design of this Panda, both inside and out. Its elegant, simple, rectangular shapes, its perfectly balanced proportions still inspire. Just drive it now in chique black with beige interior through our cities.
It still is a beautiful, modern car. The car is also up to this day brimming with practicality and genial storage solutions. Fast, zesty, compact.
The future car within this same lineage of geniality is the Centoventi. We stood eye to eye with the prototype in the Centro Stile last year. More about this car later.
The present day Panda is eminently capable. We recently drove the hybrid version, just read our report… This Panda lives in the heart of many, and is since 2003 the most sold city car in Europe. And has a bright future for many years to come…
Keeping your offspring busy in these (Easter) times is quite a task, and Jeep and Fiat are there to help.
Fiat launces a cute #fiatforkids initiative. The Colorbook 500 – in Fiat’s usual playful, entertaining style – is designed specially for children to spend a few hours drawing and coloring in the three generations of the 500. Fiat is offering four plates of their iconic Cinquecento. Your offspring can colour the three generations of the 500, the landscape it is passing, or draw the view from the window of the car.
But there is more for kids in store during Easter time. They will look for “Easter Eggs” in hidden places in the garden, terrace or in the home, much to their surprise and delight. The Jeep designers have made “Easter Eggs” an integrated step in the creation process of each vehicle, and a distinctive, very special design feature.
‘Easter Eggs‘ are hidden decorative motifs that Jeep stylists conceal in Jeep vehicles, meant to be discovered throughout time by their owners.
These hidden gems are unique and unexpected, they change from one Jeep vehicle to another and can be found both on the exterior and on the interior. Originally, Easter Eggs were an offhand addition of a graphic to an otherwise standard part of the vehicle but over the course of the years, they developed into something typical of Jeep design.
They are also styling cues that recall the brand’s design heritage – such as the seven slot grille or iconic Jeep models like the Wrangler.
Often they can also be found in small functional areas, such as storage compartments, to be discovered by customers during the daily use of their vehicle.
Today, the practice continues with every new Jeep model and customers will shortly have an opportunity to discover the Easter Eggs hidden in the soon-to-be launched Jeep Renegade and Compass 4xe…