A new DS3: elegance and refinement reigns…

The New DS 3 is the successor to DS 3 CROSSBACK, featuring new design and technology.

The New DS 3 styling developments are most obvious at the front. The design language of the rest of the DS Automobiles range is applied here with a redesigned grille, wider and enhanced with gloss black or chromed diamond tips depending on the model. The identifying DS WINGS have been tweaked to subtly join the grille and headlamps.

The new LED headlamps – standard across the range –give New DS 3 a sharper look with three feature modules emphasized with satin chrome. The DS MATRIX LED VISION, with intelligent control and automatic main beam for maximum comfort and safety are also offered as an option. The new daytime running lights feature two LED lines vertically arranged either side of the front for a distinctive and widening signature, consistent with the latest DS Automobiles design language.

New DS 3 has also evolved stylistically as well as technically. The new spoiler and grille have been totally redesigned to optimise the car’s aerodynamic performance. The aerofoils framing the lower air intake grille demonstrate this new efficiency.

The rear has been refined: the lights and the tailgate are tastefully emphasized with a lacquered black strip. This gets the “DS Automobiles” signature through a unique technology, the letters in polished stainless steel being divided and set one by one in the trim, as on New DS 7.

New DS 3 is offered with seven body colours, opaque, metallic and pearlescent, including two new pearlescent colours: Diva Red, a three-layer colour exclusive to New DS 3, and Lacquered Grey. Crystal Pearl, Platinum Grey, Artense Grey, Perla Nera Black and Polar White complete the offering with the option of creating bi-tone combinations with two variations of roof: Perla Black or the new Carat Grey.

The wheels introduce a completely new design for an increase in efficiency. Available in 17 and 18 inches, they are divided according to different themes and colours. In the 100% electric E-TENSE model, New DS 3 is available with new 18-inch TOULOUSE wheels shod with “Tall & Narrow Class A+” tyres.

AN INTERIOR INSPIRED BY THE BIGGEST NAMES IN FRENCH LUXURY

The leathers, particularly the Nappa Leather upholstery with the weathered Art Leather finish, Alcantara®, and details such as the “pearl” stitching or Clous de Paris embossed inserts show the uniqueness of DS Automobiles cockpits. This attention to detail, firmly rooted in the Brand’s DNA, is inside New DS 3 and represents a major point of difference.

The driving position has changed with the adoption of a new steering wheel, regrouping controls for driver aids and infotainment buttons and combined with gearshift paddles for the automatic gearboxes. A new 10.3-inch high definition central screen is now offered as standard, with the new DS IRIS SYSTEM infotainment system built in.

A RANGE OF MULTI-ENERGY DRIVETRAINS TOPPED BY A NEW 100% ELECTRIC E-TENSE MODEL

New DS 3 E-TENSE gets a completely new electric motor (assembled in Trémery-Metz), a reduction gear (produced in Valenciennes) and a new battery (assembled in Poissy) for increases in power and range.

The new hybrid synchronous motor (HSM) benefits from the expertise acquired in Formula E to demonstrate high efficiency. It offers 115 kW (156 horsepower) of power and 260 Nm of torque at a voltage of 400 Volts. The new 54 kWh battery (50.8 kWh usable) has thermal control through liquid circulation and a heat pump that enables rapid charging, better range and increased lifespan. As standard the onboard charger takes 100 kW in direct current (0 to 80% in 25 minutes) and 11 kW in alternating current (0-100% in 5 hours).

The 100% electric version, New DS 3 E-TENSE has a new 115 kW (156 horsepower) drivetrain and a new 54 kWh battery enabling it to reach a range of up to 402 km on the WLTP combined cycle.

New DS 3 is also being offered with two petrol drivetrains: PureTech 100 with 6-speed manual gearbox and PureTech 130 with 8-speed automatic gearbox. A Diesel BlueHDi 130 with an 8-speed automatic gearbox is also on offer. In these two guises, these engines comply with the most recent anti-pollution standards.

Post-production : Astuce Productions

FULL OF TECHNOLOGY INSIDE

New DS 3 gets a new infotainment system available via a large 10.3-inch high definition central screen with a redesigned gloss black surround. Connected navigation and intelligent voice recognition are offered by DS IRIS SYSTEM. The distinctive characteristic of this system is the ability for the user to personalize the central screen and the 7-inch instrument panel, complete with head up display that projects essential information in the driver’s eye line. The central screen is split into 12 squares and can accommodate varying sized widgets.

ESSENTIAL PARKING AIDS…

We personally find that proper parking aids are a “MUST” in every car with an urban vocation. The DS3 seems to have what it takes: Viewable on the large central screen, VISIO PARK 2 enriches the range of driver aids available on New DS 3 by offering parking help with 360° vision reproduced through new high resolution digital cameras. Well done!

MADE FOR MUSIC BUFFS…

By using the expertise of FOCAL, which is a benchmark in the world of premium audio systems, DS Automobiles has developed a unique system called FOCAL Electra. Twelve speakers including a subwoofer are fitted into the cockpit with great care and feature Bronze Belem colour metal grilles with a special finish. With a dedicated amplifier, this 515W audio system provides high performance acoustics for a rich sound and enormous purity. Sound spatialisation is optimised and consistent within the cockpit. Designed like an auditorium, New DS 3 offers an exceptionally immersive audio experience.

We know that France Musique streams magnificent baroque and classical as well as jazz music…for you to enjoy in the DS3!

A SIMPLIFIED RANGE

The new DS 3 range adopts the principal started by New DS 7. The new OPERA specification becomes the most exclusive. Equipment levels have been reimagined, enabling a smoother climb through the range. The number of options has been reduced, through re-equipping or the creation of option packs to make customer understanding easier. Prices for new DS 3 start from 30,100 euros with the PureTech 100 Manual in BASTILLE specification.

New DS 3 is built only at Poissy, in the Paris region, with, as said before, electric or internal combustion engine (petrol or diesel) versions. The engines as well as the new electric motor and the increased capacity battery are also all assembled in France.

We are of course anxious to lay our hands on this DS3 soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A journey through time for the Citroën Berlingo

Right after having written the report about the C5 AirCross, we were totally charmed by the news that Italian coachbuilder Caselani has harnessed the wave of the vintage trend, which is well-established in the Italian car culture.

Both a Fourgonetta and a passenger car version are available…

Here he made a conversion performed on Berlingo, a reinterpretation that draws on the success of a pioneering van and the success of Berlingo Van itself, a major player on its segment in Europe since its launch in 1996, as all three generations of which have sold more than 1 891 196 units. Did you know that at the end of August 2022, it was the second most successful vehicle in its segment in Europe, with a 17% market share?  

Caselani entrusted this restyling exercise for Berlingo to David Obendorfer, renowned for having previously styled the Type H based on Citroën Jumper in 2017 and the new Type HG for Jumpy/SpaceTourer in 2020. This completes Citroën’s range of Caselani-designed vans.

Caselani designer David Obendorfer explains: “The design specifications did not involve simply copying the forms of the old van in the strictest sense. Instead, they involved going back in time and bringing its unique charm to 21st-century vehicle. As a distant descendant, Berlingo was completely designed as a tribute to the Citroën 2CV of the 1950s. It was an exciting challenge because the original van had completely different proportions. It had very short front overhang, nice long bonnet and visually stand-alone load compartment, very different features from those of Berlingo. So I focused more on an overall evocative aspect of the original vehicle rather than straining the individual design elements to make them look like the 2CV Fourgonnette.”

CHARACTERISTIC STYLE ELEMENTS FOR A NEO-RETRO PERSONALITY

The conversion grabs the personality and oara of the original entirely, one would wish it made also the 2 cylinder boxer sound…

The Berlingo 2CV Fourgonnette draws inspiration from the legendary 2CV AU (“U” for “utility”) launched in 1951 – which proved hugely successful in its time with nearly 1,247,000 units sold – and its descendant, the 2CV AZU launched in 1954. The timeless codes of the original van have not been forgotten:

The Berlingo’s front end panel has been completely overhauled, revealing the features that were so characteristic of the old 2CV from days gone by. The grille, bumper and wheel arches have been replaced by new fibreglass components adapted to the frame, which integrates clips and bolts for attaching them. All of these components are assembled at Caselani’s workshops in Lombardy, Northern Italy.

 The V-shaped domed bonnet narrows towards the lower section – it “pinches”, to use the designer’s own jargon – just like before. The famous embossed striated coat sit in the centre of the front-end panel, extending over almost the whole of it.

 The round headlights are partly detached from the bonnet, fitting into it as they extend back – unlike the original ones which were completely offset. A more modern interpretation with components which fit in with the rest of the vehicle.

The low-relief grooves at the top of the wheel arches featured on the old 2CV and were used to ventilate the engine.

 With its concave-cut upper section (or M-shaped, flared towards the top), the grille is attractive and distinctly Citroën, emblematic of the 2CV AU. The large chrome-plated chevrons – the brand’s signature – are highlighted, positioned right in the centre of the grille and overlaid on it, further emphasizing them. The imposing grille is highly arched, integrated into the front end, and forming one with the bonnet as at the time. It extends downwards from the bonnet, giving one the impression that the wheel arches are floating – fitting into this key component. The line above the fog lamps, which stretches over the vehicle’s full width, further amplifies this effect. It gives stability to the front face and widens it, reinforcing its robust character.

 Visually, the front bumper is lower than on Berlingo. While the 2CV’s bumper was chrome-plated, this one is painted white, contrasting with the body. This emphasizes the protective nature of the component, while at the same time investing it with a certain modernity.

The sides, rear doors and roof have all been given a second skin, topping off Berlingo’s bodywork. These fibreglass components all pay homage to the 2CV’s highly distinctive corrugated sheeting. But on this vehicle, they are purely decorative. Originally, they had an actual purpose – they were what gave the whole structure its rigidity. These striated components and the reworked – raised – roof – are a deliberate attempt to create a style whereby the vehicle’s passenger compartment section is separated from its cargo section. This was already a feature of the old van.

At the rear of the vehicle, a small vertical window that is rounded at the top and bottom features on each of Berlingo’s rear doors – a further tribute to the 2CV. For a more modern feel, the very thick black seal around the windows has been removed. As for the vehicle’s stop and reversing lights, their perfectly round shape is brought to the attention by their sheer size. They are surrounded by red trim, making them even more visible and giving them a more contemporary feel.

Various key locations on the vehicle are chrome-plated – another nod to the details that the 2CV sported. This applies to the headlights, the bonnet’s central ridge, the grille with its chevrons and contour trim, the original hubcaps (which are still manufactured to date) and the chrome-plated handles on the headlights which were used to open them (for replacing the bulbs). Only the handle for opening the bonnet has not been included in this new version.

We certainly love the styling of this car, being more “Citroën” than ever… more Citroën news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

We tested the Citroën C5 AirCross on a European tour…

Comfort and panache in the 9th Arrondissment in Paris…

What better way to test the grand touring qualities of the C5 AirCross than to take it on a tour through Belgium with a trip to Paris as an icing on the cake?

This is exactly what many owners of this sleek 225 HP hybrid version would do, so our test includes many “real life” situations.

We can tell you right away that the C5 totally convinced us with its refinement, performance, outstanding comfort and frugality. Of course, this report should be read in conjunction with the previous article about the driving impressions of the C5 AirCross in Nice, in June this year. Just tap the link https://autoprova.be/2022/06/18/we-drove-the-new-citroen-c5-aircross-a-suv-with-added-panache-and-superb-comfort/.

But now read further here!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our C5 AirCross on the sunny Knokke boulevard…

Right from the start of our test we chose the “B” hybrid mode and also selected the “eco” driving setting. Indeed, power is abundant in all driving situations when touring, and power delivery is very smooth indeed under this setting. We also took care to select the “battery save” mode, i.e. keeping the battery charged to drive some 20 km on battery power, just in case.

One has to select this every time one starts the car anew, which is a bit cumbersome, but soon enough one flicks through the menus every morning to select this, and there is also a dedicated button below the touchscreen which lets you land immediately in these energy management modes, so after a while this becomes a breeze to include this in the morning starting routine.

The plug-in hybrid C5 AirCross proved remarkably frugal…

Your servant and its passengers greatly appreciated the superb comfort of the seats, further enhanced by the smooth suspension. Be it on the cobblestones in Damme, Brugge or Liège, or the Parisian streets, everything is beautifully ironed out, and even after hours of driving, one feels utterly relaxed and fit.

Indeed, this is what Citroën driving is all about, and not only does one enjoy the “floating carpet” ride, the impressive sound insulation does the rest. Nor do any vibrations reach the cabin.

The DAB radio and sound system overall add greatly to the driving pleasure and entertainment on longer trips, with the navigation system being also top notch. The map can also be seen in the line of vision of the driver within the instrument cluster, which helps greatly in dense (Parisian) traffic situations.

Seating position, instrument and dashboard layout are all exemplary…

The C5 AirCross is as can be expected an excellent motorway cruiser, in urban situations however, the styling of modern day SUV’s does not give the slightest clue about the edges of the car, and this goes not only for the C5. Of course one has camera’s and warning systems, but we must admit that the camera’s on the C5 lack definition and clarity. We would like to spend a few Euro’s more to have a camera system with better definition.

In Mortsel, Antwerp, we parked the C5 in front of Chateau Cantecroy…

The beautiful alloys are thankfully somewhat protected by the tyre walls and the rims do not protrude, which is a blessing with the many high and razor sharp kerbstones modern day architects are throwing (literally) before our wheels. Nevertheless, the tyre walls stick out only marginally so much caution is still very much advised. We sweat blood and tears in an older narrow Parisian parking building, but thankfully did not harm the alloys (nor the bodywork) at all. Increasingly one notices that modern cars have become bigger and bigger, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to negotiate them through older parking garages. We saw recently at the presentation of the sleek 408 Peugeot that a better tyre protection is designed for its magnificent alloys.

The C5 offered also comfortable luggage space…

The C5 has also a very adequate and practical luggage space, and we mentioned already in our report about the presentation of the C5 AirCross in our columns (see https://autoprova.be/2022/06/18/we-drove-the-new-citroen-c5-aircross-a-suv-with-added-panache-and-superb-comfort/)

It’s the only SUV in the segment to offer three individual sliding, reclining and retractable rear seats. The boot volume goes from 580 L to 720 L in the petrol and diesel versions and from 460 L to 600 L for the hybrid version. It offered easily enough room for thee large suitcases and further clothing like jackets and hats.

Of course, consumption is very much depending on your driving style, and in the case of a plug-in hybrid, how often you (re)charge it. During our trip, recharging was not very much in the cards, but we nevertheless achieved a consumption between 6 and 6,5 litres, which considering that there was also quite much urban slow (sightseeing) driving involved, is a very good value indeed.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We let you enjoy the photos here, which were taken here by our Sony Alpha 5100 mirrorless camera. More about this camera here, and we invite you also to klick,on the following link: https://autoprova.be/2017/05/12/we-purchased-a-sony-a5100-our-compact-camera-collection-grows/ Indeed, we have this camera already since 2017….

It’s compact, and it has all the works: it throws in all the goodies of the Sony a6000, which means that it has a 24MP CMOS sensor, Bionz X processor, on-chip phase detection covering 92% of the frame and Wi-Fi with NFC. And this tilting LCD, flipping upward 180 degrees.

The camera can record 1080/60p video, supporting the XAVC S codec, allowing for bit rates of 50Mbps. It also has the ability to simultaneously record 720p video while recording at higher resolutions.

Bold and beautiful, angular and elegant: the new Peugeot 408 is a fastback with panache…

The new Peugeot 408 was presented in Belgium…

The new PEUGEOT 408 is different. Here PEUGEOT demonstrates the creativity of its teams by offering a new fastback silhouette at the top of the C segment. This new age PEUGEOT offers – this is how the company calls it – allure, as well as engineering excellence focused on efficiency and intelligent electrification. According to Peugeot, it awakens emotions, thanks to the cutting-edge technologies dedicated to driving pleasure and instinctive use.

We saw the car for the first time in the flesh, at a stationary presentation held in our country. It certainly has the looks, presented to us in a dramatic setting offered by elegant ladies on stilts and spectacular fairy-like uniforms.  See my YouTube short using the following link: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/hZVv01F0OgI

And also read further… Hans Knol ten Bensel

The unveiling was spectacular to say the least…

I must admit that the 408 has character, and its angular shapes certainly impress, exuding elegance as well as a bold presence. Peugeot calls it having “allure”.

Its lines are sharp, with remarkable styling details like the inverted cut-out of the rear bumper. We also liked the 20- inch rims feature an interesting geometric design. What I also personally liked was that the tyre rims bulge out over the alloy rims and thus protect them, so you cannot readily damage the beautiful wheels at the first stone kerb you meet, which modern architects now go to utmost lengths to build ever higher, in their foolisch anti-automobile philosophies. 

But even the narrow (Parisian) older parkings with their circular trottoir bordered entrées present no menace any more, which is a blessing…

In good Peugeot tradition it is comfortable and offers room. Remember, back in the mid fifties, the 403 ponton was dubbed with good reason “la Mercedes française” and indeed was built to offer comfort and refinement. With a length of 4.69m, based on a long wheelbase of 2.79m, the new PEUGEOT 408 continues the tradition and offers 188mm of legroom in the rear. The boot is also well sized, with a volume of 536 litres, which can be increased to 1.611 litres once the rear seats are folded down.

Emotion and excellence…

Besides “allure”, Peugeot marketing puts forward two other hallmarks of its products: they should provide driver’s emotion and let you enjoy engineering excellence.

Indeed, the PEUGEOT 408 offers the latest generation of the PEUGEOT i-Cockpit®, instantly recognisable by its compact steering wheel dedicated to driving pleasure and controlled agility.

In the cockpit, the emphasis is on quality and connectivity, and the very latest technologies make the driving and travelling experience more intuitive and rewarding.

Powered by 6 cameras and 9 radars, the driver assistance systems provide peace of mind and safety. They include:

Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go function,

Night Vision, which warns of animals, pedestrians or cyclists ahead before they appear in the high beam,

Long-range blind spot monitoring (75 metres),

Rear Traffic Alert, which warns of a potential hazard when reversing.

The typical Peugeot rear lights, representing separate three claws

Drivetrains: power, smoothness and efficiency…

The range of engines powering the PEUGEOT 408 includes two rechargeable hybrid versions with 180 and 225bhp, and a 130bhp petrol version. All three are paired with an 8-speed EAT8 automatic gearbox. An all-electric version will follow a few months later.

State of the art aerodynamics, like the deflectors at the rear end of the roof…

Efficiency was a key concern for the designers of the PEUGEOT 408, since the combination of efforts in terms of aerodynamics, weight reduction (from 1396kg) and low-emission engines means that the vehicle can now boast remarkably low average energy consumptions (under homologation), both for the hybrids as well as for the 130bhp petrol version.

The new PEUGEOT 408 will arrive on the market at the end of 2022. A car with a global ambition, it will be produced at first in Mulhouse, France, for the European market and then, soon afterwards, in the Chengdu factory in China for the local market.

Just have a look at the photos, and more news about this stylish 408 soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

Photographers’ notes: this is the first time we used exclusively a smartphone, actually the flagship Samsung S22. Quite a change for your servant who has been using camera’s for ever, and it was quite a struggle geting used to it. But experience will soon help…

Three lenses, the S22 is up to the job…

Jeep® Brand plans for Global Leadership in SUV Electrification…

There is good news from Jeep lately. Indeed, the Jeep® brand reveals next phase of its all-electric product offensive to become the global Zero-Emission SUV leader.

The all-new, all-electric Jeep® Recon: 100% Jeep; 100% zero emission

The plan, which premiered on the brand’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/thejeepchannel, calls for the introduction of four all-electric SUVs in North America and Europe by the end 2025. As part of an ongoing comprehensive product plan, 50% of Jeep brand sales in the U.S. will be fully electric by 2030, while 100% of European sales will be all-electric by then. The plan is in full support of the net-zero carbon emissions targets set by Stellantis during the Dare Forward 2030 long-term strategic plan.

Jeep Brand Electrified Portfolio in North America

Building upon the success of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, the best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) in the U.S., and the recently introduced Grand Cherokee 4xe, the brand is developing a comprehensive electrified product range specifically developed to enhance the brand’s legendary capability and expanding its reach in North America.  

The all-new, all-electric Jeep® Recon

The All-new Jeep Recon: 100% Jeep; 100% Zero Emission

One of the first all-new electric SUVs that will launch in North America is the Jeep Recon.

This all-new vehicle is aimed at those who love to explore extreme adventures in near silence with a rugged, fully electric vehicle package.      

The Jeep Recon is designed from the ground up to be 100% Jeep 4×4 and 100% zero emission.

This global SUV will be displayed to the public next year and production will start in 2024 in North America. Customers in the U.S. will be able to make a reservation for the new Jeep Recon BEV SUV in early 2023. The Jeep Recon will be sold in major markets around the world, including Europe.

An All-new, All-electric Wagoneer – The Art of American Premium

All-new, all-electric Wagoneer S, the art of American premium

The Wagoneer family is also set to grow with an all-new SUV. Code-named Wagoneer S, this fully electric vehicle will continue to expand the brand’s presence in the premium SUV segment by offering a unique, sleek, aerodynamic design and 4×4 capability as standard, with all-terrain management, advanced Jeep brand-focused technology and impressive performance credentials.

This new, all-electric, global SUV will be offered exclusively as a BEV, targeting a range of 400 miles on a single charge, 600 hp and a 0-60 mph time of around 3.5 seconds.

All-new Jeep Avenger, the First-ever Fully Electric Jeep SUV, Arrives in Europe in 2023

In Europe, the Jeep brand has already made a big shift by offering only electrified SUVs in countries such as Germany and France.  By the end of this year, 100% of the Jeep SUV portfolio will be electrified in almost all of the European markets.

All-new Jeep® Avenger, the first-ever fully electric Jeep SUV

The plan revealed today builds upon this 4xe momentum, developing a portfolio of capable, fully electric vehicles designed and rightsized for Europe. The brand will introduce four zero-emission vehicles in Europe by 2025, with offerings in the main volume segments. As a result of this product onslaught, all the Jeep vehicles on sale in the region will be 100% electric by 2030. 

All-new Jeep® Avenger, the first-ever fully electric Jeep SUV

The first model of this product offensive is the all-new, all-electric Jeep Avenger, a compact SUV that was presented during the Stellantis Dare Forward long-term strategic plan earlier this year.

The all-new Jeep Avenger, to be introduced in Europe and other markets, such as Japan and South Korea, will be positioned under the Jeep Renegade and will be produced in the high-efficiency plant in Tychy, Poland. 

All-new Jeep® Avenger, the first-ever fully electric Jeep SUV

The Jeep Avenger will debut during the Paris Motor Show press day, on October 17, with reservations opening for customers that same day. The all-new Jeep Avenger will arrive in showrooms in early 2023.

Stay tuned for more Jeep news!

Look also at our newly introduced Instagram page autoprova.be !

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Mercedes C Class 200 d: the compact S Class for you…

Did you know that the Mercedes C Class is the brand’s absolute bestseller, and that it is already built since 30 years?

The biggest market for the C Class is…China. The sedan version proves there to be the most popular.

Entering now since end 2021 in its fifth generation, the C Class is most liked on our shores in its “T “ station wagen version. That’s how we tested it, and we stayed also very traditional in choosing the diesel version, a drivetrain type in which the brand with the good star has written legends over the years.

And yes, we appreciated fully the smooth, carefree power and beauty of a diesel, which has grown in a noble mannered workhorse which ensures you absolute carefree mobility just everywhere on this planet of ours. We were again deeply impressed by the workmanship, the build quality of the bodywork and the timeless quality of the materials, last but not least the “compact S-Class” character of this C class, which now inherits much of the infotainment and electronics of the flagship Mercedes. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Impressive inside and out

The Mercedes design team under the able direction of Gordon Wagener added some panache to the exterior of the latest generation C Class. So we have digital headlights, serious power domes on the hood, even quite a sporty and almost aggressive grille design in the AMG styled version. The car looks lean and elegant from any angle, with always a keen eye for aerodynamics.

The S Class character of the car comes completely into its own when you step inside. The array of digital instruments and the massive centre touchscreen is certainly convincing, and yes, this Mercedes brings you fully into the digital age. The degree of sophistication is enormous and you are well advised to read the instructions carefully, spend some time with it to discover the wonderful world of digital info Mercedes has in store for you. The second generation of the MBUX system is here ready for you to act on your commands, beginning with “Hey Mercedes”…

For the Navigation, we enjoyed the MBUX Augmented Reality in our test car. It shows you on the massive centre screen traffic sign boards, house numbers and the like, to clarify things and assist you in finding your way efficiently in urban areas.

Bigger…

The C Class has a bit grown in size: it is 1 cm larger but the track has even widened more significantly as well as the wheelbase. The “T” version, which as we said far more than half the European buyers prefer, offers useful luggage space of course, with 490 liters when all the seats are up, to a maximum of 1510 liters. The boot lid itself is rather small, which can bring some awkward surprises when you want to load bigger items at the Ikea store…

The Fifth generation C Class now offers more passenger space, and even in the back, persons up to say 1,85 meter find enough headroom.

Updates over the air…

The software in the new C class is kept up to date over the air, and can even be upgraded with further options if you so wish. Of course, functions which at the moment are still being developed can then be installed later…

The C Class now also inherits the double steering wheel branches with haptic touch commands of the flagship S Class…

We also liked the very clear overhead display on our test car, which came also with the LED digital light headlamps. You can even display symbols and marker lines with these headlamps, to guide you through narrow passageways for instance…

Legendary diesel power

It’s about time we tell you more about how this 200 d performs and drives. The 1993 cc engine develops some 200 HP or 147 kW, and has a hefty 440 Nm of torque available for you. Coupled to a very smooth and reactive 9 speed automatic transmission, performance leaves nothing to be desired. What to think of a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of merely 7,4 seconds and a top speed of 243 km/h?

You can choose the “sport” display, with for example oil temperature indication and G acceleration and torque readouts…

All this doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg at the pump: according to the WLTP norm, the 200 d uses anything between 5 and 5,8 liters/100 km. No trouble at all for your comfort oriented servant to stay within these limits during our test. The car is actually a MHEV, and indeed is assisted in stop and start movements by a small 20 HP/15 kW electric motor (actually an 48 V starter generator) which delivers an additional torque of 200 Nm.

Don’t expect six cylinder smoothness from a bigger 4 cylinder, but electronic combustion management and driveline calibration has achieved wonders over the years, and this is a very smooth diesel indeed, built for cruising over long distances as well as leisurely boulevard driving.

Comfort is always written very large at Mercedes. The seat comfort is to notch, as well as the Burmeister sound system…

The C class has a very surefooted handling, and this is even further enhanced by an (optional) directional back axle. Indeed, below 60 km/h, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the front wheels, which virtually shortens the wheelbase and makes the car more agile in town. Above that speed, the rear wheels steer in the same direction, which effectively lengthens the wheelbase, adding stability at speed. The C Class is comfort oriented of course, and here both in suspension and seat quality it truly scores.

Conclusion

The 200 d Class convinces, in many ways. It is the ideal partner for a long mobility relationship, and your love and appreciation for this car with the good star will only grow over the years.

Its well proportioned styling will not only accompany you elegantly over the years, it also will help to retain the resale value of the car. The test car is the latest generation of “clean” diesels, and we can assure you, it will be around for a long long time, in Europe and worldwide. We might even see the advent of newly engineered synthetic clean Diesel fuels, coming from African based solar plants, who knows….

The millions and millions of diesel engined cars running around daily in our world and their corresponding environmental footprint is simply too large to be ignored, and this enormous (commercial) car park cannot be simply scrapped. So can you buy this diesel with an eye to the future? Yes you can…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographers’ notes: we photographed the 200 d Mercedes with our mirrorless Fujifilm X-A5 system camera. It delivers excellent image quality, excellent high ISO performance. Last but not least one enjoys a very good dynamic range from RAW files.

Inside is a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, and there’s a 4K video mode too, although this is restricted to just 15fps. You also get a touch-sensitive rear screen that flips through 180 degrees for quick and simple selfies. We love it, it’s a bit slow in autofocus, but the image quality is there, and it looks terrific.

We drove the Lexus 500 LS 4WD: the magic of perfection…

When you like smooth motoring and enjoy a car which is well engineered and built, (as we do) then Lexus has a superb car in store for you: their flagship sedan, the LS. We enjoyed it greatly, and tell you here more about this car which makes an admirable statement about the Lexus philosophy in designing and building automobiles.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Lexus LS is styled as a sleek slimousine with coupé-like character.

Of course we are moving fast towards total electrification of our cars, and all the car manufacturers are strategically moving in that direction. Lexus – and also Toyota – have already since decades taken a long term view about environmentally responsible mobility, and have come up with the hybrid Prius and the Lexus 200CT many years ago. They have been sold in millions and made a statement how smoothness, reliability and go anywhere mobility can be combined with unparalleled economy. Your servant clocks an average fuel consumption with his Lexus 200CTh of 4,7 l/100 km, an average over the year, and actually this year in year out.

No small wonder that Lexus has maintained and honed this solution to ensure easy mobility, in these present times when a convenient charging infrastructure for carefree full EV mobility is still a daydream in many countries in this world. It therefore also takes a long hard look at hydrogen as a power source.

In the Lexus LS, one finds this “classic” hybrid technology, now engineered and honed to absolute perfection.

Under the hood purrs a 3,5 litre V8 Atkinson cycle petrol engine, good for 295 HP. It is coupled to a 10 speed CVT, and is assisted by two electric motors, who have a combined power of (only) 60 hp. With a battery having a capacity of 11 kW, you cannot use this LS for extended “pure” EV drives in urban areas. The 4WD is made possible thanks to an integral transmission. The electric power is only used to deliver power in situations where the full use of the petrol engine would not be efficient. So one has the advantage of very reasonable fuel consumption, especially in congested urban traffic, where – given a relaxed and anticipative driving style – averages around 8 litres/100 km are easily reached. These are very good values for a large limousine. The manufacturer quotes 7,1 l/100 km as average consumption.

The other advantage is the utter smoothness of the power delivery, especially from standstill and in stop and go traffic.

This smooth and silent progress is one of the very strong points of this Lexus, and this is in our opinion what the designers had in mind for their flagship sedan. Of course it has the power to deliver: 100 km/h is reached from standstill in merely 5,5 seconds, top speed is 250 km/h.

In the wide array of driving modes at your disposal, you can even opt for the “sport” and “sport+” modes. The CVT transmission will then be ultra alert and reactive to any movements of your right foot, the pneumatic suspension will be setting itself a bit firmer and the steering will be more sensitive and direct, but nevertheless the sheer weight – a good 2,425 kg – and size of the car will not invite you to really throw it around each corner. It is a bit out of character for this sleek automobile, primarily designed to move you from A to be in well insulated comfort, and that’s where it excels. By the way, you have the choice between further driving modes, Eco, Normal, Comfort and Custom…you guessed it: we chose between Eco and Comfort all the way through our test.

Impressive and elegant

The Lexus LS is a flamboyant and impressive automobile. It stretches 5,24 metres long and its fluid roof contours which are continued to the boot give it a coupé like character. The grille is uniquely Lexus in its bold styling signature and gives the LS panache and personality.

The Lexus exudes opulence, but also quality and workmanship, as the overall bodywork finish is superb.

The same can be said for the interior, dashboard and seats. The seats are a chapter on their own, and you can opt for the most exclusive leather finishes, ventilation and massage functions and the like. Six chromed bands stretch across the dashboard, giving it a fluid elegance. In the centre towers a 12,3 inch touchscreen, and there is also a big touchpad next to the gear selector lever, which lets you choose all the screen functions. We like to use this touchpad, as it avoids you touching the screen and getting it muddled with fingerprints. When the car is in motion, it is easier for you to touch the more accessible and ergonomically stable pad anyway.

Of course you can monitor on the display exactly what the hybrid system is doing, besides all the other info functions and layouts. It is worth every minute you spend on reading the instructions to familiarise yourself with the wide array of possibilities, functions and infotainment, as you then will enjoy this flagship car so much more.

We were of course smitten again by the superb quality of the Levinson audio system, which still sports a CD audio player, a tradition applauded by “classic” audiophiles like your servant…

Comfort

The Lexus LS 500 offers you superb comfort, with ample leg- and headroom for all (four) passengers. The subtle pneumatic suspension does the rest. Especially in the Comfort setting, it literally swallows for you all ridges and potholes ancient urban streets have in store for you. Sound insulation is also of paramount importance for the Lexus engineers, as well as total filtration of any vibrations or mechanical noises from the drivetrain. All this adds greatly to the total “zen” experience which going from A to be in this LS entails.

The screen lets you monitor all the hybrid driveline functions…

Sporting aficionados will find maybe that they lack a more direct “feel” of the car and the road conditions, but being cocooned by a soothing behaviour of the car in all driving situations is actually aimed for by the engineers when they set out creating this unique automobile.

Conclusion

The present Lexus LS series is already amongst us since 2017, and got an important facelift in 2011, both visually and technically. It makes a bold statement with its “Zen” philosophy of environmentally responsible smoothness and performance.

This panache is further underlined by a tradition of craftsmanship, resulting in a superb finish and excellence in the quality of the materials used.

If you want to drive an alternative to the German savoir faire in building top class executive sedans, have a drive with this LS series, and enjoy the change…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographers’ notes:

The photos were taken with our faithful Canon G9 X. A 209 g gem which offers a 1″-type 20.2MP CMOS sensor and 28-84mm equivalent F2-4.9 lens encircled by a control dial, as well as a fixed 3″ LCD. It has been our favorite workhorse for years now, and it is still performing very well. We use it mostly on Aperture Priority mode, also for the photos here.

We drove the Citroën C4 130 Hp PureTech: continuing the unique character of the brand…

We already told you several times: we love the cars with the double chevron. My love affair started already with the first DS 19.

I was smitten then, as a young boy, tucked away in the rear seats with my aunt at the wheel, driving her French goddess. Then only 75 horsepower pulled her Déesse to cruising speeds above 135 km/h, so you can imagine what we think that now 130 HP will do. Don’t  forget, this equals the punch of the DS Pallas 21 injection électronique. We enjoyed one with a five speed manual, which my father and me used for a very fast trip on the French autoroutes from Brussels to the Paris Motor Show, driving it close to 190 km/h almost all the way…

Indeed, when it comes to sheer top speed, the present day C4 even slightly surpasses this iconic DS, reaching exactly the 200 km/h mark.

The C4 we tested continues the tradition in a very impressive fashion: the power is now streaming to the front wheels through a velvety 8 speed automatic, and the suspension is also as smooth as ever, offering the typical Citroën “floating carpet”ride.

It is all packed in a body which is styled following the trend of the times, with a distinct SUV flair, but then without the ride height and the go anywhere capability.

All for the better, as fuel efficiency is now most important.

Besides the smooth automatic, this Citroën also steers feather light and precise, putting a broad smile on your face… so are we smitten again? We would think so… just read further.

Well styled, both inside and out…

Indeed, the C4 is trendy, but it does not exactly turn heads. It is well proportioned and both the front and rear end bear a distinct family resemblance with the other Citroën’s. The overall finish is of a quite high level with excellent fitting of the bodywork panels.

We like the clean styling of the dashboard, the rather high central position of the 10 inch touchscreen, the clutter free instrumentation and the very readable head up display. The designers always had everyday practicality in mind when they decided to make the selection of the driving modes and the adjustment of heating and ventilation manual. Practical is also the round volume knob sitting on the touchscreen, ideal for intuitive sound volume control. There is also an extra tray for a tablet at the glove box compartment, very clever indeed!

Further talking about the interior, we have to mention here the excellent “advanced comfort” seats, providing indeed superb comfort, whilst being pleasantly wide too. You can even opt for four way back support and a massage function as an extra. There is enough legroom in the back, with only the middle seat being too uncomfortable for longer distances.

The C4 has a two zone airco, and also separate air outlets for the rear passengers.

Driving this C4 gives you the unique Citroën feel…

The 3 cylinder engine starts quietly, and remains almost inaudible at low revs. The soft engine mounting transmits some rocking movements, but this remains very well balanced and is never obtrusive. The automatic gearbox is very well tuned to the torque characteristics of this 1199 cc unit. Even under spirited driving conditions, it will keep the engine in the mid rev ranges, and also at high cruising speeds on the Autoroutes it will keep revs down. In the 8th gear, cruising at 130 km/h, the engine runs at 2100 rpm, and is then barely heard. The excellent aerodynamic qualities also come into play, and wind noise remains absent up to very high speeds.

All this makes the C4 is an excellent “routière”. But there is more. The suspension and handling add to the sheer magic of Citroën driving.

The Citroën engineers succeeded in giving a mechanical suspension all the qualities of an adjustable setup. This is done with their so-called “Advanced Comfort” suspension. Integrated in the shock absorbers are two springs which dampen heavy suspension movements smoothly, and indeed, this provides the legendary“floating carpet” ride.

All this doesn’t come at the cost of handling. Road irregularities will never ever throw this Citroën out of its course, and a sudden lifting of the throttle or even braking when entering corners at high speeds will never let it lose its balance.

Gear and drive mode selector are conveniently placed…

All this results in this Citroën being a comfortable and also a fast Gran Turismo. We already mentioned the top speed, with acceleration to match. This 130 HP C4 will sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in some 9,9 seconds, and this is indeed more than enough for all the sporty Gran Turismo driving you (and certainly your passengers) will ever want.

Thanks to the good pulling power (maximum torque of 230 Nm at 1750 rpm) the C4 picks up nicely at intermediate speeds.

When it comes to consumption, a lot depends on your driving style – as always – but you can expect decent figures all the way. The manufacturer quotes a 5,4 l average according to WLTP norm, and the consumption we reached during our test was around the 6,3 litre mark for 100 km. Co2 emissions are 122 g/km, also according to WLTP norm. Brakes are progressive and perfect throughour, the turning circle with slightly more than 11 meters is a bit wide.

Practical

French cars are built first of all to live with them daily, so practicality abounds. We already mentioned the extra tray for the Ipad or tablet. You can for instance use it then as a sound centre, or display the route details or highlights or hotel/restaurant addresses you dowloaded before your trip, or descriptions of cities or monuments you encounter on your voyage. So your co-driver is suitably entertained and is also usefully entertaining for you!

There are lots of storage possibilities inside, and the boot volume is with a good 330 l adequate indeed. If you remove the rear cover and fill the boot to window height, you have 420 liters at your disposal, and if you fill it to the roof you can pack 710 liters. There is no electric opening of the boot lid available, but it is easy to open anyway.

The airco and ventilation controls are separate, and have nice, round knobs…

There is no mini spare wheel, and only a flat tyre repair kit will do, and indeed one can live with that. The C4 is quite handy to drive in town with its reasonable external dimensions, and its rather narrow with of 2,04 meters comes in vary handy in ancient city streets and mountain roads.

Conclusion

A true Citroën indeed, a “grande routière” with compact dimensions which makes it delightful to use everyday also in urban life.

It has the unique panache of the brand, with its comfort, its unerring stability, its speed. You should definitely experience it, and we bet that you will be totally convinced, and ask yourself why you did not drive a Citroën earlier in your motoring life…

The automatic version with its smooth 8 speed EAT box also won us over, and we would strongly advise you to take it into your choice when you consider to make this formidable C4 your own.

More Citroën test news soon. At the end of august we will take the C5X through its paces, for an extended test including a drive to Paris. So stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographers’ notes:

The photos were taken with the Fujifilm X100F, recently added to our stable, under harsh summer light conditions, but the sensor managed the high contrast situations very well. We used an f8 aperture for the shooting, delivering more depth of field.

The DS 7 gets a thorough makeover: now ever more refined with added panache…

Design Director Thierry Metroz sums it all up:  

“The new DS 7 has now even more character, particularly at the front and rear, while its design is directly inspired by our recent concept cars. New confections also reinforce the character of the interior in search of ever more refinement. New DS 7 is the result of co-operation between my team, our experts, in particular lighting who brought an avant-garde technology, the engineers of DS PERFORMANCE, without forgetting our manufacturing team invested for the success of New DS 7.”

But also the sheer performance has been pushed a notch higher. Developed by DS PERFORMANCE, the new DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 has a 360-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain with intelligent four-wheel drive transmission, big wheels, a lower stance and wide diameter brakes.

A design enhanced by sharp lines and lit up by DS PIXEL LED VISION 3.0 and DS LIGHT VEIL

Specific work in the design was carried out thanks to the close links between the DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS team and the production team at the Mulhouse (France) factory achieving exceptional results in terms of quality and solidity.

The light signature is developing with an even more expressive look. The combination of new slimmer DS PIXEL LED VISION 3.0 headlamps and the DS LIGHT VEIL daytime running lights is seamless and carried out in the spirit of high fashion.

The DS WINGS and the grille are larger and the valance has been redesigned with a range of colours depending on the model.

The slimmer scale-like LED rear lights with a vortex effect have also been redesigned with a dark metallic finish. The boot lid and badge have been reworked with sharper lines, while the “DS AUTOMOBILES” name that replaces “CROSSBACK” will now sign off New DS 7’s visually stretched rear.

The wheels play a part in the character of New DS 7’s profile. Fitted with inserts, the new 19-inch EDINBURGH and SILVERSTONE rims improve aerodynamic efficiency while the treatment of their design magnifies their perceived diameter. New 21-inch BROOKLYN wheels, with a sculpted techncial design are only available on New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360.

The best French expertise for lovers of beautiful materials

Just like the largest Paris fashion houses, DS Automobiles bestows special care on the choice of materials and how they’re treated. Through upholstery in New DS 7’s interiors, an environment was created to make each journey different.

The height of refinement, New DS 7 OPERA is offered with two Nappa leather colours: Basalt Black and Pearl Grey. Over wider expanses, the highest quality part of the hide adds a natural and refined touch to the interior.

New upholstery with a draped effect on the Nappa leather trim is now on the dashboard and door panels. Without seams or joins it maintains the feel and appearance of natural leather. The hide is further elevated by embossing with lines reminiscent of the DS LIGHT VEIL signature.

The attention to detail of this interior is also shown by the pearl stitching offered in the new White and Zephyr colours, a steering wheel in full grain leather with a leather covered airbag, “Clous de Paris” embossed inserts iconic to DS Automobiles without forgetting the watchstrap upholstery offered for the first time in Pearl Grey.

Refinement also features in the RIVOLI interior which introduces a Basalt Black colour and has a stitched padded trim that we’ve combined with Claudia Leather upholstery, which has a more pronounced leather grain.

The PERFORMANCE LINE interior features a deeper black colour with the microfibre textile Alcantara® throughout and Gold and Carmine touches that emphasise the dynamic appearance.

The BASTILLE interior has been refreshed with a new DS Canvas finish and a Basalt Black grain inspired by fish skin.

All these interiors are enhanced with ambient lighting that can be personalised, and a new pattern based on “Clous de Paris” embossed inserts.

High performance petrol/electric hybrid and multi-energy power units

The multi-energy brand with the lowest CO2 emissions in Europe for the last two years and multiple Formula E champion, DS Automobiles has chosen to offer New DS 7 with several kinds of power unit, including a wide range of three plug-in hybrids with 225, 300 and 360 horsepower.

New DS 7 E-TENSE 225 has a PureTech 180 petrol engine and a 110-horsepower electric motor fitted to the eight-speed automatic gearbox with a two-wheel drive transmission.

New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 300 and New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 introduce a four-wheel drive transmission with a PureTech 200 motor as well as 110 and 112 horsepower electric motors on each of the axles. The 360 model is specially tuned by DS PERFORMANCE.

A new 14.2 kWh battery gives up to 65 kilometres with zero emissions on the WLTP mixed cycle and up to 81 kilometres on the urban cycle. Charging time is about two hours on a 7.4kW charger.

A 130 BlueHDi power unit is still available in the range. Outside Europe, PureTech petrol engines with 130, 215 and 225 horsepower will also be offered.

New DS 7 remains one of the most efficient cars in its class, specifically because of its well-controlled weight.

New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360

The spirit of Grand Touring by DS Automobiles is embodied in New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360. To go with the rush of power (200 horsepower petrol engine, front electric motor with 110 horsepower and rear electric motor with 112 horsepower), New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 enjoys special tuning by DS PERFORMANCE, specifically by optimising energy management. It has a DS ENERGY COACH application that supports the driver by supervising braking phases to improve energy recovery. The chassis is lowered by 15mm, the track is wider (+24mm at the front, +10mm at the rear) and the front brakes go to 380 millimetres in diameter with calipers by DS PERFORMANCE. New 21-inch BROOKLYN wheels are added to a new Lacquered Grey colour whose pearlescent colour highlights the special curves and charisma of this model. The 0-100km/h acceleration is rated at 5.6 seconds and the 1,000 metres start-stop is accomplished in 25.4 seconds.

New infotainment system…

The infotainment system is one of the biggest changes for New DS 7 with the inclusion of DS IRIS SYSTEM. This new solution introduces a totally reworked interface, that’s completely configurable, reactive and seamless and supported by natural voice recognition. The redesigned 12” high-resolution touch screen features a menu made up of widgets for accessing all its functions with a single movement: for controlling the connected navigation, the ventilation, the digital audio sources and journey information. This big screen that’s very comfortable to use also enables views front and rear to be displayed, provided by new high-resolution digital cameras, and access to the Mirror Screen function over wi-fi.

A new large 12-inch digital instrument panel with displays that can be changed and personalised features refreshed graphics with all the vital information such as energy flow on plug-in hybrid versions.

Unique technology for the segment

New DS 7 also introduces technology for more comfort and relaxation such as DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION and DS NIGHT VISION.

DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION is a camera-controlled damping system that’s completely unique in its class. It adjusts each wheel independently according to imperfections in the carriageway.

With DS NIGHT VISION, an infrared camera sweeps the carriageway and its edges to detect cyclists, pedestrians and animals at distances up to 100 metres. The driver receives the information in the new high resolution digital instrument display, reinforced by a special warning in the event of danger.

Safety is improved with DS DRIVER ATTENTION MONITORING and DS DRIVE ASSIST level 2 semi-autonomous driving.

DS DRIVER ATTENTION MONITORING analyses the driver’s level of attention with two cameras. The first checks the behaviour of the car in its surroundings and the second, positioned facing the driver, diagnoses where they’re looking, their face and eyelid movement which translates to the level of sleepiness and attention…

New DS 7 is equipped with DS DRIVE ASSIST, adaptive cruise control that can initiate stopping and restarting without the driver intervening and an aid that enables the driver to keep the car either where it is or where they position it in the lane.

Designed in France and on sale soon

A global car, New DS 7 is built in Mulhouse (France) for all markets outside China and in Shenzen for the Chinese market. Reservations will open from 11 July in France and the first models will be in DS STORES from September 2022.

Orders and deliveries can be made without going anywhere, through an online sales system and the availability of New DS 7 by the DS DELIVERY VALET service, at the address chosen by the customer.

Limited for the introduction: a new DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 LA PREMIÈRE

For the New DS 7’s launch a limited edition New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 LA PREMIÈRE is being offered. Based on New DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 360 OPÉRA, it introduces a new Gloss Black front bumper blade, black monograms and special badges accompanying the gloss black finish on the DS WINGS, the grille, the window strips and the roof bars. Basalt Black and Pearl Grey interiors are available. Two charging cables (mode 2 and mode 3) are standard. Six bodywork colours are being offered: Lacquered Grey, Sapphire Blue, Pearl White, Perla Nera Black, Platinum Grey and Crystal Pearl.

Needless to say that we are keen to see this new DS7 soon in the flesh, and collect driving experiences for you when we are back from our holiday!

Not that we are idle in the meantime; soon you will read our driving impressions of the test cars we drove recently for you!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the BMW ix3: the looks, the power and the range…

After the revolutionary and dedicated i3, BMW uses the popular bestseller X3 as a basis for an EV which will inspire many to take the step towards full electric mobility. Does it convince? It certainly does…

The i-version of the X3 saw light in China, where  production began in September 2020 at BMW’s factory in Dadong, China.  

Of course, the EV version doesn’t come exactly cheap, but then its major competitors, the Mercedes EQC, the Audi e-tron and the Jaguar F-pace also need a deeper pocket to call them your own. In Flanders,  these EV’s mostly appeal as business cars, also due to the simple fact that business cars in our country need to be EV’s in order to benefit from the fiscal advantages which make them interesting.

The problem with using EV’s überhaupt at the moment in our country lies with the abysmal charging infrastructure we encounter. Let it be said, this has nothing to do with the car. During our test however, we met further charging problems, which made us use the efficiency of the iX3 to the limit, and indeed we clocked an average EV consumption of 16,4 kWh, which is, considering the weight and size of the car, excellent. It resulted in a range of around 482 km, which is certainly no small feat.

Needless to say that in order to achieve these low consumption levels, one can only use merely 10 % of the available power, and you can imagine that we enjoyed during most of our test the acceleration performance and speed of a heavy truck…But then coasting along with the slower traffic was a very restful experience!

Powerful and “zen”.

Not that the iX3 lacks power. It has not less than 210 kW or 286 HP driving the rear wheels, and even for a 2,2 tonne car this means performance. It will sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 6,8 seconds, and hurtle smoothly to a top speed of 180 km/h.

But sheer performance does not tell the whole story. The feeling that all this power is immediately available all the time at the slightest movement of your right foot is one of the beauties of EV driving, besides the utter smoothness and silence which adds to this unique “zen” feeling, which pervades you every moment you are behind the wheel, and this certainly so in urban driving conditions.

The iX3 driver has three modes at his/her disposal, “sport”, “comfort” and “eco pro”. Needless to say that given our charging situation we used the “eco pro” function virtually all the time.

The electric powertrain is BMW’s fifth-generation scalable electric drivetrain, and has a very compact layout with the electric motor, transmission, and power electrics grouped together in a single component. It does not use any rare-earth materials in its construction. The 80 kW Litrium Ion battery consists of 188 prismatic cells.

This BMW thinks with you…

If you use the navigation function together with the adaptive speed control, an intelligent interaction between the two systems unfolds. Indeed, navigation data and the sensors of the driving systems combine to slow the car at junctions or approaching bends.

When you are driving at fairly constant speeds with low traffic density, lifting your right foot will cause the car to coast, when you activate the direction indicators, the recuperation mode sets in immediately. Soo clever….

The front camera can even detect whether the traffic light jumps to green, so the recuperation mode is immediately interrupted.

Of course you can set the recuperation mode in three different intensities, to get that pleasant “one pedal” feel. We used it to the max.

A wide array of charging possibilities

The iX3 can be charged in AC mode up to 11 kW, in DC mode up to 150 kW. We had no experience of this as we were due to malfunctions unable to recharge the car during our test. At the maximum 150 kW level, one could recharge the BMW in about 30 minutes to 80 pct of its charge.  You can also enjoy the info of the digital service offered by BMW, dubbed Connected Charging, which helps you find public charging stations. Not of any use for us, as the BMW charge card malfunctions (or otherwise?) prevented us from charging the car during our test, as we said earlier.

By the way, over the last several years I live in the Antwerp (Wilrijk) urban area not one public charging has been added within reasonable walking distance from my home. At the moment, there are only three charging points, which are now almost permanently in use. This makes the regular use of an EV (still) a rather nervous affair with range anxiety setting in the minute you get behind the wheel.

Dynamic handling…

A BMW is and remains a BMW. The iX3 handles very well indeed. Of course, this EV version has standard adaptive damping and its centre of gravity has been lowered by some 7,5 centimetres. Aerodynamics have also been improved with the new closed grille and the special air slippery 19 inch alloys. The front and rear end has been restyled and this iX3 carries also a somewhat bolder light signature.

Revised cabin

The dashboard has been further modernized, as well as the array of knobs and functions, which all are logical and quite intuitive. We truly love the layout of the audio commands for instance. But there is the big central 12,3 inch control display, combined with the also 12,3 inch large instrument display. Of course, the plethora of available digital information, menus and functions take some good study, but are worth every minute you spend on learning them. By the way, many functions can be steered by voice control, called the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant.

You are also engulfed at night with blue accent lighting while you enjoy the now standard sports seats in the front.

Assistance systems galore

Safety is also an important issue for BMW. In the iX3, you enjoy the support of their Driver Assistant Professional, with amongst others the active navigation guidance function.

Space

Their is enough space for five, with the three rear seat backrests foldable independently. Total boot volume is 510 litres, with all the backrests folded down, some 1.560 litres.

Two equipment levels

At the moment of writing, the iX3 is offered in two equipment levels, Inspiring and Impressive. The Inspiring level is already very complete with panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable front seats, metallic paint, smartphone integration and DAB radio. We already applauded the active navigation. The inspiring level now sets you back some 71.000 Euros.

Conclusion

A well thought out EV, in a superb X3 body, inheriting all the good qualities of this model. The facelift is stylish and underlines the EV character of this SUV. It has impressive efficiency and range, combined with more than adequate performance. When you are looking for an EV, this is a very good choice indeed.

EV’s of this stature don’t come cheap, and their longevity and resale value will depend on battery life, the evolution in battery technology, and last but not least the venue of alternatives like Hydrogen. Will this source be practical and available for the masses?

Big oil companies are increasingly looking at the latter possibility, as they are familiar with the manufacturing, transport and storage of liquid molecular sources of energy. They plan on building big solar E-plants to manufacture Hydrogen and then transport and distribute it to the whole wide world. Also for individual cars? This remains to be seen in a more distant “green” future…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographers’ notes

The Fujifilm X100F is the latest addition to our mirrorless digital camera fleet. It has a superb 35mm equiv. F2 lens. Inside, the camera has a new 24.3MP CMOS sensor along with an updated image processor , and it is a true gem. The photo conditions were very difficult here, strong sunlight and a black car, but the camera still managed to produce creditable results. You will see more photos with this camera with a unique precision feel…