We drove the Lexus NX300h: where bold styling meets ingenuity…

The Lexus NX is quite popular in its segment, and is one of its bestsellers in the European market. It has been facelifted twice now since its introduction in 2014. Its futuristic styling and angular contours make it stand out from its rivals, and for some this is also the reason to buy one. It carries of course the perfected and well honed hybrid technology the Japanese lucury brand has been well known for, and that is one of the more rational reasons to take this car among your favorites…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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A (very) first glimpse of BMW iNext…

At the Annual General Meeting, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Harald Krüger, unveiled an initial design concept for the BMW iNEXT. The pure-electric BMW iNEXT will be built at Plant Dingolfing from 2021. The company’s new technology flagship incorporates all major strategic areas of innovation in a road-ready vehicle. It is not much to go for yet, but nevertheless, a silhouette is a silhouette, but at eleast the shareholders, and you dear reader, got an idea of it.

Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, commented: “The iNEXT project is our building kit for the future. It will benefit the entire company and all our brands. For the first time, we are combining all key technologies for future mobility in one vehicle. The iNEXT is fully electric, fully connected and also offers highly automated driving. Later this year, we will be presenting the BMW iNEXT as a Vision Vehicle.”

We are indeed keen to see more of this soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new BMW Belux Group president is Eddy Haesendonck

Peter Henrich, President and CEO of BMW Group Belux since January 1st 2017 is now with immediate effect Senior Vice-President Product Management at BMW.

The management of BMW AG has appointed Eddy Haesendonck (47) – see photo above – as his successor. He was from 2015 until now Commercial Director at BMW Belux. After his marketing studies he started at BMW Belux in 1997 as responsible for Aftersales of BMW Motorrad Belux. In that period, he launched the very successful BMW Boxer Cup.

In 2002 he was appointed commercial director of MINI Belux, and became regional manager between 2009 and 2012. Eddy Haesendonck then became responsible for MINI in the Asian, South Pacific, South-Africa and import markets for Africa, Caribic, Eastern Europe, Asia and Pacific.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

Kia Niro HEV revisited … and as frugal and refined as ever!

Recently we tested again the latest edition of the Kia Niro HEV, and were impressed again by its style, refinement and practicality.

Modern day hybrids are certainly here to stay, chalking up very impressive consumption figures. To tell you right away, the Kia 1,6 GDI “Kappa” engine in combination with the 6 speed Double Clutch transmission and a 32 kW electric engine delivered on a long drive in the Dutch countryside on secondary roads with lots of roundabouts an astonishing 4,6 liters/100 km, with quite a bit of stop and go dense holiday traffic thrown in too.

It is of course not only the economy which counts, it is also the way this performance is achieved, or rather the effortless and very refined way this performance is delivered. Especially slowing down for roundabouts and accelerating away from them is an exercise in which this hybrid due to its technical layout truly excels. Under moderate braking, the batteries are charged, and the Niro accelerates then subsequently under the assistance of e-power. Smooth, vibrationless, silent.

The combined power of the driveline is 141 HP, with 265 Nm of torque. This is virtually equal to the low end pulling power of a normally aspirated three liter engine, to put everything in perspective.

All this pulling power is available at the slightest blip of the throttle, and that is the beauty of it. Flat out acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is done in 11,5 seconds, top speed is 162 km/h.

When maneuvering and parking, the e-engine does the work, and this makes it of course a very restful exercise.

A few words about the transmission: Kia developed the so-called Transmission-Mounted Electric Device (TMED), to optimize the cooperation between the engine and the e-motor, which makes it possible to transmit the full power of both units parallel through the transmission, with minimal power loss.

Style and practicality

We already commented earlier on the very pleasing contours of the Niro, and the car is styled in both styling centers in California and Namyang in Korea. The wheelbase is quite long with 2.700 mm, and the battery pack is lodged under the rear seat. This gives the Niro a standard luggage volume of 427 liter, which can be enlarged to 1425 liter.

Infotainment with Kia Connected Services, Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™.

We enjoyed the top of the range sound system with 8 JBL speakers and a 320 watt amplifier. The car was equipped with the DAB+ radio, and came also with Android Auto™, suited for Android devices with Lollipop 5 steering systems and higher. Users can also stream music through Google Play Music™.

Apple CarPlay™ will make complete voice control possible through Siri for several functions and apps, enable navigation with Apple-maps, and also make dictating text possible. Apple CarPlay™ supports also audio-apps, like music streaming and audio books which passengers have downloaded on their i-phone.

Needless to say we were spoiled again, and certainly enjoyed our “zen” drive with the Niro, listening in the quiet cabin to the beautiful semi-finals and finals of the Queen Elisabeth Competition for classic song and bel canto…

Conclusion

This second acquaintance convinced us one more of the uncanny mechanical refinement, style, practicality and last but not least economy of this Kia Niro. Add to this the low maintenance costs and expected longevity, with a 7 year/150.000 km guarantee thrown in, and you will agree with us that this Niro has a lot of good arrows on its bow…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

The BMW M5 gets even sharper with the M5 Competition…

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BMW M GmbH has sharpened the race-inspired character of its BMW M5 high-performance sedan with an even more powerful model: the BMW M5 Competition, creating a new product category. In future, BMW M GmbH will offer the most powerful variants of its high-performance cars as standalone models. This new status reflects the individual character of the BMW M5 Competition.

It also embodies the latest chapter in a history of success which began with the M Competition package (including power boost) configured specifically for the predecessor to the current BMW M5 – and which the exclusive new BMW M5 Competition builds on convincingly.

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A 19 kW/25 hp hike in engine output over the standard version of the new BMW M5 (to 460 kW/625 hp), even more direct responses and bespoke chassis tuning combine to maximize dynamics, agility and precision.

Superb performance…

The 4.4-litre V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology has been modified specifically for this new application and develops peak torque of 750 Nm (553 lb-ft) across an even broader rev range – from 1,800 rpm to 5,800 rpm.

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You can image that the performance is stellar: acceleration of 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) goes in 3.3 seconds and 0 to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 10.8 seconds.

Of course, there is also the sound. Indeed, the tune of the standard-fitted M Sport exhaust system can be adjusted at the touch of a button. The driver can also use the M Sound Control button to initiate an extremely discreet soundtrack.

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Sharp drivetrain, chassis and suspension

Model-specific engine mounts with a higher spring rate provide a much firmer connection between the drive unit and vehicle structure in the new BMW M5 Competition. This has a noticeable effect on the car’s responses, the sharpness of its turn-in and the experience of the engine’s soundtrack inside the car.

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The engine’s power is channeled to the road via an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic. Added to which, the new BMW M5 Competition is specified with the M xDrive M-specific all-wheel-drive system and the Active M Differential at the rear axle.

The centrally controlled interaction between the two systems optimizes traction, agility and directional stability.

The M xDrive system’s rear-wheel bias provides the ideal basis for a full blooded performance-driving experience. Added to which, the new BMW M5 Competition supplements M Dynamic Mode with three driving programs honed for use on the track: 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD, which switches to pure rear-wheel drive and deactivates the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).

Features of the chassis include a seven-millimeter drop in ride height, special damper hydraulics and stiffer springs, an increased camber at the front axle and modified toe links and anti-roll bars at the rear.

Sportiness in style…

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Eye-catching design cues emphasize the exclusivity of the new BMW M5 Competition. BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line trim is complemented by the use of high-gloss black for the kidney grille surround, decorative grating of the signature BMW M gills, rear spoiler and exterior mirror caps. “Competition” lettering is added to the likewise black “M5” badge on the boot lid. Standard specification for the new BMW M5 Competition also comprises exclusive 20-inch forged M light-alloy wheels with mixed-size tyres.

An impressive BMW, needless to say that we would love to lay our hands on one in a not too distant future…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Kia launches EV-Niro…

Kia has today unveiled a new all-electric version of Niro at the 5th International Electric Vehicle Expo in Jeju, Korea. It is due to receive its European debut at the Paris Motor Show in October 2018.

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The car was developed at Kia’s design centres in California, USA and Namyang, Korea and took inspiration from the the Niro EV Concept unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It has a rather futuristic air intake and arrowhead-shaped LED daytime running lights, and looks overall pleasingly muscular.

aKia Niro EV (4)s

The Niro EV is powered by Kia’s next-generation electric vehicle powertrain, using new production technologies developed specifically for Kia EVs. Equipped with a high-capacity 64 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack, the Niro EV will be able to drive over 450 km on a single charge with zero emissions, or more than 300 km on an optional 39.2 kWh battery system, according to the manufacturer.

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The Niro EV will go on sale in Korea during the second half of 2018, and as said, will be seen in Paris!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

The new Porsche Cayenne has now a plug-in hybrid version…

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The next stage in Porsche’s road to (full) e-mobility is the Cayenne E-Hybrid. While the power of the 3 litre V6 engine moderately improves on its predecessor by five kW (Seven hp) to 250 kW (340 hp), the performance of the electric engine is now over 43 per cent higher at 100 kW (136 hp). Both combine for a total system power of 340 kW (462 hp).

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Mercedes brings all-new A Class: small is now (very) big…

Mercedes-Benz A 180 d, Progressive, mountaingrau, Leder macchiatobeige/schwarz.;Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 4,5-4,1 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 118-108 g/km* Mercedes-Benz A 180 d, Progressive, mountain grey, Leather macchiato beige/black;Fuel consumption combined: 4,5-4,1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 118-108 g/km*

The Mercedes-Benz A 180 d,  more stylish than ever in mountain grey, ;Fuel consumption combined: 4,5-4,1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 118-108 g/km.

The smallest Mercedes is more than ever a true Mercedes. It breaks not only new ground in body styling, also its new cabin layout is a big step forward, and then we said nothing about its formidable touchscreen and enhanced connectivity and infotainment, which was hitherto unseen in its class. An important Mercedes, and therefore we tell you here more about it…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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DS X E-TENSE: a designer’s dream to drive in 2035…

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DS designers were asked what their dream car would look like within 17 years. New forms, new materials, new technologies. The team came up with a truly stunning result: The fruit of their collective fantasy and out of the box thinking is DS X E-TENSE, a car with stylish refinement and very bold solutions indeed…

Just look at the photos and read further, and be amazed…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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The Mercedes-Maybach star shines in Peking…

 

Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, Auto China 2018 Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, Auto China 2018
Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, Auto China 2018

The “Auto China 2018” in Beijing is a special showcase for the top manufacturers of this world. The brand with the iconic star presents here something truly unique: the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury.

A stunning crossover, based on an exclusive high-end saloon and an SUV. The show car combines the comfort and typical strengths of both body styles. These include the raised seating position and the athletic looks. The Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury is conceived as an electric vehicle with four compact permanent-magnet synchronous motors and fully variable all-wheel drive.

As our love for iconic and trendsetting automobiles is boundless, we tell you’re here more about it…just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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