Peugeot e-208 (2019)

Peugeot shocked the automotive community today by presenting its new supermini, the 208, like it was nothing new or important at all. But the amount of press coverage shows that journalists all over the world consider Peugeot’s announcement something more: the launch of the first ‘real’ affordable electric car for the masses.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor peugeot e 208

Normally car brands like to scrape as much press coverage as possible by bringing about numerous teasers, video’s, and bits of information over the longest period of time possible when launching a new model. But not Peugeot. Last weekend already saw the main pictures of the car leaked; and now Peugeot decided to just blast it all out.

While the new 208 is an interesting car in itself, sporting a brand new design, innovative interior, and new powertrains, most attention goes towards the all-electric variant. Of course, car makers nowadays boast all the time about their future electric models, but only very few of them actually come with production ready cars which will arrive to market only a couple of months later. Peugeot does exactly that.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor peugeot e 208

The powertrain in itself is not really new though, since we already know it from the DS 3 Crossback E-tense. However, that car did not arrive yet and is supposed to be a lot more expensive (being both a crossover instead of a hatchback and being from a premium brand instead of a volume brand). The numbers? 136 hp, 260 Nm, 50 Kw, acceleration from 0-100 km/h in 8.1 seconds, and a suggested WLTP range of 340 kilometres. These figures show two things. The battery pack itself seems very impressive, sporting the same size as the future Tesla Model 3 Standard Range (SR), but also 100 Kw DC charging and a 3 phase 11kw AC charger. On the other hand, it seems Peugeot cut the cost by using a relatively weak electric motor. 8.1 seconds is not fast at all for an EV (I’d even dare to call it underwhelming), my former Peugeot 206 GTI (2003, 2.0L petrol, also 136 hp) did about the same numbers with 70 Nm less torque and an old fashioned 5 speed manual. Since rumour has it the new E-208 is also destined to succeed the sporty 208 GTi our guess is Peugeot is still hiding a more powerful motor for the future. For that car we’d aim at 170-180 hp and acceleration below 6.5 seconds (which is possible, just look at the BMW i3s and future E-Mini powertrain).

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor peugeot e 208

Of course, we’re all very excited about this new model. We’ve known it would be coming for a long time but it’s still exciting to see Peugeot unveil it at the same time as the regular new 208 and also shipping it to Geneva for the upcoming motorshow. The success of the car, and also our continued enthousiasm, however largely depends on the price tag Peugeot decides to stick to it. If Peugeot is aiming for a decent profit margin it’ll probably arrive around €33k. They can ask that amount, because it is the same price point as the Renault Zoe which now seems a lesser car in every aspect. And; there are no competitors undercutting that price at this moment. The upcoming E-Mini will be more expensive as a premium offering, and Volkswagen’s ID-range is still far from market.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor peugeot e 208

We’d love it if Peugeot decides to go for a ‘disruptive strategy’ and offer the 208 Electric for €25k in base trim. That would truly break open the market, and challenge the upcoming competition the the fullest. It’d also earn Peugeot valuable points for catapulting its very popular supermini model strong in the EV-era.

 

Testdrive: Suzuki Swift 2018

‘Lighter, quicker, sportier. Even more fun’. This particular quote is the headline of the Suzuki Swift brochure, which is lying right in front of me. The car has been on European markets for a few months now, but I never really had the chance to take it for a spin. Recently I got that particular opportunity and I wouldn’t let the readers of this blog miss out on the chance to read my opinion about it. To get one thing out of the way before hitting of; I’m planning to do a dedicated review of the Swift Sport in the near future, so this testdrive will only cover the regular line-up.

Gerelateerde afbeelding

The old Swift was actually quite a decent car when it launched, but that is literally more than a decade ago (the small facelift in between doesn’t really count imo). Therefore, it became obsolete when compared to more modern competitors. Suzuki had thus quite the challenge to re-invent its once so popular b-segment car. Styling wise, the car remains close to its roots. It’s definitely a 2018 car, but the changes are smaller than other brands in the segment saw happen over the past years, most prominently the Volkswagen Polo and Renault Clio.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Suzuki Swift Sportline

Suzuki is offering quite a decent line-up for the model, and we’d like to start off by advising against the CVT and automatic options. These simply are not modern enough to be meaningful and do the lively character of the car no good. Then the two engines; there is choice between a 1.2L atmosferic four cylinder with 90 hp or a 1.0L turbocharged ‘Boosterjet-engine’ with 112 horses. Our testcar had the four pot variant, which is a bit cheaper to get, but if you got the choice we’d opt for the Boosterjet. The atmosferic engine feels like a dinosaur; its low end power is poor and even when pulling it through to 5000 rpm the acceleration is still disappointing, let even alone the appalling soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong; it will do on a city car performance wise but for anything more, and the Swift can definitely handle more, the turbo engine is better. Also for highway use and the high speed overtaking that involves. A downside is that both don’t come with a six speed.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Suzuki Swift Boosterjet engine

Suzuki additionally offers a mild hybrid system on both engines (called SHVS) but we’re told it only exists to bring down Co2 emissions and offers no real added value for the cost it implies. In theory; it should boost acceleration from the battery, while recharging when braking. Though we really weren’t able to notice any added punch when flooring the 1.2L and therefore would advise to keep the change in your pocket.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor suzuki swift interior

In the cabin, there are few things to notice immediately. First, the seating position is a bit high for a sportier car, and the seats too flat. It would be nice to have to option for more supportive and lower buckets. Second; the headroom is excellent. The Swift is quite a high car and that translates to an abundance of room for taller people. I’m 1.92m myself and was really surprised to see the amount of space left, also in the rear. Then build quality and use of materials. Suzuki made large steps in this department when comparing to other cars from the brand, but it’s still not the nicest in class. The steering wheel, when you got the leather option, feels great to the touch but the upper parts of the door cards and lower parts of the dash not so much. Still, because Suzuki did a good job using modern looking plastics and designs, and additionally making sure the panels don’t leave large gaps, it’s passable.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor suzuki swift infotainment

Ergonomics are decent, most things are where you expect them to be. A/C controls are pretty straightforward (they look extra nice when going for automatic climate control!), the infotainment menu structure is clear and the system is quite fast, and so is the onboard computer in the gauge cluster. All driver assistance systems (quite a few, good job Suzuki) are easy controlled from a row of buttons to the left of the wheel. Less impressive are the heated seats having only one measly preset (on and off) and the feel of the transmission. The lever is positioned too low and it feels like it’s stuck to some loose rubberbands when using it. Clutch in return is okay. Steering feel is even better, combining light operation with a confident feeling you’re actually controlling the front wheels, which is not always the case in this segment (looking at you Citroen).

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor suzuki swift

Another thing Suzuki is doing right with the swift is the kit it comes with. It’s simply available with everything you could possibly want in 2018, ranging from adaptive cruise control and lane keeping aid to city emergency braking and wireless charging pads for your phone. Of course it doesn’t all come standard on the cheapest version, but it’s available if you’re willing to pay a modest amount of money for it. Our advise on the version you should pick? Well, we think you should either go for the basic 1.2L in Comfort trim (€15.500) or invest a bit more in a midrange 1.0L Boosterjet Select (€18.300). Normally, we advise against going for the most basic trim because they’re generally versions so poor equipped that they only serve to pose with a small sticker price and nothing else. But in the case of the Swift, for the named price you already get manual A/C, audio, electric windows & mirrors, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and a board computer. The Select adds items like 16″ alloys, a rear view camera, 7″ infotainment, heated seats, and a sportier front grille.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor suzuki swift boosterjet

Wrap-up:

+ 1.0L boosterjet engine                                                                                                                      + handling                                                                                                                                               + available kit (both luxury and driver assistance)

— no six speed manual available (except on Sport)                                                                        — seats and seating position                                                                                                                — gear lever position and feel

 

New infotainment – Mercedes A-Class 2019

Last week I visited the local Mercedes-Benz dealership in order to check out the all-new 2019 A-Class, a car I wanted to examine a bit more closely for a few months now. With every new car or new rendition of an existing car, it is always interesting to see where the carmaker placed the focus, and with the A-Class, that is very clear. All research and development went towards the new MBUX (mercedes benz user experience) system, a new generation of infotainment with the same looks as the large screens we already know from the S- and E-Class but with a few changes.

Exterior wise, the changes are rather small. New lights, bumpers, a bit more length and width, nothing too exciting. The new dimensions caused interior space for rear passengers and boot volume to grow, and the suspension was adjusted to be more comfortable. Engines are all four cylinder powertrains again, developed with or borrowed from Renault.

But again, the real news is in the cockpit. Mercedes swapped the traditional gauge cluster with the iPad-like navigation screen in the middle for a new setup of dual 7 or 10 inch screens, depending on how much money you want to leave at Mercedes. The steering wheel features a lot more buttons too, maybe becoming a bit too crowded even, but that is my own opinion.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor mb a class 2019

What Mercedes rightfully claims, is that the new A brings the funky systems of the most expensive models like the S and E right to the premium C-segment. Of course, the base versions only get a very modest part of these systems, but at least they are available. Something Audi and BMW cannot say, since their offerings in the segment are running on their last legs. When going all-out and speccing a car which probably costs around 50 grand in Euro (without even the most powerful engine) you can have kit like:

  • Heated, ventilated, and massaging seats
  • Burmester audio
  • A 10″ high resolution digital gauge cluster with different presets (although it didn’t seem as configurable as Audi’s virtual cockpit)
  • An additional 10″  high-res navigation and infotainment display right next to it (again, standard both are only 7 inch and show only one gauge, in a similar way Volvo handles it)
  • Head up display
  • Touchpad, touchscreen, and pretty decent voice controls (‘hey mercedes’ is enough to launch the whole operation)
  • adaptive cruise control, lane keeping aid, blind spot monitoring, and (!) automatic lane changing
  • A nifty feature called augmented navigation showing digital floating traffic signs on a camera feed in the right screen, making it impossible to miss a turn
  • carplay/android auto, inductive charging, and probably every other way you could possibly imagine to connect your phone to the system

Is there then nothing to left to complain about with the new car? Well, as with almost all premium cars, there is. The problem is the best features are hidden in expensive option packages staging at least 4 or 5 grand. This makes it simply impossible to pick a base model and fit it with the tech you would personally like, but leave things out you don’t car about. This is a pity, since it makes the car less attractive to the regular, non-leasing, buyer. You can pick up a new A160 for around 30 grand, but having both exterior and interior look a bit less stale would cost at least 8k more (for the Progressive pack and the AMG-line pack). This could be improved, by creating packs featuring only the best options (like the satnav, 17 inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise, the larger screens, and heated seats) but not all of them.

 

 

Geneva 2017: All New Volvo XC60

Our second highlight of the Geneva Motorshow is the all-new Volvo XC60. Building on the great reviews of the new 90-series (S90/V90/XC90) the XC60 will bring similar design and build quality to the 60-series, with the new S60 and V60 due for unveiling in 2H2017.

While unmistakably a little brother to the XC90, the new XC60 remains also traits of its predecessor, like the strong bodywork and the high tailgate. Released pictures show a different front for regular and R-Design models, with the latter having larger air intakes and a ‘dotted’ front grille (seen in the picture above).

Built on the same SPA-platform as the 90-series, the car’s dimensions look very mature for a premium D-segment SUV. When compared to the new Q5, the XC60 seems quite a bit larger. It has to been to what extent that also translates to decent space for back passengers (a weak point of current 60-series) and a large boot (a favourite among Volvo fans).

Seen at the blue model in the pictures below, the R-Design can be fitted with additional plastic accents on the front and rear, apart from a diffuser. The latest rendition of the Thors Hammer headlights differ a bit in the sense they now protrude the rest of the light units and connect with the grille, in a similar way the BMW 3-series does.

We’re also particularly satisfied with the interior. It bears large resemblance to the 90-series, like the use of modern wood, high quality leather, digital instrument clusters, and a large vertical entertainment system. But at the same time it takes things a step further, with the wood trim line flowing under the large screen, enclosing the metal air vents, giving the car a much more modern and sharpish look (when compared to the plump XC90), in line with earlier concept cars from Volvo (like the Concept Estate). The optional R-Design steering wheel also looks stronger, which is good (the standard wheel has something weak / soft over it, in our opinion).

Engine wise, there is less news. All the engines currently available on the 90-series will make it to the XC60. These are the T5 and T6 petrol variants, D4 and D5 diesel, and T8 plugin-hybrid. Cheaper options like a T4 petrol and D3 diesel are expected later this year. We at AutoExperience also hope a more affordable plugin-hybrid will make it to the line-up, since the T8 top model is out of range for a lot of consumers, and government tax credits for hybrid cars in more European countries being abolished. Prices are expected to start around 50 grand (in Euro) for T5 and D4 models.

BMW 5-series Touring (G31)

Last week, Bavarian carmaker BMW announced the estate version of its new E-segment car, the 5 series. Along with the new variant came additional engines to the line-up, including some more powerful options.

In general; BMW likes to receive a €2500 premium for the estate over the regular sedan version. In exchange, you get up to 1700 liters of boot space, which is more than competitors like the Audi A6 and Volvo V90 offer. It is also possible to get the rear window to open separately from the rest of the trunk door for added practicality.

Design-wise, we are very happy with the job BMW’s designers did on the new rear end. It looks very strong and muscular (especially with the optional M package shown above) without becoming too arrogant and lumpish.

Engine-wise, BMW is kicking things off with the 520d 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel plant, sporting 190 hp and theoretically very nice mpg at 3.9l per 100km. MSRP will be around 55-60 grand, depending on the country you live in. If you demand a cheaper petrol powered variant, there is the 520i (4-cyl, 190hp) for roughly the same price.

One step higher comes BMWs hybrid option, the 530e iPerformance. It has the same powertrain as the 330e (4-cyl petrol + electric) and a combined power output of 252hp. It will start at 60-65k. It is also possible to get that same power figure from a non-hybrid engine in the form of the 530i (4-cyl turbocharged petrol) for a comparable price.

Opting for a good ol’ six-cylinder (BMW still has them, fortunately) is possible with the 540i and 530d. First one has 340hp and sets you back at least 67k, the diesel option manages 265hp and will need around 75k. It’s more expensive because of the standard xDrive AWD system (which can also be had with most other engine options for a premium of around 5 grand).

Top of the line until the arrival of the M5 is the M550i xDrive, boasting a real turbocharged V8 with 462hp and 650Nm of torque. It is faster than the M5 of the F10 generation with acceleration from 0-100 kph just below 4 seconds. Because of carbon taxes, prices will differ a lot per country, but are expected to be in the range of 85-120 thousand Euro.

A little extra for interested buyers; BMW decided to bring in automatic transmissions (Steptronic) standard on all models apart from the 520i. The former optional Executive package is also stock on the new G30/31 generation.

 

 

Jaguar F-Pace

Autocar reviewing the new Jaguar F-Pace. The British carmaker’s first mid-sized SUV is a competitor for German counterparts like the Mercedes-Benz GLC, the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and the Swedish Volvo XC60. Sharing components like engines and interior parts with the still fresh and popular XE, the Jag is probably in for success.

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