Wheels & Deals: Peugeot 208 award; Skoda hybrid; new Cupra; Audi electrics; new Renault Megane

Declan Colley reports on Peugeot 208 taking the 2020 Car of the Year prize in Geneva, along with news updates on Skoda, Cupra, Audi and Renault

Wheels & Deals: Peugeot 208 award; Skoda hybrid; new Cupra; Audi electrics; new Renault Megane

The new Peugeot 208 was crowned the 2020 Car of the Year last Monday in Geneva, by a panel of judges made up of 60 European automotive journalists.

The small Peugeot, which offers a full-electric version, collected 281 points and 17 individual top votes from the jurors. With 242 points and the same number of best votes, the electric car Tesla Model 3 was second, while the last place in the podium was also for an EV, the Porsche Taycan, with 222 points. The rest of the finalists for the award were the Renault Clio (211 points), Ford Puma (209), Toyota Corolla (152) and BMW 1-series (133).

The jury said it appreciated the bold design and technology features onboard the new 208, together with the “power of choice” customer offer; customers choose their preferred trim, then the powertrain, whether petrol, diesel or electric, without compromising on space, technology, looks or driving sensations. Already a European best-seller, it is also the first Peugeot “2 series” and the sixth car from the brand to be awarded this most prestigious prize, during the 56-year history of the awards.

Nearly 110,000 customers have ordered the new 208 since its launch in Europe in October, with 15% of the orders for electric versions. In France, the new 208 leads the registration rankings of the PC market at the end of February 2020.

“I am particularly proud that the 208 has just won the 2020 Car of the Year prize. This trophy underlines the excellence of the work and great commitment of all the teams of the Brand and the Groupe PSA,” said Jean-Philippe Imparato, Peugeot Brand CEO.

“It’s the first time that a Peugeot “2 series” has triumphed and indeed three Peugeot “Cars of the Year” are currently on the road; the 3008, the 308, and now the new 208. The COTY 2020 legitimates the Brand’s “power of choice” strategy. From now on, our customers will be able to choose between the electric Peugeot e-208 “Car of the Year” and the (ICE) Peugeot 208 “Car of the Year,” he added.

Peugeot now takes its place amongst the top 3 brands with the most awards in the Car of the Year history, enjoying six trophies. The new 208 follows on from the SUV 3008 in 2017, the compact hatch 308 in 2014, the 307 in 2002, the 405 in 1988 and the 504 in 1969.

This prestigious trophy joins the twelve other international awards the New PEUGEOT 208 has already won. The Car of the Year award is the most coveted.

Skoda unveils exciting new Superb iV model

Škoda raised the curtain on their new Superb flagship back in early October 2019 and are now adding further momentum with the arrival of their first plug-in hybrid called the Superb iV.

Although it might seem indistinguishable from any other new Superb, the iV conceals an electric motor with a power output of 85 kW (115 bhp), capable of travelling up to 62 km on pure electric power as confirmed in the WLTP test cycle.

In E-mode, the iV becomes a zero-emission vehicle – perfect for short daily commutes. The car also possesses a 1.4 TSI petrol engine, delivering 115 kW (156 bhp). Combined, the new hybrid drive system boasts up to 930 km of range without refuelling.

Apart from some subtle exterior changes, the main differences to the iV are technological. Like all hybrid arrangements, it has two power sources. When both power units are working simultaneously, the car has a combined power output of 160 kW (218 bhp).

The electric motor acts as an additional boost, providing dynamic driving performance and a 0 to 100 kph acceleration time of just 7.7 seconds. Driving Mode Select is another innovation fitted to the car as standard and permits the driver to alter the vehicles driving characteristics and comfort settings by varying the steering, transmission and Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC).

In addition to Sport mode, drivers can also select E-mode and Hybrid mode. In E-mode, car is powered entirely by the electric motor. It can travel almost silently and accelerate from 0 to 60 kph in 5.0 seconds. For safety, an E-noise sound generator creates a unique sound to alert pedestrians and cyclists.

In Hybrid mode, both power units work together, and their interplay is automatically controlled electronically. This delivers combined consumption of 1.5 l of petrol per 100 km and 14.0 to 14.5 kWh per 100 km, which corresponds to CO2 emissions of 33 to 35 g/km. Annual road tax is €170.

A lithium-ion battery is built into the chassis floor in front of the rear axle of the iV. It stores the power required for electric drive and also powers the Climatronic air-conditioning system and heating, that can be programmed remotely using the Škoda Connect mobile app.

It can also be charged in four different ways. It can be fully charged in about three and a half hours using the Mode 3 charging cable and a wall box with a charging output of 3.6 kW. Using the Mode 2 cable together with a standard household three pin plug socket, it is possible to charge the battery in approximately five hours. While in motion, it can charge its battery or maintain the battery level using regenerative braking and also power from the petrol engine.

The Superb iV is offered in Liftback (saloon) and Combi (estate) across four specification levels – Ambition, Style, SportLine and L&K. Compared to the standard car, the iV is supplied with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), as well as the most modern MIB infotainment systems coupled to digital dashboard displays. Prices start from €41,850 (excluding delivery charges and inclusive of government grants).

The popularity of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles is evident with sales doubling in Ireland in the past two years to 11,540 vehicles in 2019.

Commenting, John Donegan, Brand Director, ŠKODA Ireland said the company’s electric journey starts with the Superb iV.

This car offers the best of both worlds. The ability to plug-in and charge at home or work, means commuters have the potential to commute, powered entirely by electricity. Plug-in hybrid vehicles offer significant advantages over so-called “self-charging hybrids” including significantly lower CO2 emissions and superior fuel economy.”

Cupra brings high-performance Formentor to market

SEAT sub-brand, Cupra has unveiled the Formentor, the first model developed from the ground up by the company.

We are told that the high-performance crossover combines the specific DNA of the brand and is designed and engineered for the future, offering an iconic model that mixes sophistication, innovation and an intuitive and dynamic driving experience.

As the market evolves, the Cupra Formentor brings together the benefits of a performance car with the qualities of an SUV, at a time when the CUV segment is due to witness incredible growth.

“The Formentor is a big step on our journey to make Cupra a desirable brand for car lovers. With a fascinating design, high-performance powertrains including a plug-in hybrid we have made the Cupra Formentor a very special car for special people” said Wayne Griffiths, CUPRA Chairman of the Board and CEO.

The Formentor is named after the most beautiful and wild cape on the Spanish island of Mallorca, in the Balearics. The car encapsulates all the attributes of that location that lend themselves to the high-performance crossover’s exterior design.

“The Formentor is an appealing car in terms of performance, technology and aesthetics and based on the beauty of its proportions, the strength of its line and the refinement of its details,” said Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, Director of Design.

On top of that, the Formentor’s unique exterior design is perfectly matched by its high-quality interior that provides a sense of modernity and sportiness which is said to be archetypal of brand values.

The new car will be launched with two high-performance powertrains ready to provide the most unique driving experience.

At the top of the range will be a 2.0 l TSI Turbocharged petrol unit with a total output of 310 bhp (228kW) and 400Nm of torque that offers the ultimate expression of the brand’s DNA, with an emotive sound that adds to the allure of the vehicle. This engine will be linked to the 4Drive technology that constantly tracks the vehicle and driver inputs to deliver power to the correct wheel at the precise time it needs it.

It will also be offered with high-performance plug-in hybrid technology via a 1.4-litre TSI 150 bhp (110kW) petrol engine, combined with the 115 PS (85kW) electric motor with 13kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

Both powertrain combinations benefit from a DSG dual-clutch transmission, that helps make gear changes sharper and smoother. The shift-by-wire technology is designed so that the gear selector is not connected to the gearbox mechanically, instead using electronic signals to make shifts.

Deliveries of the CUPRA Formentor will begin in the last quarter of 2020.

Audi driving on with two electric models

Audi says it is systematically moving forward with its e-offensive thanks to two new models.

The Audi e-tron and the Audi e-tron Sportback are becoming more agile, sharper and more dynamic as S models. The three electric motors, two of which are located on the rear axle, together provide 370 kW of boost power and 973 Nm of torque. This allows the two purely electrically driven models to accelerate to 100 kph in 4.5 seconds.

And Audi says that intelligent drive control raises vehicle safety, and dynamic handling in particular, to a new level. In addition to the electric all-wheel drive, there is the electric torque vectoring with active and fully variable torque distribution on the rear axle. Top speed for both cars is 210 kph and is limited electronically.

Thanks to a powerful cooling system, the drive gives the full boost power of 370 kW and 973 Nm of torque in reproducible form for eight seconds in each case. The nominal values in the D gear without boost are 320 kW and 808 Nm.

In terms of handling, Audi says the electric S models provide outstanding agility and traction: they can accelerate from a curve as dynamically as a sports car, their drive character is much more focused on the rear wheels and much sportier in nature.

If the ESC stabilisation control is set to “Sport” and the Audi drive select dynamic handling system is set to maximum performance with “Dynamic” mode, the drive layout facilitates a high level of transverse dynamics and, on request, controlled drifts as well. The driving behaviour is predictable at all times and is characterised by an ultra-high level of safety and reliability.

The new Audi e-tron S models will be the first electric cars worldwide with three motors in mass production. Their drive layout is based on the concept with two different asynchronous motors (ASM); the e-tron product line was designed in modular form in line with this from the start.

We are also told that the drive has been programmed for efficiency in everyday life; in normal driving mode, only the rear electric motors work. The front drive is unpowered but switches itself on – with the driver barely noticing – if the driver needs more power.

It also switches on predictively if the grip declines and does so when friction values are low and during rapid cornering. The electric all-wheel drive is complemented by a further technical innovation in the form of electrical torque vectoring, which brings the advantages of the conventional sport differential into the electric era.

Renault Mégane, new face to a familiar name

A new Renault Mégane is with us – or at least it will be shortly.

Since the first Mégane was introduced in 1995, seven million cars over four different generations have been sold worldwide and the nameplate has become an entire family of cars, with the R.S. high-performance versions, regarded as benchmark hot-hatchbacks, especially with the recent R.S. Trophy-R, a new lap record holder at the famous Nürburgring in 2019.

The new Mégane will also now come with a plug-in hybrid powertrain - a first for Renault in this segment. Using technologies developed by the Alliance and Renault engineers the E-Tech Plug-in system benefits from the all-electric-vehicle expertise acquired by Groupe Renault over the last decade, as well as its experience in racing in Formula One.

The new car will offer a revamped and modernised interior. Featuring a new 9.3-inch screen for the multimedia system and a 10-inch digital instrument cluster. This high-tech cockpit benefits from all the features of the Renault EASYLINK multimedia system. Inspired by easy smartphone usability, the system aims to be more ergonomic, functional and user-friendly.

Equipped with new driver-assistance systems for the safety and comfort of all passengers, customers can choose the optional Highway & Traffic Jam Companion, a Level 2 autonomous system that ensures comfort and peace of mind while driving. All versions now feature new LED Pure Vision headlights, improving visibility and therefore confidence on the road.

With numerous variants and a large choice of engines, including the new E-TECH Plug-in hybrid, the new Mégane caters for a vast array of needs.

Renault, a leader and expert in electric mobility, brings its expertise to the new Mégane with the 160hp E-TECH Plug-in hybrid engine, a unique energy-recovery technology that draws directly on our Formula One expertise to offer a unique driving experience.

Available initially on the New Mégane Sport Tourer, the E-TECH Plug-in engine will subsequently later be offered on the hatchback version.

A selection of petrol and diesel internal combustion engines with a wide range of power levels and a choice of manual or automatic transmission, will also be offered.

We will have more on prices and specifications in due course.

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