We drove the Mercedes 220d Cabriolet: beauty from Bremen…


At the Geneva show last year, Mercedes launched the cabriolet version for its present C Class, and this harmonious looking open air four seater is produced at the Bremen plant, rounding off the Bremen-made C-Class family, so far including Saloon, Estate and Coupé. We drove the very efficient and quite powerful 4-cylinder diesel version, marrying frugality and economy with the opulent panache of open air driving, combined with the aura of luxury the brand for which the three-pointed star has become so famous for…

Hans Knol ten Bensel


Driving a cabriolet in autumn and winter might be a little – literally – over the top, but then you have not experienced the sophistication and comfort of a Mercedes cabrio. Indeed, the Mercedes engineers have taken things a bit further by introducing  AIRCAP and AIRSCARF. We drove this Mercedes indeed more than often open in sunny cold days, and enjoyed the clever system to the full.


Inconspicuously integrated into the roof frame, the electric AIRCAP draught stop system is coupled to an electric draught stop behind the rear seats, which reduces the interior turbulence also for the rear passengers at the press of a button.

AIRCAP comes as part of the Cabriolet Comfort package, which also includes AIRSCARF neck-level heating for the driver and front passenger. (see photo above) We truly found it impressive. The attention to detail goes really very far: with the soft top down, the climate control system adapts by, for example, blowing warmer air onto the driver’s hands on the steering wheel and deactivating the air recirculation function.

Creature comfort


Besides keeping you warm, Mercedes seats and ergonomics make you feel really at home. An ideal seating position is quickly found, thanks to the electric adjustment via the seat symbols at the seat base, an easy and logical solution which should be adopted in every car, we would think.


The classic dials smile at you, and all the levers and knobs are easy at hand. The centre console houses the round selector for navigation and infotainment, and we certainly enjoyed the sound system. Mercedes installed a so-called “Frontbass” system, which uses the space within the cross-member and side member in the body structure as a resonance chamber for the bass speakers. The sound system has a centrally placed slot for your CD’s and yes, we loved that…


The rear seats are in the form of individual seats. Their backrests offer a through-loading feature, can be split 50:50 for high everyday practicality and can be completely folded down.

The soft top is based on the S-Class Cabriolet, and meets the same high quality standards in terms of durability and function.

Moreover, it opens and closes in less than 20 seconds up to a speed of 50 km/h. In terms of its shape and colour, the cover of the soft-top compartment is an integral part of the interior and is made of the same material as the beltline.

Quite frankly, when closed, the level of (sound) comfort and insulation is the same as a fixed head coupé. Our test car came with the acoustic soft top option, by the way.


Mercedes comfort is of course also coming from a well balanced suspension. This open tourer has it all. The suspension on the Cabriolet, which is 15 millimetres lower in comparison with the Saloon, comes as standard with steel springs with a selective damping system. This lets you choose for example a more dynamic setting… An optional sports suspension with firmer springing and damping, including the Sports Direct-Steer system, makes for even more agile handling.

Driveline perfection


The mechanical refinement is also one of the hallmarks of every Mercedes, and this 220d is no exception. The well known 120 kW/163 HP four cylinder 2143 cc engine is powerful and frugal, and quite well refined. It is pulling quite well with 400 Nm of torque, and is ideally matched to the 9 G-Tronic auto box. Yes, you read it well, 9 speeds, and this makes the combination ideal in any driving circumstance. Constant speed consumption is very low indeed, in real life, a fuel consumption between 5 and 6 litres is quite feasible. The manufacturer quotes 4,8 litres as the average, with performance to match. 0 to 100 kmh is slightly more than 8 seconds, and top speed is in the region of 230 kmh.


We are totally smitten by the excellent Distronic cruise control system, one of the best in the industry, making long distance driving as well as low speed crawls on city boulevards effortless and pleasant.



If you want a stylish, (very) well made four seater open tourer to be your four wheeled companion for years to come, you are well advised to take the route towards one of the showrooms of the oldest car manufacturer of the world, and slide behind the wheel of this 220d. We bet that this will be the beginning of a very long love affair, which will take you to many beautiful parts of this wide world… We certainly regretted to part from this Mercedes!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

New Porsche 911 GTS models give you more power…

911 Targa 4 GTS, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet und 911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Targa 4 GTS, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet und 911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Targa 4 GTS, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet und 911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Targa 4 GTS, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet und 911 Carrera 4 GTS

Porsche is expanding the 911 model line with five new GTS models: from March 2017, the following versions will be available: the 911 Carrera GTS with rear-wheel drive, the 911 Carrera 4 GTS with all-wheel drive – both available as a Coupé and Cabriolet – and the 911 Targa 4 GTS with all-wheel drive. The newly developed 3.0-liter flat-six cylinder with larger turbochargers delivers 450 horsepower, which is 30 horsepower more than the current 911 Carrera S and 20 horsepower above the previous, naturally-aspirated GTS model. All GTS variants are equipped as standard with a seven-speed manual transmission. The seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual-clutch transmission is available as an option, with the manual seven speed gearbox being standard equipment.

Interieur 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet
Interior 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet

…delivering even greater performance

550 Nm of torque further improves acceleration and responsiveness. Maximum torque is available between 2150 and 5000 rpm. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is included as standard on all GTS models. The GTS Coupés still feature the PASM Sport Suspension, which drops the ride height by 0.39 inches (10 millimeters)compared to the PASM suspension, which is standard on all 911 models including the Cabriolet and Targa variants of the GTS.

911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Carrera 4 GTS

When equipped with the optional PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) transmission, the Carrera 4 GTS Coupé takes just 3.6 seconds to reach 100 km per hour. This is what we call superfast!

The 911 GTS Coupé with manual transmission and rear-wheel drive is capable of 312 kph, but rest assured, all GTS models are faster than 300 kph…

911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Carrera 4 GTS

Typically GTS: Black elements mean business…

The GTS models distinguish themselves within the 911 model line not only in terms of technology, but also in their design: All GTS variants are based on the Carrera 4/4S body, which measures 72.9 inches (1852 mm), even on the rear-wheel-drive models. The new Sport Design front end with a spoiler lip painted in black emphasizes the high-performance character.

911 Targa 4 GTS
911 Targa 4 GTS

Combined with an increased rear spoiler extension height, it reduces lift on the front and rear axle compared to the Carrera S models. Tinted tail lights, rear lid grill strips with a satin black finish and tailpipes in high-gloss black, which are part of the standard Sport Exhaust system, give the GTS a particularly striking appearance. A new black trim strip between the tail lights is featured on the rear-wheel-drive variants. A light strip between the tail lights is reserved for the all-wheel-drive models. Sport Design exterior mirrors, 20-inch center lock wheels painted in satin black, and black GTS logos on the doors represent further visual enhancements.

The characteristic Targa bar, is black with a satin finish for the first time, also gives the 911 Targa 4 GTS a very sporting look.

New Porsche Track Precision app included with extensive standard equipment.

911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet
911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet

The GTS offers a unique interior. The stopwatch of the standard Sport Chrono Package is now integrated as a central component of the dashboard. The included Porsche Track Precision App has been further enhanced for the market launch of the GTS models. Its features include automatic recording as well as a detailed display and analysis of driving data for smartphones. Just to make you a better driver…

Standard Sport Seats Plus with GTS logos on the headrests provide that lateral support you need for the serious high speed work. They are fitted with a combination of leather and Alcantara® that is highlighted with a new seat stitching. Alcantara® can also be found on the standard GT Sport steering wheel, the gear lever and the armrest, all for that extra grip. The brushed aluminum interior trim is anodized with a black finish.

Interieur 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet
Interior 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet

Good economy…

The GTS remains a feul-efficient automobile. The GTS with the PDK transmission consumes 8,3 l/100 km according to the NEDC. This corresponds with CO2 emissions of 188 g/km.

Prices in Belgium, including VAT:

911 Carrera GTS                     128.139,00 €

911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet      141.449,00 €

911 Carrera 4 GTS                  135.641,00 €

911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet   148.951,00 €

911 Targa 4 GTS                     148.951,00 €

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Giulia is queen on Nürburgring… and on the road.


Presently, we are testing the marvelous Giulia, in 136 HP Multijet Diesel guise, and besides the very willing engine and impressive auto box, the chassis really betrays the out and out thoroughbred character of this Alfa.

It certainly awakens the better driver in you, and this must have been the same for Alfa driver Fabio Francia. He took the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, and let all the 503 horses of the V6 engine loose on the Eifel tarmac. The result is a legendary 7 minutes 32 seconds lap time over the Nordschleife, all for you to be seen on You Tube, we give you here the link, kindly transmitted to us by Wim Willems, Press Officer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium.

We suggest you enjoy it all, just revel by the furious V6 sound, the lightning fast gear changes of the 8 speed automatic transmission, shifting gears in just 150 milliseconds in race mode…

Of course, soon we will present you a full test report of this Giulia!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Kia Stinger, or the shape of things to come…

sel3 cropsmThe most powerful, sleek and fast production car of Kia made its entry into the stylish car scene: indeed, it has been honored with an EyesOn Design award for Production Car Design Excellence at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

The EyesOn Design Awards honours the best production and concept vehicles making their worldwide auto show debut at the NAIAS.

sel1 cropsm

Peter Schreyer, Chief Design Officer at Kia Motors, is justifiably proud of the style and proportions of this car. Judge for yourself by the photos…

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He was assisted by and Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer at Kia Motors.

Kia Stinger GT Interior (2)_EU Specsm

The car is also quite roomy and has a clean interior styling with a TFT screen between two beautifully designed circular dials. The aeronautical air vents are also present, noblesse oblige in this car class.

Kia Stinger GT Interior (3)_EU Speccropsm

Besides style, power is also abundant with a standard  2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged ‘Theta II’ engine, good for 258hp at 6,200rpm and 353Nm from 1,400- to 4,000rpm. The Stinger GT will get optionally  a twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 petrol ‘Lambda II’ engine, more athletic with 370hp at 6,000rpm and 510Nm from 1,300- to 4,500rpm. All this is good for supercar performance…

The Stinger I set to go on sale  across Europe in the fourth quarter of 2017. In the meantime, just admire the photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Brussels Motor Show has interesting news – part 4

Here comes the final part of our Brussels Show report. We just let you enjoy all this again, as the show is also soon coming to its end…

Hans Knol ten Bensel


Armed with our faithful compact Canon PowerShot G9 X, which takes amazing pictures even with low light, we strolled further to the Nissan stand, where the all new Micra was on display. Nissan expects a lot from this urban gem, which has the all round and versatile qualities you expect from a compact car like this. It is quite agile and downright sporting, delivering lots of driving pleasure for the young at heart. It has good looks too. Soon we come back to this car and are of course keen to drive it soon.


Peugeot was presenting not only a boldly styled, angular lion, it also had its new 3008 compact SUV on the show. Mind you, this angular lion is a work of outstanding craftsmanship: the design center created the shapes of this new interpretation of the iconic lion, but the craftsmen of the firm LA FABRIK worked more than a month to execute the design. The sculpture is made of hardened polystyrene, covered with layers of wax and glass fibre. The used the most modern techniques like digital cutting along not less than five axes, and a lot of sanding by hand was also deemed necessary. The lion was then finally chromed via an electrolysis process, which took not less than 10 days…


The 3008 is restyled and has (almost) the panache of a show car, both inside and out. It must of course also be good to drive, economical and reliable if it is to be competitive in its class. The three cylinder 128 HP petrol engine looks promising on paper, and we expect it to deliver good performance. We look forward to drive it soon… It comes of course with a wide engine choice, both petrol and diesel, and also 6 speed manuals and auto boxes are available.


DS presented on the Brussels Show a new edition on the DS4 Crossback, with a new matte color. The car, dubbed DS 4 Crossback Moondust (due to its grey Platinium matte color) follows here the spring/ summer design trend of the big French fashion houses…

There is also the “Performance Line” available on all DS models, it has a black roof in combination with specific colors for the bodywork and glossy black wheels.

For Citroën, the DS3 took centre stage, an interesting car we also look forward to drive…


Honda presented its new Civic, it was first seen as an engineless prototype in Geneva last year, and it is now, Brexit or not, built in Swindon, UK,  by the 3,600-strong workforce for 70 markets around the world… The sporting Type R version is a Nürburgring record breaker, and of course we are also keen to drive the Civic soon…

Kia comes on strong…


In these columns, so far Kia has not appeared so far, and it is about (high) time it does. You all have noticed how well styled they are, thanks to designer Peter Schreyer, now Chief Design Officer at Kia Motors.

Did you know also that Albert Biermann – the man who used to head up BMW’s M Division – is in charge of vehicle testing and high performance development for Kia?

We looked on the show at the compact Rio. Highlight was also the hybrid crossover Niro, which made its Belgian debut at the show.


There was also the EV Soul and last but not least the Optima plug-in hybrid. We will soon take a closer (test drive) look at these cars, and have booked for now a test with the cee’d 1.6 CRDI SW. Kia is coming up strong, did you know that they have 435,316 cars sold in Europe last year, representing year-on-year growth of 13.1%?



Slovakian-built Kia models are now accounting for 55.7% of Kia’s European sales. Kia Motors Slovakia produces three model lines at its Žilina plant: the Sportage, Venga compact MPV, and the cee’d family (comprising five-door cee’d hatchback and cee’d Sportswagon, and the three-door pro_cee’d).

Recently, the top of the range Stinger took centre stage in Detroit: it received an EyesOn Design award for Production Car Design Excellence at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. More on this Stinger in a separate report.

Of course, there is still a lot more, as things go very fast. We suggest you look click on the “car news” category on our site for more news,


and keep an eye on our comments on the forthcoming auto shows…in the meantime, just look at the photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel


Brussels Motor Show has interesting news – part 3


Further car news and novelties to be enjoyed, and beautiful styling and bodywork shapes to be admired, as well as to be tasted… we just lead you further on our tour…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

La bella Giulia… and amazing Fiats

The thoroughbred Giulia which turns eyes comes on the Brussels Show with a sporting “Veloce” versions, but also the MiTo and Giuletta have been refreshed. We recently drove the 170 HP “Veloce” version of the MiTo with the dual clutch auto box, and we enjoyed every meter we drove it. Read our test report soon…


We are presently driving again the formidable Fiat Tipo, a car which documents impressively the “savoir faire” of the Fiat group in building harmonious and flawless cars coming at an attractive price. We drove both the 1,6 and 1,3 liter MultiJet Diesel versions, with the hatchback body, and they are nothing less than the benchmarks in their (price) class.

There is of course also the stunning Abarth 124 Spider, a car which is also very high on our test drive list.

Renault unpacks the Koleos and delights the senses…


Centre stage at the Renault stand was taken by their new Koleos, which has gained immensely in styling and panache. We already told you time and again that the styling people conducted by Laurens van den Acker are doing a great job, and this shows again in this latest Renault SUV, which will be available in spring this year in our country. In Brussels, the top equipment version “Initiale Paris” makes its debut.

Electric cars are also quite important for Renault and the Alliance for that matter, and Renault presents the ZOE with an extended range to not less than 400 km. The car is immediately available by the way… The new Kangoo Z.E has also a 50 pct bigger range.

Renault in good tradition delighted our culinary senses again with a heavenly luncheon on press day at the salon, with Wout Bru as Chef.  Wout has done this for Renault at the show now already for 10 years…


We show you here a photo of him on the left, with a smiling Karl Schuybroeck, Director Communication at Renault Belgium Luxembourg to the right.

Last but not least, the Scénic is also to be admired, which has won in our country the VAB Family Car of the Year, and this for good reason…

Sporting news for the good three pointed star…


At the Brussels Show, Mercedes unveiled its GT-R Coupé, with 585 Horses to hurtle you down winding roads at record breaking speed. It has of course the suspension to take all this in safely, and awaked the (safe) driver in you. It looks also stunning indeed. There is also a cabriolet version of the AMG GT, and of course the E-class is present “en force”, with a break and also a crossover version, dubbed the “all-terrain”, which is the 4WD version of the break.


The C 180 Coupé adds also a touch of elegance as a debut at the Brussels show…

The range of crossovers has been facelifted, and there is also the rejuvenated GLA to be admired, a few days after its premiere in Detroit…


Soon more here, we just say good bye for now together with a charming biondina leaning on her shining Maserati… just dream away!

Hans Knol ten Bensel








Brussels Motor Show has interesting news – part 2


Further on our visit we stood eye to eye with some more fascinating cars and novelties. Indeed, many brands put their best feet forward, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel


Jaguar presented a world premiere on the show, an upgrade of the F-type. Its looks are refreshed, and this feline beauty is now also equipped with a state-of-the-art Touch-Pro infotainment system, which allows to combine vehicle data with GoPro HD videos via the ReRun app. Celebrating the introduction of the new F-TYPE, Jaguar also brings for one year the exclusive 400 SPORT edition.


The revamped F-type will go on sale in our country in the first quarter of 2017. We can’t wait to get our hands on one!


The new Discovery takes centre stage on the Land Rover stand. The fifth generation of this versatile SUV will be in the dealer showrooms in March. Range Rover also shows the SV Autobiography Dynamic. Needless to say that we will plan for you these SUV’s in our test calendar for 2017.


A short stroll took us then to the Skoda stand, where the Kodiaq took centre stage, alongside the new Octavia sedan and station wagon. The Octavia gets a high-tech update with a new three cylinder 1.0 TFSI engine, and a revised suspension with adjustable damper settings now also available, dubbed by the manufacturer “Dynamic Chassis Control.” It is also redesigned, has a wider radiator grille – enhanced even further by additional crystalline headlights – reminiscent of the tradition of Czech craftsmanship in making Bohemian crystal glass. The car has halogen headlights as standard, which are complemented by LED daytime running lights.


The Octavia has now not less than nine engines ranging from 1.0 to 2.0 l: four TSI, four TDI and one CNG; power output ranges from 63 kW (86 PS) to 135 kW (184 PS). We are keen to drive these new versions soon, faithful readers know that we were very impressed by the Octavia when we took the car to the French midi last summer. Just look further on our site, we give you here again the link: http://www.autoprova.be/2016/08/09/a-sporting-grand-tour-with-the-skoda-octavia-combi-rs-184-hp-2-0-crtdi-dsg6-4×4/

More Brussels Salon news to follow!

Hans Knol ten Bensel


2017 Brussels Motor Show has interesting news… Part 1


Futuristic dashboard and instrument cluster of the Tesla Model X… are promises kept by E-cars? 

Our beloved Brussels Motor Show is now in its 95th edition and focuses this year on light commercial vehicles, motorcycles, but also on the passenger car front there is much interesting news… We report here on our tour of the show, focusing on what’s new and interesting, and let you also enjoy the photos!

Hans Knol ten Bensel


We started our tour on the Tesla stand, where we stood eye to eye with their interesting Model X. A good occasion to get acquainted with the brand, as we have never driven a Tesla so far. We had a long and lively in depth discussion with a charming Tesla representative about the merits of E-power, stressing again the need for a dense recharging network to make E-cars a thoroughly practical proposition. It is a well known fact that the “official” range of E-cars is virtually halved in winter conditions, making them rather difficult to use regularly without frequent recharging.

They promised to get in touch with us, and we are looking forward to drive a Tesla – and use one for a few days to test out their range, which is impressive on paper at least.


We strolled further to the BMW stand, where E-power is also very much in the spotlight. We drove the “long range” i3 recently, and soon we will report you about our findings. Star of the show here was the latest generation 5 series. The new car has the looks, and indeed is, as BMW puts it, “the embodiment of the modern business saloon.” It is quite athletic, well proportioned as is crammed with state of the art technology, delivering on top of all that the so legendary driving pleasure so typical for BMW.


Virtual instrumentation is also the rule at BMW… but retains the typical lettering of the brand… 

We admired again the high-quality setting of the interior, and the driver is pampered with all the modern driving aids, inboard electronics and connectivity.


The big centrally placed screen keeps the BMW 5 series driver informed… 

Needless to say that we are anxious to drive one in the coming months…


There was also the European Premiere of the Mini Countryman, and here on the photo you see the Plug-in hybrid version, the Mini Cooper S E Countryman all 4. The Mini is an all time hit, and BMW succeeds in combining ever more interesting technology with the iconic panache of the Mini, making it a very desirable car indeed. Driving a Mini is also synonymous to tons of driving pleasure, and this, we would say, throughout the range. So this one is also on our list for driving this year!


Dramatic both in styling and technology is the Lexus LC 500h, a sophisticated and luxurious coupé. Lexus states it is built by Takumi craftspeople, with 20+ years of experience…


It has the 3,5 litre V6 Hybrid engine, coupled to world’s first 10-speed Multi Stage Hybrid transmission, a powerful electric motor coupled to Lithium-ion battery pack, and sprints in about 5 seconds to 100 kmh. Available around mid 2017, and it will certainly be one of the test drive highlights of the year…


We also spotted the Toyota CH-R, remarkable with its adventurous styling, a very interesting hybrid crossover which we will drive for you end of March. Stay tuned!


There were quite a few stars to be admired at the Audi stand, with the new Q2, the still newer Q5 and last but not least the world premiere of the S5 cabrio.


We just show you here some photos, and you agree that the restyling is very well done and the already well proportioned cabrio stays stunningly attractive for years to come.


Audi Import Director Didier Willems and PR Officer Sofie Luyckx are unveiling the elegant S5 cabrio…

The A4 Avant g-tron and TT RS Coupé are having a Belgian première, with the Audi S5 Coupé, A5 Sportback, Q2 en Q5 making in Brussels their Belgian show debut. We saw a lot of smiling faces at the Audi stand, as the brand has done very well last year on the Belgian market.

More to come in following reports…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Audi World premiere in Detroit: the pinnacle of the Q5 model series with the SQ5 3.0 TFSI

Static photo Colour: Misano Red
Static photo Colour: Misano Red

Audi presents the new Audi SQ5 at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The sportiest member of the Q5 model series embodies more than ever the emotional concept of the practical SUV with the latest technology. It’s turbocharged, 3.0 TFSI offers delightful performance… Just read more below

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Audi World premiere in Detroit: the pinnacle of the Q5 model series with the SQ5 3.0 TFSI”

VW at CES Las Vegas: Your profile travels with you in any VW you drive…

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Experiencing your personal digital world in a vehicle is made possible by VW at the latest CES.

In the future, your own profile and preferences will always be with you – regardless of which Volkswagen model you’re driving.  Volkswagen presents the next milestone in ease of use Visionary I.D. electric car being shown for first time in the USA.

We just tell you here somewhat more about Volkswagen’s show highlights…just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “VW at CES Las Vegas: Your profile travels with you in any VW you drive…”