Good Mazda news at the Geneva Show…


The 88th Geneva International Motor Show will see also a fair amount of Mazda news. Indeed, the new Mazda6 Wagon (see photo here above) will make its world debut, and there is also the European debut of the new Mazda6 Sedan, alongside with two stunning concept vehicles -the Mazda VISION COUPE and Mazda KAI CONCEPT.

For the technology buffs, it is good to know that Mazda will show its SKYACTIV-X next-generation gasoline engine. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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New Mercedes C- Class Saloon and Estate in Geneva…

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse Limousine AMG-Line, Exterieur: designo selenitgrau magno, Interieur: Leder platinweiß pearl/schwarz Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan AMG line, exterior: designo selenite grey magno, interior: platinium white pearl/black

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan AMG line, exterior: designo selenite grey magno, interior: platinium white pearl/black

Mercedes unveils at this year’s Geneva Motor Show in a world premiere the new C-Class in Saloon and Estate guise with new petrol and diesel engines, and as plug-in hybrid models. Important news for the brand with the three pointed star, as the C-Class is the most successful model series from Mercedes-Benz: The brand sold a combined total of over 415,000 Saloon and Estate models worldwide in 2017.

Now in its fifth year of production, the design of the exterior and interior gets a stylish makeover. The electronic architecture is also completely new. Options include a fully digital instrument display and multimedia systems featuring customized information and music offerings. The assistance systems likewise benefit from the new electronic architecture and are now on a par with those of the S Class. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the new Nissan Leaf: more power, more range, and more style.


The Leaf has certainly come of age, and this amply shows. The new Leaf has a more dynamic shape, with more sleek lines and bolder profiles. But that is not all. Advanced technologies, as Nissan calls it, have also been built in this new Leaf. Like an e-Pedal and ProPILOT autonomous drive technology, which is further enhanced with ProPILOT Park. We could extensively test it all at the presentation held by the dynamic people of Nissan BeNeLux recently.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Our Cars – An early spring startup for our BMW Z3…


A (very) early spring startup for our beloved Z3, which has been “sleeping” during winter under its cover, and therefore shines brightly after it fired up instantly…ready for a first drive in 2018…

In our fleet we have since October 2005 a ’97 BMW Z3, which is now more than 20 years old, but is kept lovingly in pristine condition. I purchased it from a very careful previous owner, who kept the car in his garage under cover, and whereas it has stood outside for a year or so in my former house to make room for my classic Jaguar Mk 2, this time it also lives again well protected under cover in its own garage. We did not use it after last summer, so this third week of February we found it the right time to take our Z3 out again for a spin, and have some items looked after…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We had replaced the old battery after more than 8 years of faithful service, and we connected the new battery. The Z3 started up without any problems on first try, and did run immediately totally smoothly.


At BMW Dealer Jorssen NV we stopped on our first 2018 outing to get some repairs done to the glove box lock and get some brittled rubber(s) replaced…just read below! 

Of course, after several months of rest, one has to be very careful to let the engine reach its operating temperature with a very smooth (first) drive. This means running with very light throttle openings, not exceeding 2500 rpm but of course also NEVER let the engine work hard under 1400 rpm. This means accelerating very smoothly in second gear when revs are below 1700 rpm or so. Also be (very) easy on the clutch, and the brakes, which you have to slowly “brake in” again, to avoid roughening up the disks. All this we did on a first tour – albeit with a few stops – of a good 35 kilometers, to let everything really warm up again.

We also topped up the fuel tank, so there is recent fuel again in the fuel system. It is amazing how well the electronics, fuel injection systems and what have you in these ‘90s cars cope with this intermittent use. After a few kilometers, everything went very smoothly, the engine humming pleasantly without the slightest hiccup or vibration. Again we enjoyed the agility and responsiveness of our Z3. What is also a pleasant surprise again is the excellent visibility, which is far better than today’s cars.

On this tour we also steered to BMW dealer Jorssen NV, at Antwerpsesteenweg 126 in Aartselaar, close to Antwerp. We had good reasons for this visit: the lock of the glove box refused to close again, which we noticed at the end of our last trip, and our Z3 needed some cosmetic attention. Having been exposed to the elements for a year, the rubber surroundings of the door handles got brittle, and the surrounding ring of the antenna also showed some cracks. The four BMW badges on the original light alloy wheels also went missing, all four(!) of them.


We were very well received by service manager Jeroen Van der reeth, who came out to inspect the car, and wrote carefully down what was needed. The same day, he had all the necessary parts sourced and mailed me an offer for the repair(s). We made an appointment for March 9, and in the meantime, show you here some photos of our Z3 on its February tour… and will soon also present a report here in these columns on the “Z Story Continues” in the BMW Brand Store in Brussels. Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We had an interview Sebastian Mackensen, Senior Vice President of MINI: “we sell a lifestyle…”


At the recent Brussels Motor Show we talked with the Senior Vice President of MINI. Born in The 46-year-old Sebastian Mackensen with a master’s degree in business administration and economics joined the BMW Group in October 2013 and brought with him many years of international sales experience in the automotive premium segment. He started as head of worldwide MINI Sales. In March 2015 he then succeeded Jochen Goller as Senior Vice President MINI…

Just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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New Kia Ceed increases the pace in the European C segment…



The Geneva Salon will bring some very interesting news, amongst others the new Ceed, which now enters in its third generation. Note that the new Ceed is being designed, developed, engineered and built in Europe. Like its predecessors, the new model has been designed, developed and engineered in Frankfurt by Kia’s European design, product development and R&D teams. It will be manufactured at the brand’s production facility in Žilina, Slovakia, alongside the Kia Sportage and Kia Venga.

Kia improved further the looks of its key model in the range, being more angular and sporting. The new Kia Ceed has been designed at the brand’s European design centre in Frankfurt, Germany, under the direction of Gregory Guillaume, European Head of Design, and Peter Schreyer, President of Design and Chief Design Officer.


But that is not all. Let us just review here the main points:

Constructed on Kia’s new ‘K2’ platform, the new Ceed is 20mm wider (1,800mm) and 23mm lower (1,447mm) than the outgoing model. The new model boasts a larger, 395-litre boot, as well as greater shoulder room for rear passengers, more headroom in the front row, and a lower driving position.

Gasoline options include an updated version of Kia’s popular 1.0-litre T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engine, producing 120ps, as well as a new 1.4-litre T-GDi power unit. Replacing the earlier 1.6-litre GDI engine, the new ‘Kappa’ 1.4-litre T-GDi engine produces 140ps, 4% more than its predecessor despite its lower displacement. A 100ps 1.4-litre MPi (multi-point injection) engine will also be available.


The new Ceed is also available with Kia’s all-new ‘U3’ diesel engine. Designed to go beyond the stricter limits laid down by the latest Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard, the new ‘U3’ 1.6-litre CRDi (common-rail direct injection) uses Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology to significantly reduce emissions. The new engine therefore produces less carbon dioxide, particulate matter and NOx compared to earlier Kia diesel engines. Available with a choice of power outputs (115 and 136ps), the new 1.6-litre diesel produces 280 Nm of torque. Fitted with the new engine, the Ceed’s carbon dioxide emissions are expected to fall below 110 g/km on the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), when converted to the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

Every engine will be paired with a six-speed manual transmission, while the new 1.4-litre T-GDi and 1.6-litre CRDi engines will also be available with Kia’s seven-speed double-clutch transmission.

It is the first Kia with “Lane Following Assist” technology for level 2 autonomous driving.

Just not forget that the name has changed now from the former Cee’d to just Ceed. It comes with a seven year guarantee or 150.000 km.

The new model will make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, where a second body type will also be unveiled for the first time. The five-door hatchback will enter production in May. Sales of the new Ceed will commence exclusively across Europe at the end of Q2 2018.

Hans Knol ten Bensel


BMW launches second generation BMW X4 in Geneva in March…

P90291901_lowRes_the-new-bmw-x4-m40d-There is important BMW news at the International Motor Show in Geneva in March 2018: BMW will present there its second generation mid-size Sports Activity Coupé. The design is attractive as ever, and is paired with the well proven BMW xDrive all-wheel-drive technology. The chassis has been extensively lightened and upgraded.

The range is also enhanced by the addition of two new M Performance models – the BMW X4 M40i and M40d – to further underscore the high performance of the vehicle and cater to customer tastes.


The all-new BMW X4 is 81mm longer than its predecessor, with 54mm added to the wheelbase and 37mm extra width. It is also lower by 3mm. All of these elements come together to give it dynamically stretched proportions that emphasize its perfect 50:50 weight distribution and hint at the enhanced performance potential.

The driver-focused layout of the cockpit – a BMW tradition – helps to create a supremely assured and wonderfully sporty driving experience at all times. Redesigned sports seats with boldly contoured side bolsters provide outstanding lateral support even in extreme handling situations.

More space


Three full-size seats are fitted in the rear compartment of the X4, providing passengers with an additional 27 millimetres of legroom over the previous model. The boot has a capacity of 525 litres and the load space can be expanded to a maximum of 1,430 litres by folding down the sections of the rear backrest, with its standard 40:20:40 split.

The legendary BMW driving experience retained…

The new X4 will be launched with a choice of latest-generation power units comprising of two diesel engines – xDrive20d and M40d. Their advanced BMW TwinPower Turbo technology promises dynamic power delivery accompanied by remarkably low fuel consumption and emissions.


Joining the BMW M Performance model of the M40d will be the petrol-powered six-cylinder in-line engine M40i as well as another straight-six diesel unit – xDrive30d. All model variants direct their engine’s power to the road via an eight-speed Steptronic transmission and BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive as standard.

The BMW M Performance models and the BMW X4 xDrive30d are equipped with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission offering exceptionally fast gear changes as well as a Launch Control function. The standard-fit Driving Experience Control switch lets drivers choose from SPORT, COMFORT and ECO PRO set-ups, while the BMW X4 M40i, BMW X4 M40d and BMW X4 xDrive30d models also add a SPORT+ mode.


BMW improves the cleanliness of their diesel engines still further: the diesel models boast BMW BluePerformance technology comprising a particulate filter, an oxidation catalyst, a NOx adsorption catalyst, as well as an SCR catalyst with AdBlue injection.

Superb handling

Standard specification for the all-new BMW X4 includes not only M Sport suspension but also variable sport steering. Specially tuned to deliver extra-dynamic handling qualities, this version of the Electric Power Steering system ensures precision through keenly taken corners and supreme straight-line stability. The speed-sensitive Servotronic power assistance, meanwhile, makes light work of manoeuvring.


In sport mode, the digital instrument cluster hue changes into red and more bold lettering in the displays…

The car’s impressively sporty and sure-footed handling characteristics are further helped by the powerful lightweight braking system and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, whose features includes an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Automatic Differential Brake (ADB-X), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), Start-Off Assistant and Hill Descent Control (HDC).


BMW X4 xDrive30d and BMW X4 xDrive20d: efficient pulling power.

A latest-generation six-cylinder in-line diesel engine gives the all-new BMW X4 xDrive30d vast reserves of pulling power.

The maximum output of 265hp and peak torque of 620Nm propel it to 100 kph from rest in 5.8 seconds. The X4 xDrive20d is powered by a 190hp diesel engine whose torque peaks at 400Nm. It accelerates in 8.0 seconds from zero to 100 km/h.

A six-cylinder in-line petrol engine in the all-new BMW X4 M40i and a straight-six diesel unit in the all-new BMW X4 M40d provide the underpinnings for an exhilarating form of driving pleasure.  The engines under the bonnets of the two BMW M Performance Automobiles stand out with their instantaneous response and tireless power delivery.

With its trademark free-revving performance, maximum output of 360hp and peak torque of 500Nm, the power unit in the X4 M40i enables it to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds.

The all-new BMW X4 M40d makes its mark on the road with prodigious pulling power. Its BMW M Performance diesel engine generates output of 326hp and peak torque of 680Nm. The BMW X4 M40d darts to 100 km/h from rest in 4.9 seconds.


The X4 comes with the latest version of the iDrive operating system, designed to offer even more flexible and ergonomic control of vehicle, navigation, communication and infotainment functions.

The Driving Assistant Plus safety package – unmatched by any rival – offers X4 drivers even more extensive assistance. Its features include the Steering and Lane Control assistant operational at speeds between 0 and 210 km/h (0 – 130 mph), Lane Keeping Assistant with active side collision protection, and Crossing Traffic Warning and Crossroads Warning systems.


The state-of-the-art character of the X4 shines through in the wealth of digital services on offer through BMW ConnectedDrive.

Using a flexible Open Mobility Cloud platform, BMW Connected works alongside Apple iPhones and Watches, smartphones and smartwatches running the Android operating system, and the Amazon Alexa voice-controlled personal assistants. So the business driver is also truly spoiled …

We can’t wait to sample this remarkable BMW, which can be ordered already within the coming days!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Renault Mégane Grandtour DCi 130 hp: a smooth and stylish operator…


Renaults now really stand out in style, thanks to the creativity and talents of Laurens Van den Acker and his team. Renaults have now a bold and characteristic styling language and identity. Moreover, they have timeless and excellent proportions, and this Grandtour version of the Mégane amply proves the point. On top of all that, there is mechanical refinement to be enjoyed, and indeed, during the test of this diesel engined, lively Renault, we more than often had broad smiles on our face…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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FCA Heritage returned in style to the Paris Rétromobile Show

We travelled on February 7 to a very snowy Paris to see the classic Italian gems which FCA Heritage brought over to the Rétromobile Autoshow, held in the equally iconic exposition halls at the Porte Versailles. Indeed, nothing could stop us.


Stunning cars were on the show, like this Abarth Allemano 2400 Coupé…

On their 350 square meter stand we stood eye to eye with four remarkable cars, notably an elegant Lancia Appia Coupé, a Fiat Dino 2400 Coupé, an Abarth 2400 coupé, and last but not least an impressive Alfa Romeo SZ.


We tell you here in this post more about FCA Heritage and its mission, and focus then on the Abarth 2400 Coupé Allemano , the personal car of late Carlo Abarth, and our meeting with his wife Anneliese Abarth.

In a following post, we will present a portrait of Roberto Giolito, now head of FCA Heritage, but previously Chief designer of Fiat. He is most widely known for the Fiat Multipla, and the 2004 Fiat Trepiùno concept — precursor to the Fiat 500. His latest design is the Fiat 500L, which we tested for you recently.

In a further post, we will tell you more about the other remarkable cars FCA Heritage brought to the show, and of course on all the beautiful and interesting cars on the Retromobile Show, which will be a following separate post. A lot to see and read!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the new Polo 1.0 TSI 95 Highline: tailored to perfection


Volkswagen products stand out for their mechanical excellence, well honed refinement and workmanship. Throughout their range, they strive for the same perfection in driving characteristics, solidity, finish and workmanship. Therefore, when you slide behind the wheel of the latest Polo, you can expect something grand. Certainly, when you know that this car came with the latest, state of the art three cylinder 1 liter petrol engine, coupled to the flawless 7 speed DSG auto box. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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