Driving the Fiat Tipo to Deauville: a voyage in comfort and panache…

A swift Gran Turismo drive to an iconic destination: Deauville/Trouville, the beach town of artists and celebrities…

Testing the very good looking Fiat Tipo SW, we were invited to have a drive in it to Trouville-sur-Mer, a stone throw to Deauville, and have a stay at the Les Cures Marines Trouville Hotel Spa & Thalasso, where we had the opportunity to see and drive the brand new and good looking Tipo Sport version. More on this Sport version soon, we show you here some photos and impressions about the drive, the hotel and the beautiful Normandy coast…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Tipo Station Wagon we drove proved an excellent companion on this more than 400 km long trip from Brussels to Trouville-sur-Mer. The 120 HP 1,6 litre Multijet II Diesel delivers magnificent pulling power: its 120 HP are already available at 3750 rpm, and has an impressive torque of 320 Nm at merely 1750 rpm. It is coupled in our test car to the smooth 6 speed DCT transmission, and this combination is just magnificent for fast, effortless motorway driving. It picks up speed in swiftly after the numerous “péages” and holds the 130 km/h cruising speed in total silence and with very good economy indeed, which hovered during the trip at around 5,3 liters/100 km.

On the trip itself, one of the spectacular spots is of course the bridge of Tancarville, crossing the estuary of the Seine near Le Havre.

No need whatsoever to intervene with the gearbox lever on the narrow Normandy winding roads and frequent roundabouts and crossings, when we approaching Honfleur and Deauville. Just leave it in “D” and the powerful engine does the rest. The official performance figures amply show that this is an ideal companion on your Gran Turismo voyages: 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 10,4 seconds and top speed is 200 km/h, which lets you mix in with the superfast GT’s, if need be. We were just pleased with the absence of wind noise at cruising speeds, the excellent comfort of seats and suspension, the very good overall stability.

More about the car soon in a test report, we just show you here the pleasing looking SW at its arrival in Normandy and at the Hotel.

Trouville itself has style. French literary giants, Flaubert and Proust were here to be found. As to Monet and his Norman master, Boudin, they painted memorable scenes of 19th century bourgeois in their finery promenading along the broad beachfront here. In fact, Trouville was one of the first-ever coastal resorts to be developed in France. Artists may have started the trend for coming here, but by the time of Emperor Napoleon III, from the mid 19th century on, the rich and fashionable flocked to Trouville too. They ordered grand villas and palaces of entertainment, like the impressive casino.

Trouville casino was built surprisingly close to the lively fishing port, backed by a classic covered fish market, with lively seafood restaurants all around. Scallops, sole, prawns and mackerel are traditional specialities.

Marguerite Duras, perhaps France’s most famous female writer of the 20th century, was a great cultural figure who became a devotee of Trouville, spending her summers here.

She said that everyone she had ever met who had come to the resort for a first time said they dreamt of returning.

The hotel, Les Cures Marines Trouville Hotel Spa & Thalasso, breathes the atmosphere of elegant yesterday. It is nestled in the right wing of the Casino in the heart of Trouville.

Inspired by the first seawater baths, the Cures Marines Institute revives its visitors with the comforts of a magical renovation project, overseen by Monuments Historiques and the expertise of the MGallery and Thalassa Sea & Spa from the Accorhotels group, retaining style of palaces from the beginning of last century.

We just show you here some photos, and remember fondly the place and the car…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove Jeep Power around the lake: the Grand Cherokee SRT and Trackhawk…

Driving the already legendary Grand Cherokee Trackhawk along the scenic villages around the beautiful Lago di Garda…

One of the absolute highlights of two days of Jeep driving amidst the beautiful scenery of the Italian Lago di Garda was a stint behind the wheel of the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and the SRT. The Jeep® Grand Cherokee is the flagship of the Jeep brand and the most awarded SUV ever, and this gem of a car created the premium SUV category 27 years ago and with more than 6.4 million units sold since its introduction. More about this Jeep Grand Cherokee in its “normal” version(s) later, we focus here on the stunning Trackhawk and SRT versions.

Indeed, it had to happen, and the whole car world was actually expecting this: the more than 700 HP V8 of the Dodge Hellcat, the “muscle car” par excellence, was to be dropped in the engine bay of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It all happened last year, and now we had the chance to drive it: the supercharged 6.2-litre HEMI® V-8 engine, delivering 710 hp at 6000 rpm, mated to an 8 speed automatic transmission. High-strength, forged-alloy pistons, powder-forged connecting rods and sodium-cooled exhaust valves all add to the power of the Supercharged 6.2L V8 engine. Do not expect a hissing monster though.

The massive V8 burbles smoothly through slow urban traffic through the villages around the Lago di Garda, and progress is silky smooth. Until you floor the throttle. Supercar acceleration is the instant answer, and the engine growls away. 0 to 100 km/h is reached in some 3,7 seconds, the top speed is 289 km/h, if you only dare.

The Drive Mode selector, and the “launch” mode at the push of a button.

Of course, good traction is provided for with all this power. A “Quadra-Trac” active on-demand four-wheel-drive system, which also includes a rear Electronic Limited Slip Differential (ELSD) and a single-speed active transfer case is at your disposal.

A 6,4 litre V8 Hemi in the SRT…

Not yet an expert in unleashing all this power and putting it “just right” on the tarmac? Good to know that there is a “Launch Control” on SRT® and Trackhawk® , which optimizes track performance by coordinating the engine, transmission, driveline and suspension for a textbook launch and consistent straight-line acceleration.

The traction management system has been specifically retuned for the Trackhawk and SRT versions as “Selec-Track.”  It features five vehicle setting – Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow – to allow the driver to achieve the best driving experience on any surface.

Beautiful instrumentation with a centrally placed rev counter…

The suspension is of course well tuned to this extra power, as well as brakes, and the Grand Cherokee remains eminently drivable.

Don’t forget there is also the Bilstein® Adaptive Suspension system, which can adjust the dampers for sport or track performance if desired, while the rear Electronic Limited Slip Differential features a four-point axle mounting to better distribute the massive power to the wheels.

For the heavier terrain work, the Quadra-Lift air suspension system allows you to change the ride height of the Grand Cherokee up to a maximum ground clearance of 28 cm.

We were deeply impressed by its handling and ride when driven with more abandon, and how perfectly balanced the whole car was. The unique driving experience is further enhanced by excellent seats and instrumentation, with not only a beautiful central rev counter, but also a special “Performance Page” on the central touch screen, where you can see anything as time of your acceleration, G-Force, all engine data like oil temperature, etc.

We enjoyed also having a stint at the wheel of the more suave SRT. Not that on the urban scenic roads around the Lago, you could test fully the difference in performance compared to the Trackhawk. Under the hood of the SRT version growls the 6417 cc V8 Hemi, good for 344 kW or 468 HP @6250 rpm. The same 8 speed auto transmission as in the Trackhawk knows this engine also needs to be revved to reach all out performance, as maximum torque of 624 Nm is reached at 4100 rpm. Of course, also here the Launch Control  and the choice between five dynamic Drive Modes with the  Selec-Track® System, as described above.

We enjoyed the same beautiful well balanced handling, indeed an SUV which also truly stands out if you expect that extra performance. Using launch control, it will still be able to catapult you from 0 to 100 km/h in 4,9 seconds.

We just coloured this image in front of this old factory a bit more (fiery) red to enhance the Trackhawk spirit…

We let you enjoy the photos here, and we dream along with you about this unforgettable experience… and there is more Jeep news to come with driving impressions of the full range!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Citroën is celebrating its 100th anniversary

Citroën is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and therefore is launching #BornAndré, in tribute to its founder, André Citroën.

Any child born on June 4, bearing the name André(e), will receive a present…

The Brand is putting people at the centre, and this it underlines with its ‘Inspired by you’ signature. And when they are ‘Inspired by you’, why are they not giving their customers a present?

So said, so done: if a child born on 4 June 2019 bears the name of André(e), Citroën will give them an exceptional present: a C3 Origins, the collector’s edition launched for the centenary.

Therefore, Citroën is inviting its community to help it find the baby André(e), by making this appeal, which you can find out more about online: https://youtu.be/PCF1EUIs6MQ.

Promoting the ideal city car, to increase your business appointments per day, using this nimble car, costing three times less than a large one, and being just as useful…

In the meantime, just have a look at some historic material, sent to us by their dynamic PR department…

There are some remarkeable ideas about cars ideal for the city, and how mass production was achieved in those days…

The timid beginnings of a production line, which was not exactly rolling yet, but things were close!

Last but not least, a picture of a proud owner and his mount, so useful in improving urban mobility…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We spoke with Chief Designer Klaus Busse, about the Alfa Tonale and the DNA of Alfa design – Part 2

Klaus Busse told us about the sensuous essence of Italian Car design, and how it is embodied in Alfa Romeo…

This is the second part of our series about the visit to the FCA Centro Stile in Torino. It started with an intriguing interview and talk with Klaus Busse, head of Design for Fiat, Abarth, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, offering us interesting insights into the sculptural design philosophy and language of the iconic sporting Milano brand. This talk continues here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel 

Shaping the body of an Alfa is also performing the art of sculpture…

HktB: “When we look at earlier design, and I want to take you here to the first Giulia, you see this modernism with the aerodynamic concepts brought into the brand and also the first dashboards of this Giulia, with their, as the Germans say it, “neue Sachlichkheit”, a strictly modern, pure, rectangular style, with a horizontal ribbon speedometer flanked by a small rev counter and column gearchange. In later years, with the later updates of this Giulia, this was again replaced by floor gearchange, a wood rimmed three spoke steering wheel, and two classic round dials for speed and revs in their individual clusters.

The shape of the three spoked wheel of the Tonale is also inspired by the historic Montreal…

Back to tradition, again we would say. What can you say about this tension between absolute, purified modernism and a more traditional (sporting) tradition in the styling language of the brand?

B: This is a beautiful question, thank you for this. Of course, we have the same challenge here. When I say Italian design process, let’s start with the classical approach and then I will come back to the modern aspect. The classical approach at Centro Stile, even though we have virtual reality, we do virtual reality reviews with the teams around the world, we scan, we mill, we digitize, we use computers, out of these 200 people, a big amount of people is dealing with computers, one way or the other.

Marrying the sporting styling language with today’s materials and connectivity…

But, when we design an Alfa Romeo, we always do it by hand. Meaning, that once the sketch is created, and we have the model in front of us, out of clay and clay material, hand modeling is still the king. Because, unless you shop online, when you buy any of your clothes, you look at it and you touch it. Because touch is for us humans such an important thing. And the other thing is, when you look at the car itself, we want to create something than feels good to the hand. I always say to joke, the best way to experience an Alfa Romeo is to hand wash it.

You discover an Alfa by touching, and hand washing it…

As a matter of fact, any car, when you hand wash it, you experience it. And there are some brands that take a lot of pride in super sharp edges, and it is not a very nice experience hand washing that car. It is not criticism; I am just pointing that out. Our way is to have the very sensuous experience touching an Alfa Romeo. And you can only achieve that if you hand model the car. Now we support it with computer, because we want to be fast in our process and we want to have high quality. Clearly, the creation process is manual, and that is a very Italian thing.

Also the seats are a work of dedicated sculpture…

This is the land of sculptures. You go to Florence, Rome, there are beautiful sculptures. Then of course, when it comes to technology, like the lighting technology, we can use the modern technology to emphasize graphics which were not possible in the past. You go from halogen reflector to projectors that are very, very slim, so that’s on the exterior where the technology helps us.

Coming to the interior, there is a lot of discussion about connectivity, screens these days. So for us, the question for Alfa Romeo is always, considering we build a drivers’ car, with the handling of the car being equally important, so what room do we dedicate to screens and connectivity experience, and what you don’t see in this concept car and in an Alfa Romeo, is these big screens, the “tombstone” that almost blocks your view, that almost screams for attention.

Big screens do not block the drivers’ vision…

For Alfa Romeo, we do use these screens, we have of course large screens in this vehicle, we also have 12 inch cluster, etc, etc, we have all that, but we keep it more like it’s here to support you, but it is not saying “look at me, look at me”…

The graphics themselves, what we use, is of course state of the art, in terms of connectivity, in terms of HMI, so for is, this is the connection we try to find between the classic approach to handmodelling, sculpting, and the historic approach to design, but then combining it with state of the art technology, how we assist the driver, and bring an enjoyable experience to being in the car. It is a long answer to your question, but it was a very very good question because it comes very close to what we are dealing with every day, how do you combine these two worlds.”

Directed towards the driver, while he keeps his eyes on the road…

The conversation was far from over, but then covers different subjects, with we will soon continue to cover in a following part in this series…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A classic thoroughbred is now five generations young: the Toyota Supra

Race bred by Toyota Gazoo Racing: the latest Supra.

There are car builders which nurture classic and iconic sports cars and bring them to perfection. A classic two seater coupé with a well sounding straight six under its long hood and with all the power fed to the rear wheels.

This car builder is Toyota, and the car is the Supra. This sports/GT has been honed and carefully improved over five model generations now and is better than ever.

The Supra is not only race proven over the years, speeding from success to success under the flag of Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s President Aiko Toyoda actually hurtles this Supra himself around the Nürburgring Nordschleife for hours on end. The result is a breathtaking machine. We present you here its highlights…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

First worldwide GR model of Gazoo Racing

Actually this fifth generation marks a remarkable début for Toyota Gazoo Racing, in establishing its GR model range. They couldn’t have chosen a better car.

Toyota Gazoo Racing is the global organisation of Toyota’s worldwide racing and sporting activities. They chalked up last year a win in Le Mans and also won the Dakar rally.

Tetsuya Tada’s masterpiece

Chief engineer kept the layout and character of the original GT 2000 and the previous Supra generations firmly in mind when designing this latest Supra.

Aiko Toyoda sat himself behind the wheel to give the Supra its final touch…

Short wheelbase, wide track, low gravity point, low weight and a very stiff chassis are the ingredients for pur sang handling. The 3 litre straight six has a twin scroll turbo and develops 340 DIN horsepower and 500 Nm torque. It is coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and guarantees powerful accelerations and indeed tons of pulling power at all engine speeds.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing was instrumental in honing the new sports car’s performance, working extensively on the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife and surrounding roads in Germany to achieve the most agile, stable and rewarding handling possible. Further extensive testing was carried out on roads around the world.

An 8 speed automatic lets you control the power like a master…

To be certain that the car delivered on its promise, Toyota President Akio Toyoda himself put it to the test at the Nürburgring in his role as a Master Driver before giving it the final green light.

New Toyota GR Supra customer deliveries will start from summer 2019. By the way, did you know that all cars will be manufactured in Graz, Austria?

Just look at the photos here, and indeed we are looking forward to driving this absolute gem!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW Art Car #18 of Cao Fei makes Belgian debut at Brand Store in Brussels…

BMW driving art is again to be seen in the capital of Europe: In its flagship Brand Store, BMW organizes until June 1 an Art & Design Expo. The 18th BMW Art Car, a BMW M6 GT3 with multimedia design, has been created by the Chinese female artist Cao Fei, is the focus point of this show. It is even to be enjoyed and admired with the use of an app bringing the car to you on your smartphone with enhanced reality. A stunning experience, of which we show here some photos, but which has to be seen to be believed.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

In the Brussels BMW Brand Store you can join the stunning journey to discover this Art Car in augmented reality…

This virtual animation is also created by the artist, and forms an integral part of the car. “We are now entering a new era where the mind can steer objects directly and thoughts can be transferred, like unmanned controls and artificial intelligence.” comments Cao Fei.

Follow this path in the showroom and zero in with your Ios device on this graph to experience the augmented reality…
Download the app BMW ART CAR #18 on your mobile (IOS) device, follow the screen instructions and enjoy!

The work of Cao Fei illustrates the fast and stunning changes in China and its society. With her BMW Art Car she spans a road which stretches over thousands of years, honouring the spiritual wisdom of Asia, which now enters the third millennium with breathtaking speed. The film can of course also be viewed on YouTube, using the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_GNSyeIpOY&feature=youtu.be.

A video which focuses on the millennial time which a spiritual person travels through…
Finishes with presenting the augmented reality…

The multimedia artist approaches the concept of a BMW Art Car in her own unique way, with which she builds a parallel universe.

Her work consists of three components: a video that focuses on the millennial time which a spiritual person travels through, augmented reality with colourful light particles (via a special app called BMW Art Car # 18) and the BMW M6 GT3 racer in the original colour carbon black.

As a tribute to the carbon fibre structure of the BMW M6 GT3 applies Cao Fei a lot of non-reflective black paint, which means the possibilities in the digital world are endlessly applicable.

The application of video and augmented reality creates an environment in which the BMW M6 GT3 plays an essential role. Cao Fei uses in her video spiritual movements that express themselves in colourful flashes of light.

Point your device on the graph and a whole enhanced world opens to you…

When the app is used in the vicinity of the car, these light accents are transformed into an augmented reality installation that floats above and around the BMW M6 GT3. In this way, the viewer becomes interactively involved in the artwork.

Just download the app BMW ART CAR #18 on your mobile (IOS) device and follow the instructions on your screen.


The BMW Art Car Tradition runs back already decades… more about this in a special report!

Practical info:

The exhibition runs until May 31, at BMW Brand Store Brussels, Waterloolaan 23,24, 1000 Brussel

Admission free.  Open from Monday to Saturday, from 10 AM until 18.30 PM. http://www.bmwbrandstore.brussels

We visited Audi’s “The Place To-e” in Antwerp

On May 1, Audi opened the doors of a three month pop-up “The Place To-e” at Desguinlei 100 in the heart of Antwerp. Until the end of July car fans and cosmopolitans can enjoy themselves in the e-scape room, discover electric mobility, enjoy a culinary spectacle at the rolling table and discover a hidden part of Antwerp in the rooftop bar ONTOP. Visitors can also book a test drive with the Belgian-tinted Audi e-tron; as you already know, it is built at Audi Brussels…

We made a visit last weekend, and were impressed! Of course we also took the occasion to make a test drive with the impressive e-tron. More about this in the next report…

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

The entrance hall of the complex…

The demand for viable and sustainable mobility solutions will only grow in the future in and around major cities. D’Ieteren, the importer of Audi, chose Antwerp for this pop-up “Place to be”- a city that is strongly committed to new, environmentally friendly mobility. “All with the purpose to better inform the general public and make them enthusiastic about electric mobility by offering a range of experiences and activities, ”explained Stefan Kerckhoven from, Director Audi Import.

Displaying the e-tron, charged by Belgian muscle power…

It is all about living the “e”-adventure

Experience is central to The Place To -e. Adventurous visitors can have a go in the “e-scape room” with an area of ​​80m², where players can help free the imprisoned engineer of the Audi e-tron while discovering electric mobility in a playful way.

The 80 m2 escape room…

The Audi e-tron and its optional virtual exterior mirrors are an essential key in the ultimate solution to the adventurous puzzle. A lot of attention was paid to the use of technology: holograms, interactive projections, mechanical installations … elements that we have not seen so often in an escape room. For nearly an hour, the participants puzzle, where they must use logic to solve the various riddles and go through a series of tests; only then will they be able to solve the mystery.

A changing exhibition will introduce the public to future electric Audi models in their concept form, including the Audi PB18 e-tron you see here above, an electric high-performance sports car which will be on display and the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo developed from a racing game.

Play the racing football game…

In the e-arena, esporters can play the “Rocket League” virtual racing football game on a real field. In this game, participants control an electric car developed for the occasion and try to score goals on a kind of soccer field.

A test drive is offered…

Electric driving can best be experienced during a test drive. The Audi e-tron is equipped with an ingenious recovery system that contributes 30 percent to the driving range of the Audi e-tron. Visitors can test this energy recuperation themselves during a test drive along a predefined test route, of course we took the occasion to put the e-tron briefly through its paces…

To have a chance to win a weekend with the Audi e-tron, and to preserve an unforgettable memory of his visit, every visitor is invited to take a nice photo in the sofa of Smile Safari, the very first Instagram museum in Belgium.

The visitor can then satisfy his hunger in an original way during a unique private dining concept and scoop in Belgium, where a culinary top experience literally comes to the guests via a … rolling table. Each dish is presented in its own decor and to stay completely in the theme is consciously worked with sustainable ingredients.

You can end the interactive day at the beautiful rooftop bar ONTOP on the roof terrace where you can enjoy a unique view.

Conferences too…

The Place To -e will be a meeting place in the coming three months where there is always something going on. In addition to the wide range of daily experiences, special events and interesting expert talks on topics such as fashion, styling, design, sustainable travel, urban mobility and technology will also be organized.

Last but not least the visitors can come and admire the Magnum photo exhibition: a breathtaking series of photos from the renowned agency Magnum Photos that was allowed to shoot images for five days at the Audi Brussels factory.

The two renowned photographers Paolo Pellegrin and Gueorgui Pinkhassov captured the power and elegance of robots and the dedication and passion of the factory employees in an intriguing way. In the photo series the innovation, quality and attention to detail come to the fore that also characterize the technology of the Audi e-tron.

Audi and Antwerp: together in sustainable mobility

The Place To -e also includes e-lectrify & mobility: an exhibition displaying the vision of sustainable urban mobility of Audi, the city of Antwerp, and their partners of “Antwerp tomorrow” and “Smart to Antwerp” such as Poppy , Scooty and Velo.

Some practical information:

Opening hours: every Thursday and Friday from 12 h to 20 h and each Saturday and Sunday from 10 h tot 18 h.

The event agenda can be consulted on http://www.theplaceto-e.be.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We spoke with Chief Designer Klaus Busse, about the Alfa Tonale and the Fiat Centoventi: two stunning concept cars, showing two unique sides of Italian design… part 1.

Klaus Busse talked with us in depth about the Alfa Romeo Tonale…

Our series about the visit to the FCA Centro Stile in Torino starts with an intriguing interview and talk with Klaus Busse, vice president of Design for Fiat, Abarth, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, offering us interesting insights into the sculptural design philosophy and language of the iconic sporting Milano brand.

Of course this is not all. This in depth talk and interview covers more aspects about the Tonale, and furthermore also the Fiat approach to automotive product design…so we decided to split this interview into a series, focusing in more detail on the various aspects. So stay tuned on these columns for further reports in this series!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

The original wooden styling sculpture of the legendary Multipla stands proudly in the entrance hall of the Torino based FCA Centro Stile…

Having walked through the impressive entrance hall of the Centro Stile, we started off with a question about how this styling centre is set up.

B:  “It is of course every day a joy for me to walk through the several studios of our Centro here. Every brand has a separate studio, and you met earlier here with Scott Krugger, the head of design for Alfa Romeo. (Note: this will be our next interview in this series). Every brand has their own head of design. We have 200+ individuals working here, from around the world. It is a very international team, we look at ourselves as the “espresso beans”, because as you know, espresso beans also come from around the world, but with the Italian process it creates an Italian iconic drink, and with the Italian process of design, we hopefully, you will agree, we are able to create Italian iconic design, even though the designers are not coming only from Italy, but from around the world.

We went first to the room of Alfa Styling department

Q: We are here seeing today shoulder to shoulder two different cars on our visit: the Tonale and the Centoventi…

B: I can tell you here first a few words about the Tonale itself, and notably also of the Fiat Centoventi. (Note: which we will also discuss later in separate interviews). It is a very rare thing for us to go to a show with two concept cars, and the beautiful thing we were able to do with the Alfa Romeo and the Centoventi, is that we were able to show the two sides of Italian design, the way we see it. So we have in front of us here with the Tonale the classic sculptural beauty of Italian design, and with the Centoventi we have the Italian approach to product design, applied to the car. So you see the two extremes of Italian design in the automotive sphere.

In the Fiat Centro Stile room, we stood eye to eye with the Centoventi… more about it later in this series!

With the Tonale, the challenge was, since it is again an SUV, and we have already an SUV with the Stelvio, to create something that is typical Alfa Romeo, but has nothing to do with the Stelvio in terms of the shapes. The Stelvio is a very muscular car, with emphasis on the wheels and the voluptuous shapes, here on the side you see we have a different construction of the car, we have a completely different front, so the challenge was that with our second entry to the SUV market, we do not create a copy of the big brother, like you see with other companies, who are just adopting a same design and adapt it to different sizes. We wanted to create something completely different with the Tonale.

The horizontal “eyebrow” line is clearly seen here…

Q: Will this car be a trendsetter for the future Alfa design?

The one thing you will not hear me talk about today is the future. I will talk about the present, about the Tonale, but I will not lift the veil more. All I can say is that I think we found something which is a beautiful progression. I saw that my team put the 8C model here, and maybe that allows me to highlight where I see the progression what the team has done here, when we look at the front. The 8C, the 4C, the Stelvio, the Giulia, all of these cars have basically have this hood line, it is a flowing design, and it nicely encompasses the grille. This face was applied to all current generation vehicles.

The muscle lines on the hood converging into the Scudetto, as seen here in the 8C, is now completely given up in the Tonale…

With the Tonale, we completely gave up this kind of interpretation, you still see the muscles of course leading to the Scudetto, but we went to a much more horizontal design. So we went from a vertical design to a horizontal design, and that of course is a completely different construction of the front, and this much I can tell you, we would not do this just for one car…

Klaus Busse dedicated a drawing to your servant… with the horizontal line clearly visible…

Because here, the 8C created a family of cars, and in this case again, it might create a new family of cars…

 As said stay tuned for the next part of this interview, where we will talk in depth about tradition and modernity embodied in today’s Alfa design language…

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

The visit to the Centro Stile of the FCA Group in Turin proved immensely interesting…

We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group Chief Designer Klaus Busse and his team…

What we saw and heard on our visit to the Torino based Centro Stile was nothing short of absolutely stunning. We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group head of design Klaus Busse and his team, both from Alfa Romeo and Fiat styling.

The beautiful instrumentation and interior of the Tonale, with Klaus Busse watching in the background…

Needless to say that we are the coming days eager to report on all this extensively, and indeed you can expect to read our findings in several reports…

Alfa DNA styling revived on the drawing boards provides the mould for the new Tonale design…

The next few photos just lift a tip of the veil of the vast material we collected and photographed…

Rewriting democratic mobility and opening many new doors in design: the Centoventi Fiat

We just want to thank here the magnificent efforts of the dynamic PR team of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium, notably Dominique Fontignies, PR & Communication Director and Wim Willems, Press Officer, for sharing the knowledge of these experts and their creations with us.  

Full of revolutionary, practical solutions: the interior of the Centoventi…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We participate at a Alfa Romeo Tonale and Fiat Centroventi workshop…

We will have this week a workshop visit the Centro Stile of the FCA Group, where we will also be able to have an interview and talk with the designers who created the stunning Alfa Romeo Tonale and Fiat Centroventi. Both cars are very important harbingers of things to come, both for Alfa and Fiat.

The Tonale concept car is the Italian brand’s first plug-in hybrid compact SUV, and after its global debut in Geneva, it was first seen in Italy at the 58th edition of the “Salone del Mobile.Milano”.

The Tonale will be one of the stars discussed and seen at the workshop…

The Tonale concept car embodies all Alfa Romeo’s trademark language of beauty: it is a compact UV for urban use with a sporty personal In keeping with the Alfa Romeo manifesto, every detail is designed around the driver, with driving pleasure delivered through ergonomics, use of premium materials and, above all, unrivalled dynamic handling. Furthermore, the Tonale concept car is the Alfa Romeo take on electrification.

The front end displays the trademark trefoil and the distinctive Alfa Romeo shield, which acts as a bold focus point. Completing the design of the front end and accompanying this iconic element are “3 plus 3” light clusters which in turn evoke the proud look of SZ and Brera.

The rear of Tonale is characterized by an enveloping rear window completed on the top by a suspended wing that exalts continuity with the clear sunroof. As for every Alfa Romeo, design is characterised by a distinctive touch. The rear light clusters are more like a graphic sign than an optical lighting element, a sort of signature created directly by the hand of an artist.

On the sides, the full and elegant volumes recall the Duetto or the Disco Volante Spider, while the “Linea GT” of Tonale reinterprets the pouncing stance and feeling of safety conveyed by the award-winning GT junior.

Several celebrated style elements are picked up in its design to become a tangible manifestation of the brand’s history in a performance which elicits a modern approach to new Alfa Romeo anatomy. The “teledial” wheel, for instance, is an element which hints to the traditional DNA of Alfa Romeo. The design of 21-inch rim of Tonale invokes the concept of a rotary telephone dial through a light architectural structure for a clear, high-impact interpretation of the circular theme. This style choice dates back to the 1960s, when it was sported by the iconic 33 Stradale.

The cockpit of Tonale is boldly designed around driver but also to accommodate passengers in comfort. The contrast of premium materials, such as cool solidity of aluminium that meets the warm softness of leather and Alcantara, enhance the emotions of both driver and passengers. Inside, there are translucent panels and a backlit central tunnel. The DNA mode selector, one of the key elements of Alfa Romeo, is perfectly at ease on the tunnel.

Comes the Concept Centoventi…

Fiat Concept Centoventi is fundamentally a “blank canvas” ready to be painted to suit the customer’s tastes and needs at any time of his life or day, without no customisation restrictions linked to the specific time of purchase. In fact, it will be produced in just one livery, which customers will be able to personalise using the “4U” program, with a choice of 4 roofs, 4 bumpers, 4 wheel covers and 4 external wrappings. So, just like modern devices, this vehicle can be updated with the greatest freedom and imagination in its colours, interior configuration, roof configuration, infotainment system and even battery range. And this is one of the concept car’s strong points: owners no longer have to wait for new special editions or facelifts, as they can “change” their cars any day they like. It is made even more revolutionary by the presence, at the launch, of 120 additional accessories that will generate a genuinely new business model, as well as a community of Fiat Concept Centoventi fans.

In other words, Fiat Concept Centoventi is the response to a real design and business challenge, which embodies the functional spirit of the brand and pays tribute to its 120 years of history, at the same time, with a modern take on some trademark style elements that hint to the Panda of the 1980s. Fiat Concept Centoventi is inspired by Italian design and embodies Fiat’s “less is more” concept, which means getting rid of everything unnecessary and complex in a car to provide more space for people (More You), for attention to the environment and the community (More Care) and for the brand’s DNA in terms of values and looks (More Fiat). By playing these three cards, Fiat Concept Centoventi revolutionises the idea of electric mobility, in town and out, successfully overcoming the tougher and tougher challenges – in terms of traffic, regulations and costs of ownership – while simultaneously making the most of the new opportunities offered by electricity.

Soon we will treat you in these columns with a fascinating tale about what we heard, saw and experienced at the Centro Stile in Turin… stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel