Our Lexus CT 200h continues to surprise us…

It seems clearly that hybrids just love slow, busy traffic, the type of driving situations we live through nowadays more and more frequently. This was again amply proven by our faithful and shining Lexus CT 200h, which after its cosmetic treatment now serves as our very frequent transport. We drove it on the 3rd of April amidst heavy rain showers from Brussels to Antwerp, with stop and go traffic on almost half the route, and slow traffic on the rest of the journey. Soothed by the excellent sound system and the smooth drivetrain, the Lexus driving experience remains a (very) pleasant one, in all driving conditions, and certainly these described above.

We took this shot upon arrival with our Huawei… and were truly amazed…

And we continued to smile when we saw the average consumption on this rain drenched journey, with ventilation, headlights and windscreen wipers full ablaze: merely 4,2 liters/100 km. It again proves how good the Lexus/Toyota hybrid concept is… quod erat demonstrandum!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Mazda 6 Skyactiv-G 2.5, 194 HP: a flagship with style and panache

Mazda styling is reaching top levels nowadays, and the Mazda 6 clearly shows it. Just have a look at the fluent contours and the ideal proportions and balanced surfaces of this large sedan, and be convinced with us. The Mazda 6 body has recently been revised and has gained further in maturity and elegance, with also the interior having had a stylish make-over. Under the hood, the G 2,5 and other SKYACTIV powertrains have been further perfected, and driving dynamics have also been improved. We took this elegant sedan for a test, and it showed its many qualities. Just read on…

 Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Mazda 6 Skyactiv-G 2.5, 194 HP: a flagship with style and panache”

Spring outing with our BMW Z3…

We took our pristine Z3 for its first (short) spring drive to Duffel, where we photographed it in front of the neogothic church …

The green leaves are slowly emerging on the trees, and so it is high time that we take our beloved BMW Z3 out of its winter sleep. We had carefully kept the battery charged, and so our BMW sprang to life immediately out of its winter beauty sleep. The engine immediately set into a very smooth idle, and our first drive was as sweet as we could ever wish.

The control lamp of the airbag stayed lit on our first spring drive. We bring it to BMW Jorssen this week…

One snag however, the warning lamp of the airbag stayed lit, and so we have it inspected this Wednesday at BMW Jorssen. Just stay tuned on these pages to see and read how everything works out…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

DS designers reveal their art and creativity to the public…

A design studio which works amidst a wide audience, where their 3D models and drawings are made under the eyes of interested viewers? That is what the bold man and women of the DS Design Studio are doing.

These designers are the creative pillar of DS Automobiles, a young car brand whose designs for DS 7 CROSSBACK and DS 3 CROSSBACK are already a benchmark. DS DIVINE, DS E-TENSE and DS X E-TENSE are also the results of a creative process that came about within DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS

These designers are now leaving their usual work space and setting up over the three floors of DS WORLD PARIS at 33 Rue Francois 1er, Paris.

The DS World Paris is the elegant setting where the public can admire the iconic “DS” or “Déesse”, the godess on wheels, but now also the men and women of the celebrated DS design department will be at work under their eyes…

There, the men and women of DS Automobiles design under the direction of Thierry Metroz, DS Design director, will be revealing the innovative projects they’re working on and sharing their secrets through “CONFIDENCE The art of the senses”.

More than an exhibition, this is a residency of artists, brought to life by DS Automobiles designers who are on hand to explain their jobs, present their work and talk with visitors.

Indeed, the men and women of DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS are on hand throughout the event to explain their work and answer visitors’ questions.

Some confidentiality restrictions have been lifted so they can reveal additional secrets. The work of the 60 people who make up the DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS is presented by the different teams: exterior design, interior, ProLab, VLab, modellers, colour and material workshops and upholsterers.

The brand wants them to share their inspiration and most recent work to cast a new light on the design and build of a car.

So, if you are interested to see these design artists at work, we give you here some practical information: “CONFIDENCE The art of the senses” is held from 22 March to 23 April 2019 at DS WORLD PARIS, 33 Rue Francois 1er, Paris.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Jaguar F-Pace: a thoroughbred feline fit for all roads and uses…

We all know that SUV’s are all the rage, and are becoming ever more popular. No small wonder then that this stylish Jaguar SUV, launched in 2015, is the bestseller of the iconic brand. But then, you may ask with us, is this popular SUV still remaining a true Jaguar, combining pace (performance) with grace and space? Will the growl of its powerful engine lift your spirits, will its chassis seduce you with its graceful handling and comfort, will the beautiful body and interior put you in the exquisite mood and ambiance which only a Jaguar can convey? Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Feline contours

Looking at the photos you will agree, this F-Pace has the looks so unique to Jaguar. The waistline which ends in a higher tail contour, reminiscent of the rear end of the Jaguar E-type, where its high mounted rear bumpers also followed the waistline, the well rounded curves, the proportions of the wheel arches, well integrated in the fluent lines of the whole body, the subtle central bulge on the engine hood, all this is well and truly Jaguar.

In the interior, the digital age and the utmost attention to passive safety has put its own boundaries and accents, and so, alas, you will not find a wood rimmed steering wheel, nor does it lay thinly rimmed in your hands, the trend of times has commanded otherwise. But once the digital instrumentation lights up on the screens, one sees the familiar big round dials, and the classic lettering in the instruments, white on black, of, well, vintage Jaguars. As readers know, your servant is the proud owner of a Mk II 3,4 litre Jag, and yes, I felt well at home in this one.

The latest generation digital infotainment screens and functions are also intuitive and the proverbial breeze to use, and rank among the very best you will find in any car nowadays. The centre console is wide – again a celebrated Jaguar tradition- and houses the ergonomic rotary gear selector of the excellent 8- speed ZF auto box, and one just has to turn the column to choose the right function, and it will discreetly descend into its mount when you stop the car and engine, so neat and practical, and (luck has it) so unique to Jaguar. Going from “D” to “R”everse is just a short twist on the column selector, and that is soo clever!

Abundant, smooth, growling power…

The heart of any car is its engine, and in a Jaguar it simply HAS to be powerful, with abundant torque and pulling power, from low revs onwards, and on top of all that it has to develop that deep, feline sound. No small feat for a Diesel engine. But then, this is a V6 (yes, to me, a Jaguar is only a Jag with a SIX cylinder engine, sorry…) and it has 3 litre of displacement. So there are 300 HP available, at 4000 rpm. Of this, the Jaguar E-Type could only dream. With on top of all that 700 Nm of torque in store for that necessary feline punch, and this at merely 2000 rpm. So the outright performance is truly Jaguar, and indeed, the classic E-type could hardly match its 0 to 100 km/h acceleration of 6.2 sec. It would also have needed the right rear tyre size and final drive ratio to reach the same top speed of 241 km/h which this F-pace is capable of.

The thermal efficiency of a (large) Diesel is legendary, and shows abundantly here too that they belong into the larger SUV’s when there is no electrified or hybrid propulsion present in the drivetrain. It took just a restrained driving style with the engine humming along around 1000 rpm at urban legal speeds, to reach consumption averages between 7,4 and 7,8 liters/100 km in dense urban traffic. A petrol engine of similar size and power does not come even close to these figures in such a 4,7 metre SUV with a kerb weight of 1884 kg. The ingenium technology in these all aluminium engines offers low friction, and all this truly pays off.

We couldn’t resist making this line drawing version of the inconic Jaguar badge on the front grille. This F-Pace is indeed a true Jaguar…

Handling like a thoroughbred

As shares some of its architecture with the XE and XF, it handles very car-like. Of course, you can choose between driving modes that stiffen the suspension and boost steering response, but even in normal settings the F-type handles like a dream, displaying also very little body roll for an SUV of this weight and size. With the larger engines, the F-type offers standard 4WD, and this sends all the power to the rear wheels most of the time, with occasionally 20 pct sent to the front. On slippery surfaces, up to 50 % of the pulling power can be sent to the front wheels.

 A key ingredient to these impeccable road manners is its lightweight construction. Don’t forget that 80 pct of the body, excluding the doors, bonnet and plastic tailgate, is made of aluminium. Then there is the near perfect 50/50 weight distribution, an integral link rear suspension, and the aluminium double wishbone suspension at the front which is closely following the F-type setup. Electronics will analyze steering movements up to 500 times per second, body movements up to a 100 times per second. Do we need to say more? This Jaguar is in all its sportiness graceful and comfortable, never too hard, even in this sport mode.

Everyday practicality

The F-type is an SUV, and that means born and built for the modern day mobile couple and family. It easily seats five adults, has a minimum trunk volume of a very decent 650 liters, space for ski’s, toddler isofix seat anchors, electric tailgate, you name it. All thinkable driver assistance options can be had, the infotainment supports Apple and Android Car Play, the sound system is nothing short of superb.

Conclusion

The F-Pace is Jaguar’s bestseller, and for all the right reasons. It has feline, beautifully curved and timeless looks, both inside and out, displays uncanny panache behind the wheel, handles well balanced and displays all the growling Jaguar power you could ever wish for. Don’t forget also, this car is voted World Car of the Year 2017 en World Car Design of the Year 2017; Thi year, the model range has been extended with the
300 SPORT and Chequered Flag. In the diesel version it is as frugal as modern times command it, and if you decide to go green all the way, then Jaguar as the latest I-Pace, which is also a formidable looking car with many (E-) promises.

Needless to say we are very keen to lay our hands on one, but for the time being, and indeed for many years to come, this F-Pace will fulfil everything you could possibly wish of a Jaguar, and this better than ever.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Alfa Romeo exhibits dramatic photos of a “Long Drive” with the Stelvio at the Brussels Sablon…

It is the dream of many: take an iconic thoroughbred for an extended Gran Turismo tour or “Long Drive” through the most beautiful roads and cities of Europe and take some stunning photos as a timeless memory of the car amidst the scenic places and landscapes on the tour…

This is just what celebrated photographer Frederik Herregods did, on a “Long Drive” of 7.000 kilometres behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 JTDm 180 pk Super, magnificently sprayed in « Verde Visconti », with matching beige leather interior with wooden inlays on the dashboard and door panels.

Frederik Herregods has to travel a lot, and along with the mission of attending the presentation of the B-tech versions of the Stelvio in Turin, Frederik needed a media car to photograph a rally with supercars organised by the Royal Automobile Club de Belgique (RACB). This would take him through different legendary cities like Bormio, Andorra, Carcassonne, Toulouse, Montpellier, Arles en Saint-Tropez, en finally Brussels and the Zoute Grand Prix, held from 4 to 7 October, where Alfa Romeo is present every year.

The idea came, together with the dynamic PR people of Alfa Romeo Belgium, to wrap this in a project “The Long Drive”, where the car could be extensively tested on its reliability and economy, and in the meantime illustrate this with lasting photos.

The result can be seen in an exhibition held until March 17 in the 9Hotel  Sablon, a premium boutique hotel which has been opened only three years ago in the heart of Brussels.

We had a long talk with the hotel management at the opening of this exhibition, and were very impressed by the outstanding quality of the personal service and the unique artistic design of the hotel and its rooms.

The management organises regularly photo exhibitions, so it was only logical that the exhibition was held here. The visitor can even book a special personalized room Alfa Romeo « The Long Drive »… need we say more? We invite you here to have a look at the photos taken by your servant at the opening of the exhibition…

Practical info: Address: 9Hotel Sablon, Rue de la Paille, 2 , 1000 Brussels. Exhibition runs until March 17.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

We took our Lexus CT200h for a maiden trip through Holland…

Our Lexus proudly shines on its maiden voyage before chateau “de Essenburgh” in Dutch Hierden… 

Nothing better when you get a new car than to take it for an extended trial or “shakedown” run. This magnificent sunny weekend in February proved an excellent occasion to do so. We had driven our Lexus so far only on short distances on mostly urban errands, and so we wanted to see how it performed on longer trips the open road and motorways and how its economy would be.

To tell you right away, our Lexus passed the test with flying colors, and its economy truly surprised us.

It proved to be restful on motorways, with the so easy to use cruise control always a pleasure to use. The car is also remarkably silent, which lets you enjoy the sound system even more.

We took our Lexus near Amersfoort, where my father was born, and stayed at a magnificent small “chateau” between the Ijsselmeer and the Veluwe.

On the trip towards our destination, we averaged 5,5 liters/100 km, but then the earlier urban runs had to averaged out. On the evening return run, heavy traffic made us cruise around 110 km/h or so, but then our Lexus rewarded us with an astonishing 4,4 liters/100 km. Needless to say, this first longer trip now puts a broad smile on our face…

We now await the bodywork repair quote from Lexus Wijnegem, and keep you posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 TB 280 HP: “La Superba…”

There is now a superb SUV which is stealing the heart of car lovers all over the world, and that is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. The men and women of this iconic brand born in Milan have long waited to launch a SUV, and with good reason, as Alfa Romeo stands for a unique driving experience. The stunning “Giorgio” platform of the Giulia provided a sound basis for a SUV with extraordinary driving qualities, and the result is this Stelvio. Not only its name is synonymous for panache and character, the car itself scores, and how… Just read on further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 TB 280 HP: “La Superba…””

We drove the Abarth 124 GT: Gran Turismo pure

What makes a two seater roadster a thoroughbred Gran Turismo? A difficult question for all of us, but the men at Abarth have the anwser. On the basis of the Mazda MX-5 they got to work, and added all the unique ingredients to make a sporting masterpiece.  It is built in Hiroshima, but finished in Turin, to give it that special Abarth zest and look, for all of us who love Italian four wheeled panache. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Abarth 124 GT: Gran Turismo pure”

The Abarth 124 shines already in 2019 with a FIA R-GT Cup Win in the Monte Carlo Rally…

Whilst we are driving now the stunning and totally impressive Abarth 124 GT, the news reaches us that the 2019 racing season began with success for Abarth in the FIA R-GT Cup in the Monte Carlo Rally, where the Abarth 124 rally driven by Italians Enrico Brazzoli and Manuel Fenoli reached top position.

This makes the Abarth 124 rally again the GT to beat in its category, having won in 2018 with Frenchmen Raphael Astier and Frédéric Vauclare who can be considered the world championship of this category… Just read on and look at the photos!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “The Abarth 124 shines already in 2019 with a FIA R-GT Cup Win in the Monte Carlo Rally…”