Touring in central France with the Jeep Compass: enjoying authentic driving pleasure and Gran Turismo comfort…

Where do Jeep drivers go in France? Of course to the Château du Clos de Vougeot in the very heart of Burgundy’s vineyards…

The Jeep Compass, launched last year, has been the first new Jeep model since it joined the Stellantis Group, and is one of its most important bestsellers. In Europe, it accounts for 40 % of total Jeep sales.

More than reason enough to put it through its paces: we drove the 96 kW/130 HP petrol engined version with the 6 speed manual transmission, all the way through France, on many autoroutes, routes nationales and départementales, to find out what a modern, petrol engined car in this day and age (still) has to offer. We were truly surprised how refined, powerful and frugal this Compass really is. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Jeep is compact enough to feel ideally at home on Cévenne country roads…

Well proportioned …

The new Compass combines the typical Jeep styling cues with well proportioned modernism, and indeed it pleases from any angle. Its dimensions are indeed “just right” for those customers who seek space and comfort, as we found out when we drove it on the narrow mountain and village roads in the Massif Central and Alpes Maritimes. Visibility of the edges of the car is greatly helped by the panoramic camera’s fore and aft, and one needs them indeed when maneuvering in narrow spaces.

The interior has been completely redesigned. The central horizontal dashboard panel looks elegant, with ultra-slim air intakes that almost disappear into its layered structure. The controls are easy to reach, as is the connectivity touchscreen that dominates the middle of the dashboard, now in a higher and more ergonomic position. We liked this. The fact that this Compass now has the new Uconnect 5 system with a more powerful, higher-performance processor with a five times better responsiveness than the previous generation, made selecting your route or favorite music the proverbial breeze.

By using an Android operating system and 4G connectivity with Over-the-Air (OTA) updates, the Uconnect 5 brings flexibility and the possibility to offer continuously new content, features and services. On longer trips, not only excellent and clear route and map info is important, but also a state-of-the-art sound system. This Compass offered both…

The controls are logical, intuitive, and soon we were cruising happily along…

The driving info from the digital instruments is also to the point: we focused on relaxed economical driving, and to monitor our driving exploits, it proved ideal. Indeed, it shows you at a glance your instant consumption, and graphically shows with an illuminated arc how this relates to the average consumption. It also shows you when to change up to achieve most economical driving. Truly excellent! For the rest, it limits itself to rev counter and large digital speed indicator.

Of course you can select on the steering wheel another display which gives you info about the oil and water temperature, oil pressure and battery charge…for the technical buffs amongst us, and the Jeep drivers who really want to KNOW.

For our long French drive, the seats proved very comfortable, and here we also want to put a good word about the excellent sound insulation. Road and tire noise as well as wind noise are almost totally absent, and also the engine is inaudible at cruising speeds. So listening to the conversations and interviews on France Culture is effortless, and you or your passenger can also speak totally normally. A factor which is so important to relaxed driving, but is rarely mentioned…

Engine: zesty, quiet, flexible and willing…

Under the hood purrs a 1332 cc 4 cylinder petrol engine, developing 130 HP (96 kW) @ 4750 rpm, with a very healthy pulling power. Indeed, 270 Nm is available already @ 1560 rpm. Understandable as one knows that this is a long stroke unit with 70 mm bore and 86,5 mm stroke. It is turbo fed and has a Multi Air III GDI – Third Generation Gasoline Direct Injection, is indeed totally docile and will pull readily from 1200 rpm onwards; this excellent torque greatly helped our relaxed and economical driving, and we enjoyed the totally silent, vibration free pulling power in the 1200 to 2000 rpm range, delivering power comfort totally akin to an electrical power unit. So indeed, change up the gears as soon as possible, flow with the traffic and enjoy!

Driveability is somewhat hesitant in bottom gear at smaller throttle openings, so one learns to change into second as soon as possible when one is not in a hurry and want the smoothest getaway. Modern automatic transmissions take care of this beautifully, so, despite our love for manuals, we would prefer the excellent 8 speed auto box here to enjoy your Compass even more in stop and go traffic. This option is however coupled to a 150 HP version of this engine.

Of course, when put through its paces, good performance is there. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 10,3 seconds, top speed is 192 km/h. More than we ever used on our touring trip.

The manufacturer quotes fuel consumption – combined cycle (l/100km) at 6.6 – 6.9 l, we achieved an average of 6,6 liters during our test, which besides Autoroutes  and Nationales  included also many villages, cities and mountain roads and winding  Départementales. CO2 emissions – combined cycle (g/km) lies between 152 – 158.

Of course, with a kerb weight of 1,505 kg including driver, it is very important to conserve kinetic energy as much as possible and certainly in urban driving an anticipative driving style will be rewarded.

The practical advantages of petrol engined propulsion do not have to be further underlined here. A beautiful useable range of over 800 km on a full 55 litre tank, with the plentiful availability of gas stations and of course no recharging times to reckon with. For example at Vougeot, in the midst of the Burgundy vineyards we would be (very) hard pressed to find a recharging station in the village… nearby our hotel, if any! There was just ONE, with 4 charging posts at the hotel Clos de la Vouge, which was about 400 m from our hotel. It was of course occupied by the own hotel guests. It was run by Shell Recharge, and it was – according to internet info – not powered by renewable energy.

On top of that, with an average consumption of 6,6 litres/100 km, the well to wheel figure will compare rather well with a similar EV, which would weigh an additional 500 kg because if its batteries… 

This amply shows that the charging infrastructure in Europe has still a long way to go, to enjoy carefree EV mobility everywhere, and a petrol engined car still remains in the present material circumstances a viable proposition…

If you would ever consider holiday travelling with an EV through France, you MUST have first a look at https://www.electricfelix.com/france. It is interesting and full of very valuable tips! Consulting https://chargemap.com will also put you (literally) on the good path.

Comfortable

We drove the Compass in the Limited edition, and this includes accessories like the motion controlled automatic rear boot lid. It proved indeed a very practical option on any Gran Turismo trip. We mentioned already the total ease of use and practicality of the Compass, and we also should mention that the Uconnect 5 system with a 10.1-inch touchscreen and integrated TomTom navigation also boasts the natural language interface system with advanced voice recognition, so you can talk to the car to control its settings, program the air conditioning and choose your favorite music. This feature is integrated into vehicles with Tom-tom navigation and can be activated hands-free with the wake word “Hey Jeep!”.

Boot space is standard with seats up some 438 litres, with seats folded 1,387 litres.

The suspension gives a good feedback of the road surfaces and is overall quite comfortable. The Compass version we drove has only front wheel drive, but with its ample ground clearance of 198 mm we steered it with utter confidence on unhardened country roads, and enjoyed urban and (mountainous) rural France to the full.

Conclusion

The Jeep Compass proved to be a well-balanced, ideal Gran Turismo car, an absolute joy to take on a long(er) trip.

It also made very clear that a modern petrol engined car still is a very reasonable and above all practical means of transport, with excellent economy combined with smooth and refined performance. On top of that comes the typical panache of Jeep, growing ever more into an iconic brand, with a very fitting styling language. So if you have a heart for (even the slightest) adventure and appreciate motoring which character, take the road of (this) Jeep…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Kia EV6: a top EV car with lots of panache…

Soon after the elegant Ioniq 5, we could take the Kia EV6 for an extended test drive, and as both cars ride on the same E-GMP or Electric-Global Modular Platform, a comparison between the two cars is inevitable. Let it be said, also this EV6 scores very high indeed, and has the same excellent qualities and futuristic aura than its four wheeled sister, albeit altogether a bit sportier.

We drove the EV6 GT Line, pleasing the eye with its 20 inch alloys, its snow white pearl paint and black interior with white and aluminum accents and alcantara/leather seats.

Our test car was the rear wheel drive version with 168 kW/229 Hp motor and the 77,4 kWh battery. More than enough for exhilarating performance and an impressive range…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

More rounded, organic styling…

The Kia distinguishes itself from the angular lines of the Ioniq 5 by offering more fluent lines, reminiscent of the last Saab, Jaguar I Pace, and the likes. The rear end with the built in spoiler and the tail light running across the car is reminiscent of Porsches, with the curves of the rear lid shaped as a spoiler being even more outspoken. The panache of the whole car varies with the paint color chosen, and we like the pearl white finish of our car here, although we think the car looks even more stunning in a matte grey finish. A beautiful, well proportioned car it certainly is.

In the interior one has the same two big screens with identical digital instrumentation and infotainment layout, and we enjoyed also the same excellent head up display we found in the Ioniq 5.

But the shape of the centre console is different, has more curves and is a bit more adventurous. You have lots of space for your drinks, bottles and sundry, and a round selector knob for Drive, Neutral and Reverse instead of the rotating stick in the steering column in the Ioniq 5.

The car and its touch screens is simple and intuitive to use, and typical for Kia is the well designed centre console, where you can toggle between heating/ventilation or audio controls. You find your way in a breeze.

The seats are excellent; the front seats also fully recline as in the Ioniq 5, so you can have a (short) nap when you recharge the car. The rear seat backrests are also adjustable.

With a 2,9 meter wheelbase, there is plenty of legroom both in the front and especially in the rear, with slightly less headroom for the rear passengers than the Ioniq 5, but this is still more than enough if you are less than 1,90 m tall. Standard boot space is 520 litres, extendable to 1300 litres.    

Our test car came with the drive assist pack, which included the autonomous parking aid, the 360 ° camera view and as said the very easy to read head up display. The large and wide EV6 is therefore a pleasure to drive and park in town. The additional cameras are necessary, as the overall visibility of the bodywork is not so good, especially to the rear.  

Impressive performance and handling…

The 229 HP EV6 delivers punchy performance: it sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 7,3 seconds, and quite frankly, who needs more? The top speed is limited to 185 km/h. You have the choice between three driving modes, from “Eco” to “Sport”, and with the paddles on the steering column you can choose the amount of energy recuperation and also opt for automatic braking to standstill.  The brakes are sensitive and progressive.  

The suspension of the EV6 is sportier and firmer than the Ionic 5. The EV6 is slightly less comfortable, but never harsh, and has less body roll when driven with verve on winding roads. The car is neutral with an understeer bias, is very stable in fast corners and has excellent straight line stability up to its top speed.      

You would like even more performance? The EV6 can also be had with an extra motor driving the front wheels, and total power in this 4WD layout is 239 kW/325 PS. If you want nothing less than supercar performance, it is good to know that in autumn, Kia will present a GT version with some 430 kW/585 PS. This results in an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 3,5 seconds, with a top speed of not less than 260 km/h…

With a very big range, up to a good 500 km…

Our test car came also with a heat pump, costing less energy to heat and cool things. The EV6 is remarkably frugal, and it is no effort at all to achieve an average consumption of around 18-19 kWh per 100 km. This means that in practice, this EV6 has indeed a useable range of some 500 km, and that is no small feat! According to the WLTP norm, the distance is 528 km.

The EV6 runs – like the Ioniq 5 – on a 800 V system, and this means not only the possibility of using thinner cables and therefore gaining weight, but it also means larger load capacities and shorter recharging times. Even in less than ideal circumstances, you can recharge your EV6 in about 30 minutes to run another 380 kilometers.

 Like the Ionic 5, the EV6 has also a Vehicle-to-load-Function, which means an extra external plug to power lamps, microwaves, cookers when you are camping out, and you could even charge (with patience) another EV with it! You just need the small adapter which I housed in the front luggage bin, (called “Frunk”) under the engine cover lid, which contains some 52 liters of luggage space.

Conclusion

The EV6 is a top class EV, certainly when one considers its price tag. Our test car in the GT Line equipment level came with the Drive Assist Pack and the Premium pack, which included a 14 speaker Meridian Sound System together with the Head-Up display. It also had a panoramic sunroof, heat pump (1200 Euros extra) and 20-inch alloy wheels. The total price including VAT was 59.990 Euros. On top of that it is roomy, has stunning looks and offers sportiness. Last but not least, the range is superb and thanks to the 800 V system its recharging times are short. Indeed, also this Kia EV6 paves the way to a bright EV future…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes drives the luxury experience to new levels…

What is the most important desire for customers in the future of luxurious individual mobility?

 Mercedes found out that today’s customers are increasingly viewing luxury through the lens of values and benefits that extend beyond physical experiences. They are seeking priceless commodities such as time and want to show responsibility with their choices.

A LiDAR that sits in the radiator grille is essential for Mercedes-Benz for safe, conditionally automated driving.

As the leading luxury car brand, Mercedes-Benz is consistently driving the luxury experience to new levels. So it gives it new meaning for the electric and digital age – achieving more with less.

Driven by the innovative spirit firmly anchored in its brand DNA, and by its strategic goals of “Lead in electric” and “Lead in car software”, Mercedes-Benz is pioneering the electric and digital transformation of the global auto industry.

If the vehicle is in DRIVE PILOT mode, this is displayed in the instrument cluster with the corresponding assistance graphic.

The most recent proof of this is the Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX. The most efficient Mercedes ever built is a blueprint for the future of efficiency of electric vehicles and also a masterclass in a radically new approach to the UI/UX driven by software and artificial intelligence.

If DRIVE PILOT is activated, the driver may take his hands off the steering wheel and turn to certain secondary activities.

With DRIVE PILOT, Mercedes-Benz became the first automotive manufacturer in the world to receive the world’s first internationally valid system approval for conditionally automated driving (SAE-Level 3).

Before DRIVE PILOT can be activated, the availability of the system is displayed via a white flashing in the control elements.

Mercedes recently released some photos about their latest research and already working solutions. We lift a glimpse here of this bold new future…

More (technical) and driving news soon from the brand with the iconic star!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Peugeot 308 SW is now on our roads, and the Alfa Tonale also ready for ordering…

At the moment of writing, we are driving the impressive 360 HP Peugeot 508 SW Plug-in Hybrid, and enjoy this superb sporty car to the full. But there is more pleasant news: the new PEUGEOT 308 SW comes to our shores, and has plenty to offer: it offers space with a length of 4.64 meters and wheelbase of 2.73 meters. It has only a Cx value of 0.277 and a SCx value of 0.618 m2, resulting in impressively low CO₂ emissions and fuel consumption.

Of course it is practical with numerous interior storage compartments and a large center console, has  split (40/20/40) folding rear seats with control from the loadspace floor with two height positions and automatic opening and closing tailgate for easy access when the driver’s hands are full.

The luggage compartment is 608 liters to a maximum of 1,634 liters with the rear seats folded.

Like the new PEUGEOT 308, the new PEUGEOT 308 SW offers the new and improved PEUGEOT i-Cockpit®, which we also enjoy in the 508 SW.

This means a new compact steering wheel, equipped with controls and steering wheel heating, eye-level three-dimensional digital headset with a 10-inch digital display, new infotainment system PEUGEOT i-Connect® Advanced with the typical operation and environment of a smartphone.

But that is not all good news from the stellantis front.

Alfa Romeo is pleased to announce that from March 25, orders can be placed for the new Tonale model, in its exclusive launch version “EDIZIONE SPECIALE”.

A very special configuration for the first customers, packed with technology and connectivity, characterized by the typical sportiness of Alfa Romeo.

The Tonale “EDIZIONE SPECIALE” is available in a hybrid configuration with a 1.5 liter 4-cylinder engine producing 130 hp, combined with the new 7-speed dual clutch transmission, with an integrated “P2” electric motor (48 volts, 15 kW , 55 Nm), which can drive the wheels even when the internal combustion engine is turned off.

The Tonal “EDIZIONE SPECIALE” is available through financing by FCA Bank at monthly installments of €279 per month* and at the same price in the main European markets.

Alfa offers also peace of mind for the customer: 5-year warranty throughout Europe and special mobility services through Leasys.

Last but not least, product quality and commercial offering is designed for maximum long-term value retention.

As we said earlier, Alfa offers with its Tonale a new digital customer experience, with the possibility to be one of the first to discover and order Tonale, both at home and at the dealer.

The Tonale is Alfa’s first car with an NFT certificate. Based on blockchain technology and uniquely linked, it certifies the car at the time of purchase and then evolves to archive its use during its lifecycle, with great benefits in terms of residual value protection.

More Peugeot and Alfa news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) and Alpine create a hydrogen concept car…  

Students at the Italian Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) presented the ‘A4810 Project by IED’, their new concept car made in collaboration with Alpine. The result of this collaboration between the Italian design school and Alpine is a hydrogen-powered two-seater supercar.

Twenty-eight Masters students studying Transportation Design at IED worked on the project.

Alpine proposed the students to design a ‘super berlinette’ for the year 2035. The two-seater supercar was designed to be a high-performing vehicle both in terms of performance and environmental impact.

After the brief was given last autumn, students worked individually to come up with their own interpretation and present it to the Alpine designers. Alpine then selected a combination of two main ideas. Based on the two selected proposals, the young designers created the ‘A4810 Project by IED’: a light yet powerful and agile concept car that boasts pure driving pleasure.

During the design phase, the students sought to combine vision and innovation, without losing sight of the traditional roots of the French car manufacturer.

Furthermore, they chose a name that conveyed the brand’s legacy. In fact, ‘4810’ is the height (in meters) of the Mont Blanc: the highest and most emblematic peak in the Alps that sits at the border between Italy and France, like a bridge connecting IED and Alpine. The car manufacturer is named after the very same mountains and evokes the joy of driving along their winding roads.

A STUNNING LOOKING CONCEPT CAR

The Alpine A4810 Project by IED (length 5,091 mm – width 2,010 mm – height 1,055 mm – wheelbase 2,717 mm) is a two-seater supercar with the experimental combination of the shape of a berlinette with a hydrogen powertrain.

While the engine and fuel tanks are built like those on a typical hypercar, the subtraction process is proof of considerable innovation. The design alternates between empty and full spaces, giving the vehicle a lightweight look and aerodynamic features inspired by Formula 1 models. Furthermore, the A4810 Project by IED was tasked with bringing the brand to the cusp of the sports car category.

The team of students used digital tools to design the interior through sketches, 3D models, renderings, animations, and HMI (Human Machine Interface) development.

The A4810 Project by IED was presented on Friday, 18th March with a livestream broadcast from OGR Tech in Turin. For more info, please visit www.iedA4810.makeitlive.it.

Just click your way to Alpine’s sporty future, and in the meantime, have a look at the photos…!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Brazilian market gets the new Abarth Pulse…

The Scorpion brand’s first SUV will be exclusive to the LAT(in)AM(erican) region, at least for the time being.  

The reason is simple: the Abart Pulse is manufactured and developed in Brazil.

After the Stilo Abarth in 2002 and the iconic Abarth 500 in 2014, the new Abarth Pulse marks an important turning point in the brand’s global development plans, going beyond the European and Asian borders, and spreading now throughout the world, offering its fans a specific model dedicated to South America.

“Abarth’s return to the Latin American market is a source of great pride for us – declared Olivier Francois, FIAT & Abarth Chief Executive Officer and Global Chief Marketing Officer of Stellantis -.

“The characteristics of performance and style, which have always distinguished Abarth, remain intact and will offer a true Abarth experience to our fans across the ocean.” He continued.  “The Abarth Pulse is only the beginning and we want to keep completing the family. We couldn’t be more delighted by the positive momentum created in Latin America first by the Fiat Pulse and now by the Abarth Pulse.”

The brand has planned a series of initiatives to consolidate the relationship with the many admirers of the Scorpion overseas.

It starts with a digital (marketing) platform through which they can discover the news related to the model and the brand. This will be followed by the creation of dedicated spaces at Fiat dealerships in the country, where customers can learn more about the purchase of Abarth models thanks to specialized sellers.

Will the Pulse come to our shores? Maybe, or will we see another Abarth SUV for our market? Will it maybe a BEV or PHEV? Only the future will tell…

What we know is that the Abarth is based on the Fiat Pulse, which was developed under the codename Project 363. The car is built on the MLA platform which in turn is based on an improved platform used by the Argo hatchback.

The MLA platform, dedicated to the South American market

We read more about this MLA (Modular Architecture) platform in the specialized press.

Fiat has indeed launched a completely new modular platform in the spring of 2021—for its cars in Brazil.

It is of course in the cards that this and current Fiat/Jeep small car platforms will be merged with Peugeot’s CMP to form a completely new Stellantis small car platform (STLA-Small) which can accommodate gasoline-powered, hybrid-electric, battery-electric, and hydrogen fuel cell power along with either front or all wheel drive.

The rollout of these STLA platforms will begin in late-2023 with a top-down approach. This means beginning with the STLA large platforms for segments D and E. The dedicated BEV-focused platform for the segments A, b and C will be launched only in 2026.

So for the time being the car will be seen in Brazil… but one never knows!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW presents details of the future BMW 7 Series

The distinctive grille of the new 7 series will get an extra light signature…

At the BMW Group Annual Conference held on March 16, Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development, presented the first details of the future BMW 7 Series.

The focus lies initially on technology highlights, a new front-end design based on hallmark BMW design features and a unique interior experience consisting of digital features and exclusive materials. In April, BMW will present the all-electric BMW i7, and with it the entire new BMW 7 Series.

In the BMW i7, the characteristic design elements of twin round headlights and BMW grille have been completely reinterpreted. Some of the special design statements are upper light elements made of exclusive crystal glass and the illuminated contour of the kidney grille.

BMW developed also a new “My Modes” and the latest generation of the iDrive operating system. My Modes enable the driver to precisely customise the car’s driving characteristics and interior ambience. In addition to the BMW Curved Display, a new type of light and function strip on the instrument panel and the doors provides a visual and haptic quality.

The BMW Interaction Bar is part of the ambient lighting and also features integrated control buttons. In addition, the newly developed Sky Lounge panoramic glass roof adds to the feeling of spaciousness.

Cinema entertainment for the rear passengers…

The rear of the BMW i7 sets new entertainment standards offering a unique cinematic experience. There is a BMW Theatre Screen, which moves out of the roof liner, an ultra-wide screen with a 31 inch screen, 32 : 9 panoramic display format and 8K streaming resolution. It transforms the rear seats into an exclusive, private cinema lounge where passengers can select their personal entertainment programme from a diverse range of streaming offers!

More BMW news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

On international Women’s Day, MINI celebrates Pat Moss, MINI winner of the international Tulip Rallye in ’62… with a special edition.  

Competition is embedded in the MINI DNA: the greatest feats in the brand’s history were achieved on the rally track. And the foundation for all this was laid by an exceptional female driver. In May 1962, the classic Mini was added to the list of winners of an international rally event for the first time. In the international Tulip Rally – from the Dutch municipality of Noordwijk to the French Riviera and back again – Pat Moss achieved the best time over the distance in the classic Mini Cooper.

60 years later, MINI celebrates the talent, courage and passion of this British woman racing driver with a fascinating special edition. The Pat Moss Edition of the MINI 3-door and MINI 5-door, limited to just over 800 vehicles, not only commemorates the launch of the classic Mini’s extraordinary sporting career, it also marks a pioneering achievement for female power in motorsports. Success in the Netherlands turned the classic Mini, Pat Moss and her co-driver Ann Wisdom into enduring heroines in a discipline otherwise dominated by significantly larger vehicles and entirely the preserve of men.

The Pat Moss Edition will be available from May 2022 for the MINI Cooper S 3-door and the MINI Cooper S 5-door and the MINI John Cooper Works. The exclusive design of the edition models cites the racing history of the British premium brand as well as the sporting careers of Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom.

It also incorporates MINI product innovations such as the Multitone Roof. What is more, an additional variant of the Multitone Roof is available for the first time in the Pat Moss Edition. The colour gradient of the vehicle roof extends from Chilli Red to Melting Silver and Jet Black. With the innovative paint finishing process fully integrated in production at the MINI plant in Oxford, this will be the first time a second colour variant has been realised. Minimal deviations in the colour pattern caused by changing environmental conditions ensure that every MINI with a Multitone Roof has the character of a unique specimen ex works. On the new edition models, the charismatic roof paintwork is combined with the body finishes Pepper White or Midnight Black metallic and also red exterior mirror caps.

A stylised tulip symbolises the first rally victory: it appears on the C pillars and side scuttles of the edition vehicles along with the inscription “Pat Moss”. The wheel hub covers also feature an exclusive design with a graphic which is based on the outline of the typical Dutch flower and the MINI wordmark.

The key facts of the 1962 Tulip Rally appear below the side scuttles on the front side panels: the route Noordwijk – Monte Carlo – Noordwijk, the distance of 2 500 kilometres, the vehicle, namely a Mini Cooper, and its starting number 104. These are supplemented with the slogan that still applies to MINI to this day: “born to compete”. The tulip motif, the name inscription and the key facts about the first every rally win are also to be found on the screen-printed aluminium door sill trims designed exclusively for the edition model.

Another design element used for the first time in the Pat Moss Edition is the horizontally aligned bonnet stripe in white. The printed combination of three-dimensional numbers and letters – 737 ABL – is the registration number of the classic Mini that won the 1962 Tulip Rally, likewise recalling the historical model. Meanwhile the original signature that Pat Moss wrote on the bonnet of her car after one of her victories adorns the front apron of the edition model as a graphic imprint.

In the interior of the edition vehicles, the iconic signature on the Piano Black interior surface in the passenger area is another tribute to the revolutionary woman rally driver, who passed away in 2008. The sports leather steering wheel bears the edition emblem in the form of a tulip graphic which appears on the clip of the lower spoke. The abstract depiction of engine pistons moving up and down serves as the motif for a graphic on the interior surface on the driver’s side. With bars of different heights forming the shape of the letters “M” and “W” – standing for “Moss” and “Wisdom” – they symbolise that perfectly coordinated duo that caused a sensation in the rally scene for so many years.

The MINI Pat Moss Edition is a tribute to a female racing pioneer, MINI’s rally history and true team spirit. One of the remarkable details of the first rally triumph for the classic Mini is the fact that Ann Wisdom insisted on taking part in the Tulip Rally despite being pregnant at the time: she went on to provide her team mate Pat Moss with unerring navigation guidance over the 2 500 kilometre route.

Mossie and Wizz – as they were known in the paddock – formed a successful duo for seven years. The two women had the courage to compete in a male-dominated sport – and they brought about fundamental changes, too. The younger sister of Formula 1 driver Stirling Moss, Pat Moss also won the Sestriere Rally in Italy in 1968, achieved a podium finish in numerous other international competitions and was crowned European Ladies’ Rally Champion five times. Ann Wisdom is considered the first professional woman co-driver in the history of rallying. As successful sportswomen in their own right, the two viewed their courageous foray into a male-dominated domain with typical British understatement. “We didn’t see ourselves as pioneers back then,” said Ann Wisdom years later. “We were just entering a rally.”

Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom paved the way for an extraordinary career for the classic Mini. In 1964, 1965 and 1967, the British small car secured outright victory in the Monte Carlo Rally. Decades later, MINI became the dominant brand in the world’s toughest endurance rally, achieving overall victory in the Dakar Rally four times in a row from 2012 to 2015. Two more overall victories followed in 2020 and 2021.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Renault removes wraps of its New Austral, its new electrified SUV.

VERSION ICONIC – ESPRIT ALPINE

Renault wants its new SUV to be high-tech, efficient, and connected: they say it embodies the spirit of the Renaulution and Renault’s ‘Nouvelle Vague’ for C-segment SUV’s.

All-New Austral introduces also a “sporty-look” Esprit Alpine version, available for the first time on a vehicle in the Renault range.

The Austral is designed on the 3rd generation CMF-CD platform, developed within the Alliance. It offers various electrification technologies including a new E-TECH Full Hybrid engine.

More modern and technological, All-New Austral incorporates advanced, proactive and intelligent technologies including 4CONTROL Advanced and 32 driving aids.

VERSION ICONIC – ESPRIT ALPINE

More connected, its large OpenR screen hosts the OpenR Link multimedia system, which integrates the best of Google services and applications. More news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Peugeot 308 chosen by all-female jury as Best Car of the Year…

It is the International Women’s Day on March 8, and what date is more proper to announce the Best Car of the Year, chosen by the Women’s World Car of the Year jury. The overall winner in the six categories the jury established is the Peugeot 308, already the winner in its category Urban Model.

The winners in this year’s six categories represent excellence in their segments based on safety, driving, comfort, technology, design, efficiency, impact on the environment and value for money.

This is the twelfth year for WWCOTY, a team of fifty-six motoring journalists from 40 countries spanning five continents. It is the only jury in the automotive industry comprised exclusively of women. For our country Belgium, our colleague Sabrina Parant is a jury member. See also their interesting website womensworldcoty.com

In this first round of voting, sixty-five candidates were in the running for the Women’s World Car of the Year awards. All of them were launched between January 1 and December 31, 2021.

Despite the challenges of living and working during a global pandemic, jurors made an extra effort to get behind the wheel of these vehicles to evaluate them.

Some jury members had the following comments on their choice of the overall winning car:

“The Peugeot 308 is an automobile that offers just about everything you could want in a car. It drives very well and it’s hard to believe there’s only a 1.2-litre engine under the bonnet of most versions,” Sandy Myhre, New Zealand.

“It is a car in which the driver feels very comfortable. It offers a very pleasant atmosphere inside,” Mélina Priam, France.

“The most important thing for me is that it has a good mid-range performance and that its automatic gearbox is very smooth,” Hoa Hguyen, Vietnam.

“The 308 is not content with simply maintaining and consolidating its success, but is committed to surpassing itself, and it succeeds in doing so,” Jimena Olazar, Argentina.

“It is easy to drive even in the narrow streets of Japan. Its turbo engine is extraordinary and quiet,” Etsuko Kusuda, Japan.

“Peugeot has been able to seduce families with a well-thought-out proposition and a very striking image, but also to win over those looking for different powertrains: petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and an EV coming next year,” Carla B. Ribeiro, Portugal.

“It is not an expensive dream car for the lucky few, but a car that most families can afford,” Malene Raith, Denmark.

“All in all, the 308 is a reliable and predictable car, without being boring. It steers directly and has a very short turning circle, which is ideal for the city. PEUGEOT has thought about the best driving position for the driver,” Rowan Peperkamp, Netherlands.

Here are the 2022 Women’s World Car of the Year Category Winners, chosen in the first round:

URBAN MODEL: Peugeot 308

FAMILY SUV:  Kia Sportage

LARGE CAR: Ford Mustang Mach-E

LARGE SUV: BMW iX

PERFORMANCE CAR: Audi e-Tron GT

4X4:  Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Congratulations to the jury and all the winners!

Hans Knol ten Bensel