All-new 2021 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Breaks New Ground in the Full-size SUV Segment

The new Grand Cherokee was launched on Jan 7 in Detroit, for the time being only for the US market. Commercialization in Eurpe, Millde East and Africa is expected by late 2021. But as the Grand Cherokee now comes in three-row form for the first time, it is important enough to present this impressive Jeep here in our columns…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Rooted in a legacy of Jeep® 4×4 capability, luxury and advanced technologies, and loaded with Grand Cherokee and FCA firsts, the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee—now with seven-passenger seating—delivers an exceptional customer experience

Despite its luxury and impressive size, three Jeep 4×4 systems and Selec-Terrain traction management system with not less than five terrain modes continue and improve the legendary off-road capability, including more off-road ground clearance and water fording capability compared with previous generations

All-new vehicle architecture, independent front and rear suspensions and class-exclusive Quadra-Lift air suspension with electronic adaptive damping deliver good on-road driving dynamics

The new body style has of course the “signature Jeep design” cues, including Jeep’s signature seven-slot grille, aggressive front approach angle and trapezoidal wheel arches

Premium, spacious interior features standard 10-inch display screens across the instrument panel, including a frameless digital gauge cluster and touchscreen radio, all-new LED lighting with ambient features, driver and front passenger seat massage and personalized climate zones

Luxury is offered with hand-wrapped, quilted Palermo leather, open-pore Waxed Walnut wood, 21-inch wheels and standard premium amenities on the new Summit Reserve Package.

The new Grand Cherokee comes with more than 110 advanced safety and security features, including L2 driver-assist systems with hands-on automated driving, along with 360-degree surround view and night vision cameras; advanced hands-free L2 automated driving system will be available in late 2021 on the 2022 Grand Cherokee L

Infotainment is of course top notch including the most advanced Uconnect system ever with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, windshield Head-up Display (HUD), digital rearview mirror, frameless digital cluster, rear seat monitoring camera and an exclusive and premium 960-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh audio sound system.

The new Jeep Grand Cherokee two-row and its 4xe electrified version scheduled to debut later on the US market (and also in Europe) in 2021

 We just let you look at the photos here… and wait for autumn!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Kia celebrates its new face – a new logo – and slogan, expressing the brand’s future transformation

The new logo features ‘symmetry’, ‘rhythm’ and ‘rising’ elements that embody Kia’s confidence and commitment to customers.

The logo is a symbol of Kia’s new brand purpose and the values it promises to offer customers through future products and services, and the experiences these enable. Kia seals its brand promise by developing the new logo to resemble a handwritten signature. The rhythmical, unbroken line of the logo conveys Kia’s commitment to bringing moments of inspiration, while its symmetry demonstrates confidence. The rising gestures of the logo embody Kia’s rising ambitions for the brand, and, more importantly, what it offers to customers.

Dazzling show of pyrodrones…

The new logo was unveiled during a record-breaking pyrotechnic display in the skies above Incheon, Korea. The event saw 303 pyrodrones launching hundreds of fireworks in a synchronized artistic display, igniting and celebrating Kia’s new beginning. This set a new Guinness World Record for ‘Most unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) launching fireworks simultaneously’. The dazzling display can be seen on the Kia Global YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/s61_IsjqLzc

Kia discloses new brand slogan: ‘Movement that inspires’

In addition to an all-new logo, Kia revealed its new global brand slogan, ‘Movement that inspires’.

Details on Kia’s new brand strategy, including brand purpose and philosophy as well as application to Kia’s future product line-up, will be shared through the digital ‘New Kia Brand Showcase’ event to be held at 01:00 AM CET, January 15. The event can be viewed on the Kia Global YouTube channel.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class is the new benchmark…

The Maybach is an awe-inspiring luxury car, and a quick glance at its sales figures lets us realize that this is a very important car in this absolute top segment. What to think of 60,000 units sold of the previous model, which was gaining in popularity even as it scored record sales of 12,000 units over the last year?

This car is of course a platform to introduce the latest technologies in propulsion, connectivity, creature comfort, driving aids, lighting, every new technology which has come to fruition in quality series production. This is one of the reasons why a new model of this luxury supercar is so important, and merits our attention in these columns.

Here follow the main points, but rest assured that in a further series we will in regular intervals come back in detail about the technological solutions found in this Maybach…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes-Maybach S-Class; exterior: designo rubelit red/kalahari gold; interior: Leather Nappa macchiato beige / bronze brown pearl; trim parts: designo brown open-pore walnut wood with aluminium lines

Here follow the main points:

Luxury in the rear…

The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class is particularly suitable for chauffeured driving. The 18 cm longer wheelbase compared to the long variant of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class entirely benefits the rear. The focus is indeed on the rear area. This is underlined by even more refined appointments. The massage function of the calf rests on the Executive seats is a new feature. The neck/shoulder heating in the rear is another comfort item.

interior: Leather Nappa macchiato beige / bronze brown pearl; trim parts: designo brown open-pore walnut wood with aluminium lines

On request, the exclusive appearance of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class can be enhanced by a two-tone paint finish with dividing line. This is applied by hand according to the highest quality criteria. Distinguishing features at the front include the bonnet with a chromed fin and the Mercedes-Maybach radiator grille with fine, vertical chrome pinstripes. The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class also differs from its brother models when viewed from the side: the rear doors are wider, and the C-pillars feature a fixed quarterlight. A Maybach brand logo on the C-pillar underlines the exclusivity.

Leather Nappa exclusive Maybach: macciato beige/ bronze brown pearl

On request, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class can be equipped with electrically operated comfort rear doors. With this feature, the wide rear doors can be conveniently opened and closed with little force even on a gradient.

Integration into the infotainment and control system MBUX and Blind Spot Assist ensures a high level of operating convenience and additional safety. The rear doors can also be operated from the driver’s seat – an important function when chauffeur-driven.

Let there be light…

Digital light headlamp technology (optional equipment) allows completely new functions, e.g. the projection of marking aids or warning symbols onto the road ahead. In each headlamp, DIGITAL LIGHT has a light module with three extremely powerful LEDs with light that is refracted and directed by 1.3 million micro-mirrors. The resolution is therefore more than 2.6 million pixels per vehicle.

A stunning interior

The interior of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class is based on the completely new interior design of the new Mercedes‑Benz S-Class. The large areas of trim on the front seats are a new feature in the Mercedes-Maybach. High‑quality wood surrounds encase the rear of the front seat backrests, giving the impression of generous lounge seats. If the First-Class Rear is specified, a similarly striking area of trim is positioned between the two rear passengers.

Quietness reigns…

With Active road noise compensation, the interior of the already very quiet Mercedes-Maybach S-Class becomes even quieter. In a similar way to headphones with noise suppression, the system reduces unwanted low-frequency noises using counter-phased sound waves. The bass speakers of the Burmester® high-end 4D surround sound system are used for sound reproduction.

ICONS OF LUXURY COUNSELLOR MAYBACH Business Bag – full grain calf leather. MAYBACH lamb’s wool blanket THE EMBRACE I is created from pure new wool from Germany and Switzerland.

In a cosy cabin it feels like home…

Coupé and Cabriolet customers of Mercedes-Benz have long come to appreciate the automatic seat belt extender. Rear passengers in the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class are now the first to benefit from this convenience in the rear of a saloon. The belt extender is an indirect invitation to fasten the belt, and also makes the process more convenient. It is no longer necessary to move from an adopted, comfortable seating position to fasten the belt. The belt extender is integrated into the adjustable backrest of the Executive seat, and therefore always in the right position for the passenger.

Adaptive rear lighting is celebrating its premiere in the Mercedes-Maybach. This follows the wishes of the occupants in several respects: as well as the brightness, the size and position of the light spot can be adjusted. There is also a wide adjustment range between precise working light and relaxing lounge light.

The second generation of learn-capable MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) introduced in 2018 has its debut in the new S-Class. The unique feature of MBUX is its networking with a wide range of vehicle systems and sensor data. Brilliant displays on up to five large screens, in part with OLED technology, make the control of vehicle and comfort functions even easier. On request, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class can also be equipped with MBUX Interior Assist in the rear.

Safety guaranteed

During severe frontal collisions, the rear airbag included as standard can considerably reduce the loads acting on the heads and necks of seat belt wearing occupants on the outer rear seats. The frontal airbag for the rear seat deploys particularly gently thanks to its innovative construction using a tubular structure.

ICONS OF LUXURY MAYBACH champagne flute – handcrafted in Germany by specialists Robbe & Berking Silver Manufacturer, 90 silver plated. THE EMBRACE I MAYBACH lamb’s wool blanket is created from pure new wool from Germany and Switzerland. From MAYBACH – ICONS OF LUXURY

Nimble in urban traffic

Thanks to rear-axle steering (optional equipment), the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class is easy to manoeuvre even in dense city traffic. The steering angle at the rear axle is up to ten degrees. It reduces the turning circle of the S-Class by up to two metres.

Even better ride comfort and agility, as well as innovative functions such as raising the vehicle body in a lateral crash, are provided by the E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL active suspension, which is combined with the standard AIRMATIC air suspension. It is able to control the spring and damper forces at each wheel individually. Together with ROAD SURFACE SCAN and the curve inclination function CURVE, E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL makes an extraordinary level of comfort possible.

It is expected that initially in Germany and from the second half of 2021, the Mercedes-Maybach will be able to drive in conditionally automated mode with the new DRIVE PILOT (optional equipment) in situations where traffic density is high or in tailbacks on suitable motorway sections. By taking pressure off the driver, this allows him/her to undertake secondary activities such as surfing the web or attending to emails in the In-Car Office. This allows a more effective use of time. Brave new world!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the all-electric Fiat Cinquecento: Italy is now also “zen”… in urban style.

In Brussels autumn streets, enjoying the latest Italian electric gem: the Fiat 500 Elettrica…

Bringing back the stunning Alfa Romeo Stelvio test car (full test report soon on these pages…), we had the lucky occasion to slide behind the wheel for a short spin through the Brussels streets with the brand new all-electric 500. Press Officer Wim Willems of the ever so dynamic FCA Belgium PR team invited me proudly to take the wheel behind one of the still Italian registered test cars.

The four wheeled beauty – the styling of the electric 500 is truly spot on – drives absolutely “zen”, silent and smooth, and is of course totally intuitive to drive. On the middle of the dashboard are the four touch buttons let you choose between drive, reverse, neutral and park. This is literally all there is to it!

This electric Cinquecento we drove was the top notch ICON version, and the stylish fun starts the moment you get the keys of the car: it’s a black button-free pebble, a smart wearable key you carry in your pocket or bag, which communicates with the car and automatically unlocks the doors when you step closer.

The dashboard has the same color as the bodywork, which was in our test car executed in matte grey, and in the center is a a 10.25” ‘cinerama’ touchscreen display, with GPS and the Uconnect 5 system. So superbly connected you are… more on all these features when we get our hands on this electrical gem for a test.

Let’s turn to the supersmooth driving experience. You can choose between three driving modes. The “Normal” mode gives you all the nippy performance you could ever wish for: output of 87 kW – equivalent to 118 hp, 220 Nm of torque, available instantly, and sports car acceleration from 0 to 50 km/h in 3.1 seconds, or 0 to 100 in 9 seconds.

We started off our test drive with 296 km range…

But there is more. The “Range” mode treats you to a new driving experience, using only one foot. The ‘one-pedal’ function means you can control acceleration and deceleration by just pushing or lifting the throttle. When you lift off, the car recovers energy to the max, and the Cinquecento will slow down markedly until it stops.

Red hot: the test car is still running on Italian licence plates…

When your battery is low, this 500 gets you home anyway. You choose the ‘Sherpa’ mode, and here the 500 will  find the right balance between all the components of the drivetrain to reduce fuel consumption to a minimum.

One last word about the range: The 500 ICON will drive of up to 320 km in the WLTP cycle, increasing to 460 km in the urban cycle alone. Rapid recharging is guaranteed by the DC fast charging system, running at up to 85 kW.

But rest assured, we will come back on all the smart recharging solutions Fiat offers for its new electric baby. We just treat you here to the few photos I shot during our first drive!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the new Compass “Made in Europe” with the brand new 1,3 litre petrol engine…

FCA is going from strength to strength, and it has developed a new generation of state of the art four cylinder petrol engines. We drove both versions of this supersmooth gem, the new four-cylinder 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine made at the FCA plant in Melfi, in the Italian region of Basilicata. It is part of the new FCA Global Small Engine family, launched in mid-2018 on the Jeep Renegade. The two versions are a 130 hp unit paired with a six-speed manual transmission and 150 hp mated to a six-speed Dual Dry Clutch Transmission (DDCT) – both with front-wheel drive.

But not only the engines, also the Jeep Compass itself is now built in Europe, at the same FCA plant in Melfi to serve Italian and European customers. This marks a further step in the implementation of FCA’s 5 billion Euro investment plan for Italy.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Velvet power…

To admit you right away, we were very impressed. Utterly smooth and flexible, these engines offered silent, totally vibration free and effortless propulsion, and my co-driver, himself a very experienced and knowledgeable car journalist, thought the first 10 kilometers through town and motorway that we were driving…on E-power! He was under the impression we were underway with the celebrated 4xe version. Needless to say that we look forward to have a presentation and drive in this plug-in hybrid version soon…

We just tell you here that the 4xe models (featuring plug-in hybrid electric technology) will be available with an electric motor mated to a choice of either the 190 hp and 240 hp version of the 1.3-litre Global Small Engine. These will arrive in European showrooms in the second half of this year. Both these 4xe versions will be four-wheel drive only.

But as said, the 150 HP with the DDCT transmission is a very smooth companion. Consumption is quite good too: we clocked on the briskly driven test route on winding roads and dense Brussels town traffic an average of 7,2 l/100 km.

This is the first application of an automatic transmission in combination with front-wheel drive on Compass, and will make it more accessible to new customers in the C-SUV segment (sales of 4×2 automatics currently account for 28% of the market in Europe). The new 1-3-litre petrol engine complies with Euro 6D Final standards and features a GPF filter (Gasoline Particulate Filter).

For Compass, the 1.3-litre petrol engine has been updated with specific turbo-matching, which maximizes the engine response at low engine speed and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 27%. The new engine also optimizes fuel consumption by up to 30% (WLTP cycle) compared to the previous petrol 4×4 versions with automatic transmission.

For more sporting souls, it has something special in store: in combination with the new 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine and DDCT automatic transmission, this Compass also features for the first time a ‘Sport’ driving mode that can be selected with the push of a button in the center console. It tightens up the steering, sharpens the throttle response and adjusts the transmission’s behavior through higher upshifts for full horsepower and torque delivery. In addition, in Sport mode, the ’sailing‘ function is blocked and the ’fast-off‘ mode is activated. When the accelerator is released, this prevents switching to a higher gear.

From our lunch destination in downtown Brussels, at the excellent Italian Restaurant Osteria/Pizzeria Fico, we drove back to FCA Motor Village at Meiser in the manual version, and were impressed again by the smoothness, the excellent pulling power and flexibility of this very silent engine, making dense town driving a breeze.

Of course, Diesel enthusiasts are not left in the cold. An updated version of the 120 hp 1.6-litre MultiJet II diesel engine with SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) is also on the cards. New features include the new Uconnect Services for improved on-board and off-board connectivity, new styling cues such as six different wheel designs (one specific for each trim and exclusive 19-inch Gloss Black wheels for the Night Eagle model) and a new color palette with five new exterior paints: Ivory Tri-Coat, Colorado Red, Blue Italia, Blue Shade and Techno Green Metallic – all of which can be offered in combination with a black roof. The new tonneau cover is also available on all versions.

The Jeep Compass made in Melfi offers a full line-up of five trim levels – Sport, Longitude, Night Eagle, Limited and S (depending on the market).

This Compass we drove for you here is in the showrooms at the moment of writing, i.e. September 2020.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: four wheeled luxury reinvented…

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, in hightech silver

A new S-Class redefines the benchmark of luxurious motoring. This time, the high-tech innovations are centered around driver and passengers. We name a few of them: The second generation of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) débuts in the new S-Class. Not less than five(!) screens are installed. New 3D driver display for the first time allows spatial perception of the scene with a real 3D effect thanks to eye-tracking. There is also a very large head-up display with augmented reality content. When navigating, for example, animated turn-off arrows (“fishbones”) are virtually and precisely projected onto the road lane.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior: leather siena brown

Using cameras in the overhead control panel and learning algorithms, MBUX Interior Assist recognizes and anticipates the wishes and intentions of the occupants. It does this by interpreting head direction, hand movements and body language, and responds with corresponding vehicle functions. For example, if the driver looks over his/her shoulder towards the rear window, Interior Assist automatically opens the sunblind.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, interior: leather siena brown

The active ambient lighting with around 250 LEDs is now integrated into the driving assistance systems, and is able to reinforce their warnings visually.

The latest generation of the Driving Assistance Package has new and numerous improved functions. One example is the intelligent compliance with speed limits.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, exterior: hightech silver

The new S-Class is also easy to manoeuver:  Thanks to rear-axle steering (optional), the S-Class is as manoeuvrable as a compact car in the city. The steering angle at the rear axle is up to ten degrees. The turning circle is reduced by up to two metres.(!)

Mercedes-Benz S-Class DIGITAL LIGHT

More than 50 electronic components in the new S-Class can be updated with new software over-the-air (OTA). These include the entire MBUX infotainment system, the driver display, the driving assistance systems and the MULTIBEAM LED and DIGITAL LIGHT lighting systems. You don’t need to visit your dealer for this anymore…

The S-Class is also safer than ever. When a side impact with another vehicle threatens, the vehicle body can be raised by the E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension (optional) within a few tenths of a second.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, interior: leather nappa black/carmin red

It is expected that from the second half of 2021 the S-Class will be able to drive in conditionally automated mode with the new DRIVE PILOT (optional extra), in situations where traffic density is high or in tailbacks, on suitable motorway sections …in Germany.

The revolutionary headlamp technology DIGITAL LIGHT (optional extra) allows completely new functions, e.g. the projection of marking aids or warning symbols onto the road ahead. In each headlamp, DIGITAL LIGHT has a light module with three extremely powerful LEDs with light that is refracted and directed by 1.3 million micro-mirrors. The resolution is therefore more than 2.6 million pixels per vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class, exterior: hightech silver

When the new S-Class is launched, six-cylinder in-line petrol and diesel engines in various output classes will be available, with a V8 engine with integrated starter generator (ISG) and a 48-volt onboard electrical system to follow shortly afterwards. A plug-in hybrid with an all-electric range of around 100 km will follow in 2021.

Of course, books can be written about this new S-Class; We will in the near future, describe some of these new technical and electronic breakthroughs in more detail…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Three (!) electric engines for the Audi e-tron S and Audi e-tron S Sportback

Driving is believing, and the e-power experience proves to be even more exhilarating at Audi: their e-tron flagship comes now with three engines, making it 370 kW strong and giving it a massive torque of 973 Nm. Two engines are driving the rear wheels, and indeed, the emphasis is on rear end power, as well for daily use as for sporting driving. The rear end can even be seduced to produce power slides, and the Quattro concept has been further honed to deliver, as the factory puts it, an electronically controlled vector torque distribution with active and fully variable torque distribution between both rear wheels, doing away with a differential altogether.

Driving experience 2.0

The Audi pilots can wet their hands: this impressive SUV is your sporting partner on winding roads and mountain passes. Just put the electronic stability control ESC in “sport” mode and the drive mode selector in “dynamic” and things really start to happen. True power slides are now possible and the system will softly brake the inner front wheel should it want to slip through under full power. This leaves you fully in control of this e-power “bolide”, which leaves nothing to be desired in the power department.

This S-tron catapults itself from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 4,5 seconds, and then storms further ahead to its electronically controlled top speed of 210 km/h.

Still sufficient range…

The available battery power is a good match for all this sportiness. When you adopt a driving style in tune with the WLTP cycle, you can expect an action range of 360 kilometers or thereabouts. The high tension battery has a gross charge capacity of 95 kWh, of which 91 pct is effectively usable.

The Quattro principle has been further refined. When extra power is wanted, the front motor kicks in, and as said, both rear engines are individually controlled and offer this fully variable torque, managed by a permanent electronic control system.

As you can expect, the S version has a suspension setup geared towards sportiness, but when you’re not in the mood, it is good to know that the Audi Drive Select gives you the choice between not less than seven driving profile modes. The fully adaptable air suspension has controlled damping stiffness and can vary the ride height by some 76 mm.

20 inch alloys are standard, but you can opt for 21 inch tall wheels, and later even 22 inch alloys will be available. The brake saddles at the front have not less than six (!) pistons. The brake control system will decide the braking power of each wheel, and will choose also if engine, brake friction or both will be used when decelerating.

The body has also been made more aerodynamic, and the patented new wheel arches improve things markedly. The Cx is a mere 0,26 for the Sportback version.  

Each e-tron also comes with a … heat pump, which effectively reduces energy consumption on the whole by extracting heat generated by the driveline, and thus extending the driving range by some 10 pct.

Of course this e-Tron S has all the infotainment and electronic driving assistance you could ever want,and will also light the road for you with matrix LED headlamps. In the cabin, MMI touch response control system with two large central screens await you. The online services of Audi Connect complete the navigation system, especially the e-tron-routeplanner.

We are certainly looking forward to have a drive in this latest edition of the e-Tron, just know that this version will be available on the European markets in autumn 2020, and prices in Belgium start at 97.100 euro incl. VAT for the e-tron S, and 99.110 euro incl. VAT for the Sportback version.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Alfa Romeo celebrates 110 years of sporting automotive craftsmanship also in Belgium!

Alfa celebrates 110 years of passion in Belgium, driving here in front of the Royal Palace in the heart of Brussels…

Alfa Romeo will officially celebrate its 110th anniversary on June 24 in Arese, Italy, on the brand’s historic site. So more about this very soon this week.

But also in Belgium, Alfa has since its very first beginning always been synanimous of pure four wheeled passion.

In Belgium, fans of the brand will be able to watch a new video from today that creates a unique bond between Alfa Romeo and the Belgians, from the Brussels squares to the curves of Spa-Francorchamps, the Formula 1 mecca where Alfa Romeo will compete in August.

The Giulia and Stelvio MY2020 play the leading role, as this video illustrates the brand’s mastery of typical Italian design, technology and driving pleasure.

We tell you here somewhat more about it…

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The tour shot on the video starts at the iconic Place Royale, a stone’s throw from the Royal Palace in Brussels. This highly symbolic location for Belgium serves as the background for the two latest creations of Alfa Romeo: the sedan Giulia MY2020 and the SUV Stelvio MY2020.

In keeping with Belgian tradition, the nocturnal rainy weather made the wet pavement reflect in the still illuminated headlamps of the two Biscione models. It is barely 5 a.m., and the city wakes up.

This is all the more photogenic, and the media team prepares to shoot the video images and take photos of this historic moment: the celebration of the 110th anniversary of the Alfa Romeo brand on Belgian territory.

As a symbol of the “Made in Italy” label, Alfa Romeo has had a beautiful love relationship with the Belgians for a long time. The sportiness and elegance of the brand have been celebrated here for decades. In addition, Alfa Romeo has made models throughout its history that have become icons in the automotive industry. Belgium, with its many car enthusiasts, is also an important territory for discerning collectors. There are many private museums across the country, containing numerous treasures created by Alfa Romeo engineers and designers, as well as unique vehicles handcrafted by the peninsula’s great bodybuilders. For the “Belgians”, the name Alfa Romeo stands for passion.

From the squares to the striking monuments of Brussels, the last two creations of Alfa Romeo go to the east of the country, first past the Royal Palace of Brussels, remembering that the King and Queen of the Belgians, Albert II and Paola, when they were crown princes, brought a visit to Alfa Romeo and went also to its Balocco test track. The Prince of Liège hiself slid behind the wheel of the unique 33 Stradale, in October 1967.

After Brussels the team and the cars head towards Spa-Francorchamps. To the most mythical circuit of motorsport, which all Formula 1 drivers enjoy the most.

A territory that the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio have known for several years, as the Quadrifoglio versions of both models are used for the transport of the two current pilots of the brand, Antonio Giovinazzi, ambassador of the Giulia Quadrifoglio, and Kimi Räikkönen, ambassador of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. It is also on this very track that the new Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN Formula 1 cars will run the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of the summer, on Sunday 30 August 2020.

On the runway at La Sauvenière Airport, the scene of an impressive air ballet during the Grand Prix weekends, the two Alfa Romeos are now enjoying the asphalt, whose curves, straights and slopes are already an interesting playground on the way to circuit. Two legendary cars that are about to race on an iconic track, where the brand has had the opportunity to express the full range of its sporting expertise on numerous occasions and in many motorsport events.

The 1750 Sport was already a star in Francorchamps in 1929…

It is in this magical setting that the last images of this commemorative video produced by the Alfa Romeo team will be shot, to testify once again to the unique bond that unites the famous sports brand with its Belgian fans. The video will be available on the Alfa Romeo social media pages in Belgium and on the Alfa Romeo press website:

FR: http://www.media.fcaemea.com/be-fr/alfa-romeo

NL : http://www.media.fcaemea.com/be-nl/alfa-romeo

Just click and enjoy the images, as you have admired the photos here!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Fiat launches soon its benchmark for 100 % electric delivery: the E-Ducato…

On June 5th, the “World Environment Day” , Fiat focused the attention of the press on its E-Ducato, which was a year ago presented to us as a prototype. Then we met the dynamic people of Fiat Professional, Mr. Domenico Gostoli and Mme Angelica Carapezza amongst others, and faithful readers remember the reports we made then on our pages. We also refer to the interesting interview we made with Mme Carapezza, where she also  commented on her impressive automotive career so far. You can read it again on our columns. Just look at https://autoprova.be/2019/09/15/women-behind-cars-angelica-carapezza/ and https://autoprova.be/2019/07/01/fiat-professional-surprises-the-commercial-vehicle-world-with-an-all-electric-ducato/

Nothwithstanding Corona times, the development of the new Fiat Professional model has been continued using simulation tools.

The E-Ducato is the result of an extended series of measurements and tests, taking into account all the variables of usage by different types of clients, as well as dynamic, load and environmental aspects.

Developed by professionals with the help of client professionals…

The development of the E-Ducato included over one year of on-road measurements to analyze more than 28,000 connected vehicles. The measurements from a client’s perspective were taken by a dedicated team of professionals on vehicles with combustion engines running more than 50 million kilometers, to take into account all the variables of client usage, dynamics, load, and environmental aspects.

The analyses were focused on mileage, model variability for any kind of mission, fuel expenditure, vehicle usage, and temperature. By adopting this approach, Fiat Professional is able to offer comprehensive electric mobility solutions. With an analysis of energy demand as a starting point, these solutions will not only cover every single task, they will also provide answers ranging from the vehicle to infrastructure, not to mention a whole range of the everyday services increasingly required by a new and emerging mobility.

The result is a van available in all body variants with the same load volume as the conventional Ducato, from 10 m3 to 17 m3, and the best payload on the market, up to 1,950 kg.

In addition to the many body styles and chassis versions, a choice of battery options will also be available for the E-Ducato, with ranges in a typical urban real delivery cycle from 200 to over 330 km at standard environment conditions, depending by battery pack, and a variety of charging configurations. It also comes with high-potential performance: speed limited to 100 km/h for improved energy absorption, maximum output of 90 kW and maximum torque of 280 Nm.

Last but not least, the FCA styling centre has developed a new logo for the 100% electric Ducato.  The logo itself is made up of two distinct elements: a letter “E” in blue – the color traditionally associated with innovation and sustainability, preceded by a “D” for Ducato in brushed silver above.  

Comprehensive training for a new sales process

So the E-Ducato professional experience can begin even before getting on board, Fiat Professional organized training days in February specifically for the sales force, involving 265 sales agents and managers across 124 dealerships in the main markets. Road tests structured as a journey through a city were also run at the Balocco circuit, with emphasis on the new full electric driving modes. An in-depth look was also taken at the new WLTP homologation procedure and its impact on the world of outfitted vehicles. Presentations were given on some of these, from mobile workshops and refrigeration to people carriers: versatility that has always been one of the strengths of the Fiat Professional Ducato.

Virtual training: from developments in training to business development

Given the current cautious social distancing measures, Fiat Professional continued the training in a virtual format: a development in training, just like the E-Ducato represents a development in the business. Each remote session was focused on the product in depth, in preparation for other activities.

The E-Ducato technical specifications and line-up were discussed in detail, with special consideration given to its innovative aspects. All the Virtual Classrooms were met with resounding success and were diligently attended. For example, there have already been 310 participants from Germany, 120 from Poland and 210 from non-EMEA regions, while online training will soon begin in the remaining European markets, including in Spain, France and the UK.

Actual launch expected within a few months…

To continue its journey into the market, the E-Ducato will soon be subjected to extensive specific field testing by partner clients under normal working conditions of usage. On that basis, the E-Ducato is therefore being prepared for its launch on the market, due to take place in the coming months, with the opening of orders in the main European markets as the first stage.

The brand-new electric vehicle will soon join the methane-driven Ducato Natural Power in the offering of alternative propulsion systems, to take on the market challenge.

We are looking forward to the actual launch, stay tuned in these columns!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Fiat launches on social media a stunning “one shot” film about three unique 500’s …

Outstanding design is one of the hallmarks of Fiat cars, with the superbly iconic 500 or “Cinquecento” of course taking centre stage. Indeed, this is further shown by a remarkable docufilm “One-Shot”.

The trailer of this film is now on air, looking “behind the scenes” of the creation of the One-Offs, three exclusive interpretations of the New Fiat 500, by Armani, Bvlgari and Kartell.

The Bulgari logo on the 500…

The full film can be viewed on Fiat’s social media channels, first of all on YouTube. The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGGd7EcnmNI&feature=youtu.be. But you can also see it on FCA’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

In the film, we see the unfolding of “Plan B” when Geneva Motor Show was canceled, and it was decided to present the “one off” cars in front of the Milan Duomo…

This breathtaking journey, narrated by Olivier François – President, Fiat Brand Global and FCA Chief Marketing Officer, includes interviews with designers, tales of partners, close-ups on the details and selection of materials, where the aim is caring of the environment and its sustainability.

Unloading the cars in the early morning in front of the Duomo…

The short film (15 and a half minutes) presents a relentless succession of meetings and processes that highlight teamwork, the affinity between designers from different fields and the emotions involved in playing an active role in an extraordinary project: the creation of something unique, an interpretation of the New 500 alongside the very best of “Made in Italy”.

Genuine gold flakes adorn the Bulgari 500…

The result is the three One-Offs, embodiment’s of the style, creativity and craftsmanship characteristic of “Made in Italy” and of our partners in the project, in the path and in the vision of the Earth’s future.

The Armani 500 got a special dressing…

And also a wood sculpted dashboard…

The journey depicted in the film begins in Turin, cradle of the Fiat brand, passing from Rome on the way with its sunsets, colors and lines that symbolize Bvlgari all over the world, to arrive in Milan, the world capital of fashion and design, due in no small part to Armani and Kartell.

…by a special wood cutting machine…

The twist in the tale has Milan as the setting for the entire presentation of the New 500.

A veritable gearshift takes place in the film’s account of the tense time when the Geneva International Motor Show was canceled, and a plan B had to be found and set in motion. The presentation of the New 500 and the One-Offs was completely rewritten to pull up stakes, to Milan.

Bvlgari jewelry in the 500 logo…

The short film is created and produced by VICE Italy, with Rockets at the helm. It uses the language of documentaries to reveal aspects normally concealed from the general public, in an immediate and effective way.

In an authentic, realistic vernacular, the evocative film opens the doors of the Style Center in Turin to the cameras. We get an exclusive peek inside the “Color & Material” department led by Rossella Guasco, halfway between a sophisticated research center and an elegant fashion atelier.

Bvlgari used its foulards…to enhance the dasboard

The footage documents their almost-obsessive attentiveness to every detail, that “know-how” typical of Italian creativity, and dwells on the emotions of the whole team as they experience something truly unique.

Kartell the seats…

The journey continues in an interview with Klaus Busse, Head of Design, explaining what lies beneath the creative process of style and forms, and the role of the 500 in the history of industrial design, even more so in the collective unconscious.

…and elements of the car…

It was the Style Center that took a legend of the 50’s, the fabled “Cinquino”, and reinvented it in 2007 to “color” everyday life and streets all over the world, making it an authentic, unique and salient response to the requirements of international urban mobility.

At the Milan launch of the One-Offs in March, it was even announced that the Fiat 500 has been confirmed as an “Italian Icon and Honorary Member” of Altagamma, the prestigious Foundation that brings together the best of Italy’s companies, to promote the epitomes of the country’s excellence around the world.

Just have a look at the photos here, and also enjoy the film!

Hans Knol ten Bensel