Jeep® Brand Reveals Images of First-Ever Fully Electric Jeep SUV…

News from Stellantis comes thick and fast: Today, during Stellantis’ Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan presentation, Carlos Tavares, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Stellantis, revealed images of the first-ever 100% battery-electric Jeep SUV, as the brand continues its global initiatives toward the full electrification of its SUV portfolio.

This new fully electric Jeep vehicle will be launched early next year, expanding the brand reach and taking the next step to the achievement of Jeep brand’s vision of Zero Emission Freedom. More information on the Jeep BEV will be released in the coming months.

We will also bring a full report on the Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan presentation soon. Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Stéphane Lefebvre wins Haspengouw Rally with the Citroën C3 Rally2 from DG Sports…

BELGIAN CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1 HASPENGOUW RALLY 2022, won by Stéphane Lefebvre-Xavier Portier Citroen C3 RC2 Rally 2

The Rally of Haspengouw last Saturday proved a magnificent opener of the Kroon-Oil Belgian Rally Championship in Sint-Truiden and the fruit region.

The iconic “classic” was dominated from start to finish by Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre in his Citroen C3 Rally2. Gino Bux, the revelation of the match, and winner of the 2021 Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup came in second.

StéŽphane Lefebvre and Xavier Portier happy with their win…

DG Sport Compétition proved that the Citroëns C3 Rally2 were more than up to the competition…

Not only did Stéphane Lefebvre and Xavier Portier storm to an outright win, team mates Jos Verstappen and Kris Botson, Maxime Potty and Renaud Herman, and Richard Pex and Johan Findhammer also made quite an impression.  Four cars on the start, four at the finish, with excellent results.

“Last Saturday DG Sport Compétition had a wonderful team day”, stated team principal Alain Georges. “Not only did we perform well, but each one fulfilled his or her role impeccably.”

First outing, first win…

 Stephane Lefebvre came to win and succeeded. But also his teammates with less – and sometimes no – experience contributed to this success. Besides the actual results, we are also very pleased with the magnificent team spirit.”

Indeed, an excellent start of the season!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Stéphane Lefebvre drives DG Sport’s C3 Rally2 in Belgian Rally Campionship with the support of Citroën Racing

Team presentation in Brussels in the old premises of Von Thurn und Taxis, now “Maison de la Poste”: from left to right: Andy Malfroy (co-pilot), Xavier Portier (co-pilot) and Stéphane Lefebvre (Pilot)

This week in the “Maison de la Poste” the team was introduced that will use the colors van Citroën Racing will defend this year in the Kroon Oil Belgian Rally Championship 2022. The experienced Stéphane Lefebvre will be at the wheel of the C3 Rally2 from DG Sport, taking up the challenge against the fierce competition. This weekend he is already participating in the Rally of Haspengouw. He never drove in this event, but that only makes the challenge only bigger and more exciting.

The C3 Rally2 is in shape, more than ever…

Since 2017, Citroën Racing has put its many years of experience in rallying at the service of customers and has put in more than 15,000 test kilometers to increase performance, add more reliability and still better handling to the C3 Rally2 drivers and teams.

Jean-François Grandclaudon of Citroën Racing explains: «Since its introduction in 2017, we have worked hard to offer our customers ever faster cars, suitable for all types of pilots and always with a view to reducing operating costs.

In the past two years, the car has changed a lot and our efforts have paid off with national and world titles claimed in recent years in major championships.”

DG Sport is on high alert at home and abroad.

DG Sport has been a loyal partner of Citroën Racing for years and is looking forward to participate in the international WRC2 and the Belgian BRC championship with the Citroën C3 Rally2.

“Thanks to the support of Citroën Racing, we will start with the duo Stéphane Lefebvre – Xavier Portier in the BRC this season. This is a perfect complement to his involvement with Andy Malfoy in the WRC2 Championship.

By participating in both championships, Stéphane will be able to keep up his rhythm and build up even more experience.

Although we are currently only confirming our presence on the first two meetings of the BRC, we aim to be at the starting grid of at least seven rallies to be there and to take home the championship title,” said Alain Georges from DG Sports.

From left to right: Andy Malfroy (co-pilot), Stéphane Lefebvre (pilot), Xavier Portier (co-pilot) and Jonathan Vercellino (Director Marketing Citroën, Belux)

Stéphane Lefebvre is looking forward to the Belgian season.

 “I am looking forward to the start of the Kroon Oil Belgian Rally Championship 2022 this weekend. I like to come to Belgium, all the more because I have already won both the Rally of the Condroz and of Ypres. With a slight handicap in terms of terrain knowledge in Sint-Truiden, I know I will have to drive a perfect first loop and I will be forced to take some more risks than my opponents. But this won’t stop me from approaching this rally in the same way as everyone else: we intend to make our mark from the very beginning in the race,” warns Stéphane.

He admitted to us that in the meantime he has a great love for the Belgian rallying scene and their iconic rallies.

Stay tuned for the Rally of Haspengouw this weekend!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Two F1 drivers behind the wheel of the new Tonale …

We reported to you already, dear readers, about Alfa’s new Tonale, the brand’s first compact electrified SUV.

As the entire Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN gathered in La Thuile, Italy, for a break to build up maximum concentration and recharge the batteries ahead of pre-season testing in Barcelona, something was bound to happen with this Tonale.

Valterri Bottas was seduced by the new Tonale…

Indeed the two new Alfa Romeo drivers – Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu – made a stint behind the wheel of this well proportioned and timelessly styled Tonale. The 275-hp Plug-in Hybrid Q4 version with all-wheel drive must have proven certainly entertaining for them!

Impressed as they were about the good road qualities of this Alfa, so significant for the iconic brand, the team had come to La Thuile to focus on their strategies and objectives for the upcoming world championship.  La Thuile, known as the Wild Side of Mont Blanc, maintains and preserves its characteristics as a mountain resort far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Zhou Guanyu, the Chinese racing driver now entering the Alfa F1 Team ORLEN, competed in the FIA Formula 2 Championship for UNI-Virtuosi Racing from 2019 to 2021, having finished 3rd in the 2021 campaign…

An ideal setting for the CEO of Alfa Romeo Jean-Philippe Imparato and the Team Principal of the Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN, Frédéric Vasseur, flanked by the entire management and communications team, to prepare the next F1 season…with the Tonale setting the tune!   

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the 360 HP DS9 E-Tense 4×4 in Nice… and witnessed the launch of the DS Supercar!

Arriving late last night from Nice, we report you here immediately about the wonderful driving experience with the most powerful DS9, enjoying its pure GT talents over the winding roads around Grasse and the iconic Côte d’Azur. We will soon tell you more about it.

But the gentlemen of DS Automobiles did even more than just letting us have a drive in their flagship DS9, they also unveiled in the flesh at their press conference a wonderful Supercar, with absolutely stunning looks and performance.

DS Automobiles puts their E-Formula racing experience into practice on our roads… What to think of 815 HP or 600 kW, developed by two electric motors of 250 kW in the front, and 350 kW driving the rear wheels.

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is done in a fantastic 2 seconds…and the car is a beauty too!

Much more about this superfast E-“bolide” and the impressive top-level DS9 soon on these pages!

Hans Knol ten Bensel    

Porsche launches the “T” version of its Macan: exclusive sportiness…

The letter T has represented a unique form of dynamic driving at Porsche since the 1960s. It stands for ‘Touring’ and identifies models that offer an especially authentic driving experience thanks to precise tuning, exclusive equipment and efficient engines.

It all started in ’68 with the Porsche 911 T. Lightweight and dynamic. Your servant vividly remembers being at the wheel of this “Ur” 911 T… I drove it full bore on the winding small roads along the Leie in the region of Deurle.

The same recipe maximizing agility is used for the Macan T.  Besides the sportier setup, it has a lightweight, two-litre turbo engine. This concept positions the Macan T between the Macan and the Macan S.

Lightweight, for an agile response

The two-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine of the Macan T combines, Porsche says, “great agility, low weight and a compact design to create a package that offers an ideal balance of weight and performance.”Compared to the 2.9-litre biturbo V6 engine in the Macan S and GTS models, the powertrain in the Macan T weighs 58.8 kg less on the front axle.

Power galore

The Macan T has an output of 195 kW (265 PS) and 400 Nm of torque. The engine is coupled with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission (PDK) and the Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive system. A broad spread of torque provides, according to Porsche, “responsive acceleration in all driving situations.” When fitted with the standard Sport Chrono Package including the mode switch and Sport Response button on the steering wheel, the Macan T accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds and reaches a top speed of 232 km/h.

Specially tuned chassis lowered by 15 millimetres or more

The Macan T is the only Porsche model to feature steel suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard, combined with the body being lowered by 15 mm. The anti-roll bars on the front axle are more rigid and the car’s chassis tuning has been optimized to create the perfect suspension for the vehicle and powertrain, resulting in very responsive steering behavior and agile handling.

Get the tail out sideways…

The Porsche Traction Management (PTM) has also been adapted to the driving demands of the Macan T and has been specially designed with a rear-wheel bias. Adding adaptive air suspension with PASM and lowering the body by a further 10 mm is also an option – a new feature for Macan models with four-cylinder engines. Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) can also be added: the system has been adapted to the dynamic characteristics of the T model and further sharpens the driving dynamics.

Exclusive details inside and out

Design elements painted in Agate Grey Metallic on the front, flank and rear of the Macan T differentiate the vehicle from other models in the series. The exclusive contrast colour can be seen on the painted front trim, exterior mirrors, side blades, roof spoiler and logos on the rear. Sports tailpipes and side window trims in Black (high gloss) are included as standard and the side blades feature the ‘Macan T’ logo in Black. Twenty-inch Macan S wheels, exclusively in dark titanium, come as standard. Customers can choose from a range of 13 plain, metallic and special colours for the exterior.

The interior of the Macan T has its own distinct ambience. The standard, eight-way electrically adjustable heated sports seats feature an upholstery based on the Black leather package. The centres of the front seats and the outer rear seats are delivered with the Sport-Tex Stripe pattern and the front headrests each have an embossed Porsche crest. The contrasting colour from the exterior continues inside the vehicle in the form of decorative silver stitching on the seats, headrests and steering wheel.

Porsche panache in the cabin

Standard equipment also includes a multifunction GT heated sports steering wheel and the Sport Chrono stopwatch in the upper part of the dashboard. The door entry guards come in black aluminium as standard and feature a Macan T logo. Optional features include the multifunction GT sports steering wheel in Race-Tex with carbon trims and an ioniser.

The Macan T also benefits from all of the new elements of the model generation revised in summer 2021, such as the new centre console with its sophisticated glass-look and touch-sensitive surface, as well as the fully networked Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system with a 10.9-inch touch screen and online navigation as standard.

Soon on our roads…

The new model is available to order now. Deliveries in Germany will commence in April 2022.

More Porsche news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Bentley Continental GT wows the readers of Auto Motor und Sport…but also Abarth and Alfa!

Indeed, Bentley wins its first-ever ‘Best Cars’ 2022 award in the luxury class import category, with over 100,000 readers voted on 386 models in 12 categories.

This was the 46th edition of the ‘Best Cars’ awards from auto motor und sport.

Collecting the ‘Best Cars’ award on behalf of Bentley Motors, Dr. Matthias Rabe, Board Member Engineering.

But that is not all. Also Abarth took centre stage.

The More than 100,000 readers of “Auto Motor und Sport” have awarded the title of “Best Car” in the Mini Cars/Import category to the most famous model of the Scorpion brand.

With 26.1% of the votes, the Abarth 595 triumphs – for the 7th time in a row – in the competition that saw the participation of 386 models divided into twelve categories.

The readers of the car magazine “Auto Motor und Sport” have also once again voted the Alfa Romeo Giulia the “Best Car”. The sports sedan took first place in the middle class/import category in the election. Furthermore, this is its fifth win in the last six years. Of a total of over 100,000 participants in the readers’ competition, 18.8 percent voted for the Alfa Romeo Giulia as the winner in its category…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Look on your screen(s) at the new MINI World…

The new MINI Edition models are due to hit the showrooms in spring 2022. For the first time, all current models of the tradition-steeped British premium car manufacturer will be launched at the same time, each in its own special edition. The market launch will be accompanied by an equally novel form of communication. An international campaign under the claim BIG LOVE presents the MINI 3 door with the all-electric variant MINI Cooper SE as a highlight, along with the MINI 5 door and the MINI Convertible in the Resolute Edition, the MINI Clubman in the Untold Edition and the MINI Countryman in the Untamed Edition – each as an individual vehicle character in a virtual world of its own. Each is showcased in surprising and impressive style in a 100 per cent digital format using the very latest full CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) animation technology.

The campaign adopts an integrated approach that makes use of all MINI brand communication channels along the customer journey. The numerous visual content formats targeted at the sales funnel creates a completely new look: using everything from AR animations, stories and reels through to various types of online ad, MINI gears its content precisely towards a digital-savvy audience. The innovative approach adopted by the BIG LOVE launch campaign enables MINI to address target groups in the markets even more selectively, closely aligning it with local priorities…

The central building blocks of the campaign are computer-generated images and virtual animated films. Using 3D computer graphics, images and films are created showing detailed vehicles in a setting that transcends the boundaries of reality.

The MINI Edition models always play the leading role in the animated short films. Each model is showcased and brought to life in its own lively animated world. The protagonists of the films are presented with their exclusive design and equipment features, demonstrating hallmark MINI go-kart feeling with state-of-the-art visual effects – without the cars ever touching a real road.

The campaign also includes the launch of an online showroom by MINI where fans of the brand can interactively find out about the new Edition models with pictures, videos and 360-degree views. The new vehicles can be viewed on a digital turntable from all conceivable perspectives, both as an overall image in wide angle and via close-ups that clearly show all the details. The showroom for the new MINI Edition models will go online at http://www.MINI.com as well as on the various country websites. The campaign is also available for use by all MINI dealers and branches.

So, MINI lovers, get behind your screens!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Opel presented new Opel Astra Sports Tourer in Brussels…

Opel CEO Uwe Hochgeschurtz presented in world premiere the new Astra Sports Tourer

The Opel Astra Sports Tourer would have its world premiere at the Brussels Motorshow 2022. This car is, after the new Astra Hatchback, the first Opel estate car with the new expressive Opel Vizor front and the Pure Panel, the digital dashboard. As you can see from the photos, it combines a number of distinctive features: functionality, elegance, sportiness and generous, modular interior space.

Opel therefore organized a press conference at the stylish The Merode in Brussels on Tuesday 1 February, to present the two variants of this new generation Opel Astra.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mr. Uwe Hochgeschurtz, the new Opel CEO, lifted the veil of this new Astra.  This is the first Opel estate to be electrified. In addition, the sports estate from Rüsselsheim will be optionally available in stylish two-tone paint. Like that of the five-door model soon to make its debut at dealerships, the Sports Tourer’s interior is also thoroughly redesigned.

For the first time, drivers will find the fully digital Pure Panel cockpit in front of them – the next generation of the fully connected and intuitively operable Human Machine Interface (HMI). Utilising the integrated Snapdragon® Cockpit Platform from Qualcomm Technologies, the Pure Panel cockpit features enhanced graphics, multimedia, computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to provide a more integrated, contextually aware and constantly adaptive cockpit system that evolves to its passengers’ preferences.

There is no need for cables in the new Astra Sports Tourer either, since the new generation of multimedia infotainment systems can be connected as standard on all model variants to wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via compatible smartphones. Here, too, the maxim was to create a clear, fully functional high-tech design that does not appear cold and impersonal, but rather conveys a feeling of security.

Efficient estate…

The Astra Sports Tourer with vital statistics of 4,642 x 1,860 x 1,480 millimetres (L x W x H) and a loading height of around 600 mm, displays the brand’s typical talent for efficient packaging.

To keep the loading sill low, the number plate, for example, is not located in the bumper – unlike in the five-door model – but in the tailgate. This makes it easier to load the completely flat rear compartment with luggage or equipment. And despite the considerably longer wheelbase of 2,732 mm (+70 mm) that is even 57 mm longer than that of the new Astra hatchback and increases cabin comfort for passengers, the new Astra Sports Tourer is 60 mm shorter than the previous model, thanks to the particularly short front overhang. 

Opel will soon open the order books for the new Astra Sports Tourer so that customers can configure their dream vehicle.

A bold electrified future…

Opel is also embarked on an electrification offensive in this New Year. Eleven Opel models will be electrified by mid-2022 – including Opel’s entire light commercial vehicle (LCV) range. En route to an emissions-free fleet, some models will exclusively be offered as battery-electric variants this year already.

Indeed, customers can now order the Opel Combo Life, Vivaro Combi and Zafira Life exclusively with an electric drive.

“There is no alternative to electrification. In the future, Opel will gain even more traction with environmentally friendly innovations. And what shows us the rapid change again very clearly: From 2024, we will offer an electrified version of every Opel model, without exception. In other words, the successors to Crossland and Insignia will also be electrified. Our statement is clear: From 2028, we will exclusively sell battery-electric vehicles in Europe,” stated Opel CEO Uwe Hochgeschurtz. (See photo above).

In the coming months, the new generation of the Opel Astra will be the linchpin of the Rüsselsheim-based brand’s electrification offensive. After celebrating its premiere in September 2021, the new Astra five-door will arrive at customers in the spring – and will be available as a plug-in hybrid right from the start. In 2023, the purely battery-electric Astra-e will complete the range. The emissions-free product portfolio with the Blitz already ranges from the Opel Rocks-e lightweight vehicle to the large Opel Movano-e van.

More Opel news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Audi Q7 and Q8 plug-in hybrid with improved emissions, larger battery and better range.

The plug-in hybrid versions of the Audi Q7 and Q8 stand for power, efficiency and comfort. But there is always room for improvement. From now on, the Audi Q7 and Q8 plug-in hybrids are available with better consumption figures, bringing CO2 emissions also below the fiscally attractive limit of 50 g/km.

In the plug-in hybrid versions, the 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol engine with 340 hp interacts with a powerful electric motor. The lithium-ion battery can now store net 14.4 kWh of energy (gross: 17.9 kWh) – more than before.

Audi combines here the efficient plug-in hybrid technology with the quattro permanent all-wheel drive and an 8-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. The Q7 and Q8 55 TFSI e quattro still have a system output of 381 hp and a combined maximum torque of 600 Nm. The powerful Q7 and Q8 60 TFSI e quattro delivers 462 hp and 700 Nm.

The CO2 emissions for the Audi Q7 55 TFSI e quattro are now brought down to 46 g/km. The powerful 60 TFSI e quattro records 47 g/km. In the Audi Q8, with the same engine versions, this is successively 49 g/km and 52 g/km.

Driving with anticipation improves the useable range…

The electric range of the plug-in hybrids is increased. The advanced battery cell technology now offers up to 55 km of purely electric driving range in the Q7 TFSI e. The Audi Q8 achieves 54 km as a 55 TFSI e quattro, and 52 km for the powerful 60 TFSI e quattro. In most cases, this is sufficient to cover your daily commute completely on E-power…

More Audi news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel