The new Fiat Ducato: giving European transport even better wheels…

There are splendid examples where the European economic market really pays off. Where manufacturers can develop and build commercial vehicles which are just ideal and fitting for our European roads, countries and economies.

Such a car is the Fiat Ducato. Since 1981 it has made its mark. And now it has grown into the European leader for the fifth year running, number one in terms of sales in 12 different countries. European vacation goers have put the Ducato since many years on top of their list.

A bestseller and a familiar face on our roads since 1981…

Indeed, it is the absolute leading vehicle serving as a base for motorhomes in Europe: approximately 3 in every 4 motorhomes sold are Fiat Ducato.

Success has its reasons. And for the new Ducato there are many. It is versatile, thanks to technical features, such as the payload, volume and axle loads, which are record-breaking among front-wheel drive vehicles, teamed with the most extensive choice of wheelbase, length and height variants.

The new Ducato has been perfected further. The engines are all 6D, even more efficient, eco-friendly and high-performing, with various fuel types – even down to the Ducato Natural Power methane-powered version – to the benefit of the environment. The new “9Speed” automatic transmission is also being launched. This is a latest-generation torque converter, capable of best exploiting all the engine’s torque points. It is the best transmission in its category in terms of weight. Last but not least, there is no shortage of the most advanced ADAS driving assist devices and a latest-generation infotainment system.

State of the art engines…

To tell you right away, all the Ducato 2,3 Diesels are industrial type engines, built exclusively for the very heavy work. The entire MultiJet 2 range now boasts a variable geometry compressor, for a smoother drive and the most flexible engine ever from the lowest speeds, with an ensuing reduction in consumption levels in the real usage cycle.

The new turbocharger, thanks to the electronic control, is in a position to adapt its fluid dynamics to the speed of the engine and to the driving style, to provide the right supercharging at all times. This is possible thanks to the implementation of a series of mobile blades situated along the radius of the turbine, which controls the flow of exhaust gas and consequently the speed and force of the compressor.

Access to the Ducato world begins with the 120 HP 2.3-litre MultiJet 2 engine at 2750 rpm with a maximum torque of 320 Nm at 1400 rpm, teamed with the manual gearbox, which improves power and torque by 10% compared to the previous 2.0-litre engine. The 140 HP 3500 rpm drive train constitutes the heart of the range, versatile and flexible with its 350 Nm torque (+9% compared to the 130 MultiJet) at just 1400 rpm, and available with both manual gearbox and the sophisticated “9Speed” nine-speed automatic transmission.

Environmentally-friendly construction and superior performance levels with the 160 HP at 3500 rpm, which distributes up to 400 Nm at 1500 rpm in the automatic transmission version. This power unit implements a specific engine shaft with oversized bearings, special pistons and a specific turbocharger, to the benefit of improved performance and engine durability. The top-end of the range boasts the 180 HP 2.3 MultiJet at 3500 rpm: a torque of 400 Nm with manual gearbox and 450 Nm – + 12% compared to the previous model – with the new nine-speed automatic transmission.

Last but not least there is the Natural Power variant with a 3000 cm3 single-fuel methane engine with 136 HP max power at 2730 rpm and a maximum torque of 350 Nm at 1500 rpm. It is part of a complete range of methane-powered commercial vehicles ranging from Car Derived Vans, to the Fiorino including the Doblò Short Wheelbase and the Long Wheelbase.

9 speed automatic…

The new transmission lets you choose between three driving modes, eco, normal and sport, and there are two operating modes, “D” and the so-called “Autostick” mode. The latter is activated by shifting the gear lever to the left, and then you have simply to put the lever backwards and forwards to change up or down. Ideal for tackling these steep hills under full load…

An EcoPack comes standard…

EcoPack includes the Start & Stop system, the smart alternator; the electronically-controlled fuel pump, which guarantees energy savings and greater combustion efficiency. Last but not least there is an ECO switch that supports the driver in saving fuel.

Top notch drive assist and infotainment…

As a professional vehicle befits, it offers a full range of driver assist systems: Blind spot assist (BSA), Rear Cross Path detection (RCP), Full brake control (FBC), alerting the driver and intervening by automatically triggering an emergency braking. Lane departure warning system (LDWS), Traffic sign recognition, High beam recognition, Rain and dusk sensor, Tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Made a gripping presentation: from left to right, Luca Marengo, head of product marketing LCV EMEA, Davide Valzan, Head of Product Planning LCV EMEA and Stéphane Guigou, head of professional brand EMEA .

An interesting and clever feature is the Engine Idle Preset, which is designed to increase the engine’s minimum revs to power any additional electrical equipment installed on-board.

From the second half of the year, the Ducato MY2020 range will further extend the range of on-board infotainment systems. The new infotainment system is now available: with a 7-inch touchscreen by Mopar®, USB port and Radio DAB tuner and the possibility of specifying the dimensions of the vehicle and possibly trim version to provide indications that avoid streets which are not sufficiently wide or low passages. A real professional feature that addresses other professionals and motorhome drivers.

The new system includes the integration of Apple CarPlay and the compatibility with Android AutoTM.

Last but not least there are very clever and practical finance systems offered by the FCA Bank subsidiary Leasys, serving corporates, small and medium enterprises, self-employed professionals and retail customers.

We also include here a film of the whole presentation of the new Ducato Range made by Helena Menten, a young professional with a heart for greentech, with an educated passion for cars and commercial vehicles for trade and agricultural or “green” businesses, reporting amongst others regularly in Tractor Power (site www.tractorpower.eu) and GreenTech Power (site http://www.greentechpower.eu) . Just press the following link: https://www.facebook.com/www.tractorpower.eu/videos/324779675135070/?v=324779675135070

You can see your servant making a few interviews, and indeed this report will be followed soon by further information about the people behind the new Ducato, last but least the full electric version…

Stay posted for more!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Subaru Forester 2.0i: your companion in the woods of life…

The truth is now known to us all: to save our planet we need a lot more trees. We would add, we also need a good car to go with it: and this could very well be the clever and superbly built Subaru Forester…

It is a car which continues to surprise and amaze us. The engineering is top notch, it performs like a dream, has terrific 4WD, gets you wherever you want to go, in all seasons, in all circumstances and weather conditions, is indestructible and getting ever more frugal too.

We drove it for you, and here are our findings…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Subaru Forester 2.0i: your companion in the woods of life…”

We drove the Toyota Corolla hybrid: green power for millions

Toyota and Lexus are friends of the earth since decades. They offer E power in hybrid form across their whole range now, and this started already back in 1997 with the Prius, a car which has been a star on Californian (and many other) roads worldwide ever since.

The hybrid drivetrain of this car is nothing short of a stroke of genius, and therefore hardly surprising that it is also seen on the Lexus range. Faithful readers know that I am the happy owner of a Lexus CT 200h, a car which is running around with an average consumption between 3.9 and 4.6 litres/100 km.

The subject of this test is also to find out whether the continuously further developed hybrid system brings further gains in efficiency compared to my faithful Lexus.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Toyota Corolla hybrid: green power for millions”

Fiat Professional surprises the commercial vehicle world with an all electric Ducato…

Domenico Gostoli, Head of Fiat Professional Electrification Programs, presented the E-Ducato in Turin…

At the presentation of the new Ducato MY2020, Fiat Professional brand gave the world its very first glimpse of the Ducato Electric – an all-electric BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) version – which will go on sale during 2020 and team up with the natural gas Ducato Natural Power to complete the alternative fuel offering.

In conceiving and developing the Ducato electric, the 2 person team responsible for the project, led by Domenico Gostoli, Head of Fiat Professional Electrification Programs with Angelica Carapezza managing and coordinating the implementation of such electrification programs, started with a “bottom up”, client-based approach, and focused first on building up a database with a specific, detailed study of customers’ real use of their vehicles, which involved a year of data gathering.

This confirmed that more than 25% of the market already has a “BEV Attitude” in terms of use, routes, dynamics and performances, and is therefore ready and waiting for a mobility change.

Indeed, professionals working in specific business areas are keen to adopt E-technology, considering the growth in online commerce, postal and courier services, home ready-to-eat food deliveries, hub-spoke local transport, and the widespread need to ensure access to city centres, with their ever-increasing traffic restrictions on conventional fuel vehicles.

Finding the ideal use pattern of a Ducato Electric van is supported by pro-active cooperation with the customer, through Pilot Projects involving some large industry players, to fully exploit all their knowledge base, and identify all specific use demands to be borne in mind during individual customisation and configuration for every application.

The image here shows the unique approach of these structured pilot projects with customers. It first involves sitting down with the customer to evaluate his delivery mission, gathering the field data, which are then analysed and further structured in a logistical pattern. Real BEV data are then analysed and put in a computer simulation to establish a real profile of the specific energy demand of the customer from his vehicle. This is then followed by recommendations for the final vehicle configuration, the necessary charging infrastructures and the use of the customer.

With this approach, Fiat Professional intends to offer complete electric mobility solutions, based on the study of energy needs, able not only to cover every single mission but also to offer solutions ranging from vehicles to infrastructures, not forgetting any aspect of the whole world of services increasingly required by today’s new, constantly evolving mobility scenarios.

So as well as offering a complete range of versions, Ducato Electric will also feature modular battery size options, with range from 220 to 360 km (NEDC cycle) and different charging configurations . All combined with impressive performances: speed limited to 100 km/h to optimise energy use, maximum power of 90 kW and maximum torque of 280 Nm.

What’s more, the new electric powerplant does not penalise Ducato’s strong point: best-in-class load volumes from 10 to 17 m3, and a payload of up to 1,950 kg, the best in its category.

We made extensive interviews with the two managers behind the project, which is a cornerstone in the transition we see nowadays from the traditional “choice of vehicle” to a “choice of mobility”.  Indeed, in the present day business environment, Total Cost of Mobility determines now your purchase decision, instead of Total Cost of Ownership…

More on the new Ducato range and the series of video interviews – done with the kind assistance of Helena Menten – of the inspiring people of Fiat Professional soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW explores ultimate performance with E-power…

It had to happen. BMW cultivates pleasure of driving. And this also goes for their E-cars. Even more so, as they have excellent torque and therefore massive pulling power. And what’s more, you can use several motors at once.

So it was only a matter of time that a trial car with superpower is created. Here it is: BMW Group presented its “Power BEV” during its #NEXTGen event in Munich.

Just before we go further, just explain here a bit more on the #NEXTGen event: From 25 to 27 June 2019 the company invites selected international journalists, analysts and further stakeholders to “BMW Group #NEXTGen” at BMW Welt in Munich. With this event, The BMW Group chooses a new direction with regard to how it presents its future technologies, services and products.

But back to the car now. Indeed, BMW explores with this “Versuchswagen” what is technically possible. A BMW 5 Series was taken off the production line, and then fitted with three fifth-generation electric drive units, resulting in a maximum system output in excess of …530 kW/720 hp. This transforms the 5-Series into a supercar: with this power, it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in comfortably under three seconds.

But it is not only about straight line performance, it is also about handling. A true BMW also puts a smile on the driver’s face through corners, and so the engineers got to work on the chassis and suspension.

Separately controlled motors provide unseen agility…

To this end, the chassis and powertrain engineers worked together particularly closely to maximise the car’s performance. Key to its dynamic superb qualities is that the two electric motors at the rear axle are controlled separately. This brings e-torque vectoring into play, which enables maximum drive power to be translated into forward propulsion even in extremely dynamic driving manoeuvres.

Two separate engines in the back…

The result is more effective and precise control than with a limited slip differential, because actively targeted inputs are possible in any driving situation. By contrast, a limited slip differential always reacts to a difference in rotation speed between the driven wheels, and therefore is slower to react.

As said, the drive system comprises three fifth-generation drive units, each of which brings together an electric motor and the associated power electronics and power take-off within a single housing. One is mounted at the front axle and two (a double drive unit) at the rear axle. Another notable aspect of this generation alongside its eye-catching power is that it is entirely free of rare earths. An electric motor of this type will make its series production debut in the BMW iX3. The iX3 will only have one motor, though, rather than three.

A series production car forms the basis…

Experienced test drivers handle the power and extract the possibilities of high performance handling…

As said, a current BMW 5 Series production model serves as the donor car for the Power BEV. Integrating a drive system of this type into a production car represents a serious technical undertaking, but it has been achieved here with absolutely no restriction in passenger compartment space. This makes it far easier to assess this drive concept alongside alternatives.

It has also allowed the engineers to look even more effectively into the possibilities opened up by two separately controllable electric motors at the rear axle with e-torque vectoring.

And that means, in future series-production vehicle projects, that the right technology can be selected for the model at hand. Customers will therefore be provided with the most appropriate technology for their choice of vehicle concept. Wow! Needless to say, we are now looking to the E-future with a very broad smile! Driving pleasure will be certainly part of it!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The New Jeep® Renegade Plug-In Hybrid: on E-power now at Parco del Valentino…

A beautiful Turin setting was chosen for the first international on-road debut of Jeep’s both the new Hybrid Plug-Ins (PHEVs), the new Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass.

Indeed, at the the Salone dell’Auto in Turin, the new SUV will set off from Piazza Vittorio Veneto and parade around the city centre circuit, giving spectators a chance to realise how quiet it really is.

Both Renegade and Compass have CO2 emissions below 50g/km, and are both fitted with plug-in hybrid propulsion systems. Batteries can be recharged by the internal combustion engine or from an external power outlet.

They have a pure electric range of approximately 50 kilometres and about 130 km/h full electric top speed for both Renegade and Compass. The electric units work in synergy with the new 1.3-litre turbo petrol engines. There is ample power: the combined action of the two propulsion systems, internal combustion and electric, produces up to 240 hp.

The off-road talents of hybrid propulsion

Thanks to the high torque of the electric motor and the ability to adjust it with extreme precision during take-off and while driving on the most challenging terrain, off road behaviour is further improved.

Thanks to the new electric all-wheel-drive technology (eAWD), traction to the rear axle is not provided by a prop shaft but through a dedicated electric motor. This allows the two axles to be separated and to control the torque independently in a more effective way than a mechanical system. We cannot wait to collect driving impressions for you soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Subaru Outback 2.5i-X CVT: there is a genius out there…

New grille and headlights distinguish the latest Outback…

Some cars are bursting of ingenuity, hiding their technical marvels under the bonnet. You only discover it as you drive them. All Subaru’s are such cars, and this Outback proved this to us, once again…

Indeed, this Outback is a connoisseur’s car. What to think of a marvellous double overhead cam boxer, 175 hp strong, with a power to litre ratio of 70 HP? This is more than the legendary 2 litre 1963 356B Porsche Carrera GS, which pumped out 130bhp at 6,200rpm of its 1,966cc DOHC Flat 4-Cylinder Engine, fed with Dual Solex 40PII-4 Downdraft Carburettors… and the 1965 Porsche 911 for that matter.  

But that is far from all. This Outback has a supersmooth CVT transmission and permanent AWD, boasting excellent off-road talents. It also proves to be a practical, sturdy companion.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Pleasing looks

The styling people of Subaru are this time making their sums right, and indeed struck very elegant proportions and curves in designing this SUV. Just look at the photos and you will agree. This Outback looks good from any angle, and we met with many admiring looks and comments during our test. The new bumper and grille mark this latest version, and new headlights, which now actively track in the direction of a turn to enhance visibility. LED light is now available, as well as High Beam Assist, which  can automatically switch the headlights between the high and low settings when an oncoming vehicle is detected, enhancing safety for both you and other drivers on the road.

The same can be said of the cabin, with everything very logically in place, and with seats and steering wheel being easily adjustable, we found the correct seating position in a breeze. A 10-way adjustable power driver’s seat with 2-position memory function and 4-way power front passenger seat help make you find that good position. Infotainment and navigation are totally new, but logical and self explaining, and soon we were on our way. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are built in standard, so you can enjoy navigation with your connected smart phone.

But the Salon version we drove has an in-built navigation system which uses Tom-Tom based maps. The seating position is pleasantly high, and does not give a way much here in comparison to the Subaru SUV Forester. New ventilation vents and new and simpler commands for the climate control distinguish the newer version.

Refinement

Mechanical refinement is one of the hallmarks of this Outback. Push the starting knob, slide the handle in “D” and off you go. Boxer engines are vibrationless, and we truly enjoy this. The CVT transmission has infinite ratios, so there are no jerks or rev changes when accelerating.

Soon you learn to lift the accelerator early when accelerating smoothly, so the CVT chooses immediately the highest possible ratio, and this allows you to cruise at the legal urban speeds at close to tickover speeds, say 1000 rpm or so. Needless to say that this will dramatically reduce urban fuel consumption, which we maintained between 7 and 8 liters, driving with some restraint. The manufacturer quotes a combined consumption of 7,3 liters/100 km, and  CO2 emission(s) of 166 g/km. We must admit that Subaru did a very good job here in reducing fuel consumption further. We point out here too that the CVT transmission, which had hitherto 6 electronically controlled ratios you could choose from, now has an electronic seventh (very) high ratio, which again enhances economy.

 The Subaru is quite responsive when you push the throttle deeper, and the fact that the CVT will choose the right ratio for optimum pulling power results in excellent agility and will get you out of any traffic situation if needed. Performance is more than adequate, with a 0 to 100 km/h time of 10,2 seconds and a top speed of 198 km/h.

Spacious…

The Outback is quite roomy, and will seat comfortably two adults in the back, which enjoy plenty of head- and legroom. Three baby seats can easily be fitted on the back seat, and in the back there are also two USB charging points provided. The Subaru offers also lots of luggage space, with a minimum volume of 559 liters and 1848 liters with the backrests fully folded down.   

X-Mode will make you an expert off-road

Pleasant handling and versatile off-road with lots of pulling power…

New shocks make the Outback more comfortable, body roll is better contained, and this Outback does not protest at all when driven in a spirited manner. This Outback has Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) with Active Torque Vectoring which helps provide sharper, more stable handling. It automatically senses steering and braking inputs to help keep the vehicle on the driver’s intended path. It really works!

Never forget, it has 8,7 inch ground clearance, and performs very well on terrain. It has standard X-MODE, which optimizes the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system for maximum traction. X-MODE also incorporates Hill Descent Control for stability and confidence when descending more difficult grades.

It is also ideal for pulling that horse trailer, and can indeed tow up to 2.000 kg.

…and safe with EyeSight 3.0.

The confidence of EyeSight is now a standard feature on the Outback. This advanced safety technology monitors traffic movement, optimizes cruise control, and warns you when you’re swaying outside your lane. The Pre-Collision Braking feature can even apply full braking force, bringing you to a complete stop in emergency situations, reducing the rate of rear-end crashes with injuries by 85%. You have actually an extra set of eyes on the road…

Last but not least we have a word of praise for the Harman Kardon premium audio system in our test car, with 12 speakers and a 576-watt-equivalent amplifier.

A standard Rear-Vision Camera enhances rear visibility when backing up. Its display includes guidelines to help you see the vehicle’s path and judge distance to other objects. And with available Reverse Automatic Braking, your vehicle can even stop itself to avoid objects behind while in reverse.

We liked the fact that you had also a side view of the car on the split screen when manoeuvring, and could also put on the front camera when you want for better vision at the front end of the car.

Conclusion

This Subaru is a five star car: safety, reliability, boxer engines, excellent off road qualities with permanent 4WD, Eyesight 3.0, all this combined delivers indeed an outstanding vehicle, which is a dream to use everyday for all purposes of your busy (family) life.

In our country, the Subaru is rare and therefore rather exclusive, but keep in mind it is quite popular in the States and Japan, for all the good reasons. So we would conclude, have a (test) drive in one, and soon you will be a convinced follower…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Pay only for your miles with your Jeep

Time to think of alternative ways about paying for your mobility, if you read this slide…

At the Jeep presentation at the Lago di Garda, we attended a gripping presentation by Marcella Merli, Head of Group Sales & Marketing of FCA Bank. We also had a long conversation with her, about how we use our cars, and how we should have a fresh look at car ownership and think about alternative and clever ways to finance and fund our individual mobility.

This article is also a first in a series where we will present on a regular basis alternative and clever ways of mobility finance schemes.

Marcella Merli, Head of Group Sales & Marketing of FCA Bank, presented with verve the “Jeep Miles” program…

Indeed, she presented here for Leasys, the rental and mobility company of FCA Bank, their “Jeep Miles” program, the new pay-per-use rental solution designed especially for Jeep customers.

Inspired by the “Pay per Use” trend, today increasingly popular with consumers in various sectors, it offers subscribers the possibility to pay for their vehicle only when they are actually using it. “Jeep Miles” is a long-term rental requiring no down payment, that offers a convenient monthly fee, plus a variable cost calculated based on the kilometres actually travelled. The Mopar Connect T-Box, installed on board the vehicle, registers the mileage travelled by the customer. There are no mileage limits, for a real “Pay per Use” experience!

Marcella Merli presented amongst others this typical example, seen here on the photographed slide, of Andrew, an international account manager

Jeep Miles will be available in selected European markets in 2019.

The fixed monthly fee will include the main mobility services, with different formulas. A variable component will then be added on, calculated by applying the rate per kilometre to the mileage actually travelled by the customer. The first 1,000 kilometres will be free of charge.

Jeep customers who, for example, only use the car in specific periods of the year, or are often abroad for work, will find Jeep Miles an ideal solution for their mobility requirements. It will also be suitable for those who mainly use their vehicle in the city, clocking up low annual mileages.

Marcella Merli presented amongst others this typical example, seen here on the photographed slide, of Andrew, an international account manager, single, goes on long international business trips had occasionally uses his Jeep Compass on weekends.

In his scheme, there is a small fixed instalment of 249 Euros, a “light” scheme of 0,09 Euro per km, including Third Party Liability, Road Tax, Road Assistance, the Leasys APP. The 0,18 Euro per km scheme includes further Fire & Theft, Collision Damage Waiver and last but not least Full Maintenance.

Soon, Leasys will also introduce soon a credit card, which like we said, gives you an extra 1,000 miles on your Jeep Miles contract, and enables also to buy with a discount all the Mopar accessories you can think of…  

Tempted? Indeed, think differently about financing your mobility…and enjoy your Jeep driving even more!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 6,4 litre V8 Hemi in the SRT…

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

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

Beautiful instrumentation with a centrally placed rev counter…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Opel Grandland X: a Crossover-SUV with some grand qualities…

We always had a weak spot for Opels for their willingness to perform, handle and drive with zest and ease. It leads many Opel owners to become enthused drivers, and appreciate their cars the longer they own and drive them.

Combine all these good dynamic qualities with their robustness, the quality of workmanship and materials used and you have a cocktail which is very much appreciated throughout Europe.

Of course, Opel also has embarked fully into the SUV trend, and has put some very interesting contenders on the road. We are driving for you here the Grandland X Flagship version, and were glad to rediscover again all the good Opel qualities…masterfully retained despite the fact that Opel and Peugeot have co-developed this mid-sized SUV-Crossover, and this even long before GM even considered getting rid of their German subsidiary.

Just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Opel Grandland X: a Crossover-SUV with some grand qualities…”