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…”

BMW reveals the brand new 1 Series…

BMW enters a new era with its new 1 Series: front wheel drive makes its entry in this third generation. This results in more room, but driving pleasure and dynamic qualities have been retained, BMW assures us.

The third generation of the BMW 1 Series will be unveiled to the public for the first time on 25 – 27 June 2019 on the new BMW Group #NEXTGen presentation platform at BMW Welt in Munich. Hosting the show premiere of the new BMW 1 Series, meanwhile, will be the IAA event in Frankfurt am Main in September 2019. The worldwide launch will get underway on 28 September 2019.

We show you here the first photos, and we must admit, we already were offered a first (pre)view of this car at the presentation of the #18 BMW Art Car at the Brussels Brand Store… Corporate PR Officer Saschia de Rudder then asked us to cover our smart phone cameras, offering us this very smart pouch… which we then did, noblesse oblige!

But just read and look further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A new, bolder stance.

What first impresses is the signature BMW kidney grille, which is now larger, with far greater presence. For the first time in this model range, the two kidneys now merge in the middle. The sporting flagship of the line-up, the BMW M135i xDrive, replaces the grille’s classical bars with a prominent threedimensional mesh design inspired by racing cars. The headlights are now angled in design. This Series 1 has now truly grown up… to underline all this, know that 19-inch rims are available as an option for the first time.

 

More luxury too: The electric panoramic roof available for the first time on the BMW 1 Series, as well as backlit trim strips. They come in three different designs with six switchable colours. Optional infotainment features of the new BMW Operating System 7.0 – using gestures, if the relevant option is specified – are via a grouping of two displays, each of which have a screen diagonal measuring up to 10.25 inches in the case of the BMW Live Cockpit Professional. Also a full-colour, 9.2-inch BMW Head-Up Display is available as an option for the first time on the BMW 1 Series.

More room…

Getting in is easier and knee room for the rear passengers has increased by 33 millimetres. The rear offers a full 19 millimetres of extra headroom if the outward-opening sliding panoramic sunroof is specified. Rear passengers also enjoy 13 millimetres more elbowroom, while the driver and front passenger can look forward to an extra 42 millimetres in this respect.

The load compartment capacity of 380 litres is 20 litres up on the outgoing car and folding down the rear seat bench increases this to 1,200 litres.

Four equipment lines and one flagship model.

The base Advantage model is joined in the new BMW 1 Series line-up by three other equipment lines, which differ from one another in both exterior and interior details. The Luxury Line model accentuates the classy and comfortable side to the car’s character with the help of body applications in Aluminium satinated and seat upholstery in Dakota leather.

The Sport Line model with Black accents, window graphic in BMW Individual high gloss Shadow Line and sports seats, and the M Sport model with accents in Aluminium satinated, front apron with specially shaped air intakes and BMW M rear apron in High-gloss Black lead the 1 Series up the dynamic BMW Media Information 05/2019 Page 4 ladder culminating in the BMW M135i xDrive. The flagship model stands out with features including a mesh-design BMW kidney grille, angle-cut tailpipe tips in Cerium Grey and a BMW M rear spoiler in body colour.

Cutting-edge new front-wheel-drive architecture…

A five year process of development has brought all the experience acquired over recent years with front-wheel-drive BMW Group models together in the new Series 1.  Also the transfer of technology from BMW i to the BMW core brand contributed to create a proper BMW with a character all its own. Whether front-wheel-drive or equipped with BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive, “the new 1 Series has taken its agility to a level above its predecessor”, BMW claims.

An important factor here is the ARB (actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation) technology familiar from the BMW i3s. This is now making its debut in a combustion-engined vehicle and allows wheel slip to be controlled much more sensitively and swiftly than before. A standard feature of the BMW 1 Series, ARB uses a slip controller that is positioned directly in the engine control unit rather than in the control unit for the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system. Eliminating the long signal paths, means that information is relayed three times quicker, while the driver perceives wheel slip being brought under control up to ten times faster. Actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation works in close tandem with the DSC system to bring about a clear reduction in the power understeer normally experienced in front-wheel-drive cars.

The ARB technology is assisted in its task by BMW Performance Control (yaw moment distribution). This feature, also included as standard on the 1 Series, gives it more agile handling by applying the brakes as required at the wheels on the inside of the bend before the slip threshold has been reached. The result is neutral steering behaviour. Besides the standard suspension – which already has a dynamic set-up and is specially tuned to the different engine variants – and the M Sport suspension with a 10 mm reduction in ride height, the all-new BMW 1 Series can also be specified with the Adaptive suspension with VDC (Variable Damper Control) as an option.

Two models with BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive.

ARB technology and BMW Performance Control are likewise included in the BMW 120d xDrive and BMW M135i xDrive, which feature intelligent all-wheel drive as standard. Standard specification for the M135i xDrive also includes a newly developed mechanical Torsen limited-slip differential, which gives the car an even sportier edge by creating a locking effect between the front wheels.

Three diesel engines and two petrol variants from launch. Customers can order their new BMW 1 Series with a choice of three- and four-cylinder engines from the latest-generation BMW EfficientDynamics family. A host of detail improvements give them better fuel economy, lower emissions and, in some cases, more power than before. Three diesel engines and two petrol units are available, developing from 85 kW (116 hp) in the BMW 116d (fuel consumption combined: 4.2 – 3.8 l/100 km [67.3 – 74.3 mpg imp]; CO2 emissions combined: 110 – 100 g/km*) to 225 kW (306 hp) in the BMW M135i xDrive. The new engine powering the latter model is the most powerful four-cylinder unit in the BMW Group line-up. The BMW M135i xDrive dispatches 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a mere 4.8 seconds (4.7 seconds with M Performance package, available from 11/2019) on the way to a governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Despite these impressive performance figures, combined fuel consumption is just 7.1 – 6.8 litres per 100 km [39.8 – 41.5 mpg imp] and CO2 emissions come in at only 162 – 155 grams per kilometre, says BMW. All the engines available for the BMW 1 Series meet the Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standard, while the BMW 116d is already Euro 6d-compliant. The petrol engines are equipped with a gasoline particulate filter and the diesels with a diesel particulate filter, NOx adsorption catalyst and SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) technology.

Three different transmission technologies now available.

The BMW 116d, BMW 118d and BMW 118i come as standard with the further-developed six-speed manual gearbox, while the seven-speed dual-clutch Steptronic transmission can be specified as an option for the BMW 116d and BMW 118i. The eight-speed Steptronic transmission – available as an option for the BMW 118d and standard on the BMW 120d xDrive – and the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission of the BMW M135i xDrive boast further improved smoothness and acoustic properties. Intelligent connectivity allows both automatic transmissions to adapt their shift strategy to the route and traffic situation at hand.

Assistance systems from BMW models higher up the range.

A large number of innovative driver assistance systems fitted in the BMW 1 Series have been taken from models higher up the BMW range to make their debuts in the premium compact class;

Standard equipment in Europe includes collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function, which also alerts the driver to the presence of cyclists. Also fitted as standard is the Lane Departure Warning system with active lane return, which is operational from 70 to 210 km/h (44 – 130 mph). Options include Active Cruise Control usable up to 160 km/h (99 mph) – on cars with automatic transmission and Stop & Go function – plus the Driving Assistant, which comprises the Lane Change Warning system, rear collision warning and crossing traffic warning.

Celebrating its premiere in the premium compact class is the innovative reversing assistant, which stores the steering movements for any section the car has just driven forward along at no more than 36 km/h (22 mph). The system is then able to steer the vehicle in reverse – for distances of up to 50 metres at up to 9 km/h (5.5 mph) – along exactly the same line it took when moving forward.

The smartphone as car key.

The BMW 1 Series is available with the option of two new smart features that have previously only been seen in BMW models higher up the ladder: the BMW Digital Key and the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. Available as an option, the BMW Digital Key enables users to lock and unlock the vehicle from a smartphone using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, rendering the conventional car key surplus to requirements. Holding the smartphone up to the door handle opens the car – even if the phone battery is dead. The engine can be started as soon as the phone has been placed in the smartphone tray or wireless charging tray.

Operation by iDrive Controller, touch, voice or gestures.

The new BMW 1 Series lets drivers use a variety of operating methods, depending on the situation and personal preferences. In addition to the usual buttons on the centre console and steering wheel, other frontline control elements include the iDrive Controller – with touchpad from BMW Live Cockpit Plus upwards – and the standard 8.8-inch Control Display with touch screen functionality. BMW Live Cockpit Plus also adds a navigation system and intelligent voice control with online speech processing. BMW Live Cockpit Professional, based on the new BMW Operating System 7.0, brings together the fully digital display and operating system (including two 10.25- inch displays) with maximum connectivity and customisability….

The Series 1 has definitely grown up… we are of course very anxious to gather first driving impressions!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Having a field day with Jeep at the Lago di Garda…

A formidable driving experience on Italian roads: 710 horsepower under your right foot!

Your servant had the exquisite pleasure to drive the whole Jeep range on the roads and heavy terrain around the scenic Lago di Garda, and get acquainted with their unique panache and qualities, ranging from the rugged Rubicon to the superfast Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

Thr Wrangler proved its legendary Jeep stamina on the muddy mountain roads around the Lago…

Soon you will read the full report about our unique driving experiences in these columns, stay tuned!

The elegant, refined but totally rugged Grand Cherokee in front of the parish church of Rivoltella, built in the 15th century…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A classic thoroughbred is now five generations young: the Toyota Supra

Race bred by Toyota Gazoo Racing: the latest Supra.

There are car builders which nurture classic and iconic sports cars and bring them to perfection. A classic two seater coupé with a well sounding straight six under its long hood and with all the power fed to the rear wheels.

This car builder is Toyota, and the car is the Supra. This sports/GT has been honed and carefully improved over five model generations now and is better than ever.

The Supra is not only race proven over the years, speeding from success to success under the flag of Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s President Aiko Toyoda actually hurtles this Supra himself around the Nürburgring Nordschleife for hours on end. The result is a breathtaking machine. We present you here its highlights…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

First worldwide GR model of Gazoo Racing

Actually this fifth generation marks a remarkable début for Toyota Gazoo Racing, in establishing its GR model range. They couldn’t have chosen a better car.

Toyota Gazoo Racing is the global organisation of Toyota’s worldwide racing and sporting activities. They chalked up last year a win in Le Mans and also won the Dakar rally.

Tetsuya Tada’s masterpiece

Chief engineer kept the layout and character of the original GT 2000 and the previous Supra generations firmly in mind when designing this latest Supra.

Aiko Toyoda sat himself behind the wheel to give the Supra its final touch…

Short wheelbase, wide track, low gravity point, low weight and a very stiff chassis are the ingredients for pur sang handling. The 3 litre straight six has a twin scroll turbo and develops 340 DIN horsepower and 500 Nm torque. It is coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and guarantees powerful accelerations and indeed tons of pulling power at all engine speeds.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing was instrumental in honing the new sports car’s performance, working extensively on the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife and surrounding roads in Germany to achieve the most agile, stable and rewarding handling possible. Further extensive testing was carried out on roads around the world.

An 8 speed automatic lets you control the power like a master…

To be certain that the car delivered on its promise, Toyota President Akio Toyoda himself put it to the test at the Nürburgring in his role as a Master Driver before giving it the final green light.

New Toyota GR Supra customer deliveries will start from summer 2019. By the way, did you know that all cars will be manufactured in Graz, Austria?

Just look at the photos here, and indeed we are looking forward to driving this absolute gem!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Subaru presents the new Levorg for 2019

Presently we are driving the Subaru Outback and Forester 2.0i CVT, and are again very impressed by its superb technology and road manners. The MY 2019 of the Levorg is therefore quite interesting.

It has been further optimized for our European markets, and besides a redesigned bonnet, the more important news is what lies under the hood: it has the latest development of the 2.0i atmospheric boxer engine, coupled to the Symmetrical AWD four-wheel drive and Lineartronic CVT transmission. We appreciated this drivetrain now in both test cars we are driving, and it is formidable indeed.

According to Subaru, the new Levorg has a new, softer suspension and steering response to deliver higher driving comfort and better driving dynamics.

The EyeSight Driver Assist technology of the 2019 Levorg has also been further improved with functions to detect pedestrians and cyclists moving in the same direction of travel of the vehicle faster, which means that the car will brake earlier in an emergency.

In our country, the Levorg 2.0i is available from June at dealers from € 29,995 for the GT Luxury Lineartronic CVT and from € 32,995 for the GT-S Premium Lineartonic CVT.

Good to know that the model name Levorg is based on three words: LEgacy, reVOlutionand touRinG…

Stay posted for our test reports, which will appear soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel