We drove the Jeep Wrangler 2.2 Multijet 200 HP: only Jeep will always be Jeep…

If there is an absolute icon for rugged outdoors motoring, then it is Jeep. The original 1941 Jeep still celebrates in parades how it liberated our shores. And up to the present days, it uplifts our hearts and liberates our minds.

The Jeep Wrangler is an icon which continues to uphold the fascination for the original. Just look at it standing in front of your home. The looks are all there.

The legendary seven-slot grille, with the outer grille slats intersecting with the headlights, paying homage to the legendary CJ model. The trapezoidal wheel arches, the visible hinges, the removable top, all this continues the tradition, albeit in a very modern manner. As this Jeep is king on the rugged terrain, it is also royal to drive on the road, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Don’t you just love a car which will never, ever let you down, and just brings you to your destination whatever the weather, the road conditions? A car which breathes timeless authenticity, looks and conveys exactly what it stands for, nothing more, nothing less? Then this Wrangler is the car for you. It certainly was the car for us, all during this test.

We just love the ideal, well honed proportions of this fourth generation Wrangler. We are smitten by its wide stance and lowered beltline with larger windows, making the car look “just right”.

The windshield is tilted to an optimal degree to improve aerodynamics, and features a new four bolt design at the top of the windshield’s frame to allow the windshield to fold down quickly and easily. It is also the only authentic full open-air 4×4 SUV available on the market. It has for instance an easy-to-use Freedom Top, a removable, three-panel hard top.

Our car also had the Overland pack, and this offers unique 18-inch aluminium wheels, a body colour grille with bright accent throats and headlamp bezels, body colour hard spare tyre cover and Overland logo. The exterior of the Overland pack is complemented by dedicated leather interior and LED lights.

The cabin also breathes the Jeep purposefulness. The dashboard stands deliciously upright, and features round and very clear instruments combined with the soft-touch surface with accent stitching. The completely restyled centre console houses the gear shift selection, transfer case and parking brake. Real bolts featured on the shifter, grab handles and frame the infotainment screen highlight genuine construction methods. Yeah, this is Jeep.

One of Wrangler’s unique characteristics are the entirely washable interiors and the protective rubber cover for the infotainment system screen, that allows easy clean up in complete peace of mind.

Not that you are devoid of modern infotainment or or creature comfort. The Wrangler has heated front seats, and even a heated steering wheel. The armrests in the doors are also lengthened so you can comfortably lean back on motorway journeys.

The central console also features a 7.0-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreens (both with Android auto Car Play connectivity). The fourth-generation UconnectTM system enhances the user interface and system performance with quicker start up times and improved screen resolution. The LED display is full-colour and allows the driver to configure information in more than 100 ways. All the functions are intuitive, well explained, utterly logical and we can say this is a car which you can use in its more than basic functions without ever having to look at the manual.

Going for that unique driving experience…

Pushing the dashboard weather sealed starting button lets the latest generation 2.2-litre MultiJet II turbo diesel jump to life. A state of the art diesel unit, with second-generation MultiJet technology, four valves per cylinder, belt-driven Double Over Head Camshafts (DOHC), 2,000-bar Common Rail injection system, solenoid injectors and a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT). It is good for 200 horsepower at 3,500 rpm and a torque of 450 Nm at 2,000 rpm. Enough to propel the Wrangler from 0 to 100 km in 9,6 seconds and push it further to a top speed of 180 km/h. But in everyday driving, you just enjoy the massive torque which is artfully passed on to the wheels by a supersmooth and alert 8 speed automatic. The Wrangler invites you to adopt a relaxed and anticipatory driving style, with the engine humming along hardly above 2000 rpm. Urban driving is a pleasure: you are sitting high above the traffic, and you are almost always well noticed by many other road users, as its imposing dimensions impress but find sympathy with many. Indeed, the Wrangler is quite popular, and as soon as the car is parked, it collects interested and admiring looks.

So you can potter along, with the engine and transmission providing silky smooth progress. The suspension is remarkably comfortable too, and of course our damaged and potholed urban roads and pavés are just the thing for your Wrangler.

The driver satisfaction continues on the open road. Not that the Wrangler begs you to throw it around corners, but it will provide excellent stability at speed and fast corners are taken with ease. As expected it is an excellent motorway cruiser, and the high gearing keeps consumption well within very reasonable limits. Cruising at legal limits on the motorway delivers an average consumption between 6-7 liters, urban errands let the consumption rise to 9-10 litres, although a cool, fluent driving style can work wonders here. CO2 emissions are still within boundaries with 202 g/km.

Off road champion

Of course, the brave really get going when the going gets rough. There are stories (and films) about Wranger owners who pull 30 tonne trucks out of snowy ditches, and this Wrangler is a true champion off-road. The terrain selector tells you already the story.

By shifting this dedicated lever to the 4WD High position, the driver can switch to four-wheel drive mode This 4H mode can be selected to operate either in the new “Auto” mode – ideal for any driving condition thanks to the continuous monitoring and management of the torque and the automatic engagement and disengagement of the 4WD as needed to maintain traction -, or in the 4H “Part Time” mode that ensures the torque is always evenly distributed between front and rear axles. To tackle extremely challenging and demanding off-road tracks,you can use the 4WD Low mode with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio that multiplies the engine torque.

We can assure you, there are no limits to what this Jeep can do. We tested this also out already for you some time earlier in the Austrian forests around Zeltweg and the muddy quarries in the region of the Lago di Garda, and you have to experience to believe it. In open forestland terrain in Belgium this Wrangler is hardly challenged, and what a delightful feeling it is that you will arrive at your destination no matter what.

Suffice to say here that two four-wheel drive systems are available on the Wrangler: Command-Trac – on the Sport and Sahara trim levels, i.e. our test car, and Rock-Trac – which is standard on the Rubicon trim configuration. Both systems feature the new “Selec-Trac” full-time two-speed transfer case for a continuous monitoring and management of the torque sent to front and rear wheels.

Creature comfort

This Wrangler is also quite a comfortable car. Not only are the seats excellent with plenty of bolster and lumbar support, the Wrangler continues to utilize the proven five-link coil suspension configuration. Front suspension features a lateral control arm and four longitudinal control arms, while the five-link rear suspension features two upper and two lower forged steel control arms for longitudinal control, and a track bar for lateral axle control.

The long suspension travel and progressive damping warrants excellent comfort, and on tarmac potholes as well as rough and rocky terrain, passengers are never unduly jolted. It is good living with the Wrangler too. Plenty of 12 V and even a 230 V plug for your electric devices, USB connections on dashboard panel and centre console, everything is at your disposal. Luggage space is quite adequate, with 533 liter minimum up to 1044 liters. Of course, there is still the roof, and Jeeps can carry a lot there too…

On top of all this, every Jeep lover knows all too well that Mopar has all the nifty accessories you always wanted, to make your Wrangler even more terrific.

Conclusion

This Wrangler really took our heart with its authenticity, its style, its on- and offroad performance, its comfort, its endearing solidity. A companion who will bring you everywhere you want, come what may. Its timeless shape will seduce you for years to come, its Euro 6d diesel engine is future (low-emission zone) proof. Last but not least a respectful right foot, which understands what proper Jeep driving is all about, will deliver you more than adequate economy, and put a broad smile on your face when you are behind the wheel in its cool and cosy cabin, cocooning while the kilometers unroll under its solid wheels.

You would never like it to stop, really, at least we never did…

Hans Knol ten Bensel            

We drove the Audi Q3 Sportback 45 TFSI Quattro: enjoy elegance and thoroughbred performance…

We all know the Audi adage “Vorsprung durch Technik” and this is indeed what the brand masterfully embodies through its products.

The elegant Q3 we tested makes no exception to this rule. It brings you the ultimate in state of the art classic, non electrified technology, and with its 230 HP makes driving this elegant 4WD a true feast… just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Living in style.

Audi cars breathe style. Their designers carefully honed the already well proportioned Q3 to a distinct, elegant, coupé-like SUV/Crossover, with the good dimensions further enhanced by bigger wheels in the S line Quattro version we tested. The front end is angular and decidedly masculine, as Audi puts it, underlined by the trapezoidal air inlets, which are connected to each other by a narrow blade in the bumper. The sloping roof-line makes the car appear considerably longer than its sister model, the Q3, although the difference is just 16 millimeters. The Audi designers positioned the roof frame lower by 29 mm, and indeed, this Q3 looks sleek. In the S line exterior, the bumpers, the wheel arch trims, and sill trims are distinctively colored.

Here just one word about the Matrix LED headlights: Nine LEDs generate the low beam light and ten more LEDs create the high beam light.  

When the camera detects other road users, they are masked out of the light beam in a targeted fashion.

The matrix LED headlights also feature front and rear dynamic turn signals.

The cabin and dashboard also breathe the cherished Audi design language and philosophy. Clean, rakish yet fluid contours dominate the dashboard layout, and we find of course the virtual instrumentation, which is clear to read and stylish.

The instrument panel is designed in two zones, which makes it appear particularly wide. The upper zone integrates the air vents while the lower zone constitutes the operating level.

We tell you more later about the lavish array of infotainment functions, just suffice to say here that the central element here is the centre console with optional MMI touch display in our test car, which is together with the climate control unit tilted toward the driver by ten degrees.

In “our” S line, the seat backrests feature the embossed S logo, and the sport leather steering wheel bears a corresponding emblem. There is ample room for four if not five adults, the rear seats can be moved 130 mm (5.1 in) longitudinally as standard; their backrests are divided into three sections, and their inclination can be adjusted in seven stages. The volume of the luggage compartment ranges from 530 l (18.7 cu ft) to 1,400 l (49.4 cu ft). The loading floor can be adjusted to two levels, and the rear shelf is located beneath it. Our test car had the electric tailgate that can also be opened and closed with a foot motion.  

Driving is believing.

Pushing the starting knob revealed the feline smoothness of the 2 litre TFSI petrol engine. State of the art responsiveness is what you can expect from this unit: it delivers 169 kW (230 metric hp) at 5,000–6,200 rpm and 350 Nm (258.1 lb-ft) of torque between 1,500 to 4,300 rpm. Coupled to the 7-speed S-Tronic, you can expect some serious performance. And indeed, this Q3 truly delivers.

In supersmooth staccato the engine redlines and catapults the Q3 in 6,5 seconds to 100 km/h, hurtling further to a top speed of 233 km/h. Close to supercar performance, let this be said. And the beauty here is again, as befits a well engineered thoroughbred, that all this is achieved completely effortlessly, with chassis and drivetrain being always well mannered, keeping the driver in complete control. The engine is never obtrusive, and the S-Tronic always changes judiciously and at lightning speed. Of course one has the choice over different driving modes, and the consumption changes distinctly according to the selected mode and driving style. The manufacturer quotes between 7.7–7.3 l/100 km as combined fuel consumption, with CO2 emissions being 174–166 g/km.

It takes a very gentle foot indeed to stay between 8 and 9 litres/100 km in urban traffic, driving at legal limits on the open road will bring your consumption down to the 7 litres level. But of course, power costs fuel. We witness now an intensive “hybridisation” of the Audi range, and soon we will be able to drive the first Audi hybrids on the road. Suffice to say here for those enthusiasts keen on economy that the 1.5 TFSi in the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI uses the cylinder on demand technology, which switches off two cylinders at low and medium loads.

Later this engine will follow with S tronic and 48 volt mild hybrid system. During deceleration, it recovers energy; during acceleration from low speeds, it supports the engine. In real-life driving, it can save up to 0.4 l of fuel per 100 km.

At the moment of writing, we are driving the new Passat Hybrid GTE, and to tell you right away, it is an impressive plug-in hybrid indeed, with VW manifestly knowing very well what engineering and building a state of the art hybrid is all about.

Superb agility and balance

This SUV/Crossover coupé has also all what it takes to shine on curvy roads. First of all, it’s a Quattro, so it will certainly stand its own on wet and snowy roads, but it is also a very fine handling sporty companion on dry tarmac, being able to handle effortlessly all the power you unleash with your right foot.

At the limits of performance, the quattro drive works closely together with the wheel-selective torque control, It makes handling even more dynamic and stable by gently applying the brake to the inside wheels with the quattro drive and the inside front wheel with the front drive. The central element of the quattro drive system is a hydraulic multi-plate clutch on the rear axle. Its electronic management combines outstanding stability and strong traction with driving pleasure, the manufacturer tells us, and right they are.

The Audi digital world…

Our top of the range Q3 took us convincingly into the wonders of digital infotainment, and it is intuitive and easy to use. The flat menu structure is complemented by a control unit that uses natural language and can also understand free-form communication. Entering a navigation destination and the MMI search are based on free-form text input.

The system recognizes the driver’s most frequent destinations based on previous journeys, allowing it to generate suitable suggestions. When doing so, it takes into consideration statistical empirical values regarding the traffic load and time of day. Wow!  

…and being connected

The future doesn’t stop here of course. Together with MMI navigation plus, the online services of Audi connect are made available on board at LTE Advanced speed via a permanently installed SIM card.

This includes, for example, online traffic information and the online points of interest service, which complements route guidance with photos, opening hours and user evaluations.

Thanks to the inter-connectivity of the Audi fleet, the Q3 Sportback receives and provides information about parking spaces on the roadside, hazard areas and speed limits, which are detected via the on-board camera and vehicle sensors.

Navigation with Google Earth and the hybrid radio, which automatically switches between FM, DAB and online streaming depending on the reception conditions, also form part of the Audi connect navigation & infotainment plus package. The voice control system uses the detailed knowledge in the cloud to answer the driver’s questions and commands. The future has arrived with this package!

Of course, this Audi also takes care of your smart phone. The free myAudi app and the Audi smartphone interface ensure interconnectivity between the car and smartphone. This integrates Android and iOS cell phones into the on-board infotainment system.

The content of the smartphone is shown on the MMI display via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and no cables are required if the top infotainment system is used with an iPhone. The Audi phone box and the Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System with virtual 3D sound complete this comprehensive offer.

Of course, there is the whole array of electronic driving aids, which makes both urban and long distance touring a true pleasure…

Conclusion

A stunning compact yet roomy SUV, offering in this powerful version tons of driving pleasure, yet remaining utterly sophisticated and docile.

With its superb styling, workmanship and finish, this Audi is a car to love and behold, and care for during its long, reliable life, if you have the pleasure and privilege to own it for some time. It constitutes undoubtedly the pinnacle what classic medium size petrol engined drivetrains can offer, and as such constitutes a benchmark indeed.

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

We drove the Kia XCeed 1.4 T: above and beyond your expectations…

There are cars which indeed exceed what you would think of them. Such a car is the latest Kia XCeed. We know that at the moment of writing there are already hybrid and electrified versions being built and they are to be seen on the Brussels show. Just read our comments elsewhere in these columns.

Intrigued as we were about this bestselling Kia, we tested it for you in the 140 HP 1,4 litre petrol engine version, and to tell you right away, we were stunned by its mechanical refinement and smooth manners…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Kia XCeed 1.4 T: above and beyond your expectations…”

We drove the new Renault Clio Tce 100: a much awarded bestseller…

Did you know that the Renault Clio has been the bestselling car in its class in Europe since 2013? Deservedly so, we would think. It has style and panache, both inside and out. It sets new standards in its class, the automotive media world says, and we can only agree. It drives, looks and spoils you with advanced tech. Last but not least it introduces Level Two autonomous driver assistance systems to its sector.

Its interior is another highlight, featuring the option of larger 9.3-inch EASY LINK infotainment screen and a ten-inch TFT instrument cluster. We drove the lively and frugal Tce 100 HP version. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel 

Nice to live in…

The cabin and its infotainment is indeed one of the very strong points of this Clio. Its many features give you the distinct feel and impression you are sitting at the wheel of an upmarket car. The large central screen is a breeze and joy to use, and it spoils you if you want with the new EASY LINK multimedia platform featuring Android AutoTM, Apple CarPlayTM and 4G connectivity.

In our test car we were also spoiled with park assist, regulated air conditioning, keyless entry, reversing camera with 360 ° view, just to name a few.

The used materials on panels and seat upholstery have also definitely a premium look and feel to it. But that is not all. The seats are also comfortable, and there is enough room for four.

All the commands are intuitive, also last but not least thanks to the central touch screen with a myriad of functions effortlessly at your fingertips.

and to drive

Driving is (again) believing, and also here the Clio truly scores. Setting up a comfortable suspension and marrying it with excellent handling and road manners is not something you have to learn a French car builder. Indeed, here the Clio masterfully excels.

It irons out all the nasty bumps and potholes, still gives you excellent feedback through the steering wheel of the road, and handles smoothly and with precision. The steering has been made more responsive thanks to a reduction in ratio from 15.2 to 14.4, while the electrical assistance has been calibrated to provide more natural feedback.

There’s also a more solid and stable mounting of the front suspension that helps boost steering accuracy. Here is a true compact Gran Turismo which is build to whisk you over hundreds of kilometres or miles in comfort…

Mind you, this Clio is the first Renault to be built on CMF-B platform, and so you are literally driving the future, we can say. Did you know that all versions get features such as Active Emergency Braking System with pedestrian detection, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning?

Driving at night is also a breeze, as LED headlamps standard across the range.

Smooth petrol power…

The Clio comes with a choice of five powertrains, comprising three petrols and one diesel, with, as we told you already in these columns, the E-TECH hybrid to come in 2020. We drove the 3-cylinder 1 litre 100 HP version. It is packed with a raft of cutting-edge features, including a turbocharger with an electrically controlled recirculation valve, an exhaust manifold partially integrated into the cylinder head, twin variable intake valve timing and a bore spray coating for reduced friction.

Delivering 100 hp and a muscular 160 Nm of torque at just 2,750rpm, the new-generation engine makes the Clio quite lively, providing an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 11.8 seconds. Top speed is 187 km/h. It’s clean and frugal too. CO2 emissions are just around 100 g/km, and we clocked throughout the test quite often averages of 5,1 l/100 km. Of course, we know that much depends on your driving style, but it is good to know that these averages can be achieved with the standard 5 speed gearbox, which is slick and smooth, by the way.

Practical

There is quite some handy stowage room in the cabin, to a total of 26 litres, and the boot architecture has been optimised to make load area as square and unencumbered by intrusions as possible, while capacity has been increased to 391 litres, making it in top of its class. We also liked the double-height floor.

Conclusion

“The street is always right”, investment managers and bankers say when they comment about financial markets, interest rates and asset prices, and the same we can say about cars. When the international motoring press awards it and the public across Europe makes it a bestseller, then you know that this Clio has what it takes to win over your heart too… We from our part can say that we rarely found a car which was more satisfying and pleasurable to drive and use than this Renault…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1,4 120 HP: a very refined sporting thoroughbred…

Cuore Sportivo” This is the iconic adage of Alfa Romeo. It evokes the thoroughbred heart which throbs in their cars. And in this latest Giulietta it is a well sounding heart too. Indeed, the well proven 1,4 litre four cylinder unit does its well sounding work here, and it finds also a home in a wide range of models in the FCA stable. It develops here 120 HP, and this warrants undistilled driving pleasure. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

It is a well matured unit, and this amply shows in its superb mechanical refinement. Even after the first meters we noticed the turbine smoothness of this engine, even at lowest revs, with both gearbox and clutch – we drove the six speed manual version – being progressive and slick too. All this makes this Giulietta a total pleasure to drive in urban traffic, and frankly the Giulietta proved totally “zen” in daily use. The process of making this marvelous unit comply with the 6D emission standards will have helped also in giving it impeccable manners.

Of course this Giulietta is a true delight to drive with spirit, the engine revs up beautifully in the most well sounding staccato. The gearbox is expertly low geared to suit the torque characteristics of this thoroughbred engine, and the Alfa Romeo pilot has always enough power to move his Alfa with panache and zest through every traffic situation.

Agile and predictable

The Giulietta runs on a state of the art platform, and this guarantees superb handling. Indeed, steering the Giulietta with abandon over curvy stretches is an undistilled pleasure. Remaining neutral up to very high cornering speeds, the chassis and suspension is very forgiving and this Giulietta can be driven sportingly with confidence. Of course, the relatively moderate power of 120 HP helps too here, and we did not meet a driving situation where the suspension and chassis ran out of breath.

The Alfa steers with adequate precision, with the steering not transmitting too much information of the road surface through your fingertips. Some would like to have more feel, but your servant personally prefers a quieter and more stable steering wheel, so this was very much OK for me.

Last but not least, there is also the Alfa DNA driving mode selector. You can adjust the car’s dynamic handling, by modifying the engine torque, the brakes (via the Pre-Fill device), the accelerator response, the ESC control system.

Lively and remarkably frugal

Outright performance is quite up to the mark, with a 0 to 100 sprint absolved in 9,5 seconds, and a top speed of 195 km/h. Pulling power with torque of 215 Nm at 2500 rpm, staying high throughout the rev range, is quite good as the gearbox ratios are also quite well chosen.

Fuel consumption will depend as everybody knows, very much on your driving style, and charmed as we were by the superb smoothness and flexibility of the drivetrain, we adopted a cool, “zen” driving style, and when staying below 3000 rpm, we were hugely rewarded with an average consumption hovering between 6 and 6.5 litres/km over part of the test distance, with quite a bit of urban driving included, as well as heavy motorway traffic. In town, it takes a very gentle right foot to let consumption stay below the 9 liter mark.

But with the excellent engine flexibility and drivetrain smoothness, this is no difficult exercise indeed. The manufacturer quotes 7.2-7.4 l/100 km as overall average.

The suspension also strikes a very good balance between sporting responsiveness and comfort, and this makes this Giulietta a very good Gran Turismo.

Sound deadening and insulation is excellent too, at high cruising speeds the engine is never obtrusive, tire/road noise can impair listening to classical music however on specific road surfaces.

Alfa ambience both inside and out.

Alfa styling has always embodied a unique sporting panache, and this is translated by the curvy body lines as well as the instrumentation and the interior and dashboard layout. The new range features five trim levels – Giulietta, Giulietta Super, Giulietta Sport, Giulietta Executive and Giulietta Veloce – and each one responds to specific requirements.

On the exterior, we were very much charmed by the Visconti Green livery of our test car, the one-of-a-kind alloy wheel rims.

When it comes to instruments, this Giulietta continues the good tradition, although we still miss the bold instrumentation and dials of the Duetto for instance, but the dials here hark faithfully back to the ones we saw in the later Giulia Supers, and the dashboard finish is also reminiscent of wood inlays and wood grained surfaces of the beloved Giulia Super.

Overall, we just love it and we beg Alfa stylists to continue this good tradition. The same can be said of the seat upholstery. Indeed, the new Giulietta Veloce has new Alcantara and beige fabric seats, with leather seats optional, like in our test car. Need we say more?

Everyday practicality

This is your daily Alfa par excellence, not only with its excellent drivetrain and comfort, but also with the host of driving aids and the excellent connectivity you can enjoy throughout. Apple Car play and Android AutoTM are provided for, when you choose the Tech Pack, which offers the Alfa Connect 7″ from by Alpine infotainment system.

The Business Pack, for instance, has DAB radio with navigator and 6.5-inch screen, rear parking sensors and height-adjustable passenger seat.

The Convenience Pack includes rain sensor, the dusk sensor, electrochromic interior rear-view mirror, front and rear parking sensors, central rear armrest and electrically operated door mirrors. 

Boot space is more than adequate with 350 liters.

Conclusion 

This Giulietta has everything what it takes to steal your car loving heart. It has indeed the sporting character and style which is so unique to Alfa. Add to this the total smoothness of the drivetrain, the willingness of this thoroughbred engine, the stylish curves of the car, looking well balanced from every corner, the panache of the cabin and the charming handling, and you can understand we were quite impressed. We would suggest, knowing that the competition is fierce in this segment, that you take this Giulietta for a spin. This Alfa could then win you over…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Skoda Scala 1.5 TSI 150 DSG: your stylish and practical friend.

Skoda has an admirable tradition of building cars which fit wonderfully in your daily motoring life. They are dependable, sturdy, practical and roomy. Last but not least, they offer a lot of value for money. Over the years, Skoda’s have also become a hallmark of elegant styling, and indeed the rakish, clean lines of this latest Scala are also quite inspiring. Needless to say that we were quite interested to take the car through its paces in a full test…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Skoda Scala 1.5 TSI 150 DSG: your stylish and practical friend.”

We drove the Mercedes EQC 400 4-Matic: your wonderful electric star.

Electrification is amongst us, and the oldest manufacturer in the world has the panache and experience to come up with a truly stunning vehicle. The EQC 400. An impressive Mercedes in every aspect. Aimed at the higher market segments, and rightly so. It creates first of all an upmarket image for fully electric vehicles, and it targets a well to do clientele which has invariably charging points at home and at the office or workplace, making them less dependent on the public charging infrastructure, which is still seen to be (very) deficient in some EU countries.

A prudent strategy adopted also by other premium car manufacturers, like Audi for instance with their e-tron.

After driving a few days – a full battery charge – with this superb car with the star, we can say that this car sets indeed the standards for what electric driving can be… Just read further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Mercedes EQC 400 4-Matic: your wonderful electric star.”

New Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio MY2020: the Alfa driving experience enters a new era…

We drove for you the new 2020 Stelvio and Giulia in Puglia: revised interiors, infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems make Alfa driving even more stunning… Here we parked it in fort of the Borgo Egnazia Hotel, where the event was held…

Driving an Alfa should be on the bucket list of every car enthusiast, and indeed blessed are those who can sit in their daily life behind the iconic three spoked steering wheel of an Alfa, and even more, can call it their own.

The ever more elegant Giulia in the alleys of Borgo Egnazio Resort…

This unique driving pleasure is now further brought into the digital age, adding to the sheer driving dynamics and bringing it to an even higher level.

Alberto Cavvagioni, Head of Alfa Romeo Brand EMEA, presented to us the further steps of Alfa entering into the digital age…

We flew to beautiful Puglia to see and try it out for you, and soon you will read in these columns here the full report of our delightful Alfa experience in the stunning surroundings of Bari and the Borgo Egnezia resort hotel.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Giulia and Stelvio now benefit from a new interior, revised materials and dashboard layouts. The infotainment has also been overhauled with connected services, touchscreen, completely redesigned human-machine interface, and new ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) and level 2 autonomous driving systems, of which (much) more soon.

The iconic names used on the Alfa’s of the sixties and seventies are also back, and sound wonderful to the Alfa connoisseurs’ ears: Veloce, Veloce TI and Sprint for the Stelvio, and TI, Super for the Giulia, with a Business badge thrown in to suit the fleet market in these modern times.

Last but not least, there is also a whole new colour range, to fully express new emotions, closely linked to the brand’s tradition.

At the event, Leasys and FCA Bank introduced “I-Link” by Leasys, a service designed to strengthen the link between Alfa Romeo customers and the new forms of shared mobility.

Marcella Merli, Head of Sales and Marketing, FCA Bank, explains to us the merits of sharing the Alfa experience through i-Link…

Indeed, sharing the Alfa Romeo driving experience could or should be on the cards, we think!

Much more of all this later in depth with separate reports…

Of course, we had the opportunity to drive classic Alfa’s too…

Just enjoy the photos here already!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Jeep Renegade 1.3 150 HP: a compact SUV with pure Jeep DNA.

The original Jeep has grown into an absolute icon. One loves its shape, its purposeful compactness, its go anywhere usability. Modern urban dwellers love to inject its pure, outdoorish character into their lifestyle, and therefore what better thing to do than to choose this Jeep Renegade. It approaches the dimensions of the original, and also the body contours and cabin design take you fully into the Jeep world.

Like its veteran original, the Renegade we tested has also a small four cylinder petrol engine under the hood, but that is where, so many decades later, all comparison ends. Because this Renegade is crammed with the very latest state of the art technology the FCA group has to offer, and then we are not even talking about the PHEV version, which we recently announced in these columns.

This Renegade has impressed us, and quite frankly, it does the Jeep name (very) proud. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Jeep Renegade 1.3 150 HP: a compact SUV with pure Jeep DNA.”

We drove the new Fiat 500X Sport: Dynamic Gran Turismo pleasure…

We already told you, dear reader, in our “teaser” about our venue to the “Luigi Ridolfi” Federal Technical Centre in Coverciano (FIorence), to have a stint at the wheel of the new Fiat 500X Sport.

The 500 X is the most global model of the Fiat range. This iconic compact crossover is designed and engineered in Italy and built in the FCA factory in Melfi. It was launched in 2014, but has lost none of its appeal, as it has been renewed last year. Now the 500 X accentuates sportsmanship, and emerges as an alternative to compact C-segment cars with a sporty look.

Does it live up to its promises on the open road?

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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