BMW Art Car #18 of Cao Fei makes Belgian debut at Brand Store in Brussels…

BMW driving art is again to be seen in the capital of Europe: In its flagship Brand Store, BMW organizes until June 1 an Art & Design Expo. The 18th BMW Art Car, a BMW M6 GT3 with multimedia design, has been created by the Chinese female artist Cao Fei, is the focus point of this show. It is even to be enjoyed and admired with the use of an app bringing the car to you on your smartphone with enhanced reality. A stunning experience, of which we show here some photos, but which has to be seen to be believed.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

In the Brussels BMW Brand Store you can join the stunning journey to discover this Art Car in augmented reality…

This virtual animation is also created by the artist, and forms an integral part of the car. “We are now entering a new era where the mind can steer objects directly and thoughts can be transferred, like unmanned controls and artificial intelligence.” comments Cao Fei.

Follow this path in the showroom and zero in with your Ios device on this graph to experience the augmented reality…
Download the app BMW ART CAR #18 on your mobile (IOS) device, follow the screen instructions and enjoy!

The work of Cao Fei illustrates the fast and stunning changes in China and its society. With her BMW Art Car she spans a road which stretches over thousands of years, honouring the spiritual wisdom of Asia, which now enters the third millennium with breathtaking speed. The film can of course also be viewed on YouTube, using the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_GNSyeIpOY&feature=youtu.be.

A video which focuses on the millennial time which a spiritual person travels through…
Finishes with presenting the augmented reality…

The multimedia artist approaches the concept of a BMW Art Car in her own unique way, with which she builds a parallel universe.

Her work consists of three components: a video that focuses on the millennial time which a spiritual person travels through, augmented reality with colourful light particles (via a special app called BMW Art Car # 18) and the BMW M6 GT3 racer in the original colour carbon black.

As a tribute to the carbon fibre structure of the BMW M6 GT3 applies Cao Fei a lot of non-reflective black paint, which means the possibilities in the digital world are endlessly applicable.

The application of video and augmented reality creates an environment in which the BMW M6 GT3 plays an essential role. Cao Fei uses in her video spiritual movements that express themselves in colourful flashes of light.

Point your device on the graph and a whole enhanced world opens to you…

When the app is used in the vicinity of the car, these light accents are transformed into an augmented reality installation that floats above and around the BMW M6 GT3. In this way, the viewer becomes interactively involved in the artwork.

Just download the app BMW ART CAR #18 on your mobile (IOS) device and follow the instructions on your screen.


The BMW Art Car Tradition runs back already decades… more about this in a special report!

Practical info:

The exhibition runs until May 31, at BMW Brand Store Brussels, Waterloolaan 23,24, 1000 Brussel

Admission free.  Open from Monday to Saturday, from 10 AM until 18.30 PM. http://www.bmwbrandstore.brussels

We spoke with Chief Designer Klaus Busse, about the Alfa Tonale and the Fiat Centoventi: two stunning concept cars, showing two unique sides of Italian design… part 1.

Klaus Busse talked with us in depth about the Alfa Romeo Tonale…

Our series about the visit to the FCA Centro Stile in Torino starts with an intriguing interview and talk with Klaus Busse, vice president of Design for Fiat, Abarth, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, offering us interesting insights into the sculptural design philosophy and language of the iconic sporting Milano brand.

Of course this is not all. This in depth talk and interview covers more aspects about the Tonale, and furthermore also the Fiat approach to automotive product design…so we decided to split this interview into a series, focusing in more detail on the various aspects. So stay tuned on these columns for further reports in this series!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

The original wooden styling sculpture of the legendary Multipla stands proudly in the entrance hall of the Torino based FCA Centro Stile…

Having walked through the impressive entrance hall of the Centro Stile, we started off with a question about how this styling centre is set up.

B:  “It is of course every day a joy for me to walk through the several studios of our Centro here. Every brand has a separate studio, and you met earlier here with Scott Krugger, the head of design for Alfa Romeo. (Note: this will be our next interview in this series). Every brand has their own head of design. We have 200+ individuals working here, from around the world. It is a very international team, we look at ourselves as the “espresso beans”, because as you know, espresso beans also come from around the world, but with the Italian process it creates an Italian iconic drink, and with the Italian process of design, we hopefully, you will agree, we are able to create Italian iconic design, even though the designers are not coming only from Italy, but from around the world.

We went first to the room of Alfa Styling department

Q: We are here seeing today shoulder to shoulder two different cars on our visit: the Tonale and the Centoventi…

B: I can tell you here first a few words about the Tonale itself, and notably also of the Fiat Centoventi. (Note: which we will also discuss later in separate interviews). It is a very rare thing for us to go to a show with two concept cars, and the beautiful thing we were able to do with the Alfa Romeo and the Centoventi, is that we were able to show the two sides of Italian design, the way we see it. So we have in front of us here with the Tonale the classic sculptural beauty of Italian design, and with the Centoventi we have the Italian approach to product design, applied to the car. So you see the two extremes of Italian design in the automotive sphere.

In the Fiat Centro Stile room, we stood eye to eye with the Centoventi… more about it later in this series!

With the Tonale, the challenge was, since it is again an SUV, and we have already an SUV with the Stelvio, to create something that is typical Alfa Romeo, but has nothing to do with the Stelvio in terms of the shapes. The Stelvio is a very muscular car, with emphasis on the wheels and the voluptuous shapes, here on the side you see we have a different construction of the car, we have a completely different front, so the challenge was that with our second entry to the SUV market, we do not create a copy of the big brother, like you see with other companies, who are just adopting a same design and adapt it to different sizes. We wanted to create something completely different with the Tonale.

The horizontal “eyebrow” line is clearly seen here…

Q: Will this car be a trendsetter for the future Alfa design?

The one thing you will not hear me talk about today is the future. I will talk about the present, about the Tonale, but I will not lift the veil more. All I can say is that I think we found something which is a beautiful progression. I saw that my team put the 8C model here, and maybe that allows me to highlight where I see the progression what the team has done here, when we look at the front. The 8C, the 4C, the Stelvio, the Giulia, all of these cars have basically have this hood line, it is a flowing design, and it nicely encompasses the grille. This face was applied to all current generation vehicles.

The muscle lines on the hood converging into the Scudetto, as seen here in the 8C, is now completely given up in the Tonale…

With the Tonale, we completely gave up this kind of interpretation, you still see the muscles of course leading to the Scudetto, but we went to a much more horizontal design. So we went from a vertical design to a horizontal design, and that of course is a completely different construction of the front, and this much I can tell you, we would not do this just for one car…

Klaus Busse dedicated a drawing to your servant… with the horizontal line clearly visible…

Because here, the 8C created a family of cars, and in this case again, it might create a new family of cars…

 As said stay tuned for the next part of this interview, where we will talk in depth about tradition and modernity embodied in today’s Alfa design language…

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

The visit to the Centro Stile of the FCA Group in Turin proved immensely interesting…

We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group Chief Designer Klaus Busse and his team…

What we saw and heard on our visit to the Torino based Centro Stile was nothing short of absolutely stunning. We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group head of design Klaus Busse and his team, both from Alfa Romeo and Fiat styling.

The beautiful instrumentation and interior of the Tonale, with Klaus Busse watching in the background…

Needless to say that we are the coming days eager to report on all this extensively, and indeed you can expect to read our findings in several reports…

Alfa DNA styling revived on the drawing boards provides the mould for the new Tonale design…

The next few photos just lift a tip of the veil of the vast material we collected and photographed…

Rewriting democratic mobility and opening many new doors in design: the Centoventi Fiat

We just want to thank here the magnificent efforts of the dynamic PR team of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium, notably Dominique Fontignies, PR & Communication Director and Wim Willems, Press Officer, for sharing the knowledge of these experts and their creations with us.  

Full of revolutionary, practical solutions: the interior of the Centoventi…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We participate at a Alfa Romeo Tonale and Fiat Centroventi workshop…

We will have this week a workshop visit the Centro Stile of the FCA Group, where we will also be able to have an interview and talk with the designers who created the stunning Alfa Romeo Tonale and Fiat Centroventi. Both cars are very important harbingers of things to come, both for Alfa and Fiat.

The Tonale concept car is the Italian brand’s first plug-in hybrid compact SUV, and after its global debut in Geneva, it was first seen in Italy at the 58th edition of the “Salone del Mobile.Milano”.

The Tonale will be one of the stars discussed and seen at the workshop…

The Tonale concept car embodies all Alfa Romeo’s trademark language of beauty: it is a compact UV for urban use with a sporty personal In keeping with the Alfa Romeo manifesto, every detail is designed around the driver, with driving pleasure delivered through ergonomics, use of premium materials and, above all, unrivalled dynamic handling. Furthermore, the Tonale concept car is the Alfa Romeo take on electrification.

The front end displays the trademark trefoil and the distinctive Alfa Romeo shield, which acts as a bold focus point. Completing the design of the front end and accompanying this iconic element are “3 plus 3” light clusters which in turn evoke the proud look of SZ and Brera.

The rear of Tonale is characterized by an enveloping rear window completed on the top by a suspended wing that exalts continuity with the clear sunroof. As for every Alfa Romeo, design is characterised by a distinctive touch. The rear light clusters are more like a graphic sign than an optical lighting element, a sort of signature created directly by the hand of an artist.

On the sides, the full and elegant volumes recall the Duetto or the Disco Volante Spider, while the “Linea GT” of Tonale reinterprets the pouncing stance and feeling of safety conveyed by the award-winning GT junior.

Several celebrated style elements are picked up in its design to become a tangible manifestation of the brand’s history in a performance which elicits a modern approach to new Alfa Romeo anatomy. The “teledial” wheel, for instance, is an element which hints to the traditional DNA of Alfa Romeo. The design of 21-inch rim of Tonale invokes the concept of a rotary telephone dial through a light architectural structure for a clear, high-impact interpretation of the circular theme. This style choice dates back to the 1960s, when it was sported by the iconic 33 Stradale.

The cockpit of Tonale is boldly designed around driver but also to accommodate passengers in comfort. The contrast of premium materials, such as cool solidity of aluminium that meets the warm softness of leather and Alcantara, enhance the emotions of both driver and passengers. Inside, there are translucent panels and a backlit central tunnel. The DNA mode selector, one of the key elements of Alfa Romeo, is perfectly at ease on the tunnel.

Comes the Concept Centoventi…

Fiat Concept Centoventi is fundamentally a “blank canvas” ready to be painted to suit the customer’s tastes and needs at any time of his life or day, without no customisation restrictions linked to the specific time of purchase. In fact, it will be produced in just one livery, which customers will be able to personalise using the “4U” program, with a choice of 4 roofs, 4 bumpers, 4 wheel covers and 4 external wrappings. So, just like modern devices, this vehicle can be updated with the greatest freedom and imagination in its colours, interior configuration, roof configuration, infotainment system and even battery range. And this is one of the concept car’s strong points: owners no longer have to wait for new special editions or facelifts, as they can “change” their cars any day they like. It is made even more revolutionary by the presence, at the launch, of 120 additional accessories that will generate a genuinely new business model, as well as a community of Fiat Concept Centoventi fans.

In other words, Fiat Concept Centoventi is the response to a real design and business challenge, which embodies the functional spirit of the brand and pays tribute to its 120 years of history, at the same time, with a modern take on some trademark style elements that hint to the Panda of the 1980s. Fiat Concept Centoventi is inspired by Italian design and embodies Fiat’s “less is more” concept, which means getting rid of everything unnecessary and complex in a car to provide more space for people (More You), for attention to the environment and the community (More Care) and for the brand’s DNA in terms of values and looks (More Fiat). By playing these three cards, Fiat Concept Centoventi revolutionises the idea of electric mobility, in town and out, successfully overcoming the tougher and tougher challenges – in terms of traffic, regulations and costs of ownership – while simultaneously making the most of the new opportunities offered by electricity.

Soon we will treat you in these columns with a fascinating tale about what we heard, saw and experienced at the Centro Stile in Turin… stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Kia ProCeed GT Shooting Brake: the power and the beauty…

When we first stood eye to eye with this Kia, we were convinced. This shooting brake has what it takes. Just look at the fluent lines of this Shooting Brake, which seems to move even when standing still. And then we say nothing about the dynamic 204 HP heart of this car, and the way it handles and rides.

Just some extra info here to complete the picture: the popular and very European Kia Ceed range has been designed in Kia’s European Design Centre in Frankfurt under the guidance of European Head of Design Gregory Guillaume and President of Design and Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, and is manufactured at the Zilina plant in Slovakia. It has sold 1,3 million cars in Europe since its début in 2006, and is indeed going from strength to strength. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Well proportioned and pleasing…

Indeed, the design team in Frankfurt know what they are doing. We rarely saw in this class – taking into account its wheelbase of 2.650 mm – a car which looks so sleek and elegant. Indeed, the ProCeed is only 5 mm longer than the Ceed, and shares its “K2” platform. No surprise that the ProCeed actually won the Australian Red Dot Design Award, and we must admit that in the black colour scheme which we found on our test car, this Kia has style and panache. The GT version we drove also runs on 18 inch alloys, which don’t hurt either.

The cabin follows through on the elegance shown outside. Matte chromed inserts, nice round dials, a well positioned “floating” 8 inch touchsreen above the heating / ventilation commands, all very inviting and intuitive. This is one of the cars where one is not overwhelmed by too much futurism and where one finds its way in seconds. The design and execution of the door panels is also showing excellent taste and has a distinct premium touch. The central fascia panel is now finished in a high quality, anti-scratch gloss black…

Driving is believing

A gentle push on the matte chromed starting button and “Drive” is soon selected on the excellent 7 speed dual clutch transmission. A docile 1,6 litre petrol engine hums to life.

But this is no sleeper, even when it sounds very refined and subtle when idling. This machine is the Hyundai Gamma GDI series unit, with four valves per cylinder and D-CVVT or dual continuous variable valve timing. Wow! Turbocharged, it delivers a solid 204 HP at 6000 rpm, and offers a healthy 265 Nm of torque over a wide rev range between 1500 and 4500 rpm. Yes, you understood. This means zest, and indeed it will shoot away from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 7,7 seconds, hurtling further to a top speed of 230 km/h. If this is not super car performance, it comes really close.

The GT pilot is treated to an even more sporting experience, not only with extra engine sound coming from the speakers, but also with the possibility to select different driving modes. In the “Sport” mode, steering response is different, and the gearbox will let rev the engine markedly higher. The ProCeed has in standard version already all what it takes to cling to the road. Electronic Stability Control, ESC is standard, as well as Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM). This means Torque Vectoring by Braking-technology can be included.

The ProCeed GT was developed under the guidance of Albert Biermann, President Vehicle Test & High-Performance Development for Hyundai-Kia. Six months of additional tests have improved the handling even further, and this really shows. Agile and precise, this ProCeed feels utterly at home on mountain passes, winding roads, city boulevards and Autobahnen. A true, well handling GT, with thoroughbred character and panache.

The handling does not come at the expense of comfort, and indeed this ProCeed handles even quite uneven roads without trouble. For spirited as well as long distance driving, the recaro-type front seats provide excellent support. Consumption is reasonable, and we stayed in the 7 to 8 liter/100 km range without effort.

Practical

The name shooting brake says it already. You can expect passenger and luggage space, and indeed, this ProCeed delivers. Luggage space is plenty, with 594 liter, and of course, the rear backrests can be folded in 40:20:40 fashion. Our test car came with the Smart Power Tailgate, and the loading floor is completely flat.

There is also a net for small luggage and a rail system. A last word about the infotainment system: combined with the 8 inch screen the navigation and Kia Connected Services are steered by TomTom®. The system has full smartphone-integration with Apple CarPlay™ (for the iPhone 5 and newer) and Android Auto™ (for Android-phones which run on version 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher).

Our test car was also equipped with a marvelous ‘Premium Sound System’ from JBL with the restoration technology Clari-Fi.

Conclusion

A very endearing, stylish shooting brake with a marvelously willing and pleasant drivetrain, which invites you for a very engaging drive as well as a smooth stroll on urban roads. The available space is quite sufficient, the styling, choice and quality of materials and sheer workmanship and finish are quite worthy of a premium segment car. When considering a roomy hatchback with a beautiful rear end, certainly do have a long look (and drive) of this one…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Mazda 6 Skyactiv-G 2.5, 194 HP: a flagship with style and panache

Mazda styling is reaching top levels nowadays, and the Mazda 6 clearly shows it. Just have a look at the fluent contours and the ideal proportions and balanced surfaces of this large sedan, and be convinced with us. The Mazda 6 body has recently been revised and has gained further in maturity and elegance, with also the interior having had a stylish make-over. Under the hood, the G 2,5 and other SKYACTIV powertrains have been further perfected, and driving dynamics have also been improved. We took this elegant sedan for a test, and it showed its many qualities. Just read on…

 Hans Knol ten Bensel

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