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            

2020 Brussels show report: BMW electrifies the future…

The BMW Vision INEXT was to be seen in Brussels…

The Brussels motor show is always a unique event. Last but not least because this is a true buyers’ show, to be taken in the literary sense: about 30 % of the annual car sales in our country is done on the grounds of the Motor Show!

“Our” show is also unique because all the brands are present here in Brussels. First of all because no car manufacturer wants to miss the sales opportunity, but also because the Brussels show is also an ideal “test” market, it allows brands to assess what global (European) market share they can achieve overall and for their respective models individually, judging by their penetration in the Belgian market, where no national brands can distort the situation in our market place.

We took a walk through some of the stands, and here follows our report, where we focus on the brands we did not yet discuss already in our show preview, starting here with BMW.   

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW and MINI unveiled two world premieres with respectively the BMW plug in hybrid versions for the X1 and the X2 models, the BMW X1 xDrive25e and the new BMW X2 xDrive25e. BMW is pushing its electrification very hard forward, and on the accompanying photo you can see the table they displayed at the show, showing the further steps they are taking towards an electrified future. An  electric drive and a lithium-ion battery enable an electrically powered range of up to 57 kilometres in the two new plug-in hybrid models. In the near future, four BMW X models with plug-in hybrid drive will be available. BMW intends to have more than one million vehicles with electrified drive on the road by the end of 2021.

The plug-in hybrid system of the new BMW X1 xDrive 25e and the new BMW X2 xDrive25e consists of a 1.5 litre 3-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology and an electric drive specially developed for this model. It is taken from the eDrive technology modular system of the BMW Group. The petrol engine mobilizes a peak output of 92 kW/125 hp and a maximum torque of 220 Newton meters. It transfers its power to a 6-speed Steptronic transmission and drives the front wheels.

The electric motor generates an output of 70 kW/95 hp and delivers 165 Nm of torque to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. This makes for a hybrid specific all-wheel drive…Together the combustion engine and electric motor produce a system output of 162 kW/220 hp. The maximum system torque of both drive units is 385 Nm. The new BMW X1 xDrive25e accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. The new BMW X2 xDrive25e does the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 6.8 seconds. The top speed of the new BMW X1 xDrive25e is 193 km/h. Maximum speed of the new BMW X2 xDrive25e is 195 km/h.

The MINI crowd was also spoiled with a world first of a Sidewalk Edition of the MINI convertible. The MINI is already cute, desirable and truly iconic, and a cabrio version adds to all the pleasure a MINI can offer its driver and occupants. Variants of the exterior paintwork, soft top design, rim styling and interior fittings are developed especially for the edition model. The version of the fully automatic textile soft top, specially designed for the edition model, can be opened or closed electrically and almost silently in 18 seconds. It features an artistically woven-in arrow graphic in the particularly high-quality finish typical of MINI Yours. The 17 inch light-alloy Scissor Spoke 2-tone wheels of the new MINI Convertible Sidewalk are also a model-specific design feature. There are also the side indicator bezels, known as side scuttles, which bear the “Sidewalk” model designation.

Presenting the MINI John Cooper Works GP and the M8 Gran Coupé

Three engine versions are available, The new MINI One Convertible Sidewalk develops 75 kW/102 hp from the 1.5 litre 3-cylinder engine. The new MINI Cooper Convertible Sidewalk is also powered by a 1.5 litre 3-cylinder engine which produces 100 kW/136 hp. The 141 kW/192 hp 4-cylinder engine of the new MINI Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk provides the sportiest fresh air experience.

European premieres for BMW and MINI

There were also European firsts in Brussels, like the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé, interesting as it is beautiful, and we are certainly keen to drive one soon to tell you more about it. The same goes for the BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe. It has a 200 mm longer wheelbase makes extra room for the rear passengers.

Furthermore there is the insipring MINI John Cooper Works GP, with a 4 cylinder 306 HP engine, catapulting this Mini from 0 to 100 km in merely 5,2 seconds. It is produced in Oxford in 3000 units, and is on sale from March 2020.

Things to come: The Vision INEXT dashboard…

The BMW BMW X5 M and X6 M have their Belgian premières, the 4,4 litre V8 is good for 625 hp and this formidable engine makes these cars sprint form 0 to 100 in merely 3,8 seconds. Last but not least there is the Belgian first of the MINI electric, or the 3-door MINI Cooper SE.

On the stand, we stood also eye to eye with the BMW Vision iNEXT, the optical highlight of the exhibition stand, which also showcases the interior design principle “My Favorite Space” with harmonious, natural surfaces and technology that is kept discreetly out of sight.

Just look at the photos here… which answers the question: “What will cars look like when they no longer have to be driven by a person, but still can be?” The interior can be a place for relaxation, interaction, entertainment, or concentration, as preferred. It is more like a comfortable and fashionably furnished “living space” on wheels – a new “Favorite Space”. A new design principle, referred to as “Shy Tech”, plays an especially important part in this.

To preserve the high-end, yet cozy character of the rear compartment, and place its occupants center-stage, the intelligent technology behind the operating controls is integrated out of sight. It only becomes visible and operable when required by the driver or passengers…

Soon more about other brands and novelties we saw on the Brussels show…

Hans Knol ten Bensel    

The Concept Alfa Romeo Tonale is to be seen on the press and gala day of the Brussels Show…

Faithful readers will remember that we stood in the FCA Centro Stile eye to eye with the stunning design concept car, the Alfa Romeo Tonale. For those lucky ones who will be invited to the gala evening and attend the press day on January 9, we have good news : it will be on show on that day in the Hall 7 of the Brussels Salon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Indeed, you can admire it for one day in Hall 7 of the Motor Show buildings, and you will see its design language close up. This is rather important, as its shapes will be seen back in the second SUV which will bear the Alfa Romeo badge.

Its expressive design and compact shape bode well for the future styling of Alfa’s, whilst maintaining and even rather enhancing and accentuating further the organic Alfa styling DNA of the past. One only has to look at the formidable 21-inch alloy wheels, which evoke the “telephone dial”, a pure execution of the circular theme of the wheel itself. It was first seen in the 60’s and proudly carried by the Alfa 33 stradale. The wheel design has been further enhanced by special custom-made Pirelli’s…

The lateral profile of the car is reminiscent of the shapes of the Duetto and Disco Volante Spider, and the “Linea GT” profile of the Tonale is a modern day interpretation of the shapes seen on the GT Junior.

The “Trilobo” front end bears proudly the “Scudetto” grille, and the “3 + 3” headlights remember proudly the SZ and the Brera.

The cabin shapes have a distinct thoroughbred touch, and the materials are rich and inviting, with transparent panels in the centre console, and of course the DNA driving mode elector is a prominent element.

The Tonale is named after the Tonale mountain pass, which lies not far from the iconic Stelvio pass, and is equally breathtaking with eternal snow and water falls. Just come to admire it in Brussels…on the 9th of January. If you missed it, there is always a nice consolation for you: you can admire on the following days instead the new Giulia MY 2020…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A double readers award for Alfa Romeo…

We were totally impressed driving the Alfa Giulia and Stelvio MY2020 for you in Bari. You can read about this in our columns, and we will also come back more in depth about our driving experiences. Suffice to say that we were not only delighted with the sheer performance of these thoroughbreds, we also noticed how refined and “mature” the whole drivetrain has become. One can feel clearly the enormous development and further honing which has gone into these marvelous machines. A truly superb driving experience is the result.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

It is therefore no surprise that both these cars are earning high awards among enthusiasts and car lovers.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is “Sportscar of the year”

Readers of the magazine AUTO BILD SPORTSCARS chose the 375 kW (510 hp) strong top version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio as the winner of the category “SUV/Import”. A total of 110 candidates in ten classes participated in the competition

The readers of the magazine AUTO BILD SPORTSCARS are seeing the Stelvio as a true sportscar. They chose the 375 kW (510 hp) strong Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio as the “Sportscar of the Year 2019” (issue 01/20 of 13 December 2019). The top model of this model won the SUV/Import category.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio has indeed what it takes to fall in the sports car league. What to think of a V6 biturbo petrol engine with 2.9 litres capacity, whose power is brought to the road by the four-wheel drive AlfaTM  Q4. The excellent traction provided allows an acceleration from zero to 100 km/h in only 3.8 seconds, the top speed is a whopping 283 km/h. Not suprising that the standard equipment of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio also includes the limited slip differential with active torque distribution in the rear axle (AlfaTM Active Torque Vectoring). But that is not all. There is also the AlfaTM Chassis Domain Control, a unique central vehicle “intelligence” created by Alfa Romeo with its own algorithms to handle all the electronic devices that intervene on the car’s behaviour harmoniously and in real time, making driving extremely natural, instinctive and safe.

Double awards also for the Giulia…

Alfa Romeo Giulia is also reaping awards. It finished at the top of the list of the readers from the magazine SPORT AUTO. In the survey for the “SPORT AUTO AWARD 2019”, they chose the stylish Giulia as the winner in two categories.

Now for the third year in a row, as also in 2017 and 2018, the top model Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, powered by a V6 turbo petrol engine with 375 kW (510 hp), won the import rating in the category “standard production limousines/station wagons up to 100,000 Euro”.

In the “series cars limousines/station wagons up to 75,000 Euro” the readers of SPORT AUTO voted the 206 kW (280 hp) strong Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0 Turbo Veloce as the number one import model.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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

The Abarth 695 70 ° Anniversario premiered at Interclassics Brussels 2019 from 15 to 17 November

Driven personally from Turin across the Alps to Brussels…for a unique premiere

The people from Abarth Belgium have their car loving heart at the (very) right place. In order to treat the Belgian public with a very special gem, the Interclassics Brussels 2019 salon seemed to be the perfect stage to present the new Abarth 695 70 ° Anniversario for the first time in our country.

Staring from the Turin based FCA heritage HUB …

They drove personally the Abarth show car across the Alps from Turin to Brussels, and not only that. They filmed it too.

Indeed, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the brand, an accompanying video of the model was created with a perfect mise-en-scene. The ideal setting of FCA Heritage in Turin, where all collection cars are housed, served as a perfect setting and bears witness to the immense prestigious heritage that served as a source of inspiration for this unique model.

This exclusive video was produced specifically for Interclassics Brussels 2019.

One sees a pilot who takes place at the wheel of a vintage model and then takes a seat in the new Abarth 695 70 ° Anniversario.

It then follows the road from the Heritage Hub of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Turin to arrive at the Interclassics salon in Brussels.

The iconic lights of the “pure” historic Abarth 500…

A route of approximately 1,000 kilometers to reach the European capital. You can see it by using the following link: https://vimeo.com/372916951

On his way from the Turin Heritage Museum to Brussels…

This video will of course serve to promote the presence of this exclusive model in avant-premiere in Brussels.

Starting away in Turin…

The production of this model is limited to 1949 copies, this number refers to the year that Abarth was founded…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® celebrated its 10th edition, part 2

Indeed, between the raindrops, other magnificent events were to be enjoyed, and beautiful cars came before our lens…

The ZOUTE CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE® by Degroof Petercam is another yearly highlight not to be missed. It is an excellent opportunity for your servant to take those timelessly beautiful photos of pre- and post war classics and supercars. Also this year the cars on show were absolutely stunning to say the least.

The concours was carefully scrutineered by both the expert jury members and illustrious collectors like Roland D’Ieteren… (to the left).

Hans Knol ten Bensel

I was totally impressed by a beautiful Pegaso coupé, (see photo below) and stood also eye to eye with a magnificent Alvis and 3,5 litre Delahaye.

This 1953 Pegaso Z 102 Touring Superleggera was designed by Wilfredo Ricart, who had worked then already with Ferrari and Alfa for a few years. He himself asked “Mr. Touring”, designer Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni (1916-2003) to design this body. This one-off Pegaso was the focus of a lengthy promotional tour around Europe. It won the Concorsa d’Eleganza di Stresa in 1953…

Stunning is also the dashboard of this 1960 Alfa Romeo 2000 “Praho” Touring… This car was an attempt to secure for Touring the production of the Alfa 2600 Coupé. This car was displayed in 1960 in the Turin Motor Show and was a one-off.

I had a lucky encounter with Skoda Belgium Import PR Director Catherine Van Geel and her colleague from the Skoda Museum, who both proudly showed me a very impressive 1948 Skoda Superb, which had finished a total ground up restoration just four days before this Concours. We tell you more about this unique Superb in a special report.

But there was much more. For example, in the presence of 75-year-old racing legend Jacky Ickx, Porsche unveiled a unique Porsche 911 4S Belgian Legend Edition (made on 75 copies). In addition, there were 5 super rare hypercars on Saturday and Sunday: a Bugatti Centodieci, a Bugatti Chiron Sport, a Dallara Stradale, a Pininfarina Battista and a De Tomaso P72.

The unique 3,5 litre Delahaye…

Of the more than 100 participants in the competition, the international jury named a 1936 Mercedes 540 K Cabriolet A (pre war) and a 1949 Ferrari 166 Barchetta Touring – Le Mans Winner (post war) as Best of Show winners.

And its fabulous straight six engine, which was idential in the Le Mans winning car…

Following Bugatti’s 110th birthday there was also a special “110 Years Bugatti” category this year. Winner was a 1938 Bugatti Type 57 C Coupé – Le Patron. (See first photo). Other eye-catchers were the “Beach Cars” category in which a 1958 Fiat 600 Jolly with the main prize went. The prize for the most iconic car went, finally, to a 1955 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing.

Eternally cute and endearing are also the Joly beach cars based on the Fiat Cinquecento and Seicento, and on the Concours we stood eye to eye with two magnificent examples.

Last but not least there was a very impressive 300 SL roadster to be admired, brought to the Knokke Golf Course by the works Mercedes Benz Classic team,

who lovingly and carefully dried the car with a soft chamois after every rain shower…

The fabulous collection of cars at the grounds of the Royal Knokke Golf Club were judged by an international 25 head jury led by Philip Kantor of the Bonhams Auction House.

More to see and admire…

Besides these highlights there was much more. Last but not least the ZOUTE SALE® by Bonhams. This auction can be considered par with the Grand Palais Sale in Paris, and the Quail Lodge Auction at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Carmel (USA).

The total revenue of the auction was not less than 11,710,104 euros, a record for Belgium. One of the eye-catchers was a unique 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Alloy Long-Nose. The car went under the hammer for a record amount of 2,875,000 euros. A 1931 Invicta 4.5-Liter S-Type ‘Low Chassis’ was sold for 890,281 euros. A Ferrari Enzo knocked out at 1,506,500 euros.

This custom built Aurelia GT had endless panache…

Then there was on Sunday the ZOUTE GT TOUR® by EY. This drive is 120 km long, and is reserved for exclusive modern GT cars, younger than 20 years old. More than 200 cars participated, and Rob Van Loock en Jens Aerts won this event in an 2019 built Audi R8 Coupé.

 We just let you enjoy the photos here of this 10th edition, and tell you here already that the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® launches new projects in 2020,

with amongst others the RALLYE DE DURBUY®. Read soon much more in these columns!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® celebrated its 10th edition: a decade of four-wheeled dreams came true…

This magnificent event is all about enjoying cars to the full, and what’s more, a very large public can participate and witness the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® events up close, see and touch the cars, which embody the pinnacle in automotive heritage and panache.

It’s a truly stunning event, which has now grown to impressive proportions. Last year’s figures amply prove it: What to think of 645 cars, 1040 participants, 263.000 visitors?

The organisers look already into the future, and after a decade of successes are planning even grander events. They told us all about it at their press conference, held at the prestigious Royal Zoute Golf Club, of which more in a further report.

But here we tell you more about this year’s event…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The weather gods were not altogether with us this time, but this did not dampen the enthusiasm of both participants and spectators. The ZOUTE RALLY® started for its first leg on Friday morning, and not less than about 200 pre- and post-war classic cars participated.

Media celebrities like Veronique De Cock participated…

One can choose between a “regularity” drive, where the ideal average speed is of paramount importance, with special Regularity Tests being also included in the daily 250 km course.

Exotics like this Fiat “Otto Vu” were also seen…

Enthusiasts who were looking for a more leisurely drive, opted for the “Balade” formula, and received a road book of the untimed course, which they could drive and enjoy at their own pace.

The route is different from the “regularity” drive, albeit in the same region. On Friday, the route went through the Flemish Ardennes, and lunch was enjoyed for all in the grounds of chateau Kluisbergen.

The cockpit of the “Otto Vu”…

On Saturday the ZOUTE RALLY® went through Zoutelande for a luncheon stop at the biggest Dutch yacht builder Amels Shipyard in Vlissingen. Winners of the regularity class were Ruben Maes and Bjorn Vanoverschelde with their Porsche 356c.

The founding father(s): ZOUTE Grand Prix Creator and Organiser Filip Burgoo on the left…

At the finish line, many happy faces were seen again of course. All lucky finishers got of course a fine glass of Ruinart champagne, and congratulations from David Burgoo and his colleagues.

The team Feltes/Feltes in their Bugatti T35 Grand Prix de Lyon with starting nr. 1 also finished the event in good form, with David (left) and Filip Burgoo (right) congratulating!

We just let you enjoy the photos here of this 10th edition of the ZOUTE RALLY®, second part follows with more tales and images…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Sue Schiepers Gallery breaks again the boundaries of contemporary glass art with Christine Vanoppen and Wouter Bolangier.

Stunning geometric design in the glass artwork of Christine Vanoppen…

Faithful readers have already experienced in these columns our love for contemporary glass art, and more especially the unique approach of Hasselt based Sue Schiepers Gallery in bringing the pinnacle of this artistic craft to a wide(r) public.

This time Sue Schiepers truly delighted us again with two artists who both make a very bold statement in glass art with unique techniques, shapes and forms in their creations. Both artists come as it were from the same stable, Sue Schiepers tells us. They both studied monumental arts at the Antwerp Academy, both are also teachers of their glass art.

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Sue Schiepers Gallery breaks again the boundaries of contemporary glass art with Christine Vanoppen and Wouter Bolangier.”

We spoke with Charles Fuster, Product Marketing Manager Fiat 500 X: this Sport version is built to conquer everybody’s sporting heart, like football…

Charles Fuster taking the 500X Sport to the football field…

When Fiat presented the 500 X Sport, they had the very good idea to draw a parallel between its excellent sporting and stylish qualities and embed it into the language and philosophy of top football. Therefore the venue of presenting this new Fiat was at the the “Luigi Ridolfi” Federal Technical Centre in Coverciano (FIorence), a centre of excellence for teaching, training and sport, as well as the historic seat of the Italian Football Federation.

The presentation “in the field” was expertly done by Charles Fuster, Product Marketing Manager 500 X, and the qualities of dynamism, precision, control

Echoing the qualities of the National Team in the Fiat 500 X…

and Italian style of this 500 X Sport were echoed on the accompanying screen by the coaches and specialists of the Italian national team, indeed the same characteristics that lead a player to wear the blue jersey of Italy with pride and joy…

Reason enough to have an interview with Charles Fuster here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

HK: How did you communicate the enhanced sporting characteristics and properties of the new 500 X to the top people of the Italian Football Federation, how did they tune into this? What was their reaction?

CF: Actually, the starting point and the basis was and is the car. It arrives with important improvements. The balance, the road holding, the performance, the style, and of course, when we had created this story about the car, we focused ourselves on the world of football. This had very good reasons: like Fiat, it is a very democratic world, it is a very accessible sport for everybody. And so we started to work with the Italian Football Federation to draw all these parallels, between the world of the automobile and the world of football.

Charles Fuster on the playing field…

This proved extremely interesting because all this storytelling proved extremely natural. Also the persons of the federation, who we have presented today is somebody who has worked all his life with football and has an incredible experience.

Top performance is top performance, whether one speaks about cars or people…

These people prepare the future stars of tomorrow. So we arrive at an allegory with a well perfected industrial product and a sports player, and this can be very eloquent…

 HK: indeed, this is very unique in your presentation today… we saw the comments of Roberto Mancini, Italy’s National Team Head Coach and others…

CF: Thank You, it is indeed the work of our whole team!

HK: Can you tell a bit more what is the mission of this sporting version of the 500 X…

CF: Just have a look at its position within the range. The Cinquecento is a typical women’s car. 75 % of the clients are women. This is different with the 500 X, where the buyers are about fifty-fifty between men and women. The 500 X Sport will also be bought by independent women who want to be seen having personality and character.

But this is a car which is targeted to a large public. We will not discriminate. Of course the car has a look which distinguishes it from the others in the range.

HK: Can you tell a bit more about the future electrification of the Fiat models? We think about PHEV…

CF: There will be something new in 2020. There will be an important electrified range at FCA in 2022. That is the only thing I can tell you right now… The first models will be launched in 2020, and this will continue throughout 2021 to 2022. It is the strategy of the group to be present in all forms of electrification. It will also be very important for the fleet market.

HK: We thank you for this interview.

Of course there is (still) more. We will treat you also shortly with further interviews with Danilo Coglianese, Head of Fiat & Abarth Communications, EMEA, and also have a long talk with Alessandro Grosso, Head of Fleet and Business Sales, EMEA, about the European Fleet markets and FCA’s position therein.

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel