Volkswagen news to admire via webcast, and not in Geneva…



Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen Brand, presents here the ID. CROZZ showcar

We are living in digital times. So even when the Corona virus limits (temporarily, as we all hope) our present mobility, and led to the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show, we can still see all the automotive news via our PC’s, Phones, Tablets.

Volkswagen presents therefore its important news on a special webcast, for you to admire via the following link: https://www.volkswagen-newsroom.com/en/live-stream-5455.

Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen Brand, presents here the ID. CROZZ showcar, which now evolves into its series production version, the ID.4.

Volkswagen is forging ahead with its electric mobility strategy by providing a detailed insight into the brand’s first all-electric SUV. The new ID.4 will be launched this year. Following in the tracks of the ID.3, the countdown has already begun for the second model based on the new modular electric drive matrix (MEB). “Just like the ID.3, the ID.4 will also come onto the market as a carbon-neutral vehicle”, explains Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen brand. “We will produce and sell the ID.4 in Europe, China and the U.S..”

Just read on for more VW news…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The ID. 3 started production in Zwickau, the ID.4 now follows…

The ID.4 will initially be launched with rear-wheel drive, while an electric all-wheel drive version will be added to the portfolio at a later date. The high-voltage battery is positioned near the center of the underbody to create a low centre of gravity and an optimum in terms of driving dynamics, along with an extremely well-balanced axle load distribution.

Also new mild and plug-in hybrid drives…

For Volkswagen, the ID.4 and ID.3 represent important milestones in the brand’s bid to become entirely carbon-neutral by 2050 – in line with the Paris climate agreement. Plans have been put in place to reduce the Volkswagen fleet’s CO2-emissions by a third by as early as 2025.

Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Brand with responsibility for Technical Development, presents in the webcast the new Touareg R

Volkswagen is currently investing one billion euro to electrify its model range while also offering an increasing number of hybrid vehicles. This is based on the fact that, just like electric powertrains, new mild and plug-in hybrid drives in large-scale product lines such as the all-conquering Golf will significantly help to reduce fleet emissions in the future.

New Touareg R

This is why the company’s focus during the webcast is not only on ID. models, but also on new Volkswagen models with hybrid drive. Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Brand with responsibility for Technical Development, presents in the webcast the new Touareg R with plug-in hybrid technology and the the Golf GTE 2 for the very first time.

The Touareg R,the most powerful Volkswagen model will in future also be powered by an efficient plug-in hybrid system. The alliance between an electric drive motor generating 100 kW (136 PS) and a V6 turbocharged petrol engine (TSI) with an output of 250 kW (340 PS) develops a system output of 340 kW (462 PS). The battery capacity of the Touareg R with a top speed of 140 km/h in all-electric E-MODE has been designed so that most average daily commuting distances can be covered with zero emissions.

Golf GTE with stronger battery…

The same applies to the new Golf GTE – its plug-in hybrid drive has been geared towards performance and consists of an electric drive motor with 85 kW (115 PS) and a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (TSI) generating 110 kW (150 PS). As a unit, the electric drive motor and the TSI develop a system output of 180 kW (245 PS). The new Golf GTE’s top speed in all-electric mode is 130 km/h.

Further Volkswagen highlights include the new Golf GTD, which generates significantly lower nitrogen oxide emissions compared with its predecessor thanks to innovative twin dosing technology, plus the eighth generation of the Golf GTI, produced more than 2.3 million times. The most recent version is powered by a 180 kW (245 PS) 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection engine. The maximum torque is 370 Nm. The four-cylinder engine is coupled with a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard.

Last but not least, the eight generation of the GTI takes the central stage, presented again by Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen brand. It is a formidable performer, this GTI, and A 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG) is optionally available.

Digital instruments for the GTI for maximum performance…

We include here some screenshots of the webcast, and stay tuned for more!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

E-power for all of us: the Dacia Spring

2020 – Dacia SPRING… will lift your E-hearts…

It was only a matter of time:Renault puts its massive experience in designing and building E-vehicles even more to the wide public with a full electric Dacia model.

And here it is: the Dacia Spring. It caters for the young at heart with a city car that has a distinctive SUV look and modest dimensions, making it the ideal car for everyday use.

2020 – Dacia SPRING has an appealing light signature…

The light and compact series version of Dacia Spring is aimed at a driving range of approximately 200 kilometers (WLTP).

It has also quite appealing looks and colours. What to think of a body in pastel Mouse grey with accents in Matt Fluo Orange, painted in the massive protective strips for the wheel arches, roof bars, and door sills…

The Dacia Spring has an increased ground clearance, integrated base plates in the front and rear bumper, to show its mettle in today’s city jungle…

2020 – Dacia SPRING rear lights with typical “Y” signature…

A lot of attention was paid to the lighting functions of the car. At the front the ‘full LED headlamps split into two levels: a horizontal line for the upper part and four graphics elements integrated into the bumper. At the rear, the four “full LED” lights form one double “Y”. These light blocks indicate the future light identity of the Dacia models will look like.

The Dacia Spring series version will be available in 2021. Of course we will be keen to have a closer look “in the flesh” and drive it!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A new Citroën C3…

It is high time that we start talking in our columns about the iconic brand of the “Double Chevron”with some important news…

Citroën has very recently unveiled its New C3, marking a further evolution of the Brand’s best-seller worldwide, a real success with 750,000 sales achieved by the 3rd C3 generation since its launch at the end of 2016.

Did you know that the C3 is sold almost 4,5 million times since its launch? It is the best-seller of Citroën range, belongs to the top 5 in Europe in its segment at the end of December 2019 and the 3rd best-selling car in France.

The new C3 has a proper look. It doesn’t look like any other vehicle. It builds on its differences with a colourful personality and very good comfort. It now stands even more out with new LED headlights, 97 exterior possible combinations, 3 new roof stickers, 2 new wheel rims and 3 interior colour ambiences. It now has new Airbump® designs and up to 12 driving aids, with a lot of connected services: Connect Assist for the SOS assistance, Connect Nav with its 7 “ touch tablet and Connect Play for smartphone duplication. Equipment, completely in the tune of the times, which makes everyday life easier…

New C3 will arrive at dealerships starting in June 2020.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Fiat Panda Cross 4 x 4: your cute, compact companion on any road

Who doesn’t want a car which is the quintessence of  ” less is more “and takes you literally everywhere? Such a car is the Panda Cross we drove here for you. A car which embodies all the “savoir faire” of a great  manufacturer who is an absolute genius in making small cars. This Panda we drove is moreover full of unique panache, as it combines the clever two cylinder “TwinAir” petrol engine with a very comptetent 4 WD drivetrain.

This engine with its twin cylinder sound adds to the endearing character of this Panda, as it recalls the original sound of the (also) vertical twin of the fifties Cinquecento.

Of course, this is where the comparison with its iconic predecessor ends. Because the present day Panda has sufficient room for four grown ups, is light years further when it comes to high speed stability,  comfort and last but not least passive safety.

But before we take the wheel, just a few words here about the cute looks of this Cross Panda. The front of the car already tells the story. Fog lights are snugly set into the matte black grille, the skid plate suggests clearly that this Fiat is not afraid of hitting rougher terrain. Cute accents are further found alongside this Panda, with impressive side mouldings and further culminate in the rear end, where also a skid plate is found. It also has larger mountain snow tyres, which raises the ground clearance to 161 mm and increases wading depth to not less than 410 mm.

The cabin with its typical rounded contours in the iconic Panda styling language host clearly readable instruments and knobs.

Rediscover (off-road) pleasure…

What has remained in this iconic Panda over the years is the absolute driving fun. Sliding behind the wheel you will find immediately the right knobs and handles, the cute gearlever literally falls into your hand.

The pleasant throb of the eager TwinAir is music in your ears, as it revs up swiftly and gets you going with verve.

Of course, we live in energy conscious times. So you shouldn’t let your enthusiasm get the best of you, and refrain from higher revs.  Change up at 1700 rpm or so, which sounds way too low as your ears are used to the typical throb of a four cylinder. But rest assured, you are doing the right thing. You are also well advised to choose the “eco” mode, which shifts the engine management towards efficient combustion at lower revs and partial load. The rewards are impressive. Urban fuel consumption remains below 7 litres, with enough pulling power left for an active driving style. Drive it in “eco” mode on the open road, and the consumption is dwindling to around 5 litres. A remarkable feat for any 4WD! The manufacturer quotes 117 g/km as CO2 emissions.

But Panda driving is also about (re)discovering driving pleasure. If you are in the mood, forget the eco mode, let the thoroughbred twin sing full breasted, and every metre you travel is just epic. You accelerate faster than a 500 “esse esse” Abarth Corsa of yesteryear, as this TwinAir 875 cc unit has not less than 85 horsepower, and the hissing throb at higher revs and full throttle is just about the same as its famous ancestor. Your Panda sprints under your able hand (and foot) in under 15 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h, and soon you hit the top speed of around 160 km/h. The dapper Panda will cruise all day at 130 km/h and therefore is a perfect all rounder which, despite its initial urban and off-road vocation, is also a good companion on longer motorway trips.

Long distance comfort is greatly helped by the good suspension, which admirably swallows rough tarmac and pavés, and also the fine sound deadening and vibrationless drivetrain are just right here.

In our columns you can also read more about our driving impressions  of the “Mild Hybrid” version of the Panda and 500, which have a very docile 70 HP three cylinder engine under the hood.

A true master offroad…

Due to its low kerb weight (1090 kg), which gives it about the same power to weight ratio as a Diesel Range Rover and last but not least its compactness this Cross Panda is a formidable mount in snow buried mountain villages and pass roads. Not surprisingly it is an absolute favourite in these regions. The low first gear lets your Panda climb the steepest terrain hills, (Fiat says up to 70 % and slide slopes up to 55 %) and it also has a terrain control device, sitting on a round knob between the front seats. There are three settings. One is for normal road driving, and when the road is good, 98 % of the power will be sent to the front wheels. Then there is the option/position off road, and now the car’s differential locks to offer permanent four wheel drive, and the electronic stability control acts to brake the wheels that are slipping. Of course, you also have to come safely downhill, and that is where the third position, “hill descent”, comes in. This uses the car’s electronic stability and the ABS systems to maintain a constant speed.

Conclusion

The Panda is already endearing in its cute “cross” livery. But there is more. It reveals its pleasant character once you are behind the wheel, and it is not only fun in town, it also excels offroad, and in muddy terrain, it can be more than a match for heavier (Defender) Rovers and the like. Its low weight and nimble dimensions and above all short overhangs see to that.

So to get a truly go anywhere, well equipped, compact, frugal 4×4 for a price around € 17.000 Euro’s, which is already an icon among car enthusiasts, then this Panda is a steal!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

AudiStream: You can have your virtual factory visit at Audi Ingolstadt…

Audi has another first: you can now experience virtual factory tours! For the moment, you can experience production processes of the brand at the Ingolstadt site online and in English language, both from the comfort of your own homes and/or while on the go. It is also interactive: experienced tour guides accompany the virtual tour and answer questions in the live stream.

The tour guides moderate the virtual tours live from a studio…

AudiStream provides detailed insights into selected production stages at Audi in Ingolstadt. Additionally, the new online feature presents the technical highlights of the brand. The tour guides moderate the virtual tours live from a studio. They explain production processes, answer individual questions as part of a dialog, and tailor the course of the approximately 20-minute live stream to the wishes and interests of the participants.

You visit Audi Ingolstadt virtually…

AudiStream starts with the online feature “Audi live at the Ingolstadt factory.” Participants learn how an Audi is made, from the first production steps in the press shop up to the last manual operations during the final assembly. Streams about further topics concerning the Audi brand are to follow.

You see on your screen the A4 production at Ingolstadt

Users select the desired live stream and a suitable time slot online at http://www.audi.stream.

The offering is free of charge; fees may be charged for internet access, however, depending on the selected provider. Further information on AudiStream can be found in the video. We give you here the link:

https://www.audi-mediacenter.com/de/audimediatv/video/audistream-virtuelle-reise-in-die-produktionswelt-von-audi-in-ingolstadt-4872.

Battery tray welding at Audi Brussels for the e-Tron: to see this, follow your servant in the factory!

If you want to see the production of the E-Tron at Audi Brussels, you will still see your servant and his colleagues. For your info, I am personally guiding you through the factory and tell you everything you want to know about its presence and history and all the state of the art Audi production techniques in four languages, German, English, French and Dutch. You can book a visit through the website http://www.audibrussels.be/brussels/web/nl/factory-visit/reservation.html. Just hurry, interest is large, and bookings are already months ahead!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We took our Olympus E-510 DSLR to Bologna…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As we announced, we packed the Olympus along on its first mission, reporting on the clever 500 and Panda Mild Hybrid.

Taking shots in the beautiful town centre of Bologna with its truly stunning historic buildings and its people was a boon for this smooth operating Olympus.

We just show you here the results of the photo sessions. The 10 megapixel sensor of the Olympus did an excellent job, and with the noise reduction engaged, the photo quality was outstanding also at higher ISO values.

To be on the safe side, we took also the compact Canon along, which we still used by the way for the driving and presentation shots at the Fiat press conference. We were also not sure the battery of the older Olympus would hold, as we bought the camera “as is” and we didn’t know whether this original battery would have enough stamina and staying power. Now we know, after a good week without recharging, it does!

The Olympus proved surprisingly well up to the job. All the photos shown here are without any colour or contrast correction, shot at 0 exposure compensation. We show you here the portrait photo of two students of the Bologna Law faculty, who were celebrating their graduation, hence the laurels in their heads… The picture was taken at 54 mm focal length (35 mm equivalent) stop F5,shutter 1/60 and ISO-400 sensitivity.   

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We also climbed the world famous Bologna Asinelli tower, which is not less than 97,2 meters high, and you need to climb not less than 498 steps… Here the Olympus 14-42 mm lens coped very well with high light contrasts in the staircase, with very little lens flare, and the in-built image stabilization did its job as here the shutter speed was as slow as 1/3 of a sec, with ISO-400 and 28 mm focal length (35 mm equiv.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Arrived at the top of the tower, we took a shot of the rooftops through the grilles, with the evening setting in rapidly. Lens opening F 5,3, again a slow shutter speed of 1/15 sec, ISO-400, 70 mm focal length, 35 mm equiv.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stayed at the Art Hotel Orologio, situated in a traffic-free area overlooking Piazza Maggiore square and Bologna’s historic center. The photo was taken early the next morning, F 4,3, 1/40 sec, ISO-400 and focal length 42 mm, 35 mm equivalent. Tonal values and contrast were well contained and balanced.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last but not least we took a photo of the tower of the Palazzo d’Accursio (or Palazzo Comunale) from our hotel room window, which we then in post processing converted to b&w. There is still some detail in the shadows, as you see. High contrast is well mastered. This palace once formulated to house major administrative offices of the city of Bologna. The building is located on the Piazza Maggiore, and is the city’s Town Hall.

Besides its functions as a town hall, it also houses the Civic Art Collection, with paintings from the Middle Ages to the 19th century; there you find also the Museo Morandi, with the works by Giorgio Morandi; and last but not least there is the Biblioteca Salaborsa, the town libraries.

The photo was taken with ISO set at 100, F8, 1/160 sec, focal length 62 mm, again 35 mm equivalent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally a street shot of some illuminated texts spanning over the streets, F 4,9, ISO-200 and taken at 1/50 sec, focal length 54 mm (35 mm equiv.) The building to the left was under restoration and therefore clad with a protective canvas.

The Olympus showed now already what it can do with the 14-42 mm lens, next time we take the telelens through its paces!

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Panda and 500 Mild Hybrid: mildfullness gets you going…

One would indeed create a new “mildful” English word for it: the o so clever way Fiat sees hybrid propulsion as a mild mobility solution for everybody.

Mild for nature, and also gentle for your purse. The Fiat engineers found the simple, straightforward solution of using a Belt-integrated Starter Generator to capture the kinetic energy you want to reduce and give it back the moment you want to build it up again.

Indeed, in urban stop and go traffic, reducing and gaining speed is actually the main thing you do. And this is where Fiat helps you with mild cleverness.

We tested it all for you in the medieval city center of Bologna. And were convinced. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Gentle technology with a touch of genius.  

We heard it all at the presentation in Bologna. Carlo de Marino, global engineer of the Firefly Engine Family (see photo above) explained us in detail the merits of this 999 cc three cylinder engine and the hybrid system coupled to it.

First let’s focus on the hybrid system. The BSG (Belt-integrated Starter Generator) system is mounted directly on the engine (see photo above) and is operated by the belt that also drives the auxiliaries. The system recovers energy during braking and deceleration, stores it in a lithium battery with a capacity of 11 Ah, and uses it, at a peak power of 3,6 kW, to restart the engine in Stop&Start mode and to assist it during acceleration.

This technology allows the internal combustion engine to switch off, even at speeds below 30 km/h, simply by shifting into neutral (the dashboard, which displays information on the hybrid system, prompts the driver when to do so). In coasting mode, the lithium battery powers all services, ensuring the driver has full control of the vehicle.

The Mild Hybrid propulsion unit is combined with a 6-gear C514 manual transmission “evolution”, which has new low-friction bearings and gaskets, uses a specific high-efficiency lubricant. The gearbox sits 45 mm lower and is better supported, making for supersmooth gearchanges, which we indeed experienced during our drive.

The FireFly engine itself is tuned for utter docility, and develops 70 HP and 92 Nm of torque, the latter at a mild 3500 rpm. But as said, the starter generator helps at low revs when driving away and restarting. We drove the Panda Cross during most our test drive, keen to test out the hybrid system and get good photos of the car in the beautiful Bologna inner city, with a short stint behind the wheel of the Cinquecento.  

Indeed, we were impressed by the silence and velvety smoothness of this engine, and the slick gearbox where gearchanges could be done with your fingertips. The whole system also tempts you into adopting a fluent, quiet driving style, with the engine remaining totally vibrationless from 1200 rpm or so. The gearchange indicator also invites you to stay below 1700 rpm or thereabouts, and the driving experience is then one of silent mildness indeed.

When driving gently through city streets and boulevards, with the engine being barely audible both to bystanders and occupants, the instrumentation tells you about the merits of coasting, and indeed, shifting the slick gearchange lever into neutral will stop the engine and let you coast gently along, doing exactly what all the environmentally conscious tell you to do: recuperate kinetic energy by gently rolling to a stop, adopting good anticipation and judicious driving.

If you still have to use the brakes, it is then nice to see how the generator recuperates the energy, and gives it back when starting away again. Of course, this has its good results: Fiat claims a reduction of 30 % in your average fuel consumption, and indeed, it took no effort at all to reach values between 4 and 5 litres/100 km in the Bologna streets. Of course, it takes a fluent driving style at low revs, that goes without saying. The manufacturer quotes 3,9 l/100 km as average consumption , and emissions are as low as 89 g CO2/km.

Performance is more than adequate with a quoted top speed of 155 km/h and 14,7 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h.

Durability and low service costs…

The designers of the FCA Mild Hybrid System not only kept the Hybrid system efficient and simple, also the 3 cylinder “evergreen” FireFly engine underwent some changes to enhance serviceability. The unit has here a single overhead camshaft, two valves per cylinder with continuously variable timing and last but not least chain driven timing.  

Your servant with the Panda Hybrid in front of the stunning Eataly Fico Food Show Fair…

But also other aspects of running costs are kept low.

Customers also benefit from all the advantages of going hybrid (the car is Euro 6D Final-compliant, for instance), which, depending on local regulations, include freedom of access and movement in city centers, cheaper parking in town centers and tax breaks.

The philosophy of designing and building a Hybrid system for everybody is also reflected in the very moderate extra cost of the Hybrid system compared to the standard layout(s). Indeed, the Panda Mild Hybrid Launch Edition is available in our country for slightly over 13.000 Euros…  

A Hybrid Launch Edition with a distinct “green” touch…

The 500 and the Panda are today, for the first time, together in a single special series: the Hybrid Launch Edition.

The special series can be recognized by the “Hybrid” sign written on the rear and the exclusive “H” logo, formed by two leafs with dew drops, on the center panel. Dew – the symbol of the light of dawn and therefore of the beginning of a new era – has been used also as inspiration for the “Dewdrop Green” exterior on both cars.

Charles Fuster, EMEA region marketing manager explaining the Seaqual initiative…

On the inside, the seat upholstery is faithful to the sustainable philosophy of the entire project. The Launch Edition seats are the first in the automotive sector to be partly made with SEAQUAL® YARN, the weaving of which produces a special material, certified by SEAQUAL INITIATIVE, derived from recycled plastic: 10% of which originates from the sea and 90% from land.

This SEAQUAL® YARN is produced by transforming plastics collected from the sea into flakes of polyethylene terephthalate. These flakes are then used in the yarn from which the fabrics are made. In the weaving phase, marine polyester is mixed with other environmentally friendly, natural, recycled or recovered fibers. This green process is completed by the application of dyes and environment-friendly finishes based on the saving of water and energy. Fiat is collaborating with SEAQUAL INITIATIVE to support ocean clean-ups to take action against marine litter.

Conclusion

The philosophy of designing this Mild Hybrid System certainly took hold with us. It is clever, effective, smooth and last but not least comes at a very small extra cost. All this completely in line with the unique talent Fiat has well honed over decades: to build small, compact cars which are simply among the best in the world in their class.

They now take this art a “green” step further with these Mild Hybrids, and there is even more to come. Just watch out for the next Geneva Motor Show: it will see the birth of the first “full electric” 500…

Hans Knol ten Bensel     

Unique “Abarth Stories” tell about Abarth driving passion for the Belux market…

FCA journalists launch gripping Abarth short stories series, starting with a visit to Thierry Boutsen in Monaco…

The dynamic PR and marketing people of FCA Belgium come up with an unique formula to keep the passion for the “Scorpione” alive. They launch mini-video stories that testify to the Abarth passion. The first episode shows the Belgian pilot Thierry Boutsen at the wheel of the Abarth 695 70 ° Anniversario…

This “Abarth Stories” concept was specifically devised for the Belux market. With good reason: since the launch of the brand in 2008, Abarth has achieved increasing success in Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and is even about to become a reference in our shores when it comes to sporting cars.

The first «Abarth Story» of 2020 brings viewers to the principality of Monaco, where they meet Belgian pilot Thierry Boutsen. He was so impressed with this latest creation from Turin, the Abarth 695 70 ° Anniversario, that he decided to buy one!

Thierry Boutsen has lived in Monaco with his family for years. The Festival du Cirque De Monte Carlo is in full swing, and with a bright blue sky outside, the FCA journalist meets Thierry Boutsen in the lobby of the Columbus hotel. Boutsen has devoted more than 23 years of his life to car racing and motor sport, a man with a true passion for cars.

In the original Cinquecento, Thierry Boutsen taught his mother to drive…

“I taught my mother to drive,” he tells our journalist quietly. “It was aboard a Fiat 500.” This undoubtedly explains his enthusiasm for the thoroughbred version the current model, sold under the brand name Abarth. «I have purchased this special edition in honor of the brand’s 70th anniversary, and it has been finished in the same color scheme as the 1957 Fiat 500 that I also own. So the circle is round! » he smiles.

Following him in the narrow streets of Monaco towards the corniche that takes us to the motorway towards Menton, one immediately sees that Boutsen has immense driving talents as a pilot, and they amply show behind the wheel of these new toys. «This new Abarth has everything one could wish for: it is light, agile, powerful, has perfect handling and powerful brakes. Everything was developed to achieve the best », Thierry smiled.

For more than 20 years, Thierry Boutsen has been involved in aircraft mediation with his company Boutsen Aviation, which is also based in Monaco. But his passion for cars is still well alive. “I still remain a car enthusiast,” he adds. «That is why I recently set up a new company specializing in the sale of collection cars, cars suitable for public roads and competition cars. Our specialty? Find rare vehicles that meet the specific criteria of the customers, from a Lancia Stratos or Porsche 904 to a Ferrari F1 in running order! » And now he relives also the passion for Abarth…

A thriving market for the cars with the “Scorpione” in Belgium…

With 1,700 cars sold in Belgium in 2019 and around 21,000 in Europe, Abarth is the sporting jewel in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group. Born from the heritage of Carlo Abarth, the newest 695 70 ° Anniversario is a unique model that complements the range of models 595, available in the Turismo and Competizione versions. This Abarth 695 70 ° Anniversario impresses with its new rear spoiler, which is manually adjustable,and this “Spoiler ad Assetto Variabile” can be adjusted in twelve positions, with a slope of 0 to 60 degrees…

Abarth remains active in the competition, for example through the participation of the Abarth 124 Rally in the ERC Championship, and also takes part in the F4 Championships in Italy and Germany.

This is how new pilots are discovered, such as the young Arthur Leclerc, brother of F1 pilot Charles Leclerc, who started his career at Alfa Romeo, before making the switch to Ferrari.

We just let you enjoy further the photos here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Is it worth to buy and use an older digital camera?

We bought for barely more than 100 Euros a pristine Olympus E-510….

We are using regularly our faithful Canon G 9 X, which has now shot thousands and thousands of pictures and is still soldiering on fine.

But then, what if it breaks down on an important photo shoot? Is a cheaper but sturdy backup not useful? Bringing along the big Nikons or Canons is not always the practical answer either, so we were looking for something just a little bit more compact. We love the “sturdy” touch and feel of an old school SLR however, so when we stumbled in an Antwerp photo shop on an older  Olympus E-510 with two lenses, we took a closer look.

The camera body and lenses were looking immaculate and pristine, totally “as new”, with all the controls working smoothly. Also the lenses moved smoothly in their barrels, no traces of use on the focus rings, no grease or dirt, just nothing which betrays any unloving previous use. Also the base of the camera body had never seen any rough surfaces, as it was totally scratch-free.

The asking price for the camera body with both lenses and their lens hoods was some 129 Euros, and this convinced us to risk this purchase. We also have a fairly good range for the two lenses, 14-42 mm and 40-150 mm respectively. One has to multiply the focal length by two to get the 35 mm equivalent. This means we have a focal range of 28 to 300 mm, which is not bad for this price.        

In good Olympus tradition, the camera body is compact , and for its day and age, it had some impressive specifications. It features sensor cleaning, image stabilization in the camera body (using Gyro sensors to register camera shake, with supersonic wave drive motor then moving the image sensor to compensate) , and the rear electronic screen can also act as a viewfinder, a special feature then, now of course totally common on our cameras.

The focus and exposure modes are impressive, the 10 megapixel 4/3 type Live MOS sensor is quite OK and after taking some convincing test shots we decide to take it along on our next photo assignment to Bologna, where we will drive the Mild Hybrid Panda and 500.

Just stay tuned to have a look at the photos of our “new” bargain Olympus soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

We will be going to Bologna to test the Fiat 500 and Panda Mild Hybrid…

It had to come. The electrification of the Fiat brand. The first step is here: The Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda, always European leaders in their segment, are the first FCA city cars fitted with the new gasoline Mild Hybrid technology.

The Hybrids are powered by the new 3-cylinder engines from the FireFly family which will deliver 70 HP, combined with the 3,6 kW BSG (Belt-integrated Starter Generator).

CO2 consumption and emissions are reduced by up to 30% depending on the model, in addition to the tax and traffic benefits of hybrid vehicles in densely populated areas, based on local regulations.

The new 500 and Panda Hybrid will be available from February and March 2020 respectively, are set to become a new European benchmark for electrified urban mobility.

The anchor year 2020 will further continue with the start of production in Turin of the new 500. This model will be 100% electric and therefore will play a key role in the e-Mobility by FCA strategy.

But now the coming days we will set sail to Bologna. Keen to drive these two new hybrids…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel