Maserati unveils its Levante Hybrid




The Levante Hybrid was presented at ist launch in Azzuro Astro color. This metallic paint consists of three layers and is available through the Maserati Fuoriserie personalization program.

The Maserati Levante Hybrid has today experienced both a physical and a digital world premiere. At the time of the car’s unveiling at the Shanghai Auto Show, a virtual presentation has taken place simultaneously on the houseof.maserati.com website.

With its first electrified SUV, Maserati is taking another important step in the future plan launched last year with the Ghibli Hybrid, which will lead to the electrification of all new Maserati models.

“Faster. Cleaner. Unique ” is the motto at the launch: the Levante Hybrid is faster than a diesel, more durable than a car with an internal combustion engine and unique thanks to specific features and details.

The Levante Hybrid combines a two-liter four-cylinder engine with a 48-volt hybrid system that recovers energy during engine deceleration and application of the brakes. The hybrid SUV is lighter than the six-cylinder version (petrol and diesel) and also has a more balanced weight distribution because the battery – without sacrificing luggage space – is placed in the rear of the car. One of the goals during the development of the Levante Hybrid was to take the dynamics and driving pleasure to an even higher level.

 With a maximum power of 330 hp and a torque of 450 Nm, which is available from just 2,250 rpm, the four-wheel drive Levante Hybrid delivers impressive performance: the car has a top speed of 240 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km in 6 seconds.

The Levante Hybrid was presented at ist launch in Azzuro Astro color. This metallic paint consists of three layers and is available through the Maserati Fuoriserie personalization program.

The Levante Hybrid is immediately recognizable by the unique details in the exterior and interior. Several elements are finished in blue, a color specifically chosen for Maserati hybrid models. Like the brake calipers and trident on the C-pillars, the iconic side vents are finished in this shade of blue. The same color returns in the interior, including the stitching of the seat upholstery.

With Maserati Connect, the Levante Hybrid is always connected to the outside world. The driver remains fully informed about the technical condition of the car: Maserati Connect alerts the owner when maintenance is required, thus improving the quality of the service. The owner is in contact with the car via the Maserati app on the smartphone or smartwatch. You can also contact the car from home with a virtual assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assist.

The digital world premiere of the Levante Hybrid on houseof.maserati.com has been attended by Maserati’s global brand ambassador David Beckham and Italian songwriter and producer Dardust, who has composed an exclusive soundtrack for the unveiling of the Levante Hybrid.

More soon about this Levante in technical detail. Stay posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel      

We personally witnessed the unfolding of the Audi Quattro (Rally) Saga…

We were there: your servant in conversation with Michèle Mouton in Sankt Moritz, on December 8, 1982…

Your servant was already active as a freelance car journalist from the mid-seventies of last century, so we witnessed up close the birth of the Audi 5-cylinder engines and the (rally) cars powered by it were quite familiar. When we were telling you the long career of Audi’s 5 cylinder engine, we told you how your servant remembered a drive behind the wheel of the Audi 80 Quattro with this magnificent engine. Just look at our pages on this site, and more especially https://autoprova.be/2016/09/18/sweet-memories-our-drive-with-the-5-cylinder-audi-80-5e-quattro-in-sankt-moritz/

This memorable test drive of this Audi 80 5E Quattro took place in Sankt Moritz, on 8 and 9 December 1982. For the assembled international journalists, Audi had also organized a demonstration run with the Quattro Rally Cars, and had brought Michèle Mouton and Stig Blomquist to the venue.

You see me here chatting with Michèle Mouton before having a demo drive with her at the wheel in her Quattro Rally machine…

Sweet memories!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

My unforgettable drive with the Giulia Super over the Alps on the way to the Monza Grand Prix in September 1970…

Here I stand proudly as a 23 year old behind the driver’s door of the Alfa Giulia Super, with my nephew looking into the ravine of the Great Saint Bernard pass…

There are epic moments, already in the young life of a car enthusiast. I was barely 23 at the time, when I accompanied my father on a drive to attend the 1970 Monza Grand Prix. My father had a Olive Metallic Green 1,6 Giulia Super press test car for the occasion, and I have been smitten for Giulia’s and Alfa’s ever since, as the drive was so magnificent.

My father had his faithful Leicaflex with the 90 mm Summicon – R f 1:2  lens along, and this is the perfect camera to make impressive shots. You see them here.

My father and I had also taken my nephew along, and so we went on our drive, with me doing most of the driving, as my father found that I understood the car very well. Of course we were keen to let the Alfa perform. This meant cruising on  the German Autobahnen and the A27 through Switzerland and the Italian Autostradas at speeds between 150-160 km/h in fifth gear, when the law allowed it of course.

On our route, we decided not to take the Simplon Tunnel, but take the historic road winding over the Great St. Bernard pass itself, which lies a few hundred metres from the Swiss border with Italy, and is only passable from June to September.

Not only was the old classic pass road a dream for the Giulia, with its pleasantly short second and third gears, and I gladly helped the somewhat weaker synchromesh of the gearbox with expert double declutching. Descents were also epic, as this Giulia had already four disk brakes…

I still recall the eager sound and crisp exhaust roar of the 1,6 litre twin cam engine, and, as said, am totally smitten by Alfa’s ever since.

The Monza Grand Prix was rather dramatic. We arrived in Monza on the fifth of September, going down to the track after having got our press permits and parking voucher for our dear Alfa. Only to hear that Jochen Rindt had killed himself during the practice session on that day. He spun into the guardrails after a failure on his car’s brake shaft. He was killed owing to severe throat injuries caused by his seat belt. He was way ahead in points over the rest of the F1 field, so he became the only driver to be posthumously awarded the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship.

The Great Saint Bernard Pass was gruesome in winter, so prayer to our Lord was certainly appropriate…

We show you the photos, and dream away with you on the joys of holding the wheel of this magnificent four door Gran Turismo, which the Giulia was and still is right to this day…

Your servant would love to make a repeat edition of this drive on the Great Saint Bernard Pass with today’s Giulia… that would be truly great!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

My first Volkswagen Beetle, bought for 500 Belgian Franks or 12,5 Euros… here in a 1969 photo!

Faithful readers remember the article on the Autoworld Exhibition where I told about my purchase of the ’55 export Beetle from famous Television critic Johan Anthierens. Just click Volkswagen celebrates its history in Autoworld… – Autoprova – for the Connaisseur to read the story.

I found a photo of the VW, with my eldest sister – she is one year younger than me – posing in front of it, in July 1969. She lives happily married in the US and is a busy mother and grandmother now. Note how the simple and clean Mary Quandt fashion of the end of the sixties looks even very smart today…

I had removed the hubcaps of the car, put a circular racing number background to camouflage the somewhat scratched door. The former owner Johan Anthierens has also damaged the side board slightly, but neverteless, with our cosmetic changes, the VW looked very preppy and the paintwork was overall still excellent!

More to come from my archives…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Some early photos from my automotive beginnings…

In Corona times, some days are spent delving into archive boxes, and of course, treasures are found. I will show them in several reports here on my site.

They tell us about unique moments, and also learn us also how fast time goes…

Here above you see a photo of me in my early twenties, behind the wheel of the much underrated 914-6 VW Porsche, with its 2 litre six cylinder boxer, a necessary ingredient in making it a “true” Porsche.

We drove quite a few Porsche test cars from the D’Ieteren press fleet, here you see me at the wheel of one of the earlier 911’s, which I loved very much and was able to drive to their limits without the slightest mishap. Indeed, I never ever lost control of these early 911’s. I still love them… and their characteristic road manners, which still call for a talented and sensitive driver to master them. Note also the absence of headrests!

Much more to come!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

What passengers like the most, according to Nissan…

Nissan has made some research lately about what makes for both driver and passengers a harmonious journey. First of all, using the phone whilst driving is something passengers hate the most. It can indeed cause in-car arguments… Nissan points out of course than NissanConnect helps greatly here, as it integrates the phone seamlessly with the car. Also the compatibility with Apple Play and Android Auto will let you digest safely incoming calls and messages…

Good Music

Not less than 55 % of Europeans believe that good music is the most important ingredient for an enjoyable trip. Of course, you have to agree on a playlist before you start off… The NissanConnect infotainment system helps greatly here…

In the Juke, front seat passengers can enjoy the good sound of the Bose Personal Plus System. You can even select your music via the in Car Wi-Fi Hotspot…

Photo: Christian Colmenero Martín / Zona IV Producciones http://www.christiancolmenero.com http://www.zonaiv.com

Don’t come too close…

Passengers hate tailgating, and it is one of the worst things a driver can do. 46 % of the passengers find it very annoying. At least two seconds should be between you and the car in front of you. Nissan suggests using its ProPilot system which keeps you at a safe distance, whatever the speed…

Nearly one in five drivers admit that tiredness is a problem. So take a break, and don’t continue for too long. A chime and a coffee cup symbol will warn you when you drive a Nissan…

Risky overtaking

Indeed, not less than 56 % of European passengers just hate that. It makes them feel very uneasy. Nissan drivers can make good use of JUKE’s Blind Spot Intervention for instance, which returns the car back to its original lane if the driver doesn’t intervene…

Good seating

This is for many passengers even more important than room, and we can agree…

To conclude, a smooth, cool drive with good music is what passengers want, and their happy faces will also turn a broad, relaxed smile on your face…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Stylish and Iconic: MINI launches the new MINI Countryman Northwood Edition

The new MINI Countryman Northwood Edition is inspired on the authentic and unique surroundings of this town on the English island Wight.

This edition integrates the contours of this legendary landscape in a logo which adorns in Piano Black finish both sides of the car.

The “Union Jack” flag and the logo “Northwood” are integrated in the total design. On the door sills executed in Piano Black, the name of the edition is engraved, just as is the logo “Special Edition”. The geographical coordinates of this town are engraved in the door pillar on the drivers’ side, and a “Northwood” badge in the passenger area is integrated at the level of the “Piano Black” accent strip.

The MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 Plug-In Hybrid Drive retains its typical air inlets at the sides of the car and has adapted sills in Electric Yellow. On top of the C-pillars a “Northwood” badge is also seen.

The MINI Countryman Northwood Edition is offered with the Plug-in Hybrid Cooper SE ALL 4 engine, the “One” and Cooper S petrol engines, as well as the Cooper Diesel engine. This Special Edition is available at prices from € 32.750.

You can order it now at your Belux MINI dealer!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Debut of the Jeep® Wrangler 4xe “First Edition”: you can order it now via a dedicated website…

We are absolutely total Jeep lovers: we just are totally sold on its style, panache and how these cars ride and perform. There is also very good news: four months after its world premiere, staged last September in Detroit, the new Jeep® Wrangler 4xe is available for pre-booking in selected European markets before going on sale later this year.

Customers in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, can be among the first to discover the new Jeep Wrangler 4xe “First Edition” with just a few clicks on the dedicated website, and express their interest in being contacted when the vehicle will be available at dealerships.

This new initiative serves as confirmation of the journey embarked upon early last year, with the pre-booking initiative for the Renegade and Compass 4xe – a resounding success, generating a lot of interest across Europe. The arrival of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe also marks a significant moment in the brand’s evolution and another step in the strategy towards the electrification of its entire range, announced in 2020. This journey will include the introduction of at least one electric or electrified version of each model in the coming years.

A few days ago, the dedicated website was launched in Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland and will be soon available in the other markets involved in the initiative.

The all-inclusive “First Edition” configuration will be packed with comprehensive technological and driving assistance features, the easyWallbox for more efficient home charging, and a Mode 3 cable for public charging. A specific launch package is also standard on the Wrangler 4xe “First Edition” and features a practical Cargo Organiser for the storage space, the new 4xe car cover, 3 years of extended vehicle warranty (providing a total of 5 years) as well as the advantages of “Jeep Wave”, with first two routine services as per the user and maintenance manual included.

“Jeep Wave” is the new loyalty and customer care program offered on the new Jeep Wrangler 4xe First Edition and all models in the 2021 Jeep range. This program provides exclusive services and benefits, including the first two routine services at Jeep dealerships, 24/7 roadside assistance, a new dedicated customer service accessed through a multi-lingual Jeep call center for priority support and privileged entry to brand events and partnerships.

The Wrangler 4xe is the most technologically advanced and capable Wrangler ever.

It offers a maximum combined output of 380 horsepower, courtesy of the pairing of two electric motor generators, a high-voltage battery pack, a high-tech turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine and the proven TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. This is the most advanced powertrain ever fitted to the Wrangler and optimises efficiency of consumption and CO2 emissions, offering the option to drive in full electric, with a range of up to 50 km*. The electric powertrain is also perfectly integrated into the 4×4 system, taking the off-road performance of the Wrangler 4xe to the next level.

Packed with comprehensive equipment as standard and dedicated styling cues.

The Wrangler 4xe “First Edition” will be available with a choice of three exteriors: Black, Granite Crystal and Bright White – the colors most beloved by European customers. The new model will also come with new driving modes: Hybrid, Full Electric, E-save, as well as specific functions for electrified driving and charge management.

Full of Panache and Zest: the Rubicon version…

The First Edition’s standard features and specific styling cues include Granite Chrystal accents, 18-inch wheels, full-LED high-visibility headlights, hard cover for the spare tyre, 8.4-inch UconnectTM NAV system with touchscreen, smartphone integration and on-board connectivity (as managing the recharge from the smartphone), plus a 7-inch TFT for information on battery charge levels and range (electric and hybrid). Standard safety features include Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning Plus, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Path Detection, rear camera and new front camera, front and rear parking sensors, Keyless Enter ‘N Go™ and electric rearview mirrors.

The exclusive “First Edition” is the most comprehensive trim in the Wrangler 4xe range, which is due to arrive in European Jeep showrooms before this summer.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Alfa Romeo Giulia wins the title of “Best Car”

Another prestigious award for the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the car magazine “auto motor und sport” having named it “Best Car 2021”. Readers voted for the Italian sports sedan as the winner in the mid-size/import category – for the fourth time in the past five years. With a share of 22 percent of the vote, the Alfa Romeo Giulia prevailed against 14 competitors. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Alfa Romeo Stelvio, second and third in their respective categories, complete Alfa Romeo’s success in the “Best Car 2021” awards.

More than 101,000 readers took part in the 45th edition of the “Best Cars” competition, held by the magazine “auto, motor und sport”. They had the choice between 387 models divided into 11 categories, including separate acknowledgments for import vehicles. The awards ceremony took place virtually for the first time…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Ideal transport for families: the new Mercedes T-Class…

Mercedes builds excellent vans, and the V-Class has gained mainy followers in the midsize segment. But many families want it to be just a bit smaller. So the people at Mercedes use a small van platform to create a new vehicle which is tailored to the needs of families, whilst also being a suitable companion for active leisure enthusiasts.

So a small van for private customers will be available from the first half of 2022. The class designation of this new model is “T-Class.”

Hans Knol ten Bensel

“With the T-class’s new layout and design we achieve a fusion of functionality and desirability”, says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler Group. “With our unique design philosophy of Sensual Purity we create an attractive family companion being the T-Class inspiring with its design, proportions and its perceived value.”

A typical Mercedes

The T-Class will be clearly discernible at first glance as a member of the Mercedes-Benz family and will feature unmistakably typical characteristics of the brand with the three-pointed star. Especially in terms of design, value, safety and connectivity, the new vehicle will bear the DNA of Mercedes-Benz.

A new class with a new concept

The private-customer market is the focus of the completely newly developed Mercedes-Benz T-Class. The T-Class will meet the needs of families and leisure-oriented people at an attractive price-value ratio. The letter T stands for efficient room concepts and is thus perfectly suited as a model designation for compact family vans bearing the three-pointed star.

The new Mercedes-Benz T-Class offers a large amount of space and is suited to a range of different uses, including passenger transportation as a reference within sharing services – all while not compromising on comfort. The wide-opening sliding doors on both the left and right-hand sides of the vehicle as an example allow easy and comfortable access to the interior. Alongside conventional drive systems, there will be also a fully electric version.

Cooperation with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi…

In August last year, the Vans division announced a successor to the compact urban delivery van, together with a fully-electric variant. Based on this small van platform, two vehicles will be created: while the Mercedes-Benz Citan is a no-compromise vehicle tailored to the requirements of commercial customers, the Mercedes-Benz T-Class is primarily focused towards private customers.

The T-Class and the Citan will be built in cooperation with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

Hans Knol ten Bensel