On October 1, coffee aficionados around the world celebrated their favorite hot drink on International Coffee Day.
This was a reason of the dynamic Stellantis PR team to to let one of the best baristas in Belgium, Peter Hernou, show us how to serve a good coffee. Because let’s face it, a Mocha coffee in the morning is a day without worries. And with the award-winning Opel Mokka, Opel offers the perfect companion to further color the day.
So we went to the beautiful Pajottenland around Brussels to have a drive with the Mokka and meet Peter Hernou and enjoy his heavenly coffee.
By the way, Opel chose the name “Mokka” by analogy with the coffee/espresso beans that are “small but with a lot of character” or, like the car, “compact in size and big in character”.
It was a very enjoyable day, and we learned a lot about coffee making. The first and most important rule is to have fresh roasted coffee beans, ground just minutes before you make it.
Of course we also had a delightful drive at the wheel of the electric Mokka through the hills of Pajottenland.
Of course, the customer has ample choice, this subcompact SUV from Opel is available as a battery electric vehicle, or with petrol and diesel engines, – just as they would choose their favorite coffee….
Right from the start of our test we chose the “B” hybrid mode and also selected the “eco” driving setting. Indeed, power is abundant in all driving situations when touring, and power delivery is very smooth indeed under this setting. We also took care to select the “battery save” mode, i.e. keeping the battery charged to drive some 20 km on battery power, just in case.
One has to select this every time one starts the car anew, which is a bit cumbersome, but soon enough one flicks through the menus every morning to select this, and there is also a dedicated button below the touchscreen which lets you land immediately in these energy management modes, so after a while this becomes a breeze to include this in the morning starting routine.
Your servant and its passengers greatly appreciated the superb comfort of the seats, further enhanced by the smooth suspension. Be it on the cobblestones in Damme, Brugge or Liège, or the Parisian streets, everything is beautifully ironed out, and even after hours of driving, one feels utterly relaxed and fit.
Indeed, this is what Citroën driving is all about, and not only does one enjoy the “floating carpet” ride, the impressive sound insulation does the rest. Nor do any vibrations reach the cabin.
The DAB radio and sound system overall add greatly to the driving pleasure and entertainment on longer trips, with the navigation system being also top notch. The map can also be seen in the line of vision of the driver within the instrument cluster, which helps greatly in dense (Parisian) traffic situations.
The C5 AirCross is as can be expected an excellent motorway cruiser, in urban situations however, the styling of modern day SUV’s does not give the slightest clue about the edges of the car, and this goes not only for the C5. Of course one has camera’s and warning systems, but we must admit that the camera’s on the C5 lack definition and clarity. We would like to spend a few Euro’s more to have a camera system with better definition.
The beautiful alloys are thankfully somewhat protected by the tyre walls and the rims do not protrude, which is a blessing with the many high and razor sharp kerbstones modern day architects are throwing (literally) before our wheels. Nevertheless, the tyre walls stick out only marginally so much caution is still very much advised. We sweat blood and tears in an older narrow Parisian parking building, but thankfully did not harm the alloys (nor the bodywork) at all. Increasingly one notices that modern cars have become bigger and bigger, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to negotiate them through older parking garages. We saw recently at the presentation of the sleek 408 Peugeot that a better tyre protection is designed for its magnificent alloys.
It’s the only SUV in the segment to offer three individual sliding, reclining and retractable rear seats. The boot volume goes from 580 L to 720 L in the petrol and diesel versions and from 460 L to 600 L for the hybrid version. It offered easily enough room for thee large suitcases and further clothing like jackets and hats.
Of course, consumption is very much depending on your driving style, and in the case of a plug-in hybrid, how often you (re)charge it. During our trip, recharging was not very much in the cards, but we nevertheless achieved a consumption between 6 and 6,5 litres, which considering that there was also quite much urban slow (sightseeing) driving involved, is a very good value indeed.
It’s compact, and it has all the works: it throws in all the goodies of the Sony a6000, which means that it has a 24MP CMOS sensor, Bionz X processor, on-chip phase detection covering 92% of the frame and Wi-Fi with NFC. And this tilting LCD, flipping upward 180 degrees.
The camera can record 1080/60p video, supporting the XAVC S codec, allowing for bit rates of 50Mbps. It also has the ability to simultaneously record 720p video while recording at higher resolutions.
Each year, the Jeux Internationaux de la Jeunesse (‘The International Youth Games’) brings together more than 350 high school students from around the world to honor fundamental values such as excellence, respect, friendship, solidarity and tolerance.
A truly popular phenomenon, the Citroën AMI will be the banner of this edition of the YOU and will be seen at each and every venue of the event.
This global event, whose growing success has not diminished over the past decade, will find a full international resonance thanks to the strength of the powerful network of 552 French secondary schools around the world and the prestigious school sports federation of the French national education system, the UNSS.
More about YOU…
For the past 11 years, YOU have brought together young people from French secondary schools around the world for a week of sporting and cultural activities. This year, and for the first time in its history, the YOU in Belgium will take place at the Lycée Français Jean Monnet in Brussels, in collaboration with the French Embassy in Belgium. Over five days and at various locations in Brussels, no fewer than 400 16 and 17 year olds from 33 countries (including Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and the United Kingdom) will meet there.
Citroën Belux is one of the official sponsors of this important event and takes the opportunity to highlight the AMI model, a popular mobility phenomenon that is on the rise. The Citroën AMI will be at all the different venues of the events: amongst others at the Lycée Français in Brussels, at the Hotel Dolce La Hulpe where the participants stay, at the Golf D’Hulencourt where the closing ceremony will take place and on the official opening night of the YOU with the presence of some ambassadors from the different participating countries.
AMI: built for Youth…
Already a leader in the quadricycle segment, Citroën AMI is a highly valued mobility solution, especially for young people. With AMI, Citroën is responding to the challenges of urban mobility, which are more than ever at the heart of the concerns and expectations of city dwellers. AMI is an individual mobility solution that makes it possible to travel protected in a closed, 100% electrical object that is accessible to everyone.
I always had a weak spot for the original Panda. I remember photographing this original Panda – in RED colour – in the middle of the Galerie de la Reine in the heart of Brussels, when testing this cute Panda for a car magazine. This was in the early ’80s…
So when Dominique Fontignies, PR and Communications Director of Stellantis Belux sent me the following story, I was delighted to share it with you, dear reader…
Thomas and Tanguy, two inseparable cousins, are about to cover more than 7,500 km in a 1997 Fiat Panda 4X4 for charity.
The “ToiMoi1Panda” project aims to raise at least €20,000, which will be donated to the Inès Costa Foundation and to research on neurofibromatosis.
Thomas and Tanguy have been inseparable and complementary cousins since childhood. Coincidentally, they also became brothers-in-law! In memory of their sister-in-law Inès, who died of neurofibromatosis at the age of 24, the two cousins have long wanted to support scientific research into this relatively rare disease.
During their research they discovered the “Superlative Adventure Club”, a German association that organized a rally raid to the North Cape, bypassing the Baltic Sea. As a condition of participating in the adventure, each team must raise money for a charity of their choice. The ToiMoi1Panda project was launched…
On the (icy) roadsfrom 19 february to 6 march 2022
ToiMoi1Panda, is a sixteen-day snow raid in the middle of the cold winter months. They will travel across 10 countries only on small roads and without GPS : 7,500km in complete autonomy at the wheel of their Fiat Panda 4X4 built in 1997.
Thomas and Tanguy have been preparing their trip for almost 2 years, the car has been completely prepared and overhauled for the occasion, while still remaining faithful to the original model: simple, robust and basic.
They have also decided to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their adventure by compensating for all the kilometers they travel with the Panda through the CO2logic program certified by Vinçotte.
The goal of ToiMoi1Panda is to raise at least €20,000 for the foundation. Thomas and Tanguy will cover all the costs of the raid (car, fuel, expenses, insurance, passports and visas, lodging, food, etc.) so that 100% of the donations and income will go directly to the Foundation’s account.
So far, the ToiMoi1Panda fund has already raised almost €17,000 thanks to sponsors, donations and actions organized by Thomas and Tanguy in recent months: sales of olive oil, previews of films, sale of the playlists they will listen to during their trip, donations in exchange for products offered by their sponsors, etc. Fiat will also contribute to this charitable activity.
Also Škoda is convinced that the future is electric. On January 31st they presented for us the all electric Škoda Enyaq iV Coupé. It will be initially only available in the RS version, which promises to be rather formidable if one reads the figures: an acceleration form 0 to 100 km/h in 6,5 seconds, charging time from 10 to 80 % in under 30 minutes, a range of 545 km.
At the same time, this new version remains typically Škoda: spacious and practical. The luggage compartment is a massive 570 liters… and of course it has lots of “Simply Clever” features.
At the virtual presentation, we saw Jens Katemann, Head of Communications of Škoda Auto leading us into the Kino Lucerna,
the oldest still operating cinema theatre in the Czech Republic, and introducing us to the actress driving the Enyaq iV Coupé in the film, Ana Geislerova, and Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Škoda Auto. (Photo below, from left to right).
Jens Katemann, Head of Communications of Škoda Auto, Ana Geislerova, and Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Škoda Auto.
The film starts with the CEO Thomas Schäfer running in the woods towards a vantage point, embodying the will to go (ever) forward, and looking into the (electrical) future.
CEO Thomas Schäfer running…
Then we are introduced to Johannes Neft, board member Technical development, and further to Oliver Stefani, Head of Design.
Actress Ana Geislerova then lovingly caresses the roofline of the sleek coupé,
and takes the wheel… for an exhilarating drive;
The second part of the film presents the RS version, which will be offered first to the eager customers, and it tells the story of a Czech teenage girl who drives the first RS Coupé, based on the rear engined MB 1000.
The person is now is some decades older, but remains in love wih life and freedom,
and of course drives now the new coupé…
I couldn’t resist showing you here some clips of this film…
The cars themselves are then presented in more detail by CEO Thomas Schäfer and his team. We show you here also some clips, revealing the car more in detail…
Dear reader, I will be driving a BMW Z4 Coupé until the 24th of December, on Christmas eve… so indeed, driving home for Christmas. And I will certainly be listening to the iconic song by the same name… Also the choice of the BMW is fitting, as MINI belongs to the same group.
And this because that the all-time classic “Driving home for Christmas” was composed by Chris Rea in 1978 in… the Mini of his wife. MINI is now dedicating a specially produced video clip to the song that gets people all over the world in the mood for the festive season every year, starring the global MINI community.
The production of the video is another highlight in the MINI’s current brand campaign titled BIG LOVE. The motto is, as MINI puts it, “an expression of diversity embraced in practice in all its forms, welcoming fresh thinking and new ideas no matter where they come from.” The MINI community’s characteristic blend of individuality and the sense of belonging together plays a central role here, MINI says too. The diversity of this community is summed up by the slogan “We are all different, but pretty good together”.
With the video clip production initiated by MINI, “Driving Home for Christmas” returns to where it all began: in a very special British automobile. Because the journey that inspired Chris Rea to write his successful song was taken in a classic Mini. In the video clip, the original journey from London to the north of England is reflected upon and combined with scenes showing MINI fans of today on their pre-Christmas journey. You MUST see it, and here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2we7JdB7iY
We just let you look at some photos to get you in the mood, and enjoy also the sound track!
This year’s edition of the Zoute Grand Prix has been spreading over several Flemish cities now. Bruges and Ostend have stepped also in the game.
This year we were of course in Knokke, but decided to live the event through the public and bystander’s eye.
The Zoute Grand Prix has indeed grown into a formidable event with a very wide and large public impact. For Knokke Heist, it has become the busiest weekend of the year, with absolute record hotel bookings.
It raises the spirits of car lovers of all ages, and many are those who take out their beloved young- or oldtimer out for a spin on the Knokke streets during the event, and have their own very personal Grand Prix.
There are also a lot of new and very recent cars around, many of them with tuned exhaust to add some extra drama to their Knokke sortie.
Shops of every kind in Knokke had arranged their showrooms and added to their shop windows a specific touch referring to the theme of the event.
We just let you enjoy some of the snapshots we took on the Knokke streets, where, we must admit, no EV’s or electrified cars were to be seen for near or afar this weekend…
We will report on the actual event, including the Bonham’s auction and the Concours d’Elegance in these columns soon!
Alfa Romeo will be present at the 2021 edition of the Zoute Grand Prix, which will take place in Knokke from 6 to 10 October. “I am delighted that the Alfa Romeo brand can once again participate in the Zoute Grand Prix this year, especially as we have been participating since the first edition in 2010,” said Patrice Duclos, General Manager of the Alfa Romeo brand for Belgium and Luxembourg.
This year Alfa Romeo will participate in the Zoute Grand Prix with a car with a special history: the latest Giulia GTAm, of which the limited edition of 500 cars has now been sold out. “The Giulia GTAm on the Alfa Romeo stand at the 2021 Zoute Grand Prix is not only an exclusive car, but also of particular interest to us,” said Patrice Duclos. “This car was driven by our two drivers of the Alfa Romeo ORLEN Racing F1 team on the eve of the Belgian F1 Grand Prix last August. We can say that this model has a historical side that should interest car enthusiasts in our country!”
In all respects, the Giulia GTA/GTAm is a collector’s car. All 500 numbered units, introduced to the international press last May, have since been sold to customers worldwide, including a significant number in China, Japan and Australia, making the Giulia GTA an international commercial success.
An exclusive video
On the occasion of the 2021 Zoute Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo offers its fans a unique testimony about the Giulia GTAm, with a video in which Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi, the two official drivers of Alfa Romeo ORLEN Racing, take a seat in the car. They can be seen leaving the Hotel de la Source in Spa, right next to the Formula 1 circuit, to take the roads from Spa to the heights of Balmoral. This video can be viewed via the following link: https://we.tl/t-fcEfX7EsEm
First appearance of the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio 6C Villa d’Este
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio 6C Villa d’Este appears for the first time at the Zoute Grand Prix and is offered with the 210 hp 2.2 Turbo or the 280 hp 2.0 Turbo, both four-cylinder aluminum diesel engines with carbon fiber crankshaft, combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive (Q4). In addition to the exterior paintwork, the special series features chrome side window surrounds and 21″ five-hole alloy wheels.
This new limited edition is inspired in terms of colours and design elements by the elegance of the 6C 2500 SS Coupé produced by Alfa Romeo in the 1940s…
The Jeep Compass 2021 is now a completely new model, with changes to the features which are close to the hearts of European customers: stylish inside and out, with state-of-the-art technology under the hood, besides being also sustainable and functional.
This is also the first Jeep launched (and developed) by the Stellantis Group, and it is also produced exclusively in Melfi, Italy. This is only logical when you know that in Europe, the Compass accounts for more than 40% of Jeeps sales and today one in four Compass vehicles sold is a plug-in hybrid model.
An important car therefore, with plenty of good reasons to put it here through its paces for you. Just read further…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
We drove the Compass fitted with the new GSE four-cylinder 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine, and we immediately selected on the configurable digital instrument display the consumption indicator function, to show us permanently average and immediate consumption. More about the results later…
This new engine develops 150 HP in our test car, and is therefore paired to a 7 speed Dual Dry Clutch Transmission (DDCT).
A very smooth engine it is indeed, almost inaudible both at urban and motorway speeds. The gearbox is also ultra smooth, and mates perfectly with the engine. The level of silent sophistication and smoothness a thoroughbred 1,3 litre petrol engine can offer nowadays is truly stunning. Of course the excellent transmission helps here too. The same engine, the 4-cylinder 1.3-litre turbo unit, comes in the Compass models with plug-in hybrid technology with even more power, 190 hp or 240 hp and 270 Nm of torque, coupled then to a six-speed automatic transmission. Last but not least eAWD powers the 4xe versions and completes the New Compass engine range.
The 150 HP version offers more than adequate performance with a sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 9,2 seconds and a top speed of 199 km/h. Accelerations in intermediate speeds are excellent, and one hardly needs higher revs to enjoy the pulling power this drivetrain offers. There is also a “sport” mode for dynamic driving, letting the engine rev longer and higher in the gears and making the gearbox more alert to throttle movements.
The manufacturer quotes 5,5 litres as combined consumption, with an urban average of 6,6 litres/100 km. One needs a very prudent foot on the throttle and much anticipation in one’s driving style to achieve this, and the average during our test was 7.2 litres/100 km on the open road, cruising at the legal speed limits on the motorway, with spirited accelerations in between and motorway congestions and slowdowns thrown in too.
In urban driving, a sensitive right foot works wonders, the gearbox settling in at the highest possible gear when cruising at 30 or 50 km/h, with the engine running at 1200 rpm, and immediate consumption hovering around the 4-5 litre mark. Caressing the throttle will keep it there, a more vigorous blip will send it swiftly above 10 litres. An average of 7.8 litres/100 km in urban conditions was however rather easily achievable. The very clever and readable consumption display will soon teach you the consumption difference between a more spirited and a relaxed driving style… CO2 emissions are quoted as 153 g/km in the WLTP cycle.
In this drivetrain configuration, the Compass has only front wheel drive, which doesn’t mean however that you cannot steer this Compass on off-road terrain and country roads. For our photo session, where we tried out our Fujifilm X-A5 which we had recently bought used for less than 300 €, we went on open terrain which was still rather wet and soggy from the torrential rains which have devastated many towns and villages in Wallonia, parts of Germany and Holland. It proved no problem at all for our Compass to turn tightly and move from standstill without any loss of adhesion or slippage of the front wheels on the rain-sogged grass.
Connected and practical
The vocation of our Compass is, as Stellantis puts it, to address the wishes and needs of rational, factual people, which are also fascinated by the possibility of getting away from their daily routines: Stellantis calls them “pragmatic dreamers”.
Besides stronger aesthetics, with good capabilities off road as well as on the open road, the new Compass offers features an all-new cabin, designed to improve comfort and life on board, and to make the urban driving experience smarter.
Major highlights include the full-HD digital 10.25-inch instrument cluster, DAB radio, Uconnect 5 system with touchscreens from 8.4-inch to 10.1-inch, moved to the middle of the dashboard in a higher position so the driver can remain focused on the road, a five times faster processor, Android operating system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, interactive 3D TomTom navigation and natural voice recognition, and last but not least Uconnect Services.
The interior has also been made even more functional with a new arrangement of the central console and augmented storage compartment space (providing nearly 4.4 litres of additional storage – a three-fold increase versus the 2.8 litres of the previous version, now with a total of 7.2 litres).
Still more safety features…
The New Compass is the first Jeep vehicle in Europe to offer level 2 autonomous driving and is equipped with the latest generation ADAS, as standard across the range. These include: Traffic Sign Recognition, which reads and interprets the road signs; Intelligent Speed Assist, to automatically keep the car within the speed limit advertised; Drowsy Driver Alert, to alert the drivers when their attention falters or if they drop off for a moment; and Automatic Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, which slows the vehicle down to a complete stop, to avoid (or mitigate) accidents that could occur.
But the biggest new feature is the Highway Assist, combining Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering, to automatically adjust the vehicle’s speed and trajectory. The vehicle therefore automatically stays in the middle of the lane, at a sensible distance from the vehicle in front, for a driving experience with total peace of mind.
Driving long distances or making short urban errands are a breeze in the new Compass. Seats are well contoured and comfortable, the suspension is overall rather firmish, but irons out potholes and ridges very well. Noise levels are low, with any mechanical noises virtually absent at any speeds.
This new Compass indeed marries very well both worlds: that of urban sophistication as well as the ruggedness and bewildering attraction of the freedom of on- and offroad. The power and refinement of the 150 HP engine coupled to the 7 speed DDCT transmission is convincing, as well as the overall stylishness of body and cabin.
Of course we look forward to testing the 4xe variant, but let you enjoy the photos of this new Compass already here…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
For the photo’s of this test, we put our recently acquired used but pristine Fujifilm X-A5 through its paces. We just love the velvety sharpness and contrast of the Fujinon lenses, one of the reasons we bought this camera. It also looks very good, and has some Leica aura over it. We studied its manual thoroughly, as it has many clever features… just look at the photos. We will use this camera also extensively in the future…so you will see soon a lot more of what this good looking camera can do.
To tell you right away, we have always liked the Tipo. Well styled, it offers lots of car for the money, and every inch of it shows the expertise and savoir faire of a world class car maker like Fiat. Not surprisingly, the Tipo has already carved itself a firm market share in its segment, and is further gaining in popularity. The latest facelift has made it even more attractive than ever, and we drove for you the well-equipped Cross version here. This Cross version is geared towards families which like crossovers, and want a car which brings more zest and emotions to their daily commute and weekend outings. We can tell you right away, this Tipo delivers and convinces– again.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
A bolder stance and look…
The Tipo Cross is wider and taller, with a grille which now runs under the headlamps. Thanks to a new suspension and wheels taken from another crossover in the Fiat stable, the 500X, the Tipo Cross is now 4 cm higher. This Tipo is also 7 cm longer than the Tipo Life and has some exclusive styling details like bigger wheel arches, a protective front end decorative strip which is integrated into the front bumpers, as well as a protective bar which runs along the side skirts. Last but not least there is also a spoiler and roof bars which were hitherto reserved for the Station Wagon version.
A formidable 1 litre engine…
The Cross can be had with the 1,6 litre Multijet Turbodiesel, either 95 or 130 HP, but the more interesting engine is the new 1.0 GSE T3 FireFly petrol unit, developing 100 HP or 74 kW at 5000 rpm, which we found in our test car.
Compared to the previous 1,4 litre petrol engine, it is especially the pulling power in the lower and mid rev ranges which has been vastly improved. Instead of the previous 127 Nm developed at a high 4500 rpm, this new state of the art 3 cylinder delivers an impressive 190 Nm at merely 1500 rpm, and indeed, your servant had the initial impression that a potent 1,6 litre petrol engine was working under the hood. This ample pulling power gives the Cross plenty of zest, moreover as it is coupled to an ideally geared and very smooth 5 speed gearbox. In urban traffic, the unit is very flexible and smooth, and only a light foot on the throttle is needed to glide along at low revs with the boulevard traffic. This keeps also urban consumption within very reasonable levels, and it is possible to achieve anything between 7 and 8 litres/100 km in urban driving with ease, and even lower if you really concentrate on driving with anticipation.
The manufacturer quotes an average consumption of 5,7 litres/100 km, and less than that is very easily achieved on the open road. The Tipo Cross feels of course also at home on our Autoroutes, where the engine remains virtually inaudible at cruising speeds of say 130 km/h, corresponding with 3200 rpm.
When you put your foot down, the engine will rev up eagerly with a nice 3-cylinder staccato and pull you from 0 to 100 km/h in 12,2 seconds, then further to a top speed of 183 km/h, so you have all the performance you would ever need…
CO2 emissions have also improved over the previous 1,4 litre engine, with 121 g/km (WLTP).
Digital instrumentation and state of the art infotainment…
An important improvement is also the 7 inch TFT digital instrument cluster, monitoring also the car’s status, multimedia and phone. This cluster is combined with the brand new Uconnect 5 infotainment system with a wide 10,25” touchscreen. This system was introduced in the new 500, and now also finds its way in this Tipo Cross. The Uconnect 5 system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and so you have a wireless connection with your phone, showing its display on the touchscreen and having all its functions at your fingertips. It allows also for not less than 5 configurations.
Of course, this Tipo excels in sheer practicality. As a hatchback it offers 440 litres of standard luggage space, and the rear seat backrests can of course be folded backwards in split fashion to provide extra room. There is also an extra USB port in the back, with wireless charging of your phone and a 12 V connection also provided in the centre console at the front. Fiat has always offered much cabin and seating space in its cars for their size, and the Tipo is no exception. Even taller persons of say 1,80 m still have ample head- and legroom in the back.
This Tipo Cross keeps its promises. Pleasing to look at, superbly equipped, zesty with state the art drivetrain technology and up to scratch infotainment, it offers a lot of car for the money.
In Belgium, the Tipo Cross can be had for €24.250, including VAT. If your family wants a Crossover which has it all, just take a long look at this one…