Our Lexus had its yearly service…and we show some clever details!  

Still going strong… and eminently reliable!

Our Lexus CT 200h had as we told you already its yearly service on the 22nd of December, and indeed, there are no mechanical problems to be reported. The Lexus proves eminently reliable indeed…

The oil filter and oil was changed, 0,5 liter of brake fluid was added, and the air refiner element for the ventilation was replaced. All this was done, parts, fluids and work, for a total amount of 262,80 Euro, including VAT. So we are all set for another year!

We already mentioned the clever mouse knob or lever to command the info/navigation screen, and another smart solution is found in the instrument layout.

When you choose the “eco” mode, one normally has on the left side of the instrument cluster the gauge which tells you whether you charge the battery when decelerating or braking, whether you drive economically or use much power. This dial is transformed into a rev counter when you choose the “sport” mode. See photo here below.

Well, the Lexus engineers have seen to it that also when you drive in “normal” or “eco” mode, which I do most of the time, you can also use the rev counter. You just go through the instrument settings with button on the steering wheel, and presto, there the rev counter dial setting appears when you restart your Lexus again.

This rev counter transforms again in the power/eco/charge indicator as soon as you engage the cruise control. Disengaging the cruise control will let appear the rev counter again. You have to disengage the cruise control with the cruise control button. If the cruise control is automatically disengaged by touching the brake pedal, the power/eco/charge layout of the dial will remain on. Indeed, only after pushing the cruise control lever at the steering column to formally and manually disengage the cruise control, the rev counter will (re)appear. Sooo clever!

In “eco” mode, we achieved 4,8 l/100 km, and not only the last trip, also the average over the whole year!

Looking at the rev counter we also understood how this Atkinson cycle engine chalks up its astonishing consumption figures. Driving with anticipation and some restraint in the “eco” mode, the revs will hardly move above 1500 rpm, choosing the highest ratios offered by the CVT transmission.

The batteries of our Lexus, first registered in January 2012 and which we bought used now already 3 years ago, still hold admirably well… so all this puts a broad smile on our face!

(Much) More Lexus and Toyota news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our Lexus passed the technical inspection with flying colours…

Our faithful Lexus CT 200h continues to please us. Over the past year, it clocked an average consumption of 4,8 litres/100 km, and besides fuel, it really did not need anything else. Well to wheel, it scores still very well, and given its longevity and reliability, its footprint is also quite small, adding to this that it doesn’t carry a massive array of batteries…

We had it serviced in June 2020, with amounted to basically an oil and filter change, and it will be scheduled for a new service next Wednesday December 22 at Beerens in Aartselaar. Nothing further to report, except that it rides ever so smoothly.

Our Lexus has some very clever items we started to like over the years, like for instance the command and manipulation of the infotainment system and screen via a “mouse” on the centre console.

Ever tried to enter a lengthy address on the touchscreen with your finger when “on the move”, with your car bouncing like a toy car on a cobblestoned or uneven road? Right, that’s what we mean…

The clever “mouse” command provents our screen to become soiled with finger marks…but we still keep it dust free!

Add to this the fact that your touchscreen gets so muddled up with finger marks, not exactly what you want in Corona times… So in the Lexus you rest your arm gently on the centre console, where it lies beautifully steady, and then slide the arrow with the mouse knob over the letters or symbols on the screen, and presto…

Our Lexus “sleeps” out in the open all year round, it doesn’t have a garage. Despite this, paintwork is still beautiful, also the beige interior holds very well, as the photos show.  

The car deserves a proper polish and wax treatment, and we will get around that next year… promised!

We put it though the technical control recently and, as the photo shows, there was indeed nothing wrong with our Lexus. So we have another year – until 31st of December 2022.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Mercedes full-electric EQB can now also be ordered in Belgium.

Recently, the new EQB has been added to the Mercedes full-EV fleet. An interesting car, which we hope to drive soon. In the meantime, we are looking forward to test for you from 7 December onwards the CLS 220d, and see what a modern Mercedes Diesel can still offer in these electrifying times. Also soon our faithful 1,6 litre petrol engined (now already more than 4 years old…) 180 B Class gets its Type A service at Hedin Automotive in Kontich, about which we will report too.

Then there is more intriguing company news about the Mercedes revolutionary production techniques they are unfolding in their Berlin factory, where they are rolling out electric motors for their EV cars. More about this in a forthcoming special report.

But now to some more news about the EQB. The EQB 300 4MATIC can be ordered now in our country, from € 63,041 VAT incl.

The EQB is quite roomy, and is optionally also available as a seven-seater. After the EQA, the EQB is already the second fully electric compact model from Mercedes-EQ.

The model range initially consists of the EQB 300 4MATIC (combined power consumption: 19.4-18.1 kWh/100 km). It has a motor developing 168 kW/228 hp. Then there is also the EQB 350 4MATIC (combined power consumption: 19.2-18.3 kWh/100 km) Its electric motor develops 215 kW/292 hp. The price of this more powerful version starts at € 65,945 VAT incl.

The sale price of the EQB includes one year of Mercedes me Charge. Mercedes-EQ customers have easy access to a network of more than 600,000 charging points worldwide via Mercedes “me Charge.” At the same time, they benefit from an integrated payment function with simple invoicing.

The EQB will be available as Edition 1 for a limited period after its launch. Externally, this limited edition combines elements from the “Night package” with AMG styling. But there is more: 20-inch AMG light-alloy wheels, matt copper and high-sheen finish complete the sporty look. Highlights of the Edition 1 interior are the upholstery in neva gray leather with CYBER CUT blue, the rear-illuminated trim in spiral look and air vents with the outer ring in silver chrome and the inner ring in energy blue.

Here are the main options and packages of this 4WD EQB, which is offered in Luxury Line and AMG line trims:

The third row of seats with two additional individual seats comfortably accommodates people up to 1.65 meters tall. The comprehensive safety equipment includes extendable head restraints, seat belts with belt tensioner and belt force limiter on all outer seats and a window bag that also protects the passengers in the third row of seats.

The Premium package further enhances comfort with the KEYLESS GO comfort package, the THERMOTRONIC 2-zone automatic air conditioning, a rich sound system and a wireless charging system for mobile terminals.

The EQB comes with intelligent driver assistance systems with cooperative driver support. The Driving Assistance package now includes additional functions. It includes for example the exit function, the emergency lane function, the exit warning function that warns the driver of passing cyclists or vehicles, and a warning when pedestrians are detected near a zebra crossing.

We show you here some photos of the EQB in the meantime. Stay tuned for, as said,  more news about the cars with the iconic star!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our BMW Z3 successfully repaired…

Our pristine Z3 is now fit for the road again…passing the technical control without a hitch.

In these columns you could read about the play in the driver’s seat which prevented our shining mount to pass the annual technical control. As the bushes were very probably worn and the repair was rather intricate as the seat mounts have to be moving strictly parallel when propelled forward or backward by the electric motor, we decided to leave the repair in the expert hands of BMW dealer Jorssen Zuid.

The bushes on the driver’s seat were completely worn out, actually virtually shredded!

I first thought that only the driver’s seat had play, but closer inspection by the mechanics of Jorssen revealed that the passenger seat was also rocking fore and aft in its rails. This was not noticed by the inspectors of the technical control.

Then they ordered the parts necessary for the repair, which were 2 sets of guide bushes for 23,96 Euro each (ex VAT) and 8 six sided screws at 7,27 Euro each, again ex VAT. It brought the total cost of all the necessary parts for this repair to 106,08 Euros, ex VAT.

The bushes on the passenger seat witnessed the same fate…

The Jorssen mechanics then proceeded to remove the seats from the car. Removing and again installing the seats cost in total 35 minutes, the repair itself, disconnecting and reconnecting the electric motors, replacing the bushes, reinstalling everything and ensuring than the seat attachments are perfectly parallel cost in total 1 hr. 10 minutes.

Finally a 10 minute driving test was executed. The total cost of the repair, ex VAT, amounted to 316,17 Euros.

Very reasonable we would say, and BMW Jorssen is not only to be applauded for its diligence, it is also very comforting to see that the parts for a 1997 built BMW are readily available.

We asked the people at Jorssen also to take some photos of the worn out bushes, for the sake of our report here, showing indeed that they were completely worn out and even literally torn to pieces.

Fit for the road again for another year with a green technical control card…

This shows again how it important is for premium – and actually for all car manufacturers – to test and inspect the quality of each part in their products. Cutting corners in quality can impair not only the reliability, but also the security of their products.

Needless to say that the subsequent technical control went without a hitch, and our beloved Z3 is again totally fit for another year on our roads. It is even allowed to drive around in the emission zone in Antwerp until 2024, and this also puts a broad smile on our face…

We just let you look at the photos here, and soon we will proceed with a thorough cleaning, protecting and rejuvenating of the leather of the nice seats of our Z3…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Mercedes C 200 Luxury Line: setting the pace again…

After the new S Class comes usually the new C Class with systems and functionalities found in its bigger brother, to set new benchmarks also in its D segment.

Driving the new C200 Luxury Line Limousine, we can say that the brand with the star has fully succeeded. This car stands out in its class, discreetly but with assurance… Just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

S-Class looks…

The C Class breathes the styling language of its bigger brother, if you look merely at the front and rear end. The profile of the C Class is then again marked by the bigger door window areas. The overhang over the rear wheels is slightly longer, and this makes the car look more elegantly stretched, just like the S-Class. The car is also some 6,5 centimeters longer than the previous C-Class generation, breathes panache, looks modern and is purposefully aerodynamic.

…also in the cabin

In the interior, the family resemblance with the top of the line S-Class is even more marked. Sliding behind the wheel, one immediately is overwhelmed by the two big digital screens, one in front of the driver, and another one in massive Tesla style on the centre console.

The Mercedes MBUX system is developed now close to perfection, and even novices soon find their way intuitively through the very logical buildup of the system. And if you would still get lost, there is always the voice command. Just say ‘Hey Mercedes’ and say what you want done…

We loved the 360° camera parking aid very much. The system is so clever, that sometimes you want the system to be even smarter, for example, in situations where one approaches a kerb with the front end of the car when parking in a bay, you would like the front end camera to start up automatically to show you how close you are. Now you first have to push the camera button on the centre console, or use reverse gear first.

You would also want the camera system to get into action automatically – even accompanied by an alert sound – if you get with one of the stylish 18 inch alloy wheels too close to a trottoir border, fence or other obstacle. Now you are left all too often to guesswork. Maybe there is a mode for it, but we did not find it intuitively. The seats are excellent, and adjustable in every conceivable way. Also the rear passengers enjoy enough legroom, thanks partially to the well curved backs of both front seats.

State of the art propulsion…

The 200 C has a 1,5 litre DOHC four cylinder under the hood, developing not less than 204 HP with 300 Nm of torque. If that wasn’t enough, there is also an E-boost of 20 HP and 200 Nm. A small battery will store kinetic energy when decelerating and braking, delivering then its power for the extra boost when called for. The performance leaves nothing to be desired: This 200 C accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 7,3 seconds, its top speed is not less than 247 km/h. The engine is almost inaudible and superbly smooth, provided you don’t push your right foot too deep. When you accelerate hard from standstill or low speeds, the unit lets it heard as it frantically revs through the gears, and one clearly feels and hears that a smaller thoroughbred engine is at work here.

At motorway cruising speeds, things get silent and smooth again, not least because of the high final gear of the superb 9 speed automatic gearbox, ideally mated to the engine.

There are of course several driving modes to choose from, and we liked most the ‘ECO’ mode, where also the E-boost is best felt. The small capacity of the engine has its advantages in economy, and the manufacturer quotes 6,4 liters/100 km as average WLTP consumption. Don’t expect however this C 200 to be exceptionally frugal however in urban driving. This is a 1,5 tonne car and when you drive it with verve, power is needed. The official figure is 8,7 liters/100 km, and very short distance urban errands with very slow traffic will push the consumption well over 10 liters/100 km. There is no secret, in partial and varying load driving, diesels are so much better…EQ-boost or not.

Comfort is to be expected, and this Luxury Line C Class has the Agility Control Damper system as standard. The fundamental setting is already quite firm, so we opted for the comfort mode, which already supports a very spirited driving style with excellent stability and handling. Steering is also precise, and the C Class doesn’t’ mind being driven with verve. The seats also keep you firmly in place, and this goes for the passengers as well.

Road noise is well suppressed, and we enjoyed fully the Burmeister 3D surround sound system in our test car.


Our test car came fully equipped, from electronic adjustable seats to a panorama sunroof and keyless entry. This is how a Mercedes should be, although our less lavishly equipped 1,6 litre B Class which is now more than 4 years old pleases us every day we drive it. It is the balance, workmanship, thorough engineering, overall smoothness, solidity and pervading sense of security which make a Mercedes, and this C 200 continues the good tradition…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our BMW Z3 is still going strong… but with a rocking driver’s seat!

Our Z3 passed again with flying colours the technical control… except for a rocking driver’s seat!

Unfortunately we missed with our pristine 1997 built Z3 the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Z3. Too bad. We would have liked to participate, but alas were not invited nor warned of the event.

Otherwise our Z3 is proving utterly reliable and a pleasure to use and drive. We put it now through the (in Belgium) annual technical control, and everything proved top notch. Except for the driver’s seat, which showed to have some rocking play in its rails. It’s an electronically adjustable seat, and it moves freely without any trouble in its rails, but it has some fore and aft play. We expected the repair to be rather straightforward, so we made first an appointment with our local garage. Then we discovered one needs new shims or bushings to eliminate the play, parts which a local garage doesn’t have readily at hand.

There are some YouTube videos on the subject, one is part 1 of the BMW Z3 Seat Shift Fix, and you find it with the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM4KSnA58EI, and there is a Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRxrPelM9G0, and even a part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fdDHzykwOo.

Another You Tube film is titled “How to Fix BMW Z3 Rocking Sliding Seat in Under Five Minutes Bushing Rails Bushes Replace”with the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3lmAyYGZvM

The last video I want to mention is BMW Z3 Z3M Seat Rail Track Runner Sub Frame Mechanism Bushes Bushings Rocking Repair Kit. The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6PsUywdt74

Finally, there is a film in German, “BMW Z3 Sitz entwackeln”, with the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyfI28Spizg

It already starts with the seat removed, but otherwise it’s the same as the previous films.

Our Z3 got checked on a very wet autumn day, but the bodywork is well waxed to withstand the rain…

Anyway, the flaw of the slightly rocking chair has indeed been going on for quite some time now, and we have to repair I for safety’s sake. Since we don’t have the room nor the tools available and last but not least not (even) the parts available, we contacted our BMW dealer Jorssen Zuid to have the drivers’ seat repaired. The repair is rather intricate as the exact location of the seat attachment with its two bushes needs to be meticulously maintained, therefore it is of utmost important to measure and determine its location before dismantling. Otherwise the seat will be out of alignment in its rails and will pull sideways, leading to overcharging the electric motor, even with the slightest misalignment.  

We will keep you posted on the repair!

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

Our classic Suzuki Samurai runs as fit as ever…

Our Samurai in front of the scenic village of Rochecolombe…

Our faithful Suzuki has reached true oldtimer status now. It is eligible to become “Voiture de Collection” in France, and we are preparing the final documents now to register it. This means the gleaming Samurai has only to pass every five years at the technical control, it can run on original “vintage “ French license plates of the sixties/seventies, and can even carry the famous French yellow bulbs in its headlights. Wow!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

In the meantime, our mid-eighties Samurai certainly has leaded a rather protected life in our hands, and the result is that it still looks virtually “as new”. Also pristine are the mechanics. We just dropped the battery in and after two starting attempts to allow the fuel to reach the carburetor, we gave it a blip on the accelerator pedal to start the automatic choke, and there it started in a smooth idle. Carefully warming it up for a minute or two to “run in” the waterpump and ancillaries after their long winter sleep, and off we went. 

Our Samurai in the Vineyards near St. Maurice d’Ibie

The 80 HP 1,3 litre Suzuki is a fine performer, and of course very much at home off-road. Small “V” or “Voirie” roads in the French mountains are its favored playgrounds, and one cannot think of a better four wheeled companion to make those mountain tours far from the (Corona)maddening crowds. This jeep is therefore much cherished and immensely popular amongst outdoor lovers in the  French mountain regions, due to its sturdy compactness and excellent offroad qualities.

The interior is still in mint condition…

We took it amongst others on a scenic tour to St. Maurice-d’Ibie, on the D 558 towards Les Salelles and then turning right on the D1 through Lagorce, from there on to the right on the D 401 to Rochecolombe. Here we also took some photos for this report.

The Samurai is pleasantly short geared, so steep hills are an absolute breeze, and in slow crawling traffic in the small village alleys this Samurai feels totally at home.

On the scenic road towards Les Salelles …

Again consumption depends on your driving style, but keep the revs low, and this efficient 1,3 litre combined with the light weight of the Samurai will not let you down at the pump, and consumption averages below 8 litres/100 km are quite achievable.  

We loved again every minute behind the wheel of our Suzuki again, and look forward to see it again in autumn, Corona times helping of course…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our Mercedes A Class still going strong…

The holiday tale of our cars continues with our faithful A Class, which is showing its solidity and utter reliability. The battery did not quite survive its lengthy sleep, and we had to replace it with a new “Point S” 70 h battery, setting us back some 100 Euros. We decided for the future to take it back home, as we did with the Suzuki and Beetle, and keep it charged regularly. We should of course have done this in the first place!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

But that’s about all we had to do with the still cute and contemporary looking A Class. It fired up without problems and runs quite smoothly, and proved with its 102 hp 1,6 litre four-cylinder petrol engine to be quite zesty and amusing to drive. Acceleration from 0 to 100 is around 11,8 seconds with the auto box and top speed is 180 km/h, so no problem to keep up with today’s traffic…

The engine is admirably supported by a five speed automatic, which is a pleasure to use in the mountainous and hilly areas of the French Midi and Massif Central. For the photo session of our faithful mount we took it on a scenic ride from the charming village Ailhon via a small Départementale 359 to another gem of a village, Fons. From there on to the neighbourhood of Chapelle s/s-Aubenas, leaving it on our left side and continuing in the direction of Chassiers, on the D 103, to the villages of Rocher and Prunet via the D5, through and alongside dense woods, running in the valley of the Ligne river. From there on, the D5 treated us to some breathtaking views to be enjoyed on the Col de la Croix de Millet, at an altitude of 776 meter. On the panorama, we even caught a glimpse of the Mont Ventoux!

With a “classic” electro/hydraulic operated Daimler Benz automatic, your driving style is of course of paramount importance. But when driving with some restraint, the gearbox takes economy well into account. When left in “D” mode, the gearbox keeps revs low at smaller throttle openings, so the engine runs hardly above 2000 rpm, resulting in quite reasonable consumption figures between 6 and 7 liters/100 km.

Further photo was taken after a vigorous rain and hailstorm whilst we were driving from St. Pierreville to St. Julien-du-Gua, 11 kilometers over a very narrow D58, giving us a scenery which was worthy of a Wagnerian opera, and indeed we felt like the Flying Dutchman, only happy to find ourselves behind the wheel of a car with the good three pointed star. After this drive, we crossed the D122, and on these crossroads we photographed the car, driving at an altitude of roughly 1000 meters.

So nothing but good news of our A Class, which proves again the point that quality built cars really stand out when the years go by. To be continued!

Hans Knol ten Bensel