Our Z3 passes inspection with flying colors…

Just an update on our (faithful) cars. Whist our Lexus is setting ever better economy records, achieving as low as 4,1 liters/100 km, the BMW Z3 also shows its mettle. After the repair of the seat sensor for the airbag, it passed the technical inspection without a hitch.

Just ready now again for a nice summer season of (open) motoring!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our BMW Z3 repaired: the airbag seat sensor proved faulty…

Our Z3 entering the service bay at BMW Jorssen…

Our beloved Z3 is healthy again, and the service experts at BMW Jorssen in Aartselaar diagnosed that the reason why the airbag lamp stayed lit was the passenger seat sensor. It is manufactured by SBE Elektronik for BMW, and ceased its service after so many years.

Of course, diagnosing and detecting the reason why the airbag telltale lamp stayed on takes also some time, and eventual malfunctions in the electrical system also need then to be checked.

The sensor mat of the passenger seat malfunctioned…

It proved to be the sensor mat in the passenger seat, and this needed to be replaced. Locating the fault, removing and replacing the mat and making a final check up cost us in total 295 €, ex VAT.

The actual sensor mat cost 178,80 € ex VAT, and the steering electronics of the seat sensor set us back another 58,80 €.

But now our Z3 is ready for another great season! Keep posted for further reports!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the new Mercedes B-Class 200d: a three star bestseller with a sporting and futuristic touch…

The B Class is everything a Mercedes stands for, and embodies it admirably: space, superb finish and workmanship, a high quality drivetrain, high level comfort and refinement for its class, longevity and economy.

It is quite versatile with its wide choice of drivetrains and engines, and has in its recent facelift received a sportier stance externally, combined with a futuristic dashboard makeover, sporting the latest trends in driving info, connectivity and (info)entertainment. 

The B Class stays also young at heart with new state of the art diesel and petrol engines, and this time we opted for diesel propulsion, and discover with you what it has to offer presently in terms of economy and environmental qualities. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

On the Widescreen you can even choose your experience worlds…

A new user experience in front of your eyes…

Besides the altered exterior, which is clearly more dynamic, and sporting, certainly in the AMG version, it is the new avant-garde interior makes for a unique feeling of space, with the distinctive design of the instrument panel. The intuitive user interface of the adaptive MBUX multimedia system is quite impressive, and its strong points include brilliant graphics, “Hey Mercedes” voice control, a standard touch screen and functions such as MBUX Augmented Reality.

The standard display…

The almost endless features and possibilities fitted in the premium, “chique” designed clusters and screens impressed us. Many features are taken from the S Class, and the user experience is quite stunning.

The sporting one…

The cutout in front of the driver houses the fully free-standing display unit, which comes in three different versions: with two 7-inch displays (17.78 cm), with one 7- and one 10.25-inch display (26 cm) and, in the Widescreen version, with two 10.25-inch displays. A head-up display is optionally available.

And the one who tells you how you have been driving…

We chose for our test driving the map display on the screen in front of us, with map/music info on the central screen. But a wide array of functions are available, last but not least the voice command. The system is called MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) multimedia system, its ability to learn thanks to Artificial Intelligence makes the system unique.

It can tell you every second the power developed by the engine…

It has touch screen control as standard as well as, depending on equipment, a high-resolution Widescreen cockpit, navigation display with Augmented Reality technology plus intelligent voice control with natural speech recognition, which is activated by saying “Hey Mercedes”. The touch screen is part of the integrated MBUX touch control concept – a trio consisting of touch screen, touchpad on the centre console (optional) and touch controls on the steering wheel.

A Blackberry feel…

The latter feel like your faithful old Blackberry or early Samsung smartphones, soon you get again used to this somewhat “vintage” touch.

You can play endlessly on the screens, and as the photos show, choose for example in which emotive environment or “theme world” you want to be in: to travel, to experience, drive economically and efficient, etc. You can check every instant of your drive how much power and torque your engine delivers, you can see in front of you your (city) driving score, choose your driving modes, Individual, sport, comfort or eco…

State of the art diesel power…

The transverse-mounted version of the two-litre OM 654q diesel engine with 110 kW and 140 kW celebrates a clean début: It is the first engine to fulfil the Euro 6d norm, which is only mandatory for new models as of 2020. It has an aluminium crankcase and stepped-bowl combustion process. It meets this Euro 6d standard thanks to extended exhaust after treatment with an additional underfloor SCR catalyst. With a cylinder spacing of just 90 mm instead of 94 mm, the new engine is more compact than its predecessor thus allowing the exhaust after treatment components to be installed directly on the engine, where the exhaust temperature is higher, making for more efficient after treatment.

It is a very smooth unit, unobtrusive also when cold, and offers not only utter docility, which is ideal in urban traffic, but also plenty of zest and power. It develops 110 kW/150 hp between 3400 and 4400 rpm, and has a healthy torque of 320 Nm between 1400 and 3200 rpm. Put it in the dynamic mode, and you will know what we mean. This B 200d is certainly no sluggard: 0 to 100 km/h is absolved in 8,3 seconds, and top speed is a very impressive 219 km/h.

The new B-Class is initially available exclusively with dual-clutch transmissions. New here is the eight-speed 8G-DCT, which is used in combination with the diesel engine. It is, in good Mercedes tradition, smooth, alert and efficient.

This translates also in very good (urban) consumption figures: the manufacturer quotes between 4,2 and 4,5 l/100 km combined, and we had no trouble to stay within the 5-6 l/100 km range. CO2 emissions are also quite reasonable with values between 112 and 119 g/km.

The pleasant high seating position make the B Class a very nice car to drive in town, and certainly female and older drivers appreciate it. It is of course also very well at home on the Autobahnen, an excellent Gran Turismo car it certainly is, with seating comfort also beyond reproach. If you are in a hurry on winding roads, the B-Class is also an excellent companion. Its chassis copes well with the kinetic forces of spirited driving, and handling is utterly stable and totally predictable.

In all versions of the new B-Class, the front wheels feature McPherson struts and forged-aluminium wishbones, to which are attached cast-aluminium steering knuckles. In combination with the more powerful engine variants or if the customer opts for one of the optional suspension systems, use is made of a sophisticated four-link rear axle.

The new B-Class comes as standard with extended Active Brake Assist, which can help mitigate the severity of rear-end collisions with slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles ahead – and now even with crossing pedestrians or cyclists – or prevent them altogether. Of course, a host of driving assistance modes and functions are available, last but not least our test car was equipped with park assist, for instance.

Practical

The rear seat backrest comes as standard with a 40:20:40 split. Depending on version, from mid-2019 it will be possible to slide the rear seats forward by 14 centimetres and to move the backrest into a more upright position to vary the capacity of the luggage compartment behind the rear seats between 455 and 705 litres. With the rear seat folded down and luggage loaded to the roof, the luggage compartment, which is flat thanks to the adjustable load compartment floor, can accommodate up to 1,540 litres behind the front seats.

It can also just show you the road…

Stylish sportiness

The B-Class is now also more dynamic on the outside. The slightly lowered roof line and larger, 16- to 19-inch wheels making for dynamic proportions. The relatively squat, progressive front end marks the second generation B-Class visually. Low-profile headlamps, the inside of which is already high-grade, detailed and precisely designed on the basic model with H7 headlamps and LED daytime running lights. When ordered with LED headlamps or higher, the B-Class comes with its own daytime running light signature in the form of a double torch.  

At the back, the width of the vehicle is accentuated by two-part lamps, reflectors integrated in the bumper and a distinctive black bumper bottom section. The large roof spoiler, along with high-gloss black spoilers at the sides of the rear window, add also an air of sportiness. We liked it!

Conclusion

The B-Class breathes harmony and indeed offers all the intrinsic superb qualities of a Mercedes. It brings you also the future world of infotainment, combined with the electronic cleverness and safety and comfort which we only expected from top range (S-Class) models of the brand.

Combine this with practicality, future proof economy and reliability, and you will agree that this B-Class is indeed the most clever choice you can make when you want to spend your motoring life behind a three pointed star. By the way, I bought the previous generation B-Class for my wife, two years ago. And it continues to put a broad smile on her face…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our Lexus CT 200h continues to surprise us…

It seems clearly that hybrids just love slow, busy traffic, the type of driving situations we live through nowadays more and more frequently. This was again amply proven by our faithful and shining Lexus CT 200h, which after its cosmetic treatment now serves as our very frequent transport. We drove it on the 3rd of April amidst heavy rain showers from Brussels to Antwerp, with stop and go traffic on almost half the route, and slow traffic on the rest of the journey. Soothed by the excellent sound system and the smooth drivetrain, the Lexus driving experience remains a (very) pleasant one, in all driving conditions, and certainly these described above.

We took this shot upon arrival with our Huawei… and were truly amazed…

And we continued to smile when we saw the average consumption on this rain drenched journey, with ventilation, headlights and windscreen wipers full ablaze: merely 4,2 liters/100 km. It again proves how good the Lexus/Toyota hybrid concept is… quod erat demonstrandum!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Bodywork and interior of our Lexus CT 200h professionally repaired at Carrosserie Vercruysse…

Our Lexus was expertly sprayed after the scratches below the fuel filler cap were repaired, and a perfect colour match was achieved…

Needless to say that we are very pleased with our pre-owned Lexus, and of course we want it also to look absolutely spotless. So we decided to let it have a good beauty treatment, and we got some expert advice on our choice where to go. Carrosserie Vercruysse in Halle was suggested, and with good reason, as they perform repairs on the car fleet of Toyota and Lexus “Try and Buy” centre. Of course we checked also others, like Lexus Wijnegem for instance, but Carrosserie Vercruysse proved to be the most competitive here.

We are quite pleased with the excellent results, and we tell you more about how the repairs were done…read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Bodywork and interior of our Lexus CT 200h professionally repaired at Carrosserie Vercruysse…”

Spring outing with our BMW Z3…

We took our pristine Z3 for its first (short) spring drive to Duffel, where we photographed it in front of the neogothic church …

The green leaves are slowly emerging on the trees, and so it is high time that we take our beloved BMW Z3 out of its winter sleep. We had carefully kept the battery charged, and so our BMW sprang to life immediately out of its winter beauty sleep. The engine immediately set into a very smooth idle, and our first drive was as sweet as we could ever wish.

The control lamp of the airbag stayed lit on our first spring drive. We bring it to BMW Jorssen this week…

One snag however, the warning lamp of the airbag stayed lit, and so we have it inspected this Wednesday at BMW Jorssen. Just stay tuned on these pages to see and read how everything works out…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The genius of hybrid…

Taking our Lexus CT 200h through its paces showed us again the formidable economy potential that lies in the Toyota/Lexus designed hybrid drivetrain. It took us hardly any effort at all – except of course an anticitipative driving style and avoiding wide throttle openings, to reach a consumption of 4,4 liters/100 km, as we showed earlier, and we were astonished to see the figure even hover briefly lower on a quiet ride to Brussels the next day, to 4,3 liters/100 km.

On the subsequent return trip from Brussels with very heavy stop and go traffic, avoiding brisk accelerations let the CT 200h to use its battery power extensively, we achieved again an average of 4,4 liters/100 km. Indeed, accelerating with restraint, just moving along with the traffic flow, will besides the supportive E-power, also lead the E-CVT to keep choosing the lower rev ranges, and so the Atkinson cycle engine remains very efficient throughout. Remember, this Atkinson cycle also reintroduces cooled exhaust gases into the combustion chambers to make an additional contribution to reduced engine temperatures.

On top of all that, the smooth power transition performed by the E-CVT drivetrain and the low engine noise level contribute to a very “zen” driving experience. We tell you here a bit more of the technical side.  The CT’s transmission plays a large part in the car’s efficiency because it incorporates little more than two motor-generators, some gears and a minimal amount of oil. There are no clutches and none of the friction associated with regular transmissions or the belt-and-pulley types of CVTs employed by a growing number of gas-only cars.

Electronically-controlled continuously variable transmissions

Electronically controlled continuously variable transmissions (E-CVT) offer an infinite number of gears within a broad range of ratios, and simultaneously handle inputs coming from the petrol engine and electric motor.

 

The intelligence of E-CVT is evident by the fact that it selects the optimal – that is, most efficient – gear ratio for any situation by constantly analysing vehicle speed, road conditions, engine power and driver input. When that split-second passes, it moves imperceptibly to the next calculated ratio through a clever combination of planetary gears.

More bodywork beauty soon…

In the meantime, the quote provided by Lexus Wijnegem proved not quite competitive, and we made an appointment in the third week of March with Carrosserie Vercruysse in Halle, near Brussels. Keep looking at our columns!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We took our Lexus CT200h for a maiden trip through Holland…

Our Lexus proudly shines on its maiden voyage before chateau “de Essenburgh” in Dutch Hierden… 

Nothing better when you get a new car than to take it for an extended trial or “shakedown” run. This magnificent sunny weekend in February proved an excellent occasion to do so. We had driven our Lexus so far only on short distances on mostly urban errands, and so we wanted to see how it performed on longer trips the open road and motorways and how its economy would be.

To tell you right away, our Lexus passed the test with flying colors, and its economy truly surprised us.

It proved to be restful on motorways, with the so easy to use cruise control always a pleasure to use. The car is also remarkably silent, which lets you enjoy the sound system even more.

We took our Lexus near Amersfoort, where my father was born, and stayed at a magnificent small “chateau” between the Ijsselmeer and the Veluwe.

On the trip towards our destination, we averaged 5,5 liters/100 km, but then the earlier urban runs had to averaged out. On the evening return run, heavy traffic made us cruise around 110 km/h or so, but then our Lexus rewarded us with an astonishing 4,4 liters/100 km. Needless to say, this first longer trip now puts a broad smile on our face…

We now await the bodywork repair quote from Lexus Wijnegem, and keep you posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We visited Lexus Antwerp with our CT200h

The joy of owning and driving a quality car stands or falls with excellent and prompt service, and so we decided to pay a visit to our local Lexus dealer, in Wijnegem, Antwerp. As our new mount has some minor scratches on its bodywork and alloy wheels as a result of prior usage, we decided to let them have a look at it and ask them for a quote to bring our Lexus again in mint condition.

We were very kindly received by Service Advisor Saskia De Moor, who immediately took photos of the scuffs and scratches, and promised us to send a quote, which we are presently awaiting.

She proudly showed us the recently redesigned sitting area of the showroom, where we enjoyed a coffee, and admired the stylish surroundings.

We also asked her about the difficulty we experience when completing our owner’s profile on the “My Lexus” app, where we hitherto are unable to register the VIN number of our CT200h. She promised us to come back to this issue.

Soon we will hear more, and we will keep you informed!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We collect our Lexus CT 200h…

Our Lexus CT200h stood shining in the showroom, and Dirk Kinot of GMAN Antwerp proudly handed us over the keys… 

It is always a big day when one gets a new car, even when we have driven so many. Last but not least because it will be our own mount, and we will use it for many years to come.

Just mount the license plates and hit the road…

We were again pleased to see its deep blue colour, shining after a careful valet cleaning by the people of Toyota GMAN at IJzerlaan 3 in Antwerp. GMAN had the car fully serviced prior to delivery with the 90.000 km scheduled inspection, and GMAN had installed for us a brand new 12 Volt battery and a new internal lining of the engine hood, as the original one was apparently eaten away at some places by ferrets or animals who apparently just love the fabric . We also received a 1 year, unlimited mileage guarantee.

In the documents, presented to us by Dirk Kinot, of GMAN Antwerp, the full service history was included. The car was regularly serviced by Lexus Waterloo. The car was obviously carefully maintained by its previous owner, and besides the service booklet, the full manual of the car was handed over to us in pristine condition.

These details make the joy of receiving a “new” pre-owned car even greater. The interior of our Lexus was carefully valeted and cleaned, and the textile beige upholstery looks and feels like new. The bodywork has some minute blemishes and scratches in the neighbourhood of the fuel filler cap, on the upper part of the left side rearview mirror, and a barely visible crack in the left outside rear light cluster. Some corrosion is seen on two alloy wheels. All this will soon be attended to… we want our Lexus to look top notch!

Dirk Kinot puts the licence plates on the Lexus… 

We were pleased to see that our Lexus was shod with Semperit M & S all weather tires, which makes our Lexus immediately fit for wintery conditions.

A very promising first drive…

The first meters with our Lexus proved satisfying indeed. We plunged the car straight away into Antwerp city traffic, and we enjoyed immediately the smoothness of its hybrid drivetrain, and on the urban cobblestones we appreciated the tautness of the body, the precision of the steering, which lets us clearly feel that this low-mileage example has never seen any rough treatment. We filled up the tank and will soon take it further through its paces… Stay tuned for more!

Hans Knol ten Bensel