Citroën focuses on comfort and well-being in its launch campaign for its new C5 X.

The C5X is now Citroën’s flagship model. Unveiled in 2021, it brings together all of Citroën’s expertise in comfort, in travel and more broadly in automotive well-being. Inspired by the CXperience concept, Citroën has made no secret of its intention to create a grand tourer, freeing itself from rules so as to create a car that combines the elegance and dynamism of a saloon, the volume and versatility of an estate, together with the posture and driving position of an SUV.

Being at the wheel of Citroën C5 X brings than legendary and unique feeling of floating, so typical of the DS Citroëns. Thanks to the brand-new Citroën Advanced Comfort® active suspension and the Advanced Comfort® seats. Driving C5 X is also an experience that is serene owing to driver assistance technologies and soothing because of the cab’s acoustic insulation and the fully electric mode of the car in its rechargeable hybrid version.

The launch campaign produced with the Traction agency (BETC group) seeks to represent all these sensations in different ways through an advertising film and a range of graphic illustrations.

C5 X advertising film

In the advertising film, we see a driver of C5 X with his family. The driver experiences a feeling of profound serenity. It is an emotional metaphor where we imagine the driver remembering or dreaming of the feeling that an astronaut might have floating in space, contemplating planet Earth, in complete harmony with the world, while he himself is enjoying a moment of tranquility, suspended in time with his family. The physical and mental comfort provided by C5 X makes his driving silent, smooth, and calm. It is the attitude advocated by the brand: humanism and serenity.

“Usually in advertising campaigns, representations of space, rockets and astronauts connote speed, power and performance – concepts which are all highly masculine. Here, we have used weightlessness as a metaphor for the sensations experienced behind the wheel of Citroën C5 X. Sensations of well-being, calm and serenity. It is always thrilling to work with a brand capable of doing things so differently of what is expected!!”  said Stéphane Xiberras, BETC President and Chief Creative Officer.

The film was produced by Rune Milton from the production company Phantasm. The studio scenes were filmed in Slovenia and the dynamic scenes, in Croatia on the island of Krk.

The original soundtrack by music production agency Start-Rec, echoes the driver’s feelings of well-being and gently reinforces the weightlessness effect. It was created to bolster the brand’s sound expression territory and embody its new positioning.

By signing this campaign for its flagship model with “An invitation to serenity”, Citroën is banking on people’s desire for a new car being more about wanting to experience calm and well-being rather than about their thirst for performance.

Just cllick on the link to discover the advertising film for C5 X: https://youtu.be/mTxoPbvUnqU

More Citroën news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The new Škoda Enyaq iV Coupé virtually unveiled…

The new Enyaq Coupé in RS version will be first in the showrooms….

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.

Oliver Stefani, Head of Design shows the sleek roofline of the new Skoda…

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

and looking out into the future…

Then we are introduced to Johannes Neft, board member Technical development, and further to Oliver Stefani, Head of Design.

Inspiration through perspective…Olivier 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 bold green colour is exclusive to the RS version…

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…

More soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Zoute Grand Prix 2021: living now in everyone’s heart…

The Zoute Grand Prix inspired young and old to take out their beloved classics…

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.

Even your daily(?) gin can be enjoyed – literally – in the spirit of the Zoute Grand Prix…

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…

Classic racing cars can also run like clockwork…
Capelleschi Gallery, specializing in car paintings, added with a Ferrari flag to the theme…

We will report on the actual event, including the Bonham’s auction and the Concours d’Elegance in these columns soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the new Fiat 500 electric…an icon with e-power.

The iconic Fiat 500 is entering into the electric era, and it is doing this very convincingly with superb technology and style.

It even has the panache to add a third door to its well-shaped body, to set it apart from the rest.

And indeed, apart from the rest it is. It has a whole new body, and is six centimeters longer and 3 cm taller than the “normal” Cinquecento, yet it retains fully its ideal and iconic proportions.

We drove the “prima” Cinquecento, sprayed in very pleasing Rose Gold, and we liked very much its performance, ride and style, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The New 500 3+1 “la Prima” has it all, and stands out with a range of exclusive details: full LED headlights with an ‘Infinity design”, two-tone 17” diamond-cut wheel rims and chrome-plated inserts on the windows and side panels.

In the interior, the pleasant ambiance continues: soft-touch seats studded with Fiat monograms, a two-tone steering wheel flattened at the bottom and an exclusive “la Prima” tag on the console. We also liked very much the finish of the dashboard panels on our test car.

Comfort is also paramount: six-way adjustable front seats, mats, an “electro chrome” internal rearview mirror and 360° ‘drone view’ parking sensors. The steering wheel is also adjustable in height and length over a wide range, so an ideal seating position is soon found. Add to this the spacious glove box, the wide door bins and trays on the center console, and you notice that this New Electric 500 is geared to make your daily life a lot rosier.

“Zen” electric driving is addictive…

But let’s turn now to driving this Torino-built electric icon of style. It is not only constantly pleasing to the eye, it is also a soothing, relaxing experience to move it from A to B.

Even if you are driving with kind smoothness, only caressing the right pedal, you feel its whispering power. All 118 HP or 87 kW of it, with 220 Nm of instant torque. Technically very refined, motor and drivetrain being vibrationless and totally inaudible over the whole speed range.

Zesty it is indeed. It will whisk you from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 9 seconds. And when pulling away from standstill, you reach 50 km/h in just 3.1 seconds. But it is the “Zen” character of e-driving which gets you sold, and puts a broad smile on your face.

No frantic revving, no jolts from clumsy gearchanges, just a smooth, utterly silent, silk smooth flow of power. You can fully concentrate on the traffic and everything around you, undisturbed, enjoying the purity and elegance of your progress. Only e-power can convey this feeling, and we have to admit it, it is addictive.

We caught ourselves cruising on urban boulevards even below the 50 km/h speed limit, just to enjoy the ride. Urban driving at the corresponding lower speeds delivers of course also excellent economy, and throughout our test the consumption was a very reasonable 8.1 km/kWh. We have to admit that we drove this “Elettrica” very smooth indeed. On a fully loaded battery, which has a capacity of 42 kWh, the TFT 7 inch instrument panel indicated a 260 km range, which is totally adequate for our country. The 500 Electric can be charged with a fast 85 kW charger, so you can recharge from a flat battery to 80% range in 35 minutes, or to 50 km – the average daily distance driven – in around 5 minutes.

We used the 11 kW standard charger, getting from 40 % to 80 % charge in about 3 hours. In our neighborhood, with only two charging points for a few thousand inhabitants, we are allowed to stay maximum 3,5 hours at the charging point, but this was luckily enough for us.

As everyone knows, the charging infrastructure in Belgium is completely below any standard, and will very probably remain so for considerable time to come. It is therefore almost essential in our country to have a private home and/or garage/driveway, if you want to call an fully electric car your own and use it regularly.

The electric 500 is about 300 kg heavier than its petrol engined counterpart, so the suspension setup is somewhat stiffer, without being uncomfortable however. Despite its 1,3 tons weight, the car still feels quite nimble and agile, and the excellent 9,7 m turning circle and super light steering make it your ideal partner in town.

On the open road, the electric 500 stands very well its own, with a regulated maximum speed of 150 km/h. It doesn’t feel fussy at all when driving at the legal maximum motorway speeds. Of course, look out for fast(er) charging points and plan your trip carefully…

One word about the driving modes. In the “normal” driving mode, the car will coast essentially when you lift the throttle, retaining the kinetic energy for you to use. In the “range” mode, the electric motor will use this kinetic energy to charge the battery, allowing you to use a “one pedal” driving style with ease, as the braking effect of the motor is quite marked. Last but not least there is the “sherpa” mode, where motor and battery are carefully governed to allow you to squeeze a maximum distance out of the remaining battery charge.

Infotainment and driving aids…

“La Prima” is equipped with the most advanced ADAS systems available:

What to think of Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (iACC) and Lane Centering, Traffic Sign Recognition, Autonomous Emergency Brake with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, Intelligent Speed Assistant, Lane Control, High-resolution rear camera with dynamic grid, 360° parking and urban blind spot sensors, Automatic twilight and dazzle sensors, Emergency call and Electronic parking brake?

Last but not least it features automatic air conditioning…need we say more?

Connectivity is also hardly neglected.

This electric 500 has the new UConnect 5 infotainment system, which means a 7″ TFT Display, a 10.25″ Touch Screen With navigation, an excellent DAB Radio, Wireless CarPlay / Android Auto, the Uconnect Box (a telematic box enabling the connected services) and a wireless smartphone charger.

We were very impressed by the functionality and computing power of the central touchscreen, with excellent and fast graphics.

Practical

The third door, which can only be opened when the corresponding front door is opened, proved very practical, and allowed much easier access to the rear seats. The rear accommodation is essentially meant for kids or (very) small grown-ups. In a 500, noblesse oblige… this is a car with style. Nevertheless, it has a standard boot space of 185 liters, and of course the backrests of the rear seats can be folded.

Conclusion

The Cinquecento is alive more than ever, and the transplant with an electronic heart has succeeded masterfully. It was a very wise decision – also technically necessary of course to house the batteries in the chassis floor – to build an entirely new body for this car, and it was even more judicious to retain faithfully its iconic proportions too.

Technically, the car is totally mature, providing premium character smooth transport, assisted by driving aids and made to measure top notch infotainment.

If you are looking for attractively priced (urban) electric transport with iconic panache and style, take a long hard look at this car…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographer’s notes: for the photos of this test, we took our recently acquired Fujifilm X-A5 through its paces. We like the excellent contrast and contour sharpness of the Fujinon Apherical Zoom lens, delivering the fine definition you see here on these images. We used the TV or shutter priority mode set at 1/125 s, to avoid any eventual motion blur. We found the autofocus a bit on the slow side compared to our Nikon DSLR, but this was not much of an issue as the car was stationary anyway.

We drove the new Jeep Compass: a true Jeep with a European touch

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.

Performance

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.

Our test car was sprayed in a beautiful matte green…

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.

Comfort…

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.

Conclusion

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

Photographers’ notes:

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.

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

We drove the Fiat Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro: a golden thoroughbred…

There are cars in our world which are worth their weight in gold. Every bit of it. These cars are called Abarths. Their creator had one principle: build absolute thoroughbreds. Pur sang engines, pur sang suspension, pur sang style and soul. Even when they were born and bred based on mass produced Fiats. Enthusiasts remember them immediately. The racing-ready 850 TC’s for instance. The 500 Abarth’s “Esse Esse”, to stay within the original Nuova Cinquecento theme, now decades ago.

The 595 “Scorpione oro” or “Golden Scorpion” is reminiscent of the exclusive A112 Abarth “Gold Ring”, better known to fans as the A112 Abarth “Targa Oro”. A truly exclusive car, only 150 models of which were produced in 1979, all featuring a black livery, golden details, sophisticated interiors and a wide range of equipment as standard, in line with the Italian tradition of “granturismo” cars.

This dapper front wheel drive transverse engined four seater started life as the Autobianchi 112, which had the 903 Fiat four cylinder under the hood. Already in standard form, it produced a healthy 43 DIN HP at 6.000 rpm, good for 0-100 in some 17 seconds. The Abarth Version actually was dubbed officially as “Autobianchi A-112 5a Serie Abarth.” Its 1050 cc four cylinder was fed with a Weber 32DMTR38/250 2-barrel carburettor, and was good for 70 HP. It already proved a good sprinter, with 0 to 100 km/h reached in 11,4 seconds.

Brilliant performance with panache

This is where all comparison ends. The actual Abarth 595 is still compact, but then again a lot sturdier with a kerb weight of slightly more than 1 tonne, much heavier than the nimble 700 kg of the A112. The engine is now the well proven double overhead cam 1368 cc unit, developing here 165 HP, and is very characteristic with its deep exhaust roar. It is very civilized in town, ready to pull away without hesitation from 900 rpm onwards, and this proved to be very pleasant in slow traffic. We tested this Scorpioneoro with the 5 speed manual transmission, and it delighted us with its very subtle and slick changes, combined with a very smooth and progressive clutch. With all this, the 595 behaves delightfully smooth and easy in tight urban traffic, and is of course an absolute dream on the open road.

The chassis and stiff and very sporting suspension truly come to their own there, and delight the enthusiast driver with precise, neutral handling and steering, which lets you take all bends and fast curves like a master.

This brilliant experience is made even more dramatic by the wonderful roar and staccato of the willing four cylinder, catapulting you from one corner to another. Suffice to say that this Abarth races from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 7,3 seconds. The brakes are of course quite up to the task, and the 17” “golden” alloy wheels are kept firmly on the tarmac in all circumstances.   

The special Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro series is a genuine “collector’s item”, produced as it is in a limited edition and bearing a prestigious numbered plate in its cockpit.

The new special series is recognizable by its black scorpion livery – available on request in Podium Blue, Racing White and Record Gray – and the matt black chessboard roof is matching the “tar cold gray” finish of the handles, mirror caps, and the front and rear DAM.

To emphasize its “Golden” or “Oro” character, this new special series includes golden details, such as the scorpion on the bonnet, the lining around its bodywork and – we already mentioned it – the 17” “golden” alloy wheels or, on request, 17” “black” alloy wheels with the golden scorpion on the hubcap.

In the interior, everything kept in sporting black, with dramatic looking new Abarth “Scorpionflage” sports seats with black leather upholstery.The centre of the seat is in special material with high friction, to better contain the body during the sportiest driving. On the front seat head restraints, embroidered “Scorpioneoro” lettering alongside the Italian flag and Abarth embroidery. The new seats combine with the Scorpion Black dashboard with matte black details, last but not least with the gold plate on the central tunnel and of course personalized mats.

State of the art infotainment

To top everything off, the Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro offers the best infotainment currently available: the 7″ HD UconnectTM system fitted with Apple CarPlay and Google Android AutoTM* – a fast platform with high definition monitor, GPS and DAB digital radio – as well as the sophisticated BeatsAudio™ system with overall output of 480 W and a 8-channel digital speaker including a cutting-edge equalization algorithm capable of reproducing the full sonic spectrum of a recording studio. 

All this to please the ears of the Abarth pilot. But to be honest, during our test we rather listened to the music of the Abarth exhaust, ranging from a deep burble to a staccato roar, which drives more adrenaline in your veins than you ever thought possible.

Modern-day panache

The beauty of these 595 Abarth’s is their stunning everyday useability. Gone are the times when these thoroughbred engines needed regular finetuning of their Weber carburettors, a delicate right foot to avoid fouling the plugs when starting up the cold engine in damp weather.

The days when the good roadholding still needed an expert and sensitive hand or “Fingerspitzengefühl” to drive it on the limit are also to some extent behind us.

To some extent, as this Abarth still will reward a masterful hand when driven as hard as it can. But at least all the electronic driving aids will keep you out of trouble, unless you totally transgress the limits of physics, of course.

This being said, this Abarth teaches you to become a better driver, make you better understand with every ride the kinetics of a motor car, the forces which act upon it. The 595 is a very forgiving teacher, which lets you climb step by step higher into the art of sporting driving and racing.

On the other hand, you can hand the keys with closed eyes to every less experienced driver, he or she will not foul the plugs or do any mischiefs to the drivetrain, the totally predictable and safe behaviour and handling of this car will also see that the car is still in one piece when you get the keys back…    

On fuel economy, this Abarth is of course as frugal or thirsty as you want it. All depends on your right foot here. When it comes to service costs, all the ingedients are well proven and reliable, so it will not be beyond what you expect from any normal compact car…

So when you are dreaming of a totally sporting but also eminently practical everyday urban and Gran Turismo car, this Abarth 595 is totally right for you. And we bet you will cherish it, for years to come.

Hans Knol ten Bensel