Unique “Abarth Stories” tell about Abarth driving passion for the Belux market…

FCA journalists launch gripping Abarth short stories series, starting with a visit to Thierry Boutsen in Monaco…

The dynamic PR and marketing people of FCA Belgium come up with an unique formula to keep the passion for the “Scorpione” alive. They launch mini-video stories that testify to the Abarth passion. The first episode shows the Belgian pilot Thierry Boutsen at the wheel of the Abarth 695 70 ° Anniversario…

This “Abarth Stories” concept was specifically devised for the Belux market. With good reason: since the launch of the brand in 2008, Abarth has achieved increasing success in Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and is even about to become a reference in our shores when it comes to sporting cars.

The first «Abarth Story» of 2020 brings viewers to the principality of Monaco, where they meet Belgian pilot Thierry Boutsen. He was so impressed with this latest creation from Turin, the Abarth 695 70 ° Anniversario, that he decided to buy one!

Thierry Boutsen has lived in Monaco with his family for years. The Festival du Cirque De Monte Carlo is in full swing, and with a bright blue sky outside, the FCA journalist meets Thierry Boutsen in the lobby of the Columbus hotel. Boutsen has devoted more than 23 years of his life to car racing and motor sport, a man with a true passion for cars.

In the original Cinquecento, Thierry Boutsen taught his mother to drive…

“I taught my mother to drive,” he tells our journalist quietly. “It was aboard a Fiat 500.” This undoubtedly explains his enthusiasm for the thoroughbred version the current model, sold under the brand name Abarth. «I have purchased this special edition in honor of the brand’s 70th anniversary, and it has been finished in the same color scheme as the 1957 Fiat 500 that I also own. So the circle is round! » he smiles.

Following him in the narrow streets of Monaco towards the corniche that takes us to the motorway towards Menton, one immediately sees that Boutsen has immense driving talents as a pilot, and they amply show behind the wheel of these new toys. «This new Abarth has everything one could wish for: it is light, agile, powerful, has perfect handling and powerful brakes. Everything was developed to achieve the best », Thierry smiled.

For more than 20 years, Thierry Boutsen has been involved in aircraft mediation with his company Boutsen Aviation, which is also based in Monaco. But his passion for cars is still well alive. “I still remain a car enthusiast,” he adds. «That is why I recently set up a new company specializing in the sale of collection cars, cars suitable for public roads and competition cars. Our specialty? Find rare vehicles that meet the specific criteria of the customers, from a Lancia Stratos or Porsche 904 to a Ferrari F1 in running order! » And now he relives also the passion for Abarth…

A thriving market for the cars with the “Scorpione” in Belgium…

With 1,700 cars sold in Belgium in 2019 and around 21,000 in Europe, Abarth is the sporting jewel in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group. Born from the heritage of Carlo Abarth, the newest 695 70 ° Anniversario is a unique model that complements the range of models 595, available in the Turismo and Competizione versions. This Abarth 695 70 ° Anniversario impresses with its new rear spoiler, which is manually adjustable,and this “Spoiler ad Assetto Variabile” can be adjusted in twelve positions, with a slope of 0 to 60 degrees…

Abarth remains active in the competition, for example through the participation of the Abarth 124 Rally in the ERC Championship, and also takes part in the F4 Championships in Italy and Germany.

This is how new pilots are discovered, such as the young Arthur Leclerc, brother of F1 pilot Charles Leclerc, who started his career at Alfa Romeo, before making the switch to Ferrari.

We just let you enjoy further the photos here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A double readers award for Alfa Romeo…

We were totally impressed driving the Alfa Giulia and Stelvio MY2020 for you in Bari. You can read about this in our columns, and we will also come back more in depth about our driving experiences. Suffice to say that we were not only delighted with the sheer performance of these thoroughbreds, we also noticed how refined and “mature” the whole drivetrain has become. One can feel clearly the enormous development and further honing which has gone into these marvelous machines. A truly superb driving experience is the result.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

It is therefore no surprise that both these cars are earning high awards among enthusiasts and car lovers.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is “Sportscar of the year”

Readers of the magazine AUTO BILD SPORTSCARS chose the 375 kW (510 hp) strong top version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio as the winner of the category “SUV/Import”. A total of 110 candidates in ten classes participated in the competition

The readers of the magazine AUTO BILD SPORTSCARS are seeing the Stelvio as a true sportscar. They chose the 375 kW (510 hp) strong Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio as the “Sportscar of the Year 2019” (issue 01/20 of 13 December 2019). The top model of this model won the SUV/Import category.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio has indeed what it takes to fall in the sports car league. What to think of a V6 biturbo petrol engine with 2.9 litres capacity, whose power is brought to the road by the four-wheel drive AlfaTM  Q4. The excellent traction provided allows an acceleration from zero to 100 km/h in only 3.8 seconds, the top speed is a whopping 283 km/h. Not suprising that the standard equipment of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio also includes the limited slip differential with active torque distribution in the rear axle (AlfaTM Active Torque Vectoring). But that is not all. There is also the AlfaTM Chassis Domain Control, a unique central vehicle “intelligence” created by Alfa Romeo with its own algorithms to handle all the electronic devices that intervene on the car’s behaviour harmoniously and in real time, making driving extremely natural, instinctive and safe.

Double awards also for the Giulia…

Alfa Romeo Giulia is also reaping awards. It finished at the top of the list of the readers from the magazine SPORT AUTO. In the survey for the “SPORT AUTO AWARD 2019”, they chose the stylish Giulia as the winner in two categories.

Now for the third year in a row, as also in 2017 and 2018, the top model Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, powered by a V6 turbo petrol engine with 375 kW (510 hp), won the import rating in the category “standard production limousines/station wagons up to 100,000 Euro”.

In the “series cars limousines/station wagons up to 75,000 Euro” the readers of SPORT AUTO voted the 206 kW (280 hp) strong Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0 Turbo Veloce as the number one import model.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove Jeep Power around the lake: the Grand Cherokee SRT and Trackhawk…

Driving the already legendary Grand Cherokee Trackhawk along the scenic villages around the beautiful Lago di Garda…

One of the absolute highlights of two days of Jeep driving amidst the beautiful scenery of the Italian Lago di Garda was a stint behind the wheel of the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and the SRT. The Jeep® Grand Cherokee is the flagship of the Jeep brand and the most awarded SUV ever, and this gem of a car created the premium SUV category 27 years ago and with more than 6.4 million units sold since its introduction. More about this Jeep Grand Cherokee in its “normal” version(s) later, we focus here on the stunning Trackhawk and SRT versions.

Indeed, it had to happen, and the whole car world was actually expecting this: the more than 700 HP V8 of the Dodge Hellcat, the “muscle car” par excellence, was to be dropped in the engine bay of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It all happened last year, and now we had the chance to drive it: the supercharged 6.2-litre HEMI® V-8 engine, delivering 710 hp at 6000 rpm, mated to an 8 speed automatic transmission. High-strength, forged-alloy pistons, powder-forged connecting rods and sodium-cooled exhaust valves all add to the power of the Supercharged 6.2L V8 engine. Do not expect a hissing monster though.

The massive V8 burbles smoothly through slow urban traffic through the villages around the Lago di Garda, and progress is silky smooth. Until you floor the throttle. Supercar acceleration is the instant answer, and the engine growls away. 0 to 100 km/h is reached in some 3,7 seconds, the top speed is 289 km/h, if you only dare.

The Drive Mode selector, and the “launch” mode at the push of a button.

Of course, good traction is provided for with all this power. A “Quadra-Trac” active on-demand four-wheel-drive system, which also includes a rear Electronic Limited Slip Differential (ELSD) and a single-speed active transfer case is at your disposal.

A 6,4 litre V8 Hemi in the SRT…

Not yet an expert in unleashing all this power and putting it “just right” on the tarmac? Good to know that there is a “Launch Control” on SRT® and Trackhawk® , which optimizes track performance by coordinating the engine, transmission, driveline and suspension for a textbook launch and consistent straight-line acceleration.

The traction management system has been specifically retuned for the Trackhawk and SRT versions as “Selec-Track.”  It features five vehicle setting – Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow – to allow the driver to achieve the best driving experience on any surface.

Beautiful instrumentation with a centrally placed rev counter…

The suspension is of course well tuned to this extra power, as well as brakes, and the Grand Cherokee remains eminently drivable.

Don’t forget there is also the Bilstein® Adaptive Suspension system, which can adjust the dampers for sport or track performance if desired, while the rear Electronic Limited Slip Differential features a four-point axle mounting to better distribute the massive power to the wheels.

For the heavier terrain work, the Quadra-Lift air suspension system allows you to change the ride height of the Grand Cherokee up to a maximum ground clearance of 28 cm.

We were deeply impressed by its handling and ride when driven with more abandon, and how perfectly balanced the whole car was. The unique driving experience is further enhanced by excellent seats and instrumentation, with not only a beautiful central rev counter, but also a special “Performance Page” on the central touch screen, where you can see anything as time of your acceleration, G-Force, all engine data like oil temperature, etc.

We enjoyed also having a stint at the wheel of the more suave SRT. Not that on the urban scenic roads around the Lago, you could test fully the difference in performance compared to the Trackhawk. Under the hood of the SRT version growls the 6417 cc V8 Hemi, good for 344 kW or 468 HP @6250 rpm. The same 8 speed auto transmission as in the Trackhawk knows this engine also needs to be revved to reach all out performance, as maximum torque of 624 Nm is reached at 4100 rpm. Of course, also here the Launch Control  and the choice between five dynamic Drive Modes with the  Selec-Track® System, as described above.

We enjoyed the same beautiful well balanced handling, indeed an SUV which also truly stands out if you expect that extra performance. Using launch control, it will still be able to catapult you from 0 to 100 km/h in 4,9 seconds.

We just coloured this image in front of this old factory a bit more (fiery) red to enhance the Trackhawk spirit…

We let you enjoy the photos here, and we dream along with you about this unforgettable experience… and there is more Jeep news to come with driving impressions of the full range!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A classic thoroughbred is now five generations young: the Toyota Supra

Race bred by Toyota Gazoo Racing: the latest Supra.

There are car builders which nurture classic and iconic sports cars and bring them to perfection. A classic two seater coupé with a well sounding straight six under its long hood and with all the power fed to the rear wheels.

This car builder is Toyota, and the car is the Supra. This sports/GT has been honed and carefully improved over five model generations now and is better than ever.

The Supra is not only race proven over the years, speeding from success to success under the flag of Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s President Aiko Toyoda actually hurtles this Supra himself around the Nürburgring Nordschleife for hours on end. The result is a breathtaking machine. We present you here its highlights…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

First worldwide GR model of Gazoo Racing

Actually this fifth generation marks a remarkable début for Toyota Gazoo Racing, in establishing its GR model range. They couldn’t have chosen a better car.

Toyota Gazoo Racing is the global organisation of Toyota’s worldwide racing and sporting activities. They chalked up last year a win in Le Mans and also won the Dakar rally.

Tetsuya Tada’s masterpiece

Chief engineer kept the layout and character of the original GT 2000 and the previous Supra generations firmly in mind when designing this latest Supra.

Aiko Toyoda sat himself behind the wheel to give the Supra its final touch…

Short wheelbase, wide track, low gravity point, low weight and a very stiff chassis are the ingredients for pur sang handling. The 3 litre straight six has a twin scroll turbo and develops 340 DIN horsepower and 500 Nm torque. It is coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and guarantees powerful accelerations and indeed tons of pulling power at all engine speeds.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing was instrumental in honing the new sports car’s performance, working extensively on the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife and surrounding roads in Germany to achieve the most agile, stable and rewarding handling possible. Further extensive testing was carried out on roads around the world.

An 8 speed automatic lets you control the power like a master…

To be certain that the car delivered on its promise, Toyota President Akio Toyoda himself put it to the test at the Nürburgring in his role as a Master Driver before giving it the final green light.

New Toyota GR Supra customer deliveries will start from summer 2019. By the way, did you know that all cars will be manufactured in Graz, Austria?

Just look at the photos here, and indeed we are looking forward to driving this absolute gem!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW Art Car #18 of Cao Fei makes Belgian debut at Brand Store in Brussels…

BMW driving art is again to be seen in the capital of Europe: In its flagship Brand Store, BMW organizes until June 1 an Art & Design Expo. The 18th BMW Art Car, a BMW M6 GT3 with multimedia design, has been created by the Chinese female artist Cao Fei, is the focus point of this show. It is even to be enjoyed and admired with the use of an app bringing the car to you on your smartphone with enhanced reality. A stunning experience, of which we show here some photos, but which has to be seen to be believed.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

In the Brussels BMW Brand Store you can join the stunning journey to discover this Art Car in augmented reality…

This virtual animation is also created by the artist, and forms an integral part of the car. “We are now entering a new era where the mind can steer objects directly and thoughts can be transferred, like unmanned controls and artificial intelligence.” comments Cao Fei.

Follow this path in the showroom and zero in with your Ios device on this graph to experience the augmented reality…
Download the app BMW ART CAR #18 on your mobile (IOS) device, follow the screen instructions and enjoy!

The work of Cao Fei illustrates the fast and stunning changes in China and its society. With her BMW Art Car she spans a road which stretches over thousands of years, honouring the spiritual wisdom of Asia, which now enters the third millennium with breathtaking speed. The film can of course also be viewed on YouTube, using the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_GNSyeIpOY&feature=youtu.be.

A video which focuses on the millennial time which a spiritual person travels through…
Finishes with presenting the augmented reality…

The multimedia artist approaches the concept of a BMW Art Car in her own unique way, with which she builds a parallel universe.

Her work consists of three components: a video that focuses on the millennial time which a spiritual person travels through, augmented reality with colourful light particles (via a special app called BMW Art Car # 18) and the BMW M6 GT3 racer in the original colour carbon black.

As a tribute to the carbon fibre structure of the BMW M6 GT3 applies Cao Fei a lot of non-reflective black paint, which means the possibilities in the digital world are endlessly applicable.

The application of video and augmented reality creates an environment in which the BMW M6 GT3 plays an essential role. Cao Fei uses in her video spiritual movements that express themselves in colourful flashes of light.

Point your device on the graph and a whole enhanced world opens to you…

When the app is used in the vicinity of the car, these light accents are transformed into an augmented reality installation that floats above and around the BMW M6 GT3. In this way, the viewer becomes interactively involved in the artwork.

Just download the app BMW ART CAR #18 on your mobile (IOS) device and follow the instructions on your screen.


The BMW Art Car Tradition runs back already decades… more about this in a special report!

Practical info:

The exhibition runs until May 31, at BMW Brand Store Brussels, Waterloolaan 23,24, 1000 Brussel

Admission free.  Open from Monday to Saturday, from 10 AM until 18.30 PM. http://www.bmwbrandstore.brussels

We drove the Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 TB 280 HP: “La Superba…”

There is now a superb SUV which is stealing the heart of car lovers all over the world, and that is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. The men and women of this iconic brand born in Milan have long waited to launch a SUV, and with good reason, as Alfa Romeo stands for a unique driving experience. The stunning “Giorgio” platform of the Giulia provided a sound basis for a SUV with extraordinary driving qualities, and the result is this Stelvio. Not only its name is synonymous for panache and character, the car itself scores, and how… Just read on further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 TB 280 HP: “La Superba…””

We drove the Abarth 124 GT: Gran Turismo pure

What makes a two seater roadster a thoroughbred Gran Turismo? A difficult question for all of us, but the men at Abarth have the anwser. On the basis of the Mazda MX-5 they got to work, and added all the unique ingredients to make a sporting masterpiece.  It is built in Hiroshima, but finished in Turin, to give it that special Abarth zest and look, for all of us who love Italian four wheeled panache. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Abarth 124 GT: Gran Turismo pure”

The Abarth 124 shines already in 2019 with a FIA R-GT Cup Win in the Monte Carlo Rally…

Whilst we are driving now the stunning and totally impressive Abarth 124 GT, the news reaches us that the 2019 racing season began with success for Abarth in the FIA R-GT Cup in the Monte Carlo Rally, where the Abarth 124 rally driven by Italians Enrico Brazzoli and Manuel Fenoli reached top position.

This makes the Abarth 124 rally again the GT to beat in its category, having won in 2018 with Frenchmen Raphael Astier and Frédéric Vauclare who can be considered the world championship of this category… Just read on and look at the photos!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “The Abarth 124 shines already in 2019 with a FIA R-GT Cup Win in the Monte Carlo Rally…”