We drove the Toyota Prius: the absolute icon of hybrid intelligence…

PR1sm

The icon of “green”, responsible hybrid propulsion is undoubtedly the Prius. Already the first generation stunned us completely, and I personally found it THE most clever car I had ever driven. The latest generation of the Prius fully confirms this tradition, and it is indeed better than ever. Besides its superb technical qualities, the styling people have added extra zest to the Prius, and it now has a dramatic, rather futuristic look, both inside and out. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Toyota Prius: the absolute icon of hybrid intelligence…”

We drove the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: the beauty of “green” hybrid technology…

RA16sm

The RAV4 has won many hearts over the years, and now it is coming to us with a rejuvenated drivetrain: indeed, the long awaited hybrid version is coming to our shores. This RAV4 is powered by a 2,5 liter four cylinder and two electric motors. Yet it is quite frugal and refined, and of course (very) low on CO2 emissions. Thanks to state of the art hybrid technology. Just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: the beauty of “green” hybrid technology…”

We drove the BMW M2 Coupé: the unique magic of “classic” BMW driving…

M2s1sm20

Revelling at the marvelous sound of a thoroughbred straight six, revving up under full power, all this in a car which responds with precision at the slightest movement of the wheel.

Steering a sporting compact “bolide”, which will readily go in a finely balanced power slide when you ask for it, that’s BMW driving as we have always understood it. The BMW which carries this tradition into the present day is this M2 Coupé. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the BMW M2 Coupé: the unique magic of “classic” BMW driving…”

We drove the Renault Master Energy dCi Twin Turbo 170 HP: king of the road…

mas1sm20

There are times when it is indicated to discover the immense progress which is made in the field of light commercial vehicles. This time we made a trip to the French midi at the wheel of a – what’s in a name – masterful product of the Renault stable. The experience proved to be nothing less than truly exquisite. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Renault Master Energy dCi Twin Turbo 170 HP: king of the road…”

We drove the BMW i3 extended range: e-power takes you a long(er) way…

i3s1sm25

In our modern (mega)cities, clean power will be paramount. BMW has long understood this, and has brought quite a formidable E-car on the road. Its clever i3. We already tested it for you with the small twin cylinder petrol engine in the back as a range extender. With charging points becoming ever more available in many places, BMW feels confident enough to offer a “pure” battery only version, albeit with a new, more powerful battery, warranting – in ideal circumstances – a range of not less than 410 kilometers.

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the BMW i3 extended range: e-power takes you a long(er) way…”

Rétromobile 2017 has some remarkable cars to show…

retro Trezor algsm35

The Renault Trezor is flanked at Retromobile by a Reinastella on the left, and a rare original “barn find” Viva Grand Sport 1939 on the right…   

The 42nd edition of Retromobile at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris hosts some remarkable (French) finds, and for the first time, FCA Heritage, the department of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles responsible for promotion of the historical legacy of the Italian brands in the Group, will also be present…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Renault is coming “en force”, as can be expected, and brings the last juwel in its collection. Nothing else than an exceedingly rare VIVA GRAND SPORT Coupé from 1939.

Rensel1

It is completely original, having never undergone any restoration, “dans son jus”, as the photo above shows clearly.  In perfect working order despite not having moved for almost half a century, this car has barely 22,000km on the clock. Just look at the instruments on the photos.

Dashboardsm35

Alpine is also showing its historic models, last but not least the iconic A 110 “Berlinette”. The A110 Berlinette would establish itself as one of the very best rally cars of its generation.

alps1sm30

The Alpine Vision show car is of course also on display. This show car offers a tantalising preview of the road-going model that Alpine will officially unveil at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 7…

As said, FCA Heritage is also present, and Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia and Abarth will be exhibiting 8 vintage models.

170206_Heritage_Fiat_Abarth_1000_Monoposto_Record

One of the astonishing cars we find is this Abarth 1000 Monoposto Record, just to show that in those “golden” sixties, everything was also possible for Italian manufacturers, and the sky was the limit.

170206_Heritage_Alfa_Romeo_2600_SZ_Prototipo_1

What also to think of a dramatically styled 2600 SZ Prototipo? We show you here an original works photo…above and below

170206_Heritage_Alfa_Romeo_2600_SZ_Prototipo_2

Just note that Retromobile has its doors open until February 12…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

It takes two Guy’s to go racing…

It has grown into a tradition now: Europarlementarian Guy Verhofstadt returns every year to classic historic racing behind the wheel of one of the very fine Abarths coming from the formidable collection of Guy Moerenhout.

abs7sm20

Two Guy’s meet every year again to go racing: Guy Moerenhout (left) meets Guy Verhofstadt (right) at the reception of his premises… getting ready for the official team presentation at Guy Moerenhout’s Abarth Museum in Lier. 

He will participate also this year at the same race, the Legend Boucles @ Bastogne, with is expertly organised by Pierre Delettre.

abs1sm20

This year Guy Verhoftsadt will have another “Guy” as team mate, namely Guy (Guido) Devreker. His car stems of course from the l’Abarth Squadra Storica Team of Guy Moerenhout. This time he will not be driving his usual Fiat Ritmo 125 TC, but instead an equally pristine Lancia Beta Coupé. You see the team and their Lancia here on the photo on the left.

On the right, you see on the photo Guy Moerenhout shaking hands with his co-driver Filip De Munck, standing beside their 124 Abarth Spider.

abs8sm20

Your servant was kindly invited to the reception at the vast premises of Guy Moerenhout, where he houses the largest collection of historic Abarths in the world. It is truly stunning what meets the eye there, we just show you here some photographs, but we will come back later with a full report.

abs3sm20

The collection is breathtaking, as this photo shows, and what to think of not less than four-in-a-row pristine 2300 S Coupés, neatly composing  a full bloodied “Abarth Squadra corse” team? Just look at the photo below… 

abs4sm20

Besides the engines and the marvelous sound, Abarth driving was also all about admiring the instruments… you find them all at Guy Moerenhout’s Abarth Museum… 

abs9sm20

Guy Moerenhout, a man who remains enthusiastic as ever for his brand with the Scorpione, participates also in the race of course, driving his Fiat 124 Abarth Spider together with Filip De Munck. Not less than four cars are entered by the l’Abarth Squadra Storica Team of Guy Moerenhout for this Legend Boucles @ Bastogne, to be held on 17, 18 et 19 of February. Another Fiat 124 Abarth Spider is entered, for the team Eric Vlaisloir et Jeroen Nys. You see that car here slightly in the back on the photo below.

abs6sm20

The photo shows indeed here the  fourth car, a pristine and completely “as new” restored Fiat 124 Sport Spider , with Dirk Vermeersch at the wheel, and Christel Bauwens as the co-driver. We had a very interesting conversation with Esther de Bièvre, the PR agent for Dirk Vermeersch. Having been a successful racing driver in his early career, Dirk now owns his own vineyard in French Rhone valley, in Suze La Rousse, she explained.

abs11sm20

We tasted his excellent Le Plan GT (Grand Terroir) wine at the reception…

abs10sm20

We will tell you all about this later in more detail, we just let you enjoy here the photos!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the 5Door Fiat Tipo 1,6 120 HP Multijet: drivers’ delight with that extra space…

ati1sm20

Faithful readers know that the Fiat Tipo has truly impressed us already, and indeed we looked forward to an encore with a test of the five door hatchback version. Read further about our findings…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the 5Door Fiat Tipo 1,6 120 HP Multijet: drivers’ delight with that extra space…”

We drove the Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI 190 HP S Tronic : excellence was expected

ausel1sm20

In 2007 Audi launched the A5 and set a stylish benchmark in its class. Especially the design and styling of the Coupé and Cabrio pleased many, and as a proud owner of a 3 liter TDI A5 Cabrio I count myself amongst the admirers. Honing a good car to even more appealing design and mechanical perfection is the way Audi conceives car making, and now the new generation A5 fulfills all these promises. It has a new chassis for even better handling, the engines have been improved and are smoother, more powerful and frugal, and last but not least infotainment and driver assistance systems have been further improved.

Just read on….

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI 190 HP S Tronic : excellence was expected”

The Renault Trezor wins French prize of most beautiful concept car of 2016

sel1sm30

The French have a gift for elegance and beauty. And we must admit that the Renault styling department is going from strength to strength lately.  The 32nd Festival Automobile International at the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, France, has singled out on January 31st the Renault TREZOR as the most beautiful concept car of 2016.

“I would like to thank the jury for this award which will inspire us to pursue our design strategy,” says Laurens van den Acker, SVP Corporate Design, Renault. “The TREZOR’s powerful, sensuous lines pave the way for the styling and technologies that will be features of our upcoming models. It also marks the beginning of a new cycle of Renault concept cars which will be revealed soon.”

sel2

“The jury decided this award should go to the TREZOR because of the extreme beauty, sensuality and elegance it exudes,” observes Rémi Depoix, President of the Festival Automobile International. “It is the epitome of a concept car and we were notably won over by the cohesion of its overall design and the attention that has been paid to the details. It is a fine creative work which, we hope, will inspire Renault’s future roadgoing models.”

sel3sm30

A harbinger of the styling language of future Renaults

The lines of the Renault TREZOR are warm, sensuous and refined, while its assertive front end incorporates signature C-shaped lights. In terms of their styling, Renault’s upcoming models will draw their inspiration from the TREZOR’s DNA as their forms become even more fluid and mature.

The TREZOR’s interior design, meanwhile, places the emphasis on driving enjoyment and features a large enveloping touchscreen display that reinforces the cockpit feel. This customisable, connected interface juxtaposes warming, prestige materials like wood and leather. The interiors of upcoming Renault models will take their inspiration from these increasingly refined styling trends and connected technologies.

sel4sm25

For the duration of this year’s Festival International de l’Automobile, the Renault TREZOR will be on display at the Hôtel des Invalides alongside other concept cars selected by the jury.You will have to hurry though: this display will be open to the public from February 1-5, 2017. For further information, go to www.festivalautomobile.com/gb/index.php.

In the meantime, just have a look at this beauty…

Hans Knol ten Bensel