With the new Koleos, Renault brings a high end SUV

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Stylish, lavishly equipped with state of the art infotainment, driving aids, chassis, engines and transmission, Renault has left nothing untouched to make this Koleos really stand out. Of course Renault has big ambitions in this upper segment of the booming SUV market. We tell you here more about the Koleos, and are of course keen to get behind the wheel of it soon, as it hits the European markets now…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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The new Koleos, was unveiled at China’s Beijing Motor Show in 2016, and is already available for sale in Australia, the Gulf States and certain South American and Asian countries.

It  tops the brand’s crossover range alongside Captur and Kadjar. It is also the fifth Renault model after Clio, Espace, Talisman and Captur to be offered with the Initiale Paris signature.

It has many qualities up its sleeve: Acclaimed four-wheel drive technology, off-road capability thanks to high ground clearance, a lavish interior equipped with the segment’s very best journey-enhancing appointments, generous cabin space thanks to a wheelbase of 2.71 metres and a total length of 4.67 metres, and last but not least the connected experience with the R-LINK 2 multimedia tablet

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Finally, New Koleos features a selection of proven powertrains and technologies, with a choice of two diesel engines mated to either X-Tronic automatic transmission or a manual gearbox.

Bold Renault styling language

New Koleos bears far more than just a passing family likeness to Talisman and Talisman Estate, which were also designed by Alexis Martot in-line with a strategy for all three models to complement one another. The most striking similarities among the three vehicles are their front-end designs, which all feature a prominent, vertically-positioned Renault logo and a chrome grille.

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Distinctive for the Talisman and New Koleos are their muscular haunches and proportions, including short overhangs, which share the same ratio between overall length and wheelbase. The new Koleos’ dynamic stance is further emphasized by its large tires (overall-diameter: 730mm) and low roofline (1.68 metres).

The C-shaped lighting signature extends beyond the head light units, which themselves to create an even more forceful gaze.  Depending on the version, New Koleos is available with Pure Vision Full LED main- and dipped-beam lights. The Daytime Running Lights provide a unique, piercing light signature.

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The Koleos rear passengers benefit from class-topping knee room (289mm), plus particularly generous headroom, shoulder room and elbow room.

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This record cabin space combines with a large configurable boot and numerous practical storage

solutions. The 498dm3 VDA boot (equivalent to 579 litres) features a clever removable floor positioned at the same height as the sill to form a flat floor. Thanks to handles located in the boot, the Easy Break system allows the 60/40-split rear bench seat to be folded in an instant to free up a total carrying capacity of 1,706dm3 VDA (equivalent to 1,795 litres).  New Koleos’ cabin is particularly bright thanks to a large opening glass sunroof (0.80m2) that extends over the rear seats.

The interior and overall equipment breathes refinement, certainly in the Initiale Paris version, where 19-inch diamond-cut wheels are also available. These models are distinguishable with grille badging, beneath the Renault logo. Full-grain Nappa leather is a key feature of the Initiale Paris signature.

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Off road qualities…

In keeping with the Renault design strategy introduced by Laurens van den Acker in 2010, New Koleos is covered by the ‘EXPLORE’ design pillar, which stands for robustness and a taste for adventure.

This is immediately evident in the model’s ground clearance (up to 210mm) which is amongst the highest in the market. New Koleos’ go-anywhere ability is boosted by approach and departure angles of 19 and 26 degrees respectively.

Efficient, easy-to-use 4×4 technology

The ALL MODE 4×4-i transmission available for New KOLEOS features technology that has been proved on millions of Renault-Nissan Alliance vehicles worldwide. This all-wheel drive system permanently monitors grip levels to guarantee optimal traction whatever the conditions. Unlike many rival models, New Koleos continues to feature a control switch that allows drivers to choose the transmission mode. Very easy to use, it is situated to the left of the steering wheel and enables the driver to select one of three modes, namely 2WD, 4WD AUTO or the exclusive 4WD LOCK.

Trusted common technical architecture

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The new Koleos is built on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s CMF-C/D architecture that is shared by several other models, including Renault’s Espace, Talisman and Kadjar, and Nissan’s X-Trail and Qashqai.

The range comprises a choice of two diesel engines, which deliver 130 and 175 horsepower respectively.  These powerplants can drive through either X-Tronic automatic transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox.

Unlike former CVT transmissions, New Koleos’ X-Tronic transmission performs more like a multi-ratio automatic whenever the driver needs to accelerate briskly. At the same time, this continuously variable transmission ensures seamless gear shifts when accelerating gently, as in heavy traffic, for example. So clever!

The driver has the option to select a seven-speed sequential mode when he wants to benefit from engine braking.

Renault typical state of the art infotainment

The new Koleos is fitted with Renault’s R-LINK 2 multimedia system from its second equipment level up. This connected tablet can be found across the brand’s high-end range and coordinates the majority of the vehicle’s functions such as infotainment, navigation, hands-free telephony, radio and driver aids. We liked it already so much on the other Renaults we drove recently, thanks to the following features: An intuitive interface offering the same tactile functions as a personal tablet courtesy of capacitive technology (two-finger zoom, page scrolling, drag and drop), availability of two screen formats (depending on version): 7-inch landscape or 8.7-inch portrait, both seamlessly integrated into the dashboard design.

Of course, the new Koleos offers a new smartphone replication feature, which is compatible with both Apple CarPlay for iPhone users and Android Auto for Android.

Last but not least there is inside New Koleos the Bose© developed and tailor-engineered system that takes into account the acoustic properties of the cabin. It comprises 13 high-performance loudspeakers…

New Koleos’ raft of standard equipment – traction control, latest generation electronic stability control (ESC) electronic brake force distribution and hill start assist – is complemented by a palette of state-of-the-art driver aids (ADAS). These are all accessible via the R-LINK 2 tablet.

Taking care of the owner…

In a first for a vehicle of this type, New Koleos can be fitted in accessories range with a motorised tow bar, for a fully automatic and manual-free installation. With a simple action on a button inside the boot, it appears and is ready to use in just 15 seconds. A blocking system automatically prevents its deployment in the case of an obstruction.

Its tailgate incorporates a smart, hands-free electronic opening mechanism. Even with arms fully laden and the keyless entry and ignition card buried deep in a pocket, the boot can be opened with a simple swipe of the foot underneath the rear bumper.

All by all a quite impressive car, this Koleos. We are keen to drive it soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: driving into another world…

MPsel2Mitsubishi chose a proper outlandish name for this car: the PHEV version indeed takes you into unseen territory. We never experienced so far hybrid driving with such utter smoothness and refinement, and thus this Mitsubishi proved for us to be a very special and endearing car in present day traffic.

Hans Knol ten Bensel Continue reading “We drove the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: driving into another world…”

Volkswagen unveils the new Polo…

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When Volkswagen is rejuvenating the most popular car in its segment into a new generation, the world is watching.

The new Polo is now wider, longer, rolling on the big MQB platform which is also seen in other models of the group, up to the Passat no less. It has grown to the size of the Golf IV, and it looks indeed a lot bigger than its predecessor.

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It has more room for passengers and luggage, and this sixth generation comes with multitude of driver assistance systems, and is now definitely entering the digital age. It comes to you in a wide array of versions, which will include soon a Polo GTI1 and Polo Beats. The Polo is now for the first time also available with a natural gas engine. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Volkswagen unveils the new Polo…”

We drove the Fiat Tipo 1,6 Multijet Hatchback: a car for all types and purposes…

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We drove the Tipo through France in glorious spring weather: here we are in Nancy…

What is so typical about the Fiat Tipo? We would say its suitability, its excellent all round properties. It performs well, is frugal, drives most refined, vibration free and silent,  is comfortable, roomy and last but not least good looking. Add to all this the very interesting price and the low service cost, and you understand that we are very enthusiastic.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Fiat Tipo 1,6 Multijet Hatchback: a car for all types and purposes…”

A tale of men, women and cars: the Volvo people at Torslanda…

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The communication manager of the factory, Anneli Ericsson, introduced us to the man and women we interviewed, and we admired her for her kind, meticulous professionalism, as much as we are also grateful to Annika Bjerstaf, Editor and Press manager of Volvo Car Corporation, who accompanied us also during the visit and offered us together with her colleague the “surprise” to take our 850 on the assembly line. 

We start off here with a new series on our site, focusing on the human element. For cars are first and foremost a creation of man. A result of human ingenuity, creativity, talent and last but not least  craftsmanship. So we decided to put this all forward. We start here with a portrait of the people we met at Sweden’s largest factory, Volvo Torslanda, close to the beautiful city of Gothenburg, brimming with industry and quality of life.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “A tale of men, women and cars: the Volvo people at Torslanda…”

Lexus has started off production of its stunning LC Coupé for Europe…

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After our recent visit to the Volvo factories in Ghent and Torslanda, our interest in manufacturing has been enlivened, and we will also focus more often on this very interesting subject. So when we heard that Lexus is now building its bold looking LC Coupé for the European market, we decided to bring this item for you in this report. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Quality takes time and needs a proper, ideally equipped place, according to Lexus. That’s why they have transformed their Motomachi plant in Japan, formerly home to the LFA supercar, to create a highly focused working environment, dedicated, as they put it, to delivering the highest standards of precision, quality and craftsmanship. Indeed, the place looks immaculate and the workstations are quite spacious.

The final assembly area has been reshaped and made an all-white area to help the engineers maintain the best focus on their work. The average time for each person’s task is almost 20 minutes, so there is more time to ensure every part of the process meets Lexus’ exacting quality requirements.

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The line culminates in a new glass-walled booth where every millimetre of the car’s bodywork is subject to intense scrutiny beneath a battery of LED lights. The area for exhaust silencer inspection is surrounded by thicker glass panels so that the slightest abnormality in sound can be detected. The operation and quality of functional components, such as the doors, are also checked here. Just look at the following photo…

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The LC is built by a team of specially selected and trained Takumi craftspeople, all of whom have years of experience in Lexus manufacturing.

As well as being assembled in the same facility as the LFA, the LC benefits from a number of technologies which Lexus first developed for production of its hand-crafted supercar. These include the use of a special process, Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) for the production of CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Parts) composite material. By adapting RTM for volume production, Lexus has been able to incorporate CFRP in key areas of the LC, which makes a significant contribution to reducing the car’s weight.

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One clearly sees how car bodies can be lifted to the ideal height to work on, with the bodies being transported on skids moving on electromagnetic strips between the workstations.. 

The LC, scheduled to arrive in European showrooms in August, will be available with two powertrains. The V8-powered petrol LC 500 is equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission, a world-first for a passenger car. The full hybrid LC 500h benefits from the new Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System, a next-generation technology that delivers multiple benefits in terms of performance and an enhanced driving experience, including higher torque and more direct, linear acceleration from start-off.

We can’t wait to see it in the flesh on our roads and get behind the wheel of these gems, before the end of the year…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Kia introduces a new compact crossover: the Stonic

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B-segment crossovers are all the rage, and Kia quite understandably wants also to have a slice of the cake. Its baby will be called the ‘Stonic’, combining ‘Speed’ with ‘Tonic’. The tonic pitch in music is what we refer to as the beginning and ending note of the scale used to compose a piece of music. it’s not only a center for the compositional process, but it’s also the pitch name that is the key.

Well, judging from the first drawings, the Stonic truly sets the tone…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A sweeping roofline and originally styled roof rack create a sporty look. The tail lamp graphics evoke a young and futuristic appearance.

The car has sharp horizontal feature lines combined with softer sculpted surfaces, has compact dimensions and a low centre of gravity.

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The European-designed cabin echoes the appearance of the exterior, with straight lines, smooth surfaces and geometric design forms. The Stonic’s interior places technology and ergonomics at its heart, with smart packaging maximizing space for all occupants, and a ‘floating’ HMI (human-machine interface) blending smartphone access with the car’s many functions.

On sale in the second half of 2017, the Stonic will also be the most customizable Kia ever, inside and out. We are anxious to see this car in the flesh, and drive it for you towards autumn…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Recalculate your life, but never lose Compass…

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The ink of our latest post on the new Jeep Compass was just dry, when we heard about a gripping TV commercial, starring the new Compass. We could not miss this, and give here some further info and the link…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Today, Saturday June 3, hundreds of millions of TV viewers worldwide will watch the final of Europe’s top competition, as Juventus takes the field. The Jeep brand has been supporting the team all the way to the big match and uses the occasion to show to the  main European markets their  new  “Recalculating” commercial, starring the new Jeep Compass immediately after the digital preview on June 2.

“Recalculating” is a 60-second commercial that offers a creative take on the sat-nav voice applying it to the important decisions and tough challenges encountered in one’s real life instead of road directions.

The characters are shown making headway and tackling the obstacles that come their way – be it professional opportunities or game changing events tied to family.

Life is unpredictable and throws many a curve, but in the film this offers the characters an opportunity to strengthen their spirits, further work on their identity and grow as a person. Indeed, wherever life leads you, in the new Compass you would never miss the right path to reach your goal…

We insert the spot here… enjoy!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Taking a peek at the new Jeep Compass with augmented reality

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The all-new Jeep® Compass made its debut at the latest Geneva Motor Show, and arrives at the  dealers showrooms this summer, at a starting price of 25,000 Euros in select markets. This new Compass  enters the compact SUV segment, which is the largest SUV segment in Europe.

But before you actually can see the car in the showroom, Jeep has brought in an innovative customer experience through augmented reality, thanks to Google’s Tango technology.

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So clever, we wanted here to present it here in a special report… besides telling you more about this new Compass, which we will hope to drive for you soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Taking a peek at the new Jeep Compass with augmented reality”

Our 850 Volvo visits the Swedish Torslanda factory, and is driven on the assembly line!

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Editor and Press manager of Volvo Car Corporation Annika Bjerstaf photographs our Volvo 850 on the Torslanda plant assembly line…

The trip to Sweden with our faithful Volvo 850 proved to be a wonderful, comfortable and restful experience, and leaves us with many sweet memories, which we will present to you in various reports. But first of all, the highlight of our trip: the visit to the Volvo Torslanda factory, near Gothenburg. We were received by Editor and Press manager of Volvo Car Corporation Annika Bjerstaf and her colleague, communication manager of the factory, Anneli Ericsson. They had prepared a magnificent surprise for us…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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The new XC60 is now rolling off the assembly line in Torslanda…

They showed us proudly the facilities and the finishing line of the cars built in Sweden’s largest workplace. The production now includes for instance the second generation XC90 and the latest XC60, which rolled off the production line for the first time in April 26 this year. The XC60 is the fourth model based on Volvo’s in-house developed SPA vehicle architecture, following the introduction of the top-of-the-line 90 series in recent years. SPA actually stands for Scalable Product Architecture. No doubt, we will tell you more about this and present and drive the new models for you soon.

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…and so was our 850! 

Production shows state of the art techniques, as you can expect. Bodywork welding is of course fully robotized. The paint shop is one of the most modern in the world.

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Here you see Ms. Anneli Ericsson on the left, introducing Lena Nihlmar to the right, one of the factory employees having worked two decades ago in Torslanda on the 850. Soon more about her working experiences then and now in a following report…

Miss Annika Bjerstaf and Anneli Ericsson had organized meetings with factory colleagues who had worked in the Torslanda plant at the time the 850 was built. We will present them soon in a following report, where we will tell you also more about Volvo’s human centered production techniques. They will appear as proud premieres in our new series “men, women and cars”, shaping and creating our automotive world.

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But this was not all. “We will take your car inside the factory”, said Anneli Ericsson, with a meaningful smile on her face. She asked me for the keys, and drove it inside. “Sorry, you will still have to wait a bit here, as the car is very wet and dripping. Just a few minutes patience.” But soon enough she asked me to sit on the passenger seat of my faithful Volvo, only to see a charming Volvo employee getting behind the wheel, and… drive it on the production line behind a sparkling V90!

We just show you the film below, as indeed, we did not believe our eyes: our 22 year old Volvo on the production line in the Torslanda plant! Here follows the link:

Actually, this was also a first for the Swedish plant, as the station wagon version of the 850 was exclusively built in Ghent. Only the sedan version of the 850 was being built in Torslanda.

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It brought sweet memories to the older employees on the production line, and awe and surprise to the younger ones, with one of the younger women on the line responsible for inspection of the flush fitting of the doors also performing a quick checkup on our 850!

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As the car was then carefully driven off the line, we met with Lucinda Dimiz, one of the women who was responsible for finishing the doors on the 850 at the Torslanda plant. As one of the covers of the illuminated reflector lights inside the rear doors had gotten loose, this was a job miss Dimiz could tackle with ease, we thought. I quickly grabbed the loose cover out of the centre console where I had carefully kept it, and yes, and she installed it again on our Volvo 850 in the proverbial few seconds. “When I took the cover in my hand, I immediately remembered again how to fit it”, she said with a broad smile.  Thumbs up, as you see on the accompanying photos…

Soon more about the Torslanda plant and is people, which I will present further in the new series. But the tale of this wonderful production line experience surprise had to come first!

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Our Volvo in front of the Torslanda factory, ready for a further thrip through Sweden, before heading home…

Hans Knol ten Bensel