We drove the Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TSI 280 4Motion R Line: the fine art of car making…

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Volkswagen has acquired a vast experience in the art of designing and building cars. When they decide to launch a top of the range four seater coupé, it is guaranteed to turn heads. And this the Arteon certainly does. It has stunning, well balanced looks, and the beauty of it is that it also delivers. When it comes to performance, mechanical perfection, economy and build quality, this car certainly reaches for the sky in its class. We had an extended drive in this superb VW… Just read on.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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The VW designers and stylists have translated the angular, clear cut and well proportioned styling language of the present VW range in a very well balanced manner into their top car. It shares the roomy MQB platform with the Passat, and therefore there were enough inches or centimeters to really go for an impressive, finely and elegantly stretched design. Also in the front and rear treatment the emphasis is on this discreet elegance, and this Arteon is never too imposing, too bold, yet evokes very well its premium character. Our test car was sprayed in Oryx White, and this suited the Arteon very well.

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It has also beautiful light alloy wheels, especially in the R-Line equipment version we drove. They were so called Rosario 8J x 20 wheels, in matte dark graphite, which formed a nice contrast with the white bodywork.

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This premium elegance is continued in the interior, where finely carved accent lines throughout dashboard and door panels evoke space and grace. “Silver Rise” aluminum inserts were found in door panels and dashboard surfaces. The seats were clad in Nappa leather.

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Looking more closely one finds many familiar knobs and handles, with icons and virtual digital instrumentation also found on other VW’s and group products. But that does not spoil the pleasure. The materials used are top notch and the clarity of the instruments, dials and the intuitive way things work make you feel very good behind the wheel.

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A good seating position was soon found, as the so-called “ergComfort” drivers’seat can be adjusted in not less than 14 directions with memory and massage function for the driver.

The clever use of the available space is also a craft the VW engineers truly master. This means that there is ample, if not massive legroom for the rear passengers, and the boot space is nothing short of cavernous. Its minimum volume is 563 liter…

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Our test car came with the two liter TSI petrol engine, delivering not less than 206 kW or 280 HP. Don’t expect a nervous, hissing and roaring sports machine. In slow urban traffic, it is docile as a lamb and barely audible or noticeable, as it moves the Arteon smoothly forward, helped by the silky 7 speed DSG transmission. When you feel in a sporty mood, just choose the desired driving mode, and things really start to happen.

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What to think of a 0 to 100 acceleration of 5,6 seconds, and then storming further in a wonderful thoroughbred four cylinder throb to a (regulated) top speed of 250 km/h? All this happens without any noticeable mechanical strain, and this makes the Arteon really a top notch driving machine.

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Torque is plentiful, with 350 Nm available throughout a very wide rev range from 1700 to 5600 rpm, with peak power being developed between 5100 and 6500 rpm.

Moving a big powerful sedan through urban traffic can costs energy, if you let it. This means a lot depends on your driving style. We stayed around the 9 liter mark, which makes the manufacturer’s quote of 9,2 liter on the EC cycle quite realistic . On the open road, with more constant (legal) speeds, engine efficiency and high gearing come into play, and consumption figures between 6 and 7 liters can be achieved without effort. Of course, with the impressive stream of power being available, one tends to use it rather more, and this drives the consumption up… CO2 emissions are quite reasonable with 164 g/km.

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Agile and predictable handling

All this means that this impressive four seater coupé with a total length of 4862 mm feels totally agile and nimble, despite its 1,7 ton kerb weight.

The MQB platform and superb suspension are of course a condition sine qua non to handle all this drivetrain power and provide premium level driving pleasure.

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The Arteon handles quite benign and predictable, will never get you in trouble and can be driven with spirit on winding stretches. Of course, it is a true master on the Autobahnen, with superb straight line stability and spotless high speed handling. Predictive ACC completes the picture when cruising… Of course, the 4Motion 4WD helps stability when roads are slippery, and helps tp master the power of this Arteon…

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Comfort is also of very high order, especially when one chooses the comfort mode. One is also soothed with beautiful sound, coming from the “DYNAUDIO Conference” sound system with 700 watt 10-channel digital amplifier, driving a subwoofer and 10 speakers…

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Driver assistance systems also make your life more pleasant and safe, what to think of Area View and Rear View camera’s for instance. Our test car also came with the large 9,2 inch screen and the “Discover Pro” navigation. With the digital instrumentation, your chosen route can also be displayed within the instrument cluster, so your eyes can stay focused in line of the road, and don’t need to hover to the centre of the dashboard and back.

Of course there are media connections galore, like Discover Media, App Connect, etc.

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Conclusion

If you want a timelessly elegant four seater coupé with plenty of panache, embodying the state of the art engineering and production skills of a global automotive master manufacturer like the VW group, then this car is for you.

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It has a discrete elegance and grace, which will complement you for years to come, and is build with all the technical solutions which make it up to date for years, if not decades, as it combines its outstanding performance with an excellent environmental score.

Just enter its space, and let you be moved… as we did

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TSI 280 4Motion R Line: the fine art of car making…”

The new BMW X2 has ever more character…

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A bright star in the BMW range has got a makeover, which makes it a Sports Activity Coupe with added personality.

The new BMW X2 will celebrate its market premiere in March 2018, and will be shown for the first time on the Detroit and Brussels shows.

The new BMW X2 appeals primarily to a young and young-at-heart, urban and active target group who are keen to see their personal character reflected on the road through an emotionally-engaging car.

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As well as the standard BMW X2, customers can also choose from the BMW X2 M Sport and M Sport X models. The latter brings together design elements from BMW M and the BMW X family. Separate lines are not available for the BMW X2.

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A host of design details underscore the distinctive character of the BMW X2. These include the BMW roundel on the C-pillars and the styling of the kidney grille, whose outline is wider at its base than at its top (for the first time on a modern BMW).

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Colorful…

Available for the first time on a BMW are the exterior color shades Galvanic Gold metallic and Misano Blue metallic, plus perforated Dakota leather in Magma Red and the Micro Hexagon fabric Anthracite/Alcantara combination in Black with M piping and yellow contrast stitching.

A wide choice of drivetrains…

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Three engine/transmission variants are offered from launch: the BMW X2 xDrive20i petrol model with 141 kW / 192 hp (fuel consumption combined: 5.9 – 5.5 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 134 – 126 g/km)*, plus the X2 xDrive20d diesel variant with 140 kW / 190 hp (fuel consumption combined: 4.8 – 4.6 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 126 – 121 g/km)* and as top of the range the X2 xDrive25d diesel with 170 kW / 231 hp (fuel consumption combined: 5.3 – 5.1 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 139 – 133 g/km)*.

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Both diesel cars come as standard with xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive and the eight-speed Steptronic transmission. The petrol model is fitted with the sporty seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission.

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Further model variants will be added to the Sports Activity Coupe line-up in early 2018 – in the shape of the three-cylinder X2 sDrive18i and the four-cylinder X2 xDrive20i, X2 sDrive18d and X2 xDrive18d.

The outputs of the petrol models range from 103 kW / 140 hp in the X2 sDrive18i (with manual gearbox, fuel consumption combined: 6.3 – 6.0 l/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 144 – 138 g/km**; with seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission, fuel consumption combined: 6.2 – 5.9 l/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 141 – 135 g/km**) up to 141 kW /192 hp in the X2 xDrive20i (fuel consumption combined: 6.2 – 6.1 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 142 – 138 g/km**). The diesel X2 sDrive18d (with manual gearbox, fuel consumption combined: 4.6 – 4.5 l/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 121 – 119 g/km**; with eight-speed Steptronic transmission, fuel consumption combined: 4.7 – 4.5 l/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 124 – 118 g/km**) and X2 xDrive18d (fuel consumption combined: 5.2 – 4.8 l/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 137 – 128 g/km**) have 110 kW / 150 hp. We think the latter versions will be quite popular in our country…

The options list for the BMW X2 includes the latest generation of BMW ConnectedDrive and the most recent update of the BMW Connected App. Optional functions such as Apple CarPlay and an array of driver assistance systems serve up a connected driving experience. Among the optional equipment features offered exclusively by the BMW X2 in this segment is the full-color BMW Head-Up Display.

Needless to say that we are very keen to see the new X2 in the flesh and get a driving experience  behind the wheel…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

A 1937 Škoda steals the jury’s hearts at the Zoute Concours d’Elégance®

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We promised you, dear reader, that we would come back to you with more reports about the delightful 2017 edition of the Zoute Grand Prix®.

The cars presented at the Zoute Concours d’Elégance® certainly turned heads, and there was one little gem, brought from the Škoda Museum, a 1937 Škoda Popular “Monte Carlo”. A rare car indeed, lovingly restored to former glory by the craftsmen of the museum, as engineer Michal Velebný explained us. We show him here with the car in the following two films, and some photos, and treat you to an interesting story…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “A 1937 Škoda steals the jury’s hearts at the Zoute Concours d’Elégance®”

We drove the Volvo V90 D5: an icon embraces graceful modernity…

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The Volvo estates have carved a unique niche in our car world, and are more than ever geared to continue this grand tradition. Just look at the latest stylish V90. It embodies a unique Scandinavian panache with its beautifully proportioned curves and contours, and continues the legendary Volvo estate car tradition with uncanny and timeless elegance.

A beauty it is, but of course state of the art technology is also omnipresent, with abundant drivetrain power, safety features and driving aids, all wrapped in a package which offers supreme comfort. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Volvo V90 D5: an icon embraces graceful modernity…”

We drove the Kia Pikanto 1.2 ISG GT Line: the spicy delights of life…

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We all know it: small is beautiful. Some even say more: “a master needs few tools”.  Indeed, the true master really shows himself in the little materials he needs for his craft, or to exert his masterful skills.  For the designer or the painter, this means that only a few strokes of pencil or brush are needed to create a masterpiece.

Well, the Kia engineers and designers only needed a 3,595 mm to put on wheels a delightful car that fulfills all your driver’s dreams. Just read further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Kia Pikanto 1.2 ISG GT Line: the spicy delights of life…”

8th edition of the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® proved again a resounding success…

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Very stylish participant at the ZOUTE RALLY®

The ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® has become THE automobile event of the year in Belgium, one can safely say, attracting on the Belgian coast as many as 160,000 car enthusiasts coming to see the classic thoroughbreds as well as admire the modern day stylish GT cars.

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And a very muddy but happy team at the finish! 

This ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® event is despite its size, number of participants and its numerous divisions, i.e. The Auction, the Rally, the GT speed event and last but not least the totally stunning Concours d’Elegance a perfectly organized venue, and can serve as an outstanding example for many.

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Off to a flying (and very happy) start! 

We therefore can only congratulate the organizers, and we will on these pages report in the coming weeks and months several times about the highlights of this superb event, as there was so much to see and experience for us car lovers…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

As it is becoming a tradition, automobile brands with a sporting pedigree participate greatly in the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX®, and this edition for instance BMW and AUDI came up with great cars and famous sporting drivers.

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Sven Nys at the wheel of his BMW 507 with Dr. Peter Henrich, President & CEO of BMW Group Belux as his co-driver. Christophe Weerts, Corporate Communications Manager, looks on… 

We already told you in these columns about Sven Nys taking the wheel of a BMW 507, (see photo above) but there was also heptathlete and IAAF World Champion Nafi Thiam at the wheel of the Audi “streamliner”.

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Soon we will show you a collection of photos of the cars in action on the Rally, as the organizers whisked us to magnificent spots where we could photograph the cars and their drivers “at speed” on the scenic roads along the North Sea coast.

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The cars on show on the Zoute Royal Golf Club were equally breathtaking and also here we come back to you many times to let you enjoy the beautiful contours and curves of the sometimes totally unique cars, lovingly restored to mint condition.

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Absolute gems were to be seen at the Zoute Royal Golf Course… what to think of this 1952 Ferrari 212 Export… 

We will also bring you several interviews of collectors and last but not least heritage museum directors, like Skoda who brought a 1936 Popular Monte Carlo- Coupé to the event.

So, more to follow soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Lexus IS 300h: your stylish sedan with a bright green future…

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E-power looks to become the mobility solution for the coming decades, and indeed manufacturers are eagerly developing a complete range of electric cars. They will be fit for the megacities of this planet, but when you want to cover long distances in less populated areas and in countries where the charging infrastructure is not yet up to scratch, the (plug in) hybrid layout seems to be the solution with an immediate and bright future.

Toyota and Lexus have been producing hybrids now for years, and have acquired a vast experience and know how in making these cars. The Lexus IS 300h impressed us greatly again. It is synonymous of excellence, and we can hardly find a sedan with is more fitting for our times, and this for years to come.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Lexus IS 300h: your stylish sedan with a bright green future…”

Sven Nys, twice world champion in terrain cycling, will be at the wheel of a BMW 507 at the ZOUTE Grand Prix…

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After Matthias Schoenaerts in 2015 and Adrian Van Hooydonk, director of the design department of the BMW Group in 2016, this year, the king of offroad cycling will have the honour and the pleasure to enjoy classic motoring in a BMW at the Zoute Grand Prix.

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At the two last editions of the Zoute Grand Prix we saw a BMW 328 Roadster and a year after the 328 Touring Le Mans. This year BMW Belux, with the support of BMW Classic will participate with a BMW 507 from 1957, as this car celebrates its 60th birthday. An exceptional car indeed.

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Elvis Presley was also an admirer of the BMW 507 at its introduction… 

Sven Nys will have Dr. Peter Henrich, President & CEO of BMW Group Belux as a co-driver.  “It is an honour and pleasure to put a car with this historical pedigree at the disposal of an athlete which has marked the history of offroad cycling. I am convinced that Sven Nys, with his talented skills as an offroad champion, will find his way and be well at home behind the wheel of this BMW 507”, according to Peter Henrich…

We will see both men in action around Knokke!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

We drove the Peugeot 3008 2.0 BHDI 180 EAT6 GT: “en marche” with style and space…

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This car bearing the proud lion has already reached the summit, as it has been applauded car of the year 2017. Deservedly so. It not only looks stunningly good, it also drives and handles masterfully. We put the posh GT version through its paces, and we were spoiled by the 180 HP Diesel and smooth auto box and superb drivetrain and chassis. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Peugeot 3008 2.0 BHDI 180 EAT6 GT: “en marche” with style and space…”

The Alpine A110 will be at the start of the ZOUTE GT TOUR®

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Alpine A110 in action at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, will also be in full swing on the Knokke boulevards…

Alpine presented its stylish new A110 at the latest Geneva Salon in March this year. Since then, the A110 participated in a row of prestigious events: at the Concours d’Elégance in Apeldoorn in the gardens of the Palace Het Loo and the Supercar Run during the Goodwood Festival of Speed (UK).

Next weekend, on October 8, the A110 will participate at the ZOUTE GT TOUR® in the 8th edition of the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX®

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Alpine A110 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, showing off its characteristic shape, reminiscent of its famous ancestors…

At the wheel of this gleaming A110 will be Michel  van der Sande, Managing Director Alpine.

The A110 will otherwise be on show in the streets of Knokke, amids other prestigious cars and thoroughbreds which will also adorn the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX®

See you there, and we will just show you here some photos of the A110 in action at the Goodwood festival of speed!

Hans Knol ten Bensel