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

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

 

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

 

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

 

A timeless icon on the roads in France: the new limited edition Fiat 124 Spider Europa steals your (and our) heart…

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It is the dream of every car enthusiast: driving a stylish two seater roadster on the legendary roads of Europe. This time it was a journey from Paris to Deauville, along the banks of the Seine…

Yust dream away with the pictures…as we do, as surely we would like to take one in the second half of September to the Maserati factory and an unforgettable trip in the Italian Modena surroundings…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “A timeless icon on the roads in France: the new limited edition Fiat 124 Spider Europa steals your (and our) heart…”

Rétromobile 2017 has some remarkable cars to show…

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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… 

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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… 

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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.

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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.

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Brussels Motor Show has interesting news – part 4

Here comes the final part of our Brussels Show report. We just let you enjoy all this again, as the show is also soon coming to its end…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Armed with our faithful compact Canon PowerShot G9 X, which takes amazing pictures even with low light, we strolled further to the Nissan stand, where the all new Micra was on display. Nissan expects a lot from this urban gem, which has the all round and versatile qualities you expect from a compact car like this. It is quite agile and downright sporting, delivering lots of driving pleasure for the young at heart. It has good looks too. Soon we come back to this car and are of course keen to drive it soon.

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Peugeot was presenting not only a boldly styled, angular lion, it also had its new 3008 compact SUV on the show. Mind you, this angular lion is a work of outstanding craftsmanship: the design center created the shapes of this new interpretation of the iconic lion, but the craftsmen of the firm LA FABRIK worked more than a month to execute the design. The sculpture is made of hardened polystyrene, covered with layers of wax and glass fibre. The used the most modern techniques like digital cutting along not less than five axes, and a lot of sanding by hand was also deemed necessary. The lion was then finally chromed via an electrolysis process, which took not less than 10 days…

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The 3008 is restyled and has (almost) the panache of a show car, both inside and out. It must of course also be good to drive, economical and reliable if it is to be competitive in its class. The three cylinder 128 HP petrol engine looks promising on paper, and we expect it to deliver good performance. We look forward to drive it soon… It comes of course with a wide engine choice, both petrol and diesel, and also 6 speed manuals and auto boxes are available.

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DS presented on the Brussels Show a new edition on the DS4 Crossback, with a new matte color. The car, dubbed DS 4 Crossback Moondust (due to its grey Platinium matte color) follows here the spring/ summer design trend of the big French fashion houses…

There is also the “Performance Line” available on all DS models, it has a black roof in combination with specific colors for the bodywork and glossy black wheels.

For Citroën, the DS3 took centre stage, an interesting car we also look forward to drive…

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Honda presented its new Civic, it was first seen as an engineless prototype in Geneva last year, and it is now, Brexit or not, built in Swindon, UK,  by the 3,600-strong workforce for 70 markets around the world… The sporting Type R version is a Nürburgring record breaker, and of course we are also keen to drive the Civic soon…

Kia comes on strong…

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In these columns, so far Kia has not appeared so far, and it is about (high) time it does. You all have noticed how well styled they are, thanks to designer Peter Schreyer, now Chief Design Officer at Kia Motors.

Did you know also that Albert Biermann – the man who used to head up BMW’s M Division – is in charge of vehicle testing and high performance development for Kia?

We looked on the show at the compact Rio. Highlight was also the hybrid crossover Niro, which made its Belgian debut at the show.

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There was also the EV Soul and last but not least the Optima plug-in hybrid. We will soon take a closer (test drive) look at these cars, and have booked for now a test with the cee’d 1.6 CRDI SW. Kia is coming up strong, did you know that they have 435,316 cars sold in Europe last year, representing year-on-year growth of 13.1%?

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Slovakian-built Kia models are now accounting for 55.7% of Kia’s European sales. Kia Motors Slovakia produces three model lines at its Žilina plant: the Sportage, Venga compact MPV, and the cee’d family (comprising five-door cee’d hatchback and cee’d Sportswagon, and the three-door pro_cee’d).

Recently, the top of the range Stinger took centre stage in Detroit: it received an EyesOn Design award for Production Car Design Excellence at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. More on this Stinger in a separate report.

Of course, there is still a lot more, as things go very fast. We suggest you look click on the “car news” category on our site for more news,

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and keep an eye on our comments on the forthcoming auto shows…in the meantime, just look at the photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

2017 Brussels Motor Show has interesting news… Part 1

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Futuristic dashboard and instrument cluster of the Tesla Model X… are promises kept by E-cars? 

Our beloved Brussels Motor Show is now in its 95th edition and focuses this year on light commercial vehicles, motorcycles, but also on the passenger car front there is much interesting news… We report here on our tour of the show, focusing on what’s new and interesting, and let you also enjoy the photos!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We started our tour on the Tesla stand, where we stood eye to eye with their interesting Model X. A good occasion to get acquainted with the brand, as we have never driven a Tesla so far. We had a long and lively in depth discussion with a charming Tesla representative about the merits of E-power, stressing again the need for a dense recharging network to make E-cars a thoroughly practical proposition. It is a well known fact that the “official” range of E-cars is virtually halved in winter conditions, making them rather difficult to use regularly without frequent recharging.

They promised to get in touch with us, and we are looking forward to drive a Tesla – and use one for a few days to test out their range, which is impressive on paper at least.

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We strolled further to the BMW stand, where E-power is also very much in the spotlight. We drove the “long range” i3 recently, and soon we will report you about our findings. Star of the show here was the latest generation 5 series. The new car has the looks, and indeed is, as BMW puts it, “the embodiment of the modern business saloon.” It is quite athletic, well proportioned as is crammed with state of the art technology, delivering on top of all that the so legendary driving pleasure so typical for BMW.

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Virtual instrumentation is also the rule at BMW… but retains the typical lettering of the brand… 

We admired again the high-quality setting of the interior, and the driver is pampered with all the modern driving aids, inboard electronics and connectivity.

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The big centrally placed screen keeps the BMW 5 series driver informed… 

Needless to say that we are anxious to drive one in the coming months…

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There was also the European Premiere of the Mini Countryman, and here on the photo you see the Plug-in hybrid version, the Mini Cooper S E Countryman all 4. The Mini is an all time hit, and BMW succeeds in combining ever more interesting technology with the iconic panache of the Mini, making it a very desirable car indeed. Driving a Mini is also synonymous to tons of driving pleasure, and this, we would say, throughout the range. So this one is also on our list for driving this year!

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Dramatic both in styling and technology is the Lexus LC 500h, a sophisticated and luxurious coupé. Lexus states it is built by Takumi craftspeople, with 20+ years of experience…

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It has the 3,5 litre V6 Hybrid engine, coupled to world’s first 10-speed Multi Stage Hybrid transmission, a powerful electric motor coupled to Lithium-ion battery pack, and sprints in about 5 seconds to 100 kmh. Available around mid 2017, and it will certainly be one of the test drive highlights of the year…

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We also spotted the Toyota CH-R, remarkable with its adventurous styling, a very interesting hybrid crossover which we will drive for you end of March. Stay tuned!

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There were quite a few stars to be admired at the Audi stand, with the new Q2, the still newer Q5 and last but not least the world premiere of the S5 cabrio.

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We just show you here some photos, and you agree that the restyling is very well done and the already well proportioned cabrio stays stunningly attractive for years to come.

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Audi Import Director Didier Willems and PR Officer Sofie Luyckx are unveiling the elegant S5 cabrio…

The A4 Avant g-tron and TT RS Coupé are having a Belgian première, with the Audi S5 Coupé, A5 Sportback, Q2 en Q5 making in Brussels their Belgian show debut. We saw a lot of smiling faces at the Audi stand, as the brand has done very well last year on the Belgian market.

More to come in following reports…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A sensational luxury-class coupé: the Mercedes-Maybach 6

Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6: Studie eines extravaganten Coupés der Luxusklasse; 2016 ; Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6: Study of an ultra-stylish luxury-class coupé; 2016;

Sometimes, designers have a vision. Aimed at the future, but rooted in history and glorious tradition. The men and women of Mercedes thus created a 2+2‑seater which is a homage to the glorious age of the aero coupés. This sleek coupé reinterprets classic, emotional design principles in an extreme way, following the Mercedes design philosophy of sensual purity.

This car celebrated its premiere at the latest edition of the Pebble Beach special beauty contest.

The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, which measures almost six metres in length, is designed as an electric car. The drive system has an output of 550 kW (750 hp). The shallow underfloor battery allows a range of over 500 kilometres according to the NEDC (over 200 miles according to EPA).

We just show you the stunning pictures here and tell you more about the car…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “A sensational luxury-class coupé: the Mercedes-Maybach 6”