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

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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…”

The Fiat 500 is more popular than ever in Europe…

The cute, lovable, timelessly iconic “Cinquecento” conquers European car loving hearts ever more: last year, almost 194,000 units were registered in Europe: the best ever annual figure in an eleven-year lifetime.

This makes the 500 the best-seller in 11 European countries, and in the top three in another four.

One of the keys to its success are the more than 30 special series. Novelties for 2018 included the new special series: 500 Mirror, 500 Collezione “Primavera”, 500 Spiaggina ’58 and 500 Collezione “Autunno”. Not to forget of course the new Abarth 595 range, the evolution of the Scorpion brand’s famous 500.

The 500 sets another record for the best-selling car in its segment, where it has also achieved its second best ever share of about 15%.

“This sales record reminds us that the 500 is a real timeless automotive icon, and not just for the Fiat brand,” declares Luca Napolitano, Head of EMEA Fiat and Abarth brand.  “Over its 11-year lifetime, the 500 has never gone out of fashion, and has been successful everywhere as a symbol of Italian and design and manufacturing.

“Like its illustrious predecessor, the new 500 has “brightened up” the daily lives and streets of the whole world, becoming a cool solution to international urban mobility needs”, he continued.

“Today it is the most global Fiat car, sold in more than 100 countries worldwide and with 80% of volumes generated outside Italy. Overall, from 2007 to the present, more than 2 million 110 thousand Fiat 500 cars have been built, rising to more than 6 million when added to those of the model’s predecessor, produced from 1957 to 1977, making it one of the best-selling Fiat models of all time”.

 

Displayed now in the New York MoMa…

The Fiat 500 F series will officially go on public display from February 10, 2019, as part of The Museum of Modern Art’s “The Value of Good Design” exhibition in New York.

To crown the achievements of 2018, a truly wonderful year, last December it was announced that on 10 February, during the “The Value of Good Design”, exhibition, the historic Fiat 500 F series car purchased by the MoMA in New York, will be put on public display for the first time, confirming its symbolic importance on the global design scene.

Sales success also for the Abarth 595…

We ourselves just love the “Cinquecento”, and its many versions. We hope to present you soon with some of them, and last but not least there is the new Abarth 595 range.

In October, in fact, the Sicilian capital hosted the debut of this latest incarnation of the famous Scorpion 500, expressing the two sides of its personality: performance and style. The new Abarth 595 was unveiled to an audience of fans during the Classic re-evocation of the legendary “Targa Florio”, the world’s oldest motorsports race. As you all know, Karl Abarth was closely associated with the Targa Florio, starting right after the War, as Sicily’s winding roads seem to be tailor-made for showing off his racing cars’ qualities. So the Scorpion and the Targa share a close bond, and a history of racing successes and memorable anecdotes.

“With around 23,500 cars sold in Europe and an increase of 36.5%, Abarth is achieving the best result in 2018,” explains Luca Napolitano, responsible for Fiat and Abarth for the EMEA region. “The results were excellent for numerous markets, such as Great Britain, with 5,600 units sold, with a record increase of 26.8%, or even more Spain, with 1,450 sales (+ 26.6%). On the Belux market, the brand also achieved a brilliant performance in 2018, with 1,452 units sold, an increase of 27% compared to 2017!

We hope to seduce you when spring comes, to treat you with our driving impressions of this totally iconic and sporting 595 Abarth, and of course you will welcome with us a test drive of the other versions of this timelessly endearing “Cinquecento”…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We spoke with Charlie Cooper, the grandson of one of the founding fathers of modern motorsport…

If there is a man who played a pivotal role in the evolvement and development of Formula One and motorsports as we know it, then it is John Cooper, who founded the Cooper Car Company with his father Charles, just after the Second World War.  The company started regular production of rear-engined 500cc cars in 1948.

It was Moss’s victory in the 1958 Argentinean Grand Prix that would really put the company from Surbiton firmly on the map. Moss was contracted to the Vanwall team for that year, but delays in adapting their engines to run on new fuels caused them not enter the race. Moss accepted the offer from Rob Walker to drive his privately entered 2.0-liter Cooper in the event.

In the end, the small Cooper’s good handling and the driving skill of Moss, saw them finish ahead of Luigi Musso’s Ferrari by just 2.7 seconds after 80 laps of racing. The racing world was surprised, Ferrari and Maserati had been defeated!

We spoke with at the celebration of 60 year MINI at the BMW stand on the Brussels Show with Charles Cooper, and you can read here more about this great conversation we both had.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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MINI celebrates 60 years anniversary at the Brussels Motor Show 2019

The MINI stand at the Brussels Motor Show 2019 is dedicated entirely to an important anniversary. It is the scene of the world premiere of the MINI 60 Years Edition. 60 years on, MINI presents a model program to the Brussels Motor Show visitors from 19 to 27 January that offers a modern interpretation of the brand’s core properties. It ranges from the first MINI to feature an electric motor through to the extremely sporty John Cooper Works models.

Anniversary design model: the MINI 60 Years Edition.

With its exclusive design and equipment features, the MINI 60 Years Edition – to be shown in public for the first time in Brussels – authentically expresses the traditional sporting spirit and British origins of the brand.

A distinctive appearance is ensured by the body colour British Racing Green, a contrasting finish on the roof and exterior mirror caps, bonnet stripes in a specific anniversary design and 17-inch light alloy wheels in the version 60 Years Spoke 2-tone. The anniversary logo also appears on the side scuttles, door sill finishers, front headrests as well as in the LED logo projection on the driver’s side. In addition the exclusive design model has model-specific interior trim finishers.

The standard equipment of the edition vehicles also features a sports leather steering wheel as well as sports seats in the leather trim MINI Yours Leather Lounge 60 Years and the exclusive colour Dark Maroon. The MINI 60 Years Edition will be available from March 2019 onwards as a MINI 3 door and MINI 5 door, each with four engine variants.

But there is more, we also interviewed on the MINI stand in Brussels Charlie Coorper, the grandson of the famous founder of Cooper Car Company. Read further in these columns!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

The many faces and talents of the Fiat Panda…

Fit for wintery weather: the award winning Panda Cross… 

Presently we are driving a smooth and refined 1,4 liter Fiat Tipo Hatchback, and are impressed by its many qualities. It makes you again clearly realize that FCA products are going from strength to strength in engineering excellence, workmanship and driving pleasure.

These thoughts just led us to focus here on the iconic Panda, which has been making its mark in the auto world for 30 years now. It has had some impressive firsts: it was the first city car to have 4WD technology, the first city car to reach an altitude of 5,200m and attain the Everest base camp, as well as being the first natural gas fuelled city car to be produced on a large scale.

Just recently the Fiat Panda Cross has once again won the Crossover category in this year’s 4×4 Magazine ‘4×4 of the Year 2019 awards’. Judges praised it for its lively engine, traction finding ability and fun factor, never failing to put a smile on their faces. Alan Kidd, editor of 4×4 Magazine, commented “I don’t think there is any vehicle that won its class so consistently down the years, as the Panda Cross. It has been wonderfully consistent in what it offers – while also getting better all the time.”

Green and versatile: the Panda CNG… emitting just 97 g / km CO². 

Dominique Fontiginies, the dynamic PR Manager of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium, pointed out today in his press release that with more than 750,000 natural gas vehicles sold in Europe, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the undisputed market leader in CNG technology. Rightly so, as one knows that the cars with CNG engine (operating on natural gas) are currently the most effective solution to reduce pollution in the city and to strongly reduce CO² emissions. Indeed, with this type of engine, CO2 emissions are as much as 23 percent lower than with petrol engines, while the emission of fine soot particles is virtually nil.

He presented in today’s release the merits of the Panda CNG, powered by a 900 cc two-cylinder turbo petrol engine with 70hp, emitting just 97 g / km CO². This four wheeled city hero is by no means Spartan: The Panda, equipped as standard with ABS brake system, ESP, 6 airbags and a tire pressure control system, also offers a very ergonomic seating comfort and equipment that includes Uconnect Bluetooth radio, central door locking with remote control, air conditioning and electric windows in front.

The Fiat Panda CNG is available on the network of official Fiat distributors from € 13,490 VATI (€ 13,044 in Luxembourg).

In this wintery weather, we would indeed like to drive the in February or March the cute and very able 4 x 4 Panda Cross, and drive into spring behind the wheel of a Panda CNG… and we join here above the sunny picture joined by Mr. Fontignies in his release!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

2020 Lexus RC F and RC F track edition make their debut in Detroit

Whilst eagerly awaiting the delivery of our dark blue Lexus CT 200h, there is more joyful news on the Lexus front, with these two stunning Lexus models, targeted at those with a sporting heart.

Freshly updated for the 2020 model year, the RC F coupe now boasts improved performance, revised styling and an all-new, limited production Track Edition, which is called in our country RC F GT. It will be available in Belgium from May onwards. With the introduction of this #rcftrackedition, hard core driving enthusiasts no longer have to decide between a luxury car for the street and a serious performance car for the track.

Blending the luxury and craftsmanship of #Lexus with performance upgrades typically reserved for exotic sportscars, the #rcftrackedition is capable of turning hot laps all afternoon and being driven home that night. It’s the latest milestone for the F performance brand that will continue to evolve as an important pillar of the overall strategy at #Lexus….

We tell you a bit more here, and let you take a glimpse at the truly stunning photos.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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European premiere in Brussels for the new 911 Carrera 2S and 911 Carrera 4S

In 2019, Porsche will once again be found in Palace 1 of Brussels Expo, exclusively reserved for the prestigious Dream Cars exhibition. This year this ‘expo-in-the-expo’ will be held throughout the Brussels Motor Show. After 2018, a commercially quite successful year with no less than 3,222 Porsches were registered in Belgium, Porsche presents the eighth generation of the mythical 911 in a European premiere.

Two versions are shown to the Belgian public: the 911 Carrera 2S and the 911 Carrera 4S. The impressive Porsche booth, 600 m2 in size, will undoubtedly become the main attraction of Palace 1.

11 cars on the stand

The three 911 type 992, undeniably the stars of the 97th Brussels Salon, are in good company.

The Panamera GTS and Sport Turismo are pinnacles of GT comfort, style and speed… 

Thanks to the 718 Boxster & 718 Cayman, Macan, Cayenne and Panamera, the entire Porsche range can be admired from 19 to 27 January.

Soon we tell you more about the magnificent 911 in our columns, so stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Toyota Mirai: part 2

Driving is believing, the saying goes. And at first, we almost couldn’t believe it: this Mirai just drives as smoothly and zestfully as an electric car. Which, actually, it is. Only, it does not take its electricity from batteries, but from a fuel cell. That is indeed, the major difference. This means, that you can refuel it in minutes, and then drive for another 340 kilometers or so. Just like an ordinary petrol engined car. Only it emits water, and nothing else.

Driving it was a refined and thoroughly enjoyable experience, just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the Toyota Mirai: the future has truly arrived…Part 1

What better automotive adventures than to spend the last days of the year behind the wheel of a Toyota Mirai? None, we would say. After having enjoyed the smooth and refined qualities of this Mirai – which is Japanese  (未来) for future-  we are truly convinced that Toyota has fully succeeded  to build a thoroughly stunning, reliable, useable fuel cell vehicle, which offers everyday practicality, comfort and a unique driving experience. In this first part, we show and explain its stunning technology.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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