Volvo brings its XC40 to the Brussels Show…and meets avid buyers.

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On the introduction of the XC40 at the Brussels Show, Managing Director of Volvo Belux, Wim Maes, commented on future plans and commercial results…

In November last year, the production of Volvo Cars’ first ever small premium SUV started off at the Volvo Cars plant in Ghent. The car is meeting great interest, and indeed orders are streaming in by the thousands already.

With the XC40, Volvo completes its SUV line-up, and gets a firm foothold in the fastest growing segment of the automotive industry. Together with the XC60 and de XC90, Volvo has a strong set of cards indeed in this segment…

We saw the XC40 for the first time “in the flesh” here, and indeed it looks pleasing and well balanced.

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At the presentation of the XC40, managing director of Volvo Belux, Mr. Wim Maes, commented on the car and the commercial results and perspectives of Volvo both globally and for the Belgian market, together with the Managing Director of the Ghent plant, Eric Van Landeghem.

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Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Volvo brings its XC40 to the Brussels Show…and meets avid buyers.”

Brussels Motor Show 2018: witnessing the European Premiere of the BMW X2…

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Needing some extra photos of BMW people we interviewed, and of which you will read much more soon on these columns, we took the occasion to witnessing the remarkable premiere of the BMW X2 on the Brussels Show.

It was a stunning spectacle, and we just show you here the photos we took, just to let you get a “feel” of what was happening on the BMW stand on January 15 at palace 7 of the Show.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Already since the press day, on Wednesday 10 january, the countdown to the premiere was started off, by pushing a red button by Jean-Philippe Parain, Senior Vice-President Sales Europe BMW (left) and Peter Henrich, President and CEO of BMW Group Belux.

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We show you here also the last minutes and seconds of the countdown, where already two all white painted male dancers took centre stage,

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with an enormous spider-mannequin tucking discreetly behind the curtains of the stand, to prepare his performance…

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A dancer all painted in gold then entered the central stage, wrapped also in a long gold curtain, awaiting the last seconds, and then with a baseball bat virtually broke the windows so to speak, to reveal the blue and yellow colored BMW’s.

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But before the final curtain fell, there was still a performance act with the long legged enormously impressive spider-mannequin and the two white painted dancers.

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A stunning show, which amply reveals how much care and attention automotive brands invest in presenting their products…

Right after the introduction, the automotive press assailed the BMW PR people, and here Corporate Communications Manager Christophe Weerts is answering questions…

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Soon we will report further on what was to be seen at the Brussels show, alongside with the interesting interviews and talks we had, as we announced you in the previous post.

So stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

We drove the Kia Optima SW PHEV: the joys of clever propulsion…

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They are coming our way in increasing numbers: the plug in hybrids, and rightly so. They bring the environmental friendliness of “pure” E power, combined with the unlimited action range and economy of a hybrid, with the added bonus of charging through the grid. The Kia engineers also decided to have a go, and put forward the stylish Optima, also in the estate version. We truly enjoyed it, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Kia Optima SW PHEV: the joys of clever propulsion…”

Renault re-invents car traveling with the SYMBIOZ…

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Renault presents a new demo car, which embodies a car that is in real-life conditions autonomous, electric and connected.

The result is a whole new life-on-board experience and as much pleasure while driving as with hands off the steering wheel.

Sitting in the SYMBIOZ, the driver can automate driving and use travel time for other activities. Renault believes that car travel will become a multi-sensory, personalized experience, with a cabin reconfigured differently for each driving mode. The car becomes part of the personal ecosystem for both driver and passenger.

Renault SYMBIOZ demo car showcases design elements –both interior and exterior– and key autonomous driving and connectivity technologies that will be progressively deployed in the range in the coming years.

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Taking your mind off…

The Renault SYMBIOZ demo car is equipped with level 4 autonomous driving technology,known as “mind-off”. What this means in practice: no need to pay even a minimum of attention to the road.

The car itself is capable of maintaining safety or moving to a safe position. Thanks to the combined engineering, automated driving,and geo-positioning expertise of Renault, IAV and TomTom, the Renault SYMBIOZ Demo car is capable —on authorized highways—of adjusting its speed to maintain safe distances with surrounding cars, of staying in its lane even when cornering, of safely changing lanes (to overtake another car or exit the highway, for example), and of navigating autonomously in traffic jams

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Renault SYMBIOZ demo car is connected to road infrastructures in the Sanef network (Sanef is a subsidiary of the Albertis group, the world’s leading highway operator). The car passes automatically through toll gates and is warned in advance of any hazards ahead including roadworks, accidents, congestion, or a turn for the worse in the weather

It shows its colors…and is made for easy life

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To announce its presence and let other drivers know they’re sharing the road with an automated vehicle, Renault SYMBIOZ demo car lights up in blue when the autonomous driving mode is activated.

More than a slogan, Easy Life is the philosophy Renault has cultivated for years now, thanks to its people-centric innovations. The SYMBIOZ demo car onboard connectivity system allows driver and passengers uninterrupted access to their digital lives and offers a wide range of services, all the better to make use of their new-found time on the road.

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Always connected…

Occupants of the car are identified by their smartphone regardless of where they are sitting.

The smartphone interacts with the SYMBIOZ human-machine interface to adjust personalized functions such as preferred seat settings, air-conditioning settings, and music preferences.

Thanks to a full suite of connectivity features (GPS, 4G, Wi-Fi), occupants enjoy permanent access to their digital environment, media, networks, and services. The driver’s smartphone synchronizes with the SYMBIOZ demo car to allow access the personal calendars, trip itinerary and information about tourist attractions in the vicinity.

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Onboard the SYMBIOZ demo car the “mind-off” experience expands even further, thanks to the virtual reality options designed by our partner Ubisoft and available while traveling in autonomous mode. Wearing virtual reality headset and with the seat inclined in “zero gravity” position, the driver plunges into an immersive and contemplative world, fully relaxed and detached from the pressures of the road.

French design and impressive performance…

The Renault SYMBIOZ demo car’s exterior design is intrinsically aligned with Renault’s signature “French Design” styling: sensual and warm, with fluid lines and a dynamic presence accentuated by the “champagne” body color in a pearlescent finish.

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As a 100% electric vehicle, the Renault SYMBIOZ demo car takes its place in the long-game strategy of Renault’s zero-emissions commitment. This vehicle is the fruit of more than a century of work in automotive engineering

The Renault SYMBIOZ demo car delivers a maximum power of 500 kW and a peak torque of 660 Nm. The two electric motors are located on the rear axle, and are powered by a battery pack with a 72 kWh capacity.

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Accelerations are breathtaking, with 0 to 100 achieved in 6 seconds. 500 km autonomy is possible in real life conditions and batteries are charged up tp 80 pct in 30 minutes.

Feeling at home

When connected to the digital life of the user, the Renault SYMBIOZ demo car becomes an extension of the home. The traditional divides separating the car from the home and workplace are blurring…

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The journey starts at home: the Renault SYMBIOZ demo car communicates with your devices (tablet, TV, smartphone or PC) to update you on the status of the vehicle and your next journey. Once on the road, you can access security cameras, adjust thermostats, or control devices and connected appliances at home.

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Parked inside the house in its dedicated spot, the Renault SYMBIOZ demo car shows us that the automobile can play an increasingly important and integrated role in our daily lives.  With the ‘valet parking’ function activated by a simple call from a smartphone or smartwatch, the empty Renault SYMBIOZ demo car leaves its parking spot to come pick up passengers inside or in front of the house.

A brave new world for Renault, and for us!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

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

 

 

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

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…”

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

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”

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…”