We drove the Kia Rio T-GDI 120 Hp: the delight of agile power…


We have a weak spot for compact cars, as they are wonderfully nimble, easy and entertaining to steer through dense traffic and over curvy roads, and hold increasingly their own on fast motorways. Such a car is also the Kia Rio, equipped with marvelous new three cylinder engine, and a lot more excellent qualities. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the Mazda3 III Hatchback 1.5 Skyactiv-G: cleverness reaches for the sky…


We were already quite impressed by Mazda’s SKyactiv combustion technology, and the latest Mazda3 we tested convinced us even more. Its 1,5 liter petrol engine is not only smooth and powerful, it displays a frugality beyond belief. Besides that, the car itself is also worth every penny, when it comes to looks, ergonomics, last but not least the way it drives and handles. Just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI S Tronic Quattro 252 HP: the magic of four rings continues…


Audis are engineered and build to perfection, and this simple fact is again convincingly shown by the latest Q5 we drove here for you. Audi has produced some marvelous petrol engines, and the stratified fuel injection concept has been tried and tested in Le Mans racing by the brand already years ago. This vast (racing) experience shows of course in the series product. This 2 liter petrol engine truly stands out, as does the whole car by the way. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Audi has plans for two new Q models over the next two years…

Static photo, Color: Krypton Orange
The new Q8 looks quite dramatic in Krypton Orange, and will seduce many…

Audi is to expand its portfolio with two new Q-models and has also told us where they will be built: Production of the Audi Q8 will start in Bratislava (Slovakia) in 2018 and the first Audi Q4 will drive off the assembly line in Győr (Hungary) in 2019.

With the Audi Q8, the brand will open up a new segment for its top-end models. The premium SUV is executed in a coupe style, combining space with appealing design. It will offer of course the latest in driver assistance and infotainment systems. Audi will produce the model in Bratislava as of 2018. As you know, the Audi Q7 has already been produced at the Slovakian plant since 2005.

Meanwhile, the second generation of the large SUV is in production there, as an S version and as the Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid.

In 2019, production of the Audi Q4 will start at Audi Hungaria in Győr. With this model, the brand is entering the segment of compact utility vehicles (CUVs). The very sporty Audi Q4 with its typical coupe-style silhouette will be positioned between the Audi Q3 and Q5. Remarkable is also that from 2018 onwards, Audi Hungaria will also be responsible for production of the Audi Q3 compact SUV, which until then will continue to be produced in Martorell, Spain.

Hans Knol ten Bensel


We drove the Toyota C-HR: hybrid urban beauty…


Toyota gives its hybrid range extra zest with a dramatically styled urban newcomer: the C-HR. We not only liked its shape and contours, we also loved the way it performs and drives, amply proving the vast experience Toyota has gained in building petrol engined hybrids. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Our cars: soon we will drive our Volvo 850 estate from Volvo Ghent to Torslanda…


Volvo 850 voor kerk Eizeringensm30

Faithful readers know that our Volvo 850 estate is already quite some years with us. If you missed it, just read our report on our previous site autoprova.net. Besides, we let you look again at the photos of our Volvo here, and you will agree it still looks pretty good indeed.

It still soldiers on reliably, and recently passed the official Belgian technical control and safety test again with flying colours, living proof of the saying that “Volvo’s are for life”.

To reward it for its two decades of faithful service, we decide to take it from the Ghent factory, where our was born in 1995, to the Torslanda plant, where 850 Volvo’s were then also assembled. This will be done in a few weeks from the moment of writing, and we will open on our site a “travelvlog”, so we can report you extensively on this trip. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Why we love the Volvo 850…

Like many other Volvo 850 enthusiasts, we like it first and foremost for the way it drives and performs. It was built on the so-called Volvo P80 platform, which was engineered for mid-size sedans with front wheel drive and was adapted to all wheel drive. This platform was used from 1991 to 2005, and built not less than 1,3 million times. It was seen also in the S70 and V70, and with modifications by TWR, also in the C70 coupé.

Volvo 850 sel 2sm

It still feels quite modern, with its excellent handling and surefootedness. Mc. Pherson struts are front, with Volvo’s patented Deltalink suspension for the rear axle. Despite its size, a total length of 4,7 meters, the turning circle is merely 10,2 meter. So it is quite maneuverable also in town…

Its interior is quite spacious with of course excellent Volvo seats, with outstanding ergonomic comfort, fit for very long trips indeed. Another forte is the comfortable suspension.

The heart of any car is its engine, and this is where the 850 truly counts. It is the five cylinder version of Volvo’s modular engine family, which it started to build in 1990 right up to…2016. Now you know why the engine of our Volvo still feels so modern! This engine generation was built in 4, 5 and 6 cylinder versions, with capacities ranging from 1,6 to 2,9 liters. Both cylinder head and block are aluminum, and it has DOHC valvetrain, of course.

Volvo 850 sel 3sm

Our 850 estate has the B5252FS engine, which is a 2.4 L (2,435 cc) straight-five. It is naturally aspirated and it is equipped with Siemens Fenix 5.2 engine management. Bore is 83 mm (3.3 in) and stroke is 90 mm (3.5 in) with a compression ratio of 10.0:1. It is naturally aspirated, and delivers 144 PS (106 kW; 142 hp) at 5400 rpm with 206 N·m (152 lb·ft) of torque at 3600 rpm. It is coupled to the five speed manual, ideally suited to the engine’s characteristics. Indeed, this unit likes to rev a bit, and the close ratio gears keep it beautifully on song.

Performance is quite inspiring, with acceleration from 0 to 100 in 10 seconds, top speed being 205 kmh. Despite its boxy shape, the 850 is quite aerodynamic, with the 850 R, the superfast Turbo version, being equipped with a rear spoiler, having a drag coefficient of merely 0,29 (!). Our 850 is therefore a quite fast cruiser, keeping up easily with anything that rolls out of the factory doors nowadays.

The styling of the 850 is pretty timeless, and the car is very well proportioned, certainly the estate version. The masterful hand of designer Jan Wilsgaard, who was the chief designer of Volvo Cars from as early as 1950 to 1990, was responsible for all this.  He designed the Amazon, 145, 760 and 850 series, and also the iconic estate versions of these cars. He is also responsible for the beautiful P1800 ES. No small wonder that he was one of the twenty-five designers nominated for Car Designer of the Century…

The engine was built by Volvo Powertrain AB (a company within the Volvo Group) for Volvo Cars. It saw life in one of the world’s largest automotive foundries in Swedish Skövde, Volvo being one of Skövde’s largest employers. Skövde is situated some 150 km northeast of Gothenburg, between Sweden’s two largest lakes, Vänern and Vättern.The plant is also known worldwide for being AB Volvo’s biggest producer of industrial diesel engines (Volvo Powertrain AB also produces blocks, cylinder heads and flywheels as well as engine mounts and disk brakes).

The companies together produced over half a million engines per year in Skövde and combined had over 4000 permanent employees (2100 employees at Volvo Powertrain and 2008 at Volvo Skövde in 2011).

Soon we will tell you more about the route we have chosen for the trip, and who we will meet both in Ghent and Torslanda plants…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the VW Multivan 2,0 TDI Flower Power: happiness is wherever you go…


If you think joy is hardly found anymore in our modern times, then just climb behind the wheel of this Flower Power Volkswagen, and surprise yourself. Not only will put this Multivan a smile on your face, you will meet joy and happiness at every corner of your voyage. We were never literally stopped by ecstatic housewifes and girls before, climbing off their bikes or stepping out of their cars, and grabbing their smartphones to take pictures of “our” Multivan.

This car brings joy to your life, and that of many others…Just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Volvo Cars suggests governments and car industry should share safety-related traffic data…

Håkan Samuelsson - President & CEO, Volvo Car Group
Håkan Samuelsson – President & CEO, Volvo Car Group, advocating real time sharing of car data with other drivers for better safety…

It was in the cards: with our vehicles detecting road conditions electronically through their driving assistance systems, it was only logical that these data could be send via the cloud to other drivers. This is something Volvo has paid attention to already two years ago, and is now a standard feature on Volvo’ sold in Sweden.

Recently the first “1st European Conference on Connected and Automated Driving”was held  in Brussels at the European Commission. Here Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, asked governments and car makers to join hands in sharing traffic data in order to improve global traffic safety.

Slippery road alert with graphics
Slippery road alert, where the car in front sends the slippery road surface data it registred  via the cloud to upcoming cars… in real time! This is already standard on Volvo’s sold in Sweden…

Indeed, sharing anonymised data related to traffic safety in real time can provide a strong boost to overall traffic safety while safeguarding the privacy of individual road users, Mr Samuelsson said. Volvo started doing exactly this in Sweden and Norway two years ago, in collaboration with local authorities.

An excellent practice, which should be adopted all over Europe, we should think…We tell you here somewhat more about it.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Volvo is sharing data since 2015…

In 2015, Volvo Cars started a collaboration on sharing safety data with the road administration authorities in Sweden and Norway. Via a cloud based network, all Volvo cars in a certain area share anonymized information about road friction from their anti-skid systems. The info is transferred in real time to other Volvo drivers notifying them of icy road conditions. The same information will be shared with road administrations so that they quickly can address icy road conditions.

Hazard light alert with graphics
Hazard light alert is already standard on all SPA cars sold in Sweden…

The same approach is used to warn drivers when another vehicle turns on its hazard lights, which may indicate a potential dangerous situation on the road ahead. These technologies, Slippery Road Alert and Hazard Light Alert, are standard on all SPA-based vehicles on sale in Sweden and Norway: the XC90, S90, V90, V90 Cross Country and the new XC60.

Developing a regulatory framework for autonomous cars…

Volvo XC90 Drive Me test vehicle
Volvo XC90 Drive Me test vehicle

Of course, there is also the very important matter of autonomous driving. Volvo Cars underlines here the need to put safety first when developing a regulatory framework for autonomous cars. When it comes to autonomous driving, it is for Volvo important that the user interface is crystal clear about the role of the driver.

Mr. Samuelsson expressed his concern about the so-called “Level 3” autonomous driving modes. “In this mode the car is in charge of the driving, yet the driver must still be prepared to take over in case of emergency, which could be a matter of a few seconds. Volvo considers this Level 3 driving mode unsafe and will thus skip this level of autonomous driving,” he said.

Consequently, when Volvo launches its first autonomous cars in 2021, they will be at Level 4, in other words completely unsupervised on applicable roads. This means that these cars will be able to manage emergency situations and bring the car into a safe state by itself without driver interaction and that Volvo will assume liability while the car is in autonomous mode.

The discussion is now only beginning, but we can say here that the Volvo point of view is quite logical and exemplary. We will follow the developments in these columns…

Hans Knol ten Bensel


New Range Rover Velar unveiled “in the flesh” in a Brussels Church…


We were very keen to see the new Velar after Geneva in our country, and Land Rover chose a rather dramatic setting for it.

Indeed, as Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Chief Design Officer puts it, this is a new type of Range Rover, sitting between the Evoque and the Sport, being from design a truly avant-garde Range Rover.

We just show you the pictures and a short film here,

Hans Knol ten Bensel


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We drove the Mercedes-AMG E 43 4MATIC Saloon: your sporting star in city dress…


There are few brands which possess the art of combining sportiness with outstanding comfort and present it in a package which is the ultimate in workmanship and quality, and on top of that design a body which evokes the panache and pedigree of the legendary star.

Mercedes has succeeded again to do all this in the latest E 43 AMG, and we spent some very memorable days with it, reaching great heights in automotive experience.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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