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…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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

We drove the 5Door Fiat Tipo 1,6 120 HP Multijet: drivers’ delight with that extra space…

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Faithful readers know that the Fiat Tipo has truly impressed us already, and indeed we looked forward to an encore with a test of the five door hatchback version. Read further about our findings…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the 5Door Fiat Tipo 1,6 120 HP Multijet: drivers’ delight with that extra space…”

We drove the Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI 190 HP S Tronic : excellence was expected

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In 2007 Audi launched the A5 and set a stylish benchmark in its class. Especially the design and styling of the Coupé and Cabrio pleased many, and as a proud owner of a 3 liter TDI A5 Cabrio I count myself amongst the admirers. Honing a good car to even more appealing design and mechanical perfection is the way Audi conceives car making, and now the new generation A5 fulfills all these promises. It has a new chassis for even better handling, the engines have been improved and are smoother, more powerful and frugal, and last but not least infotainment and driver assistance systems have been further improved.

Just read on….

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI 190 HP S Tronic : excellence was expected”

The Renault Trezor wins French prize of most beautiful concept car of 2016

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The French have a gift for elegance and beauty. And we must admit that the Renault styling department is going from strength to strength lately.  The 32nd Festival Automobile International at the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, France, has singled out on January 31st the Renault TREZOR as the most beautiful concept car of 2016.

“I would like to thank the jury for this award which will inspire us to pursue our design strategy,” says Laurens van den Acker, SVP Corporate Design, Renault. “The TREZOR’s powerful, sensuous lines pave the way for the styling and technologies that will be features of our upcoming models. It also marks the beginning of a new cycle of Renault concept cars which will be revealed soon.”

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“The jury decided this award should go to the TREZOR because of the extreme beauty, sensuality and elegance it exudes,” observes Rémi Depoix, President of the Festival Automobile International. “It is the epitome of a concept car and we were notably won over by the cohesion of its overall design and the attention that has been paid to the details. It is a fine creative work which, we hope, will inspire Renault’s future roadgoing models.”

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A harbinger of the styling language of future Renaults

The lines of the Renault TREZOR are warm, sensuous and refined, while its assertive front end incorporates signature C-shaped lights. In terms of their styling, Renault’s upcoming models will draw their inspiration from the TREZOR’s DNA as their forms become even more fluid and mature.

The TREZOR’s interior design, meanwhile, places the emphasis on driving enjoyment and features a large enveloping touchscreen display that reinforces the cockpit feel. This customisable, connected interface juxtaposes warming, prestige materials like wood and leather. The interiors of upcoming Renault models will take their inspiration from these increasingly refined styling trends and connected technologies.

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For the duration of this year’s Festival International de l’Automobile, the Renault TREZOR will be on display at the Hôtel des Invalides alongside other concept cars selected by the jury.You will have to hurry though: this display will be open to the public from February 1-5, 2017. For further information, go to www.festivalautomobile.com/gb/index.php.

In the meantime, just have a look at this beauty…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

We drove the Volkswagen up! 1,0 TSI 90 High: small is truly beautiful…

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When the largest car manufacturer in the world builds a compact car, which is meant to be truly what the brand stands for, namely a “Volkswagen”, than you can expect something exceptional. Well, here it is. We were always quite fond of this smallest VW, and the 90 HP TSI version we drove here really stole our car loving heart.

It clearly showed us again how much driving pleasure a powerful, nimble car can deliver. Just read on….

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Volkswagen up! 1,0 TSI 90 High: small is truly beautiful…”

We drove the Mercedes 220d Cabriolet: beauty from Bremen…

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At the Geneva show last year, Mercedes launched the cabriolet version for its present C Class, and this harmonious looking open air four seater is produced at the Bremen plant, rounding off the Bremen-made C-Class family, so far including Saloon, Estate and Coupé. We drove the very efficient and quite powerful 4-cylinder diesel version, marrying frugality and economy with the opulent panache of open air driving, combined with the aura of luxury the brand for which the three-pointed star has become so famous for…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Driving a cabriolet in autumn and winter might be a little – literally – over the top, but then you have not experienced the sophistication and comfort of a Mercedes cabrio. Indeed, the Mercedes engineers have taken things a bit further by introducing  AIRCAP and AIRSCARF. We drove this Mercedes indeed more than often open in sunny cold days, and enjoyed the clever system to the full.

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Inconspicuously integrated into the roof frame, the electric AIRCAP draught stop system is coupled to an electric draught stop behind the rear seats, which reduces the interior turbulence also for the rear passengers at the press of a button.

AIRCAP comes as part of the Cabriolet Comfort package, which also includes AIRSCARF neck-level heating for the driver and front passenger. (see photo above) We truly found it impressive. The attention to detail goes really very far: with the soft top down, the climate control system adapts by, for example, blowing warmer air onto the driver’s hands on the steering wheel and deactivating the air recirculation function.

Creature comfort

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Besides keeping you warm, Mercedes seats and ergonomics make you feel really at home. An ideal seating position is quickly found, thanks to the electric adjustment via the seat symbols at the seat base, an easy and logical solution which should be adopted in every car, we would think.

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The classic dials smile at you, and all the levers and knobs are easy at hand. The centre console houses the round selector for navigation and infotainment, and we certainly enjoyed the sound system. Mercedes installed a so-called “Frontbass” system, which uses the space within the cross-member and side member in the body structure as a resonance chamber for the bass speakers. The sound system has a centrally placed slot for your CD’s and yes, we loved that…

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The rear seats are in the form of individual seats. Their backrests offer a through-loading feature, can be split 50:50 for high everyday practicality and can be completely folded down.

The soft top is based on the S-Class Cabriolet, and meets the same high quality standards in terms of durability and function.

Moreover, it opens and closes in less than 20 seconds up to a speed of 50 km/h. In terms of its shape and colour, the cover of the soft-top compartment is an integral part of the interior and is made of the same material as the beltline.

Quite frankly, when closed, the level of (sound) comfort and insulation is the same as a fixed head coupé. Our test car came with the acoustic soft top option, by the way.

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Mercedes comfort is of course also coming from a well balanced suspension. This open tourer has it all. The suspension on the Cabriolet, which is 15 millimetres lower in comparison with the Saloon, comes as standard with steel springs with a selective damping system. This lets you choose for example a more dynamic setting… An optional sports suspension with firmer springing and damping, including the Sports Direct-Steer system, makes for even more agile handling.

Driveline perfection

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The mechanical refinement is also one of the hallmarks of every Mercedes, and this 220d is no exception. The well known 120 kW/163 HP four cylinder 2143 cc engine is powerful and frugal, and quite well refined. It is pulling quite well with 400 Nm of torque, and is ideally matched to the 9 G-Tronic auto box. Yes, you read it well, 9 speeds, and this makes the combination ideal in any driving circumstance. Constant speed consumption is very low indeed, in real life, a fuel consumption between 5 and 6 litres is quite feasible. The manufacturer quotes 4,8 litres as the average, with performance to match. 0 to 100 kmh is slightly more than 8 seconds, and top speed is in the region of 230 kmh.

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We are totally smitten by the excellent Distronic cruise control system, one of the best in the industry, making long distance driving as well as low speed crawls on city boulevards effortless and pleasant.

Conclusion

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If you want a stylish, (very) well made four seater open tourer to be your four wheeled companion for years to come, you are well advised to take the route towards one of the showrooms of the oldest car manufacturer of the world, and slide behind the wheel of this 220d. We bet that this will be the beginning of a very long love affair, which will take you to many beautiful parts of this wide world… We certainly regretted to part from this Mercedes!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

New Porsche 911 GTS models give you more power…

911 Targa 4 GTS, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet und 911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Targa 4 GTS, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet und 911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Targa 4 GTS, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet und 911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Targa 4 GTS, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet und 911 Carrera 4 GTS

Porsche is expanding the 911 model line with five new GTS models: from March 2017, the following versions will be available: the 911 Carrera GTS with rear-wheel drive, the 911 Carrera 4 GTS with all-wheel drive – both available as a Coupé and Cabriolet – and the 911 Targa 4 GTS with all-wheel drive. The newly developed 3.0-liter flat-six cylinder with larger turbochargers delivers 450 horsepower, which is 30 horsepower more than the current 911 Carrera S and 20 horsepower above the previous, naturally-aspirated GTS model. All GTS variants are equipped as standard with a seven-speed manual transmission. The seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual-clutch transmission is available as an option, with the manual seven speed gearbox being standard equipment.

Interieur 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet
Interior 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet

…delivering even greater performance

550 Nm of torque further improves acceleration and responsiveness. Maximum torque is available between 2150 and 5000 rpm. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is included as standard on all GTS models. The GTS Coupés still feature the PASM Sport Suspension, which drops the ride height by 0.39 inches (10 millimeters)compared to the PASM suspension, which is standard on all 911 models including the Cabriolet and Targa variants of the GTS.

911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Carrera 4 GTS

When equipped with the optional PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) transmission, the Carrera 4 GTS Coupé takes just 3.6 seconds to reach 100 km per hour. This is what we call superfast!

The 911 GTS Coupé with manual transmission and rear-wheel drive is capable of 312 kph, but rest assured, all GTS models are faster than 300 kph…

911 Carrera 4 GTS
911 Carrera 4 GTS

Typically GTS: Black elements mean business…

The GTS models distinguish themselves within the 911 model line not only in terms of technology, but also in their design: All GTS variants are based on the Carrera 4/4S body, which measures 72.9 inches (1852 mm), even on the rear-wheel-drive models. The new Sport Design front end with a spoiler lip painted in black emphasizes the high-performance character.

911 Targa 4 GTS
911 Targa 4 GTS

Combined with an increased rear spoiler extension height, it reduces lift on the front and rear axle compared to the Carrera S models. Tinted tail lights, rear lid grill strips with a satin black finish and tailpipes in high-gloss black, which are part of the standard Sport Exhaust system, give the GTS a particularly striking appearance. A new black trim strip between the tail lights is featured on the rear-wheel-drive variants. A light strip between the tail lights is reserved for the all-wheel-drive models. Sport Design exterior mirrors, 20-inch center lock wheels painted in satin black, and black GTS logos on the doors represent further visual enhancements.

The characteristic Targa bar, is black with a satin finish for the first time, also gives the 911 Targa 4 GTS a very sporting look.

New Porsche Track Precision app included with extensive standard equipment.

911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet
911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet

The GTS offers a unique interior. The stopwatch of the standard Sport Chrono Package is now integrated as a central component of the dashboard. The included Porsche Track Precision App has been further enhanced for the market launch of the GTS models. Its features include automatic recording as well as a detailed display and analysis of driving data for smartphones. Just to make you a better driver…

Standard Sport Seats Plus with GTS logos on the headrests provide that lateral support you need for the serious high speed work. They are fitted with a combination of leather and Alcantara® that is highlighted with a new seat stitching. Alcantara® can also be found on the standard GT Sport steering wheel, the gear lever and the armrest, all for that extra grip. The brushed aluminum interior trim is anodized with a black finish.

Interieur 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet
Interior 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet

Good economy…

The GTS remains a feul-efficient automobile. The GTS with the PDK transmission consumes 8,3 l/100 km according to the NEDC. This corresponds with CO2 emissions of 188 g/km.

Prices in Belgium, including VAT:

911 Carrera GTS                     128.139,00 €

911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet      141.449,00 €

911 Carrera 4 GTS                  135.641,00 €

911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet   148.951,00 €

911 Targa 4 GTS                     148.951,00 €

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Giulia is queen on Nürburgring… and on the road.

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Presently, we are testing the marvelous Giulia, in 136 HP Multijet Diesel guise, and besides the very willing engine and impressive auto box, the chassis really betrays the out and out thoroughbred character of this Alfa.

It certainly awakens the better driver in you, and this must have been the same for Alfa driver Fabio Francia. He took the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, and let all the 503 horses of the V6 engine loose on the Eifel tarmac. The result is a legendary 7 minutes 32 seconds lap time over the Nordschleife, all for you to be seen on You Tube, we give you here the link, kindly transmitted to us by Wim Willems, Press Officer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium.

We suggest you enjoy it all, just revel by the furious V6 sound, the lightning fast gear changes of the 8 speed automatic transmission, shifting gears in just 150 milliseconds in race mode…

Of course, soon we will present you a full test report of this Giulia!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Kia Stinger, or the shape of things to come…

sel3 cropsmThe most powerful, sleek and fast production car of Kia made its entry into the stylish car scene: indeed, it has been honored with an EyesOn Design award for Production Car Design Excellence at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

The EyesOn Design Awards honours the best production and concept vehicles making their worldwide auto show debut at the NAIAS.

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Peter Schreyer, Chief Design Officer at Kia Motors, is justifiably proud of the style and proportions of this car. Judge for yourself by the photos…

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He was assisted by and Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer at Kia Motors.

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The car is also quite roomy and has a clean interior styling with a TFT screen between two beautifully designed circular dials. The aeronautical air vents are also present, noblesse oblige in this car class.

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Besides style, power is also abundant with a standard  2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged ‘Theta II’ engine, good for 258hp at 6,200rpm and 353Nm from 1,400- to 4,000rpm. The Stinger GT will get optionally  a twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 petrol ‘Lambda II’ engine, more athletic with 370hp at 6,000rpm and 510Nm from 1,300- to 4,500rpm. All this is good for supercar performance…

The Stinger I set to go on sale  across Europe in the fourth quarter of 2017. In the meantime, just admire the photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel