Wheels March 2020

Wheels is Australia’s original motoring magazine. Launched in 1953, we’ve been trusted by generations of Australians to provide entertaining and forthright opinions on the good, the bad and the ugly of new and used cars. A world-class car mag with a formidable international reputation, Wheels covers the full gamut of cars – from sports cars to four-wheel-drives, economy to family cars – but it also covers the people, personalities and the power plays behind one of the world’s most dynamic industries.

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in this issue

3 min

IT’S POSSIBLE, I REALISE, to feel a little glum about the direction the motor industry is heading. The shift away from large sedans and wagons, the slow and painful disappearance of the manual gearbox, and the push towards cars where you, the driver, aren’t always needed … these are trends seemingly at odds with the reasons most of us fell in love with cars in the first place. Then there’s the unwelcome reminder that, not so long ago, we were making excellent cars right here in our own backyard. Ponder all this for too long and it’s easy to feel disconnected, disinterested, disenfranchised. If you let it, that is. Allow me to suggest a more positive counterpoint. For not only are things better than they seem, but there’s mounting evidence to suggest…

5 min
aston’s saviour strolls in

AT 105 YEARS old, Aston Martin has just received one of the largest cash injections in its history, saving the iconic manufacturer from financial disaster following a torrid couple of years. When the British brand was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2018, it was to much fanfare and optimism. What followed was a cascade of woe, resulting in the company’s value dropping by as much as 80 percent. Aston Martin was in a death spiral, and needed saving, desperately. A potential lifeline in the near-bottomless pockets of Chinese giant Geely soured, leaving the Brits high and dry with a new platform and a new factory to pay for. Enter Lawrence Stroll, who leads a consortium of investors that has now plunged A$962 million into the brand to stave off an ignominious end.…

1 min
who is lawrence stroll?

TO MAKE A small fortune, they say you should start with a very large one, and then go racing. Well, to describe Lawrence Stroll’s fortune as large seems like a gross understatement. At the start of 2019, Forbes estimated him to be worth in the region of $4 billion. The Canadian businessman made his money in the fashion industry, bringing brands such as Pierre Cardin and Ralph Lauren to the Canadian market. He then paired with Hong Kong investor Silas Chou to turn clothing designers like Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors into the global megabrands they are today. Asprey & Garrard, jewellers to the British royal family, were next on the acquisitions list. Initially, Stroll spent his money as creatively as any rich guy – by amassing one of the world’s finest…

2 min
alpine a110 hits a new high

IT MIGHT leave you asking “what the?” but the rally-raid Alpine A110 SportsX concept certainly has our attention. And it’s but the latest in a growing trend of jacked-up sports coupes that the industry seems to be gauging public appetite for. This tribute to the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally-winning A110 isn’t slated for sale as yet, but such is the rapid prototyping flexibility in Dieppe that it’s not inconceivable that it could be made production-viable. To help the SportsX cope off-road, ride height has been raised 60mm The SportsX concept is based on the A110 Pure, with the body and track widened by 80mm over the standard Alpine to fit the beefier rubber. To help the two-door coupe cope with rough terrain, the ride height has been raised by 60mm to afford vital ground…

2 min
kia’s sharp sorento

OF ALL THE stars of this year’s Geneva motor show, a Kia SUV might not be the obvious choice for us to get excited about, but the new Sorento looks to have taken a major step forward. If this latest set of renderings from Kia are anything to go by, it’ll also introduce a lot of the design cues from both the US-market Telluride and the Seltos compact SUV that has already struck a significant chord with Australian buyer It’s a significant departure from the more bulbous third-gen Sorento The fourth-generation car, codenamed MQ4, looks a good deal more confident, featuring slender rectangular headlamps which flow into a bluffer interpretation of Kia’s signature tiger nose. Other styling flourishes include a chromed wedge at the C-pillar and tall mirrored tail-light pairs that sit above a…

4 min
motor shows: an endangered species?

THE ‘INTERNATIONAL’ motor show as we know it may not be clinically dead, but its complexion is a sickly pallor, and its pulse erratic. In this fast-moving world where so much information has never been so quickly or extensively shared, and where billions of car enthusiasts around the world can view new releases on large, high-def displays, or via social media platforms, perhaps it was inevitable that the largely static spectacle of shiny cars parked in vast halls would become a casualty. Australia’s motor show died way back in 2008, when the 2009 Sydney event was cancelled in the wake of the GFC and falling attendances. An effort to merge Sydney and Melbourne shows never found sustainable traction. VW’s global chairman Herbert Diess described motor shows as “a product of the ’60s”. “They’re…