Wheels June 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

4 min

THERE ARE MANY things that are a mystery to me. How microwaves work, is one. The unique pigment of Donald Trump’s jowls, is another. But the biggest enigma, by far, is e-sports. I should explain at the outset that I’m not a hardcore gamer. Don’t confuse that with someone who doesn’t enjoy gaming, because I do. Like most of my generation I had a serious infatuation with Gran Turismo, and I’ve spent considerable amounts of money on my own simulator set-up. I understand the enjoyment that comes from gaming, and the ability for racing games to hone your driving or racing skills. But where the fun stops, for me, is when I’m asked to watch someone else play. Honestly, I’d prefer to watch them clip their fingernails. E-sports is now a billion-dollar…

1 min
nissan’s financials

ANALYSTS TEND to place the blame for Nissan’s current financial issues on former CEO Carlos Ghosn’s ‘growth at any cost’ strategy. Last year, the company’s sales slumped by 10 percent in the US, its second-biggest market after China. Ghosn, now in hiding in Lebanon after absconding from house arrest in Japan, led an unprecedented push for growth, with huge dealer incentives collapsing the bottom line. In order to achieve a target of 10 percent market share in the US, Ghosn’s stair-step incentive scheme both alienated dealers and led to customers becoming trained to shop for end-of-month bargain deals. The result? A 57 percent year-on-year profits decline. Ghosn is now being sued by Nissan for $135m, the company claiming that its “legal actions form part of Nissan’s policy of holding Ghosn…

6 min
new zed a supra slayer?

IT’S BEEN a very long wait. The Nissan 400Z that looks set to be unveiled next year comes on the heels of the 370Z, a model that’s been with us 11 years, its life neatly bookended by two recessions. Because of the latter, Nissan isn’t committing right now to a firm launch date for its 300kW twin-turbo tearaway. Despite development being almost complete and an unveiling originally set for the New York International Auto Show on April 8 (with 2021 pencilled in for initial Australian deliveries), the coronavirus pandemic has put those plans firmly on ice. In fact, such is the impact of the macroeconomics on discretionary purchases like sports coupes that Nissan has delayed the entire launch schedule for at least a year. So what can buyers expect when the hankie…

1 min
generation z

’69 240Z (S30) Can’t beat the original 9/10 ’74 260Z (S30) Lost the magic of the moment, belatedly appreciated 7/10 ’75 280Z (S30) Unloved Americas-market special, 300kg heavier than 240Z 5/10 ’78 280ZX (S130) Huge sales for larger GT-focused generation 6/10 ’83 300ZX (Z31) The ’80s were dubbed ‘The Decade Style Forgot’ for a reason 4/10 ’89 300ZX (Z32) Great return to form. Twin-turbo model a bruiser 8/10 ’02 350Z (Z33) Heavy and a little unrefined, but much-loved atmo hero 8/10 ’09 370Z (Z34) A 350Z done over lightly. Still big fun but felt old from day one 7/10…

4 min
crunch puts key cars on ice

WHEN Wheels broke the news of Ford’s secret V8 Ranger Raptor project earlier this year, the response from our readers was significant: “Hell yeah!” Well, we now come bearing bad news, as the highly anticipated muscle truck has been put on ice; a victim of the global financial belt-tightening in response to the coronavirus pandemic. An industry source confirmed it’s unlikely the V8 Raptor will be the only victim, with many ‘indulgence’ programs being shelved as companies focus on higher-profit products. This is true for General Motors’ latest baby, the mid-engined C8 Corvette. It has been reported that GM’s executive director in charge of program management, Michelle Braun, told suppliers to hold fire, as all development programs have been halted. This includes the right-hand-drive Corvette, which had been expected to come to Australia…

4 min
values in a viral spiral

HOW WILL the COVID-19 pandemic affect the value of your car? The answer, as in so many cases, is it depends. Demand has clearly slackened for new cars, but at a time when many are feeling the pinch, the used car market can often be relied upon to step up. While new car sales fell by 52.3% in April, the fleet used car sector in Australia was also hurting. “We’ve seen a mass exit of trade buyers on the back of minimal enquiry levels; many buyers have been sent on leave,” said Brendon Green, General Manager of Motor Vehicles at Pickles auctions. “Average sales price across every single brand/make are down between 10-20 percent. Surprisingly, units sold to private buyers have doubled during that period as they hunt down high-quality assets…