Wheels November 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

THE NEW CAR business is like few industries in that the cost of entry is very high. The result is new players are turned off, the risk being it becomes a bit of an old boy’s club for those luckily established, stifling proper left-field innovation. I was fascinated by the frank interview given by Pommie industrial designer James Dyson this issue about his attempt to take on Tesla, and the car industry broader, with his own EV. Dyson, a car enthusiast, revolutionised the home appliance market with his game-changing vacuum cleaners and imagined he could do the same in the new car market. But, as you’ll read from page 54, a spreadsheet put paid to that. Aside from giving me a new admiration for brands having a crack like Vietnamese auto start-up…

4 min
toyota readies fast-car onslaught

IN A YEAR OF unexpected headlines, perhaps the most surprising is ‘Toyota hypercar nears production’. Yep, Australia’s favourite car brand will soon have a model capable of shaming McLarens at your next track day. Dubbed the GR Super Sport, what you see above is a pre-production version of Toyota’s planned hypercar. Which begs the question, why is a brand mostly associated with practicality and affordability building a multimillion dollar bespoke vehicle for the world’s ultra-wealthy? It all has to do with Toyota’s growing GR road car sub-brand, and a little race in France. Short for Gazoo Racing, the same name of Toyota’s factory racing efforts, GR is the Japanese giant’s answer to the likes of BMW M Division and Mercedes-AMG, and the GR Super Sport is to be its new flagship model…

2 min
lang lang’s new owners

THE LANG LANG proving ground that has been the engineering birthplace for almost every Holden since the FC has a new owner in VinFast. The Vietnamese company is a relative newcomer on the global automotive scene, but has expanded rapidly, and has been on an Australian recruiting drive that culminated in it opening a local Research & Development centre in Melbourne. General Motors began the sale process of its huge testing facility following the announcement Holden would depart Australia, and the American company would be withdrawing from right-hand-drive markets globally. Lang Lang was a crown jewel of Holden’s history in Australia, with GM pouring millions of dollars into revamping it as recently as 2017. “Over the past five years, GM has invested in the laboratories and tracks at the site, which will now be…

5 min
the us cars we want for the new hsv

SO HSV AS we knew it is no more, and instead selected vehicles from the GM empire will come Down Under via General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV). The cars we know are locked in for 2021 are the C8 Corvette plus the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2500. Beyond, that, though, the senior executives at GMSV are not saying. So let’s strap on the speculator goggles, not to think too hard about the business cases, and have a comb through the GM catalogue to see what GMSV could, theoretically, get its hands on. 1. CHEVROLET TAHOE The all-new fift h-gen Tahoe retains a body-on-frame construction, (as opposed to monocoque) which makes it well-suited to owners towing vans or boats. With the Holden Trailblazer set to bite the dust, this could serve as a useful…

2 min
rimac rising

THE AUTO INDUSTRY is set to be given an almighty shake-up as Rimac (the Croatian electric vehicle startup) looks set to buy Bugatti – one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious sports car brands. How could this happen? The EV startup wasn’t even in diapers when Bugatti’s Veyron was obliterating production-car speed records At face value, it seems unimaginable that a car company that wasn’t even in diapers when the Veyron was busy obliterating production-car records could be in a position to acquire a marque with such a wealth of heritage. And yet, both the flogging of Bugatti, and its acquisition by an EV authority make perfect sense. Bugatti’s parent company Volkswagen is fast-tracking its own electrification and carbon-reduction strategy in the wake of Dieselgate, but the hypercar manufacturer’s 8.0-litre, quad-turbo, W16 engine…

3 min

DUE NOV SKODA KAMIQ Australia’s bulging small SUV market is about to have a new contender in the Kamiq. The range will start at $26,990 plus on-roads, making it slightly more expensive than some rivals, but it comes rammed with kit, and is built on the same MQB-AO platform as the Volkswagen T-Cross. DUE NOV ALFA ROMEO STELVIO & GIULIA Q Exterior styling tweaks, new colours, an updated infotainment screen and extra safety kit headline the changes for Alfa’s ball-tearing Stelvio and Giulia Q variants. Importantly, the engine (one of the best in class) remains unchanged and still pumps out 375kW and 600Nm. DUE NOV MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS While softening the edges of its E-Class sedan, Merc has made some subtle but important updates, adding more active safety equipment, fresh engines, and 48v mild-hybrid systems. DUE DEC KIA CARNIVAL Australia’s favourite party…