Wheels Year Book 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 BEEN A very busy month in the Wheels world. We’ve been cranking up the photoshoots in lieu of the Victorian lockdown lifting – including my using all the horsepower I could muster to get as far from Melbourne as I could, as you’ll read later this issue – and, though I normally would hesitate to make the Editor’s Letter all about the magazine, we do have quite a lot of good news to share about your favourite motoring title. First, we’re back at 148 pages – even bigger than we were pre-COVID. This has not been easy, not least because Europe, a major source of new model launches and content, is going into its second lockdown. But off the back of major reinvestments in Wheels under new owners and new…

7 min
new brz powers up

EVERY SO OFTEN you drive a car that in the first hundred metres or so reveals itself to be greater than the sum of the numbers on the spec sheet. The 2012 Subaru BRZ was one of those cars. It wasn’t the fastest, most powerful, or even the best-looking sports car on the market. But it was a real driver’s car. Like the original Mazda MX-5 or Porsche Boxster, it had a sweet chassis the engine simply could not overpower. The BRZ taught you not to waste momentum; to be economical with the brakes, and precise with your lines; to make the most of the chassis and the power and the grip at your disposal. It’s a tough act to follow, but the redesigned 2021 BRZ, which is expected to arrive…

3 min
china’s big aussie bite

CHINESE CAR MAKERS have laid the foundations to tackle the big brands of the Australian new-car market, defying the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic to post substantial sales growth. In a market that plunged 18.8 percent across the first 10 months of 2020, the four Chinese car makers currently on sale – Great Wall, Haval, LDV and MG – collectively grew 49 percent. The growth in sales of Chinese-made cars comes despite early concerns of a backlash against Chinese goods as some pointed the finger at China for the coronavirus pandemic. That backlash never materialised, either in cars or with other Chinese goods. The Chinese car sales surge was led by British brand MG, these days part of the giant SAIC Motor that also manufacturers LDV. Whereas Chinese manufacturers such as Chery and…

2 min
bmw’s bold ev ix

IF REINVENTION is the name of the game, BMW’s new electrification strategy is having the desired effect on the Bavarian brand. Or at least that’s what the iX, the first of BMW’s purely i-branded electric SUVs, is supposed to do, says company CEO Oliver Zipse. “The BMW Group is constantly striving to reinvent itself. That is a central element of our corporate strategy. The BMW iX expresses this approach in an extremely concentrated form.” That concentrated form is several years removed from the i3, with a new platform that BMW says is modular, scalable and “focused on a fresh interpretation of design, sustainability, driving pleasure, versatility and luxury”. A continuation of the iNext concept, the iX will make production in about a year, though BMW has already provided an insight into the kind…

2 min
it’s the new golf r

VOLKSWAGEN’S NEXT top Golf is primed, with the next-gen Mk8 ready to have a new-look R badge slapped firmly onto its posterior. The new Golf R takes the Mk8 and stuffs in a retuned EA888 2.0-litre turbo four now with a tasty 235kW and 420Nm. A six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG will be on offer and VW says it will be able to run the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.7sec – a tenth faster than the Mk7.5 – on the way to a limited 250km/h top speed. Unfortunately, Australian specs haven’t been confirmed just yet, so we could see a very slight power drop due to our lower quality fuel. We might even miss out on the manual gearbox. We’ll find this out closer to its arrival, likely in early 2022. What we do…

2 min
porsche reveals secret concepts

one 2017 919 STREET Porsche’s three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, the Porsche 919 Hybrid, inspired this 1:1 clay model intended to spawn a car for purchase by “private racing drivers”. Its name suggests Porsche’s intentions were that a production version of this car would be able to be road-registered, though Porsche chief designer Michael Mauer would have had his work cut out for him turning the current outright Nurburgring lap record holder (5:19.55, thank you very much) into something streetable. At least this one has proper headlights. two 2012 VISION SAFARI This modernised version of Porsche’s often-visited 911 Safari concept is actually a ‘mobile prototype’. Built in the 991 generation, the Vision Safari is inspired by the classic 911s that competed in the East African Safari Rally through the 1970s. “We believe that no…