category_outlined / Cars & Motorcycles

Wheels April 2018

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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6 Issues


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editor’s letter

And so it was driving the E34 BMW M5 that features in this month’s issue, on p30. Parked next to the high-tech wizardry, flexed sheet metal and brutish confidence of the box-fresh F90 M5, which is the focus of the piece, the older car felt remarkably simple, unrushed and unassuming. It was almost quaint, with its smaller dimensions, boxy panels and off-set pedals, which isn’t a descriptor I thought I’d use on a car that, not so long ago, was one of the world’s fastest and most engaging sports sedans. It also caused a quote I’d filed away deep in my brain to bubble to the surface. It was delivered by GM CEO Mary Barra, who proclaimed late last year, “we are in the midst of seeing more change in the…

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the race towards 1000 horsepower

THE NEXT breed of high-powered hybrid drivetrains appears to be hurtling towards 750kW+ outputs – raising supercar performance to the level of today’s multimillion dollar hypercars through clean-sheet hybrid designs. “This desire for each new model to be more powerful than the previous one is likely to continue,” McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt told Wheels. On the subject of ever-increasing outputs, Flewitt said: “If you mapped it out and drew a straight line through it, we’ll have 1000-horsepower supercars in 10 years’ time.” Hitting those peaks while meeting stricter emissions targets typically points to a hybrid solution. McLaren is one carmaker planning a hybrid onslaught, part of a ‘Track22’ plan that promises half its cars will be hybridised by 2022. Flewitt confirmed McLaren is currently developing two engines, with the view to offering a…

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300kw hyper hatch

MERCEDES-AMG is readying its new generation A45 pocket rocket to lock horns with the Audi RS3 in a high-powered hot hatch arms race. Company chairman Tobias Moers confirmed to Wheels at the Geneva motor show that the MFA2-based, next-gen A45 will have at least 294kW, matching the current RS3, and the dynamic performance to put all other hot hatches’ noses out of joint. “The A45 which is coming is going to be the next benchmark for the segment,” claims Moers. “This is for us the task. For performance, power output, everything. “What we’re doing for [the] next generation is developing a brand-new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. This is [the] key for 400-plus horsepower [more than 294kW]. There is going to be 400-plus. But that output only makes sense with driving dynamics which are equal.…

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forester gets its game face on

Subaru’s fifth-generation Forester, unveiled at the New York Auto Show and due in Australia around September, is set to have its eye on you. Well, more accurately, its cabin-mounted camera will. The mid-size SUV’s Driver Monitoring System ( DMS) examines the driver’s face for signs of fatigue and also delivers a convenience benefit in terms of facial recognition, enabling automatic adjustment of a bunch of individual driver settings such as seat position, climate-control temperature, and exterior mirrors. Yet DMS is arguably less significant than Subaru’s radical rethink of its Australian line-up. The Forester will be offered solely with a heavily revised version of the FA25 2.5-litre flat four, now making 136kW (up 10kW) at 5800rpm and 239Nm (up 4Nm) at 4400rpm. The default transmission will be a Lineartronic CVT automatic,…

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webber: beyond the circuit

A YEAR out of the cockpit appears to have been kind to Mark Webber. Gone is the gaunt, tightly drawn face that came with an ultra-low-calorie diet and intense physical stress. The nine-time Grand Prix winner and 2015 World Endurance Champion looks relaxed and healthy, his affable demeanour in contrast to the occasionally testy, intense character some will recall from his Formula 1 days. Yet the mere mention of driving standards in Australia is enough to bring back a flash of that old terseness. Webber reckons we’re past the point of no return and is frustrated by the low driving standards on Australian roads. “We can’t educate from here-on; it’s going to be very, very hard,” says Webber of Australian drivers, citing the poor driving culture and low skill level compared with…

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What is it? A mild hybrid system for Mercedes’ latest-generation straight-six powertrains. Built around a 48-volt electrical architecture, a powerful integrated electric starter motor/ generator provides an acceleration boost, teamed with an electric compressor in AMG applications that fleshes out the bottom of the torque curve while the conventional turbo spins up. The electrically assisted six powers the Merc-AMG CLS53 four-door (p28) and E53 Coupe and Cabriolet as a ‘starter’ series of AMG’s larger cars, like the V6-powered 43 range, but packing far more tech. It also features in non-AMG Benzes such as the CLS450. How does it work? The EQ Boost system’s key piece of hardware is an integrated starter-generator (ISG); a compact motor/generator sandwiched between the engine and the transmission that acts as both a starter motor and a hybrid assist…