Cars & Motorcycles

Wheels May 2019

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

In this issue

3 min.

BEYOND HIS UNDISPUTED success as an inventor and engineer, and his ability to grow one of the motoring world’s great moustaches, Colin Chapman’s legacy continues in the number of quotes spruiked by enthusiasts. “Simplify, then add lightness” is arguably the most famous, though “adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere” runs a close second. My personal favourite is “any car which holds together for a whole race is too heavy.” You may have spotted the common theme. Chapman was an avid proponent of lightweight cars, though for me, the penny regarding the benefits of weight reduction didn’t properly drop until recently. The trigger was a comment made by a McLaren engineer who told me: “…100kg less is more beneficial than an additional 44kW and offers a…

3 min.
big brother takes the wheel?

AT WHAT point do compulsory vehicle ‘safety inclusions’ veer into a breach of privacy and freedom of choice? That’s the question that will be inescapable when, in 2022, cars sold in the European Union will be required to be fitted with an array of new safety systems as standard, including intelligent speed limiters (ISL), an alcohol interlock system to prevent intoxicated driving, and data monitors that record every detail – including speed, speed zones, and locations – of each journey. These are just some of the mandates woven into legislation approved by the European Commission. It’s due to come into effect from May 2022 for new models yet to be designed, and May 2024 for updates of models currently on the market. (The measures are subject to the formal approval of the…

3 min.
new zealand’s valkyrie rival

ARE YOU the type to look at the Adrian Neweydesigned Aston Martin Valkyrie and think, “Meh, needs more power and downforce”? Yeah, us neither, but should such thoughts occur, Wheels can exclusively reveal that an all-new hypercar is currently under development, in New Zealand of all places, that aims to make the Valkyrie seem a little limp-wristed. It’s called the Rodin FZero and it looks, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite unlike anything else. Swoopy, bewinged and with a hydraulically controlled canopy that encases a single-seat cockpit, it’s as though a fighter jet has collided heavily with the rear of the Batmobile. The brainchild of an Aussie, Rodin Cars founder David Dicker, the FZero’s spec sheet reads like a Formula One car’s on steroids: 1193kW from a bespoke, twin-turbo 4.0-litre V10, a target weight…

3 min.
jolt to the volt

IF HOLLYWOOD has taught us anything, aside from how important it is to be attractive, it is that cars are highly likely to explode into fireballs with little provocation. And that’s just traditional, internal-combustion-engine cars; what about when someone does an eerily silent-movie car chase in a Tesla? Will battery acid wash across the road and melt pedestrians’ feet? Or, to put the question more seriously, just how safe are electric cars, with their packs of batteries, in the event of a crash? Are they inherently less safe than ICE vehicles, or, conversely, less dangerous? Nissan, maker of the Leaf, Europe’s top-selling EV, is unequivocal, with Wayne Harris, manager of electrification for Nissan Australia, telling Wheels: “EVs provide the same level of occupant safety (both during and post-crash) as the equivalent ICE…

1 min.
but what about fires?

Back in 2012, you might recall some coverage around Chevy Volt batteries catching fire after crash tests. Last year, the battery of a Tesla Model S reignited, twice, after a fiery high-speed crash in Florida, and had to be dealt with by Fire Department officers, twice. Joshua Lamb, a principal investigator at the Battery Abuse Testing Laboratory in the US, points out that “there’s always a risk when you’re talking about any kind of stored energy.” “But that doesn’t mean EVs are inherently more dangerous. After all, there are plenty of gasoline car fires, too. We just have 100 years of trial and error with gasoline fires,” Lamb says. Widmann also claims we don’t need to worry about the safety of modern battery packs. “A continuously self-monitoring safety system prevents overheating and…

1 min.
30 sec

9 Just nine Holden VF Commodores/Utes remain in stock, according to a Holden spokesperson. And the bewst bit? Each of them has a V8 under the bonnet. MANUALS ARE GONE There isn’t a single VF Commodore with a V8 engine and manual transmission combo left in stock. Four of the remaining cars are SS V Redline sedans (one in ‘Red Hot’, one in ‘Phantom Black’, one in ‘Slipstream Blue’, and one in ‘Heron White’), a pair of Motorsport Edition (MSE) sedans in ‘Heron White’ and ‘Red Hot’, two ‘Heron White’ Directors and just one ‘Phantom Black’ Magnum ute. ONE UTE Fans of the V8-powered ute can rejoice, with just a single example remaining in stock, a Magnum special edition, in ‘Phantom Black’. Holden built 240 Magnum utes to farewell the VF Commodore, and only 174…