category_outlined / Cars & Motorcycles

Wheels December 2016

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


access_time3 min.
editor’s letter

If I could go back in time, could I save the Falcon? Possibly, but probably not Mr King had a thing for cars, and I don’t just mean Christine. His writing made it clear he knew and admired cars, particularly those from the 1950s and ’60s. This, his enthusiasm for Aussie rockers AC/DC (whose lyrics his novels often quoted) and his ability to spin a Bloody Good Yarn made me believe that Stephen King was writing just for me. And inspired me to write. Fast-forward a few decades to October 15 and I’m standing stage-left at a Wheels/Ford celebration of the mighty Falcon at Avalon Airport. On stage, Ford Oz engineering boss David French is regaling the crowd with stories of Falcon’s highlights over the past six decades. It’s a sad day, but…

access_time2 min.
the day falcon died

Falcon, Australia’s longest-living automotive nameplate, is no more. The 3,005,880th Ford Falcon to roll off the Broadmeadows production line, 56 years and seven generations after the first, officially ended the carmaker’s 91-year run of building vehicles in Australia. The Kinetic blue XR6 was a fitting model to send off the Falcon, the 4.0-litre Barra six having been cast in nearby Geelong. Under its carpets are the signatures of the men and women who built it, though Ford’s decision to not apply a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) means it can never be sold or registered. The car will become a museum piece. The penultimate car down Broadmeadows’ production line was a Ford Territory, Australia’s first and only SUV, and the only vehicle of its kind to win Wheels Car of the Year. Wheels was there on…

access_time6 min.

Tickford confirmed The Tickford badge will return this year to selected Fords, as Wheels reported in the October issue. Supercars team Prodrive Racing Australia is behind the return, with customised Ford Rangers and Mustangs the first products to be launched. Unlike the 1990s Tickfords, which rolled off the Ford production line, the new models will allow customers to choose from a range of options (powertrain, suspension, styling upgrades, etc) and packages to enhance their vehicle. The reborn Tickford claims its upgrades will result in a 15 percent increase in power and 20 percent more torque. Tracking Godzilla Nismo, Nissan’s performance sub-brand, is finally coming to Australia. The Japanese carmaker says the 441kW version of Godzilla will be the first Nismo model to arrive early next year, wearing a stratospheric $299,000 pricetag. However, before…

access_time3 min.
race, try, buy

BUYING a car will soon be a very different experience, involving everything from a movie or a meal to a blast around a race track. “We’ve got to find new ways to engage customers in different places in new ways”– Peter Jamieson, Holden customer experience director Manufacturers exploring new dealership models are keen to take advantage of evolving urban landscapes along with changing customer expectations. Spearheading the trend is a new development at the Brisbane Airport precinct, where a $500 million megamall is on the drawing board. It includes a hotel, convention centre, 27 dealerships and a 2.5km Mark Skaife-designed circuit, allowing fast-paced test drives for customers. The Brisbane Auto Mall – the name will change – is opposite the airport and kilometres from residential zones, so it can operate 24 hours a day. The…

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hybrid hot hatch hero

RENAULT Sport has revealed that performance hybrids and even a full EV model have a place in its future line-up as the French brand strives to regain the upper hand in the cut-throat hot-hatch market. “The thing you lose is the noise, but an electric motor has a lot of torque...” – Patrice Ratti, Renault Sport Renault Sport boss Patrice Ratti told Wheels his engineers are focusing on emerging hybrid and battery technologies – including drivetrain elements shared by the next-gen Nissan GT-R – to ensure it stays ahead of its rivals. But don’t fret that the fast-car company is turning away from its analogue, driver-oriented philosophy. Wheels has learnt Renault’s next-generation Megane RS will feature segment-exclusive four-wheel steering and the option of a manual gearbox as it takes the fight to the…

access_time3 min.
merc prepares for tesla war

MERCEDES-BENZ is rushing towards a Tesla-fighting electric future and estimates that up to 25 percent of its sales will come from the new EQ sub-brand announced at the recent Paris motor show. The Generation EQ concept seven-seat SUV hints at the first of at least seven Benz-branded battery cars to come by 2025. Mercedes’ head of car development, Thomas Weber, says the tipping point is approaching where battery advancements will allow its new vehicles to strike the right balance of affordability, capability and performance. Generation EQ (which stands for ‘electric intelligence’) previews a new electric architecture. Its stackable battery technology allows for a range of up to 500km, which Weber says is just the beginning. Heady outputs of 300kW and 700Nm reflect a desire to build electric cars that don’t compromise performance. “What we…