category_outlined / Cars & Motorcycles

Wheels February 2017

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_time4 min.
editor’s letter

Frank’s story is a good one, because it begins with something we can all relate to – crashing a car He’s also the man who invented ESP, known as the Electronic Stability Program. We’re sat at a long table in a delightfully authentic, wood-panelled restaurant, nestled in a valley in the German countryside outside of Stuttgart, and Frank’s eyes shine as he tells his story. It’s a good one, not only because it shaped the course of motoring history, but because it begins with something we can all relate to – crashing a car. “I was young, you know,” he says sheepishly. “I was in Sweden on an icy road testing the steering in a W124 E-Class and I slid into a big ditch. The car went in, it got dark because the…

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last action heroes

AUSTRALIA’S last-ever homegrown super-sedan range will bid farewell with a torrent of piping-hot V8s. HSV’s 2017 line-up will not only see the revival of the long-rumoured GTS-R badge – last seen on the ‘be-winged banana’ VS GTS-R in 1996 – but there will be a limited-run mega-sedan sitting above and beyond even the ‘regular’ GTS-R, called GTS-R W1. Packing the Chevy Corvette ZR1’s epic dry-sumped 6.2-litre LS9 supercharged bent-eight instead of the regular GTS-R’s tweaked LSA unit, the W1 will justifiably sit right at the top of Australia’s balls-out, muscle-car hierarchy. And it won’t be just numbers on a dyno sheet either. While “in excess of 470kW and 800Nm” are worthy of their own cult worship (as we went to press, official figures were yet to be finalised), the W1 will…

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Apple coy on mobile lockout The Australian offshoot of iPhone maker Apple has officially declined to comment over what has happened with plans for software that could stop motorists using mobile phones while they drive. Apple patented a system that would lock drivers out of their devices all the way back in 2014, but the feature is yet to appear on its handsets despite similar apps released for Android-based smartphones. Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester has slammed the distracting devices for contributing to a two-year rise in Australia’s road toll, which last year hit 1185 deaths. Holden’s US invasion Chevrolets and Cadillacs once reserved for American roads could soon be designed with Australia in mind. Holden’s parent company, General Motors, is promising a broader suite of right-hand drive vehicles as…

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jap-am camry

A BATTLE royale is looming in 2018 between the controversial Holden NG Commodore out of Germany and an all-new Toyota Camry, as the Japanese-American four-door sedan steps out – and up – in a number of key areas. Japanese-American? Let’s face it. As the US’s best-selling passenger car over the last 15 years, Toyota’s venerable mid-sizer attracted the most attention and the biggest crowd at the eighth generation’s glitzy unveiling at January’s Detroit Motor Show. And, for once, all that Yankee hullabaloo might have substance to it, judging by the comparatively bolder (if still derivative) clothes that the 2018 Camry will wear courtesy of California-based designer Ian Cartabiano. Two distinct nose treatments, far-less bloat, and even the option of a ‘floating’ blacked-out roof treatment… pretty racy stuff for America’s sweetheart. However, the most…

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braking point

MAZDA’S CX-9 was one of the standouts in Wheels’ inaugural autonomous emergency brake (AEB) testing for COTY 2017. Priced from $42,390, the seven-seat SUV shone in the most comprehensive independent test of its type in Australia of what is an increasingly relevant safety feature. As first reported last month, the tests were conducted in conjunction with Insurance Australia Group’s (IAG) research department, and involved driving towards the two custom target vehicles at speeds of 10, 20 and 25km/h. The AEB testing was introduced to COTY in 2017 as an evolution of Wheels’ long history in independently verifying active safety systems, from ABS to ESC. The CX-9 achieved a perfect score against the two target vehicles – a mid-sized sedan and a high-riding 4x4 ute – and was the only car of the 28-strong COTY…

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market place

HIGHLIGHTS December’s tally capped off another record year for new-vehicle sales, hitting 1,178,133, up 2.0 percent on 2015’s numbers, but mainly on the back of commercial vehicles. It was a good yearender for Mitsubishi, which charged ahead of both Ford and Hyundai via the Pajero Sport (832 sales) and ageing Triton ute (2106). The new Subaru Impreza made an impression, snaring 765 buyers to eke out a 4.4 percent share of the hotly contested small-car segment. LOWLIGHTS A trade ute, the Toyota Hilux, outsold all passenger cars for the first time ever in 2016. Its 42,104 sales for the year beat the next-placed Toyota Corolla by 1774 units. Lexus, meanwhile, was almost overrun by Skoda in the December sales race, scraping ahead to make the top 20 list by just 30…