category_outlined / Cars & Motorcycles

Wheels January 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


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editor’s letter

The autonomous dawn has petrolheads crafting cardboard signs scrawled with “The End is Nigh!” It’s a topic I ponder most during my morning commute, which can include as much time sitting still as it does moving, but it’s a thought thrown into sharper focus by a conversation I had this morning with the PR bloke from Mercedes-Benz. He’d called about our trip to Portugal next week, where Wheels will be one of only two Aussie outlets to sample the new AMG GT R, but it wasn’t the prospect of driving AMG’s latest and greatest track-honed weapon that had him so excited. Seconds after telling me the GT R is poised to become the world’s fastest rear-drive production car at the Nurburgring with a time of 7m10s, he gushed, “But the big news is…

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IT WAS in a stark, white room in the middle of Holden’s Salmon Street design studio where GM Australia Design Director Richard Ferlazzo first said to Wheels, “Let me introduce to you the fifth-generation Holden Commodore”. Before us sat a full-scale clay model of the car you see here, which has now been publicly revealed in all its glory. While these computer-generated images released by GM-Holden do have some slight perspective awkwardness, they’re representative of exactly what you’ll see in Holden showrooms come February 2018: a five-door liftback-sedan with a very racy roofline. It’s a significant departure from the traditional three-box Holden Commodore sedan shape, trading much of the VE/ VF’s chiselled masculinity for a more unisex, coupe-like form, yet there’s still plenty of presence in what will still be a sizeable car. “It…

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A brief halt in transmission Faithfull readers; don’t panic if the next issue of Wheels doesn’t hit newsstands or your mailbox as early as expected – it’s all part of our grand plan. The February 2017 issue, with our extensive Car Of The Year coverage, will come out on February 2. But the wait will be worth it because the new issue will be bursting with brilliant coverage from the most extensive COTY in Wheels history. Honda’s mystery S2000 sale The industry new-car sales figures monitor, VFACTS, delivered a curious little nugget in November of last year, with a single Honda S2000 being registered as sold. The last of the cult hero roadsters to be sold in Australia before this example was eight years ago in 2008. The story goes the more recent…

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hsv locks in its future

HOLDEN Special Vehicles’ future is just weeks away from being locked down, with the performance sub-brand set to resign with the Walkinshaw Group for a five-year deal. “If we define our customer as wanting a rear-drive Aussie V8, we are out of business” – HSV MD Tim Jackson The deal, which has been months in negotiations with GM executives in Port Melbourne and abroad, means the Clayton-based manufacturer will continue tweaking GM products until at least 2022. However, HSV will back away from its big-power heritage and instead focus on “exciting, aspirational” vehicles that could be as broad as a rally raid-style off-road ute or go-fast SUV. In what is set to be the most challenging period for a brand known for its Commodore-based high-performance V8s, the surety of a medium-term deal – the…

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the v8 question

A Commodore-based HSV is unlikely, but a V8 could still be part of the brand’s future. The recent expansion of the Walkinshaw Group into right-hand-drive conversions of Ram trucks opens the door to local conversions of the Chevrolet Camaro, something HSV has been investigating intensely. With all Camaros produced only as left-hookers, it makes HSV a prime candidate for a high-quality local conversion. HSV boss Tim Jackson refused to discuss the prospects of the Camaro arriving Down Under wearing an HSV badge, but hinted a V8 model was on the wish list. “Transforming the business doesn’t mean we forget our heritage and passion for certain style of products,” he said. Given the sharp pricing of the Camaro’s most obvious rival, the fast-selling Ford Mustang, it’s likely HSV would focus on more-expensive and more-powerful…

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aeb misses the mark

SOME of the latest crash avoidance systems on popular cars can be fooled by the high-riding design of utes and SUVs, according to an exclusive Wheels assessment conducted as part of our 2017 COTY testing. During testing, the autonomous emergency braking systems on some new cars failed to recognise the higher rump of a ute – closer in height to many popular SUVs – potentially leaving drivers exposed in common nose-to-tail crashes these systems are designed to avoid. The revelation comes after extensive independent testing at the Ford Proving Ground in conjunction with Insurance Australia Group. Cars from Jaguar, BMW and Volkswagen worked almost flawlessly when driven at a regular sedan test target at between 10 and 25km/h, reinforcing the usefulness of AEB systems. However, each failed to consistently identify a ute target that…