category_outlined / Cars & Motorcycles

Wheels March 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


access_time3 min.
editor’s letter

I was in a dark, cold and decidedly depressing car park at Melbourne airport, having spent the previous three days crisscrossing NSW in a group of focused, topless and worringly expensive supercars, which you’ll read about next month. Maybe it was the weather, or my sleep-deprived state, but slipping into the Volvo felt like a big, warm hug. It was easy to get into, its seating position high and commanding. As I switched on the heated steering wheel, I made the kind of noise English people make when you offer them tea and biscuits. I may have actually muttered, “Oooooh lovely.” Self-awareness isn’t a strength of mine, so while I acknowledged this unexpected wave of affection, I parked that thought and drove home. And that would have been that, had Alpina…

access_time5 min.
commodore conefidential

IT’S NO SECRET that the imported ZB represents the biggest departure for Commodore in the nameplate’s 40-year career But there was a whole lot more going on behind the scenes. Here we take a look at the backstory that Holden didn’t include in its press material, and debunk the myth about the twin-turbo V6. The new Commodore was to have been built in Australia Way back when the VF Commodore was unveiled in early 2013, then-Holden chairman Mike Devereux dropped the bombshell that the next-generation version was already on the drawing board and slated for local production from late-2016. That was just 10 months before General Motors announced it would pull the plug on Aussie manufacturing. Holden only recently confirmed that the car in question was going to be a derivative of the…

access_time4 min.
pista resistance

TOPPINGS PISTA Bold white and blue stripes are a nod to Ferrari’s legendary 1950s North American Racing Team (NART), that only competed at the world’s highest-profile races. AIR FORCE ONE The ‘blown’ rear spoiler is now higher and wider, while the underbody diffuser features a double-kink design inspired by the GTE race car. MARANELLO MODS The 90-degree twin-turbo V8 has been upgraded with Inconel exhaust manifolds, a lighter crank and flywheel, titanium conrods and carbonfibre plenum chambers. FERRARI has finally uncovered its eagerly anticipated performance-enhanced 488 special edition, confirming that the manic road-racer will wear the Pista moniker. The news puts to bed speculation that the car would recycle one of the company’s numerous rare-breed nameplates, such as GTO, Competizione, Speciale, Stradale or Scuderia, instead opting for a name that translates, rather prosaically, into English as ‘track’. Drawing…

access_time4 min.
formula 1 2018:

T-Wings teed off F1 teams jumped at vaguely worded regulations surrounding rear bodwork in 2017, with ungainly looking T-Wings quickly followed by the exhaust-blown ‘Monkey Seat’ device. Both are outlawed for 2018, along with the shark-fin style engine cowl. However it appears Mercedes has developed a merger of the two for 2018, with a miniature T-wing sitting atop the exhaust tip for the W09 challenger. Manage a trois Teams are limited to just three engines per car for the entire 21-race season in 2018 – one less than last year. Say a prayer for Kiwi Brendon Hartley and his Toro Rosso teammate Pierre Gasly, who must suffer the notoriously unreliable Honda power unit this season. Grid penalties for using more than three engines have also been simplified. Halo darkness my old friend Purists the world…

access_time5 min.
geneva stars

Mercedes-AMG GT four-door IT’S SURELY a sign of the times when a new Mercedes-AMG model arrives with 470kW and it’s not even the performance flagship. That’s the case with the GT four-door, very much an E-Class under the skin and effectively an upmarket replacement for the AMG CLS63. The scale of AMG’s ambition with this model is evident in the range o f engine choices. Opening the line-up is the GT 53 powered by the new turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six with an electric compressor, good for 320kW/520Nm. Next rung up features the ubiquitous 4.0-litre V8 in base, non-S tune, making 430kW and 800Nm, which happen to be the outputs of the most hardcore of the current coupe line up, the GT R. Topping this – for now – is the real heavy hitter, the…

access_time4 min.
monkey business

IT’S hard not to picture the faces of the macaque monkeys being gassed in a test chamber and suffering from nitrogen-oxide poisoning, when recalling the latest twist in the Dieselgate saga. Yet it’s really not about the monkeys. As unethical as it was, the gassing of these ‘non-human primates’ merely points to a bigger picture. The body responsible for commissioning the test, the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, known by its German acronym of EUGT, a body funded in part by Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler. While the latter companies have claimed to know nothing of these tests, Volkswagen has no such deniability. It provided a Beetle TDi for the experiment, conducted in 2014 in Albuquerque, and one of its engineers, James Liang, who was subsequently sentenced…