category_outlined / Cars & Motorcycles

Wheels September 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_time3 min.
editor’s letter

IF YOU TOLD ME A DECADE AGO THAT TWO OF THE CARS I’D BE MOST INTRIGUED ABOUT IN 2017 WOULD COME FROM KOREA, I’D HAVE PATTED YOU ON THE SHOULDER AND GENTLY TOLD YOU TO FINISH EATING YOUR KIMCHI. ANYONE WHO DROVE AN ORIGINAL KIA SPORTAGE OR AN X3 EXCEL is likely to have shared the sentiment, especially owners of the latter that had their front-suspension assemblies collapse. And yet, 10 years later, here we are: not only have two Korean cars graced the cover of Wheels in the space of three issues, but our July edition featuring the Hyundai i30 N has been one of our most popular magazines this year. The reaction in the digital sphere has, if anything, been even stronger. The i30 N and particularly the Kia…

access_time3 min.
holden’s new hero

HOLDEN’S announcement that the flagship of its next-gen Commodore range will wear a VXR badge signals the end of the line for the much-loved SS moniker. This clean break with the past appears a clear signal of intent, underscoring the change in focus from rear-wheel drive V8s to something very different. In repositioning the Commodore, it also opens the door for ever higher performance models to slot into GM-Holden showrooms. “It was a really natural decision for us,” said Holden spokesperson Sean Poppitt of the decision to choose the VXR badge. “This is not a direct V8 or SS replacement. There’s no question of us reusing that name, so we can retire it gracefully. “It’s been an amazing nameplate for us for a number of years, but this is about moving forward.…

access_time1 min.

1967 Hyundai Motor Company founded. Kia built its first Mazda-licensed truck five years earlier 1976 Hyundai Pony exported to Chile and Argentina, among others 1986 Hyundai enters the US market with the Pony Excel (left); sells 168,800 cars, a record for first-year sales. Hyundai enters the Australian market via importer Bond Motor Sales 1992 Kia Motors America is incorporated in the US 1995 Third-gen Excel becomes Australia’s top-selling light car 1998 Financially stricken Kia is taken over by Hyundai 2002 The arrival of the Getz (right) sees Hyundai with another light car sales winner 2003 Hyundai sets up its own factory-backed Australian operation 2006 Kia hires ex-Audi gun Peter Schreyer (left) as chief design officer 2007 Hyundai achieves critical acclaim with the European-devised i30 hatch (above); wins numerous Aussie awards 2011 Hyundai Australia hits 87,008 units, capturing 8.6 percent of the total local market 2014 Korea exports 3 million units, worth US$49billion…

access_time5 min.
the rise of korea

COULD anyone who bought a Hyundai Excel in 1986 – the first year a model from the Korean brand was offered in Australia – have possibly envisioned the trajectory this automotive juggernaut would be on in 2017? “This project is ambitious, but we want as many people as possible on board the electric vehicle revolution”Queensland’s Acting Roads Minister Steven Miles on a new 1800km electric charger network Fact was, the X1-gen Excel was a fairly lamentable offering, yet still a significant achievement for a car company that had really only been building cars for export since the Pony of 1976. To fully grasp the path of the Korean car industry, we need to understand that its rise was preordained, born partly from ambition, but mostly out of necessity. South Korea is a small,…

access_time3 min.
time bomb

Airbags are meant to last the car’s life, but that is being called into question AUSTRALIA’S lethargy over the largest car-related recall in history has come home to roost. A normally survivable crash in suburban Sydney in July involving a Honda CR-V fitted with a defective Takata airbag has left the driver dead. Police are linking the incident to another 18 known deaths in the US, and hundreds of injuries. The level of violence the crash wrought shocked police: “This type of crash, in normal circumstances, would not have caused this level of injury,” they said. The scandal was first sparked in 2008 after Honda noticed some Takata-sourced airbags fitted to US versions of the Accord and Civic, up to seven years old, would burst and spray small bits of metal and…

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audi on autopilot

THE RACE to autonomy has kicked up a gear, with Audi laying out plans to leapfrog arch-rival BMW by offering a ‘highly autonomous’ car by next year. Revealed to Wheels recently as part of an Audi Technology Summit in Barcelona, the new, fourth-generation A8 will be the first production vehicle to deploy level-three autonomous driving capability, and it’s set to arrive next year, three years before BMW’s fully autonomous iNext (see Wheels August). Highly autonomous, or level-three capability, will take the next-gen A8 beyond current level-two cars, with the ability to assume control of safety-critical functions, allowing the car to drive itself, with a human placed to take the wheel when required. Yet it’s Ingolstadt’s next chapter that is truly compelling. According to Audi’s vision, the infant stages of level-four self-driving production cars…