Wheels May 2021

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 Numéros

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11 min
life choices

LOVE ’EM OR LOATHE ’EM, today’s luxury midsized SUVs like the Audi Q5 45 TFSI and BMW X3 30i are now as much a part of the story of us as any homegrown Holden or Ford. It just depends on where you are in life. Thirty-odd years ago, with Ps in hand, maybe your choice – like mine – was between a Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Pulsar. A decade on, commitments might have meant a Mazda 6 or Toyota Camry (and a NoDoz addiction) before the need for bigger stuff like a Ford Territory or Holden Captiva arose. Life’s great tapestry and all that. Today – if you’re lucky – you might be middle-aged (ish), middle class and in the market for a mid-sized premium SUV. You’ve made it this far, so…

7 min
the next amg c63

THE V8 C63 is dead. Long live the V8. Mercedes-AMG has all but confirmed the next iteration of its much-adored super-sedan will be powered by a four-cylinder turbo, but one packing a monstrous 480kW working in conjunction with a powerful new high-tech rear-axle electric motor. For the first time, the C63 will also be equipped with tarmac-tearing all-wheel drive, with 0-100km/h times expected to dip into the low three-second range. This, of course, represents an enormous philosophical shift away from the current brooding 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 375kW/700Nm rear-drive model. But it will also mean an enormous increase in outright performance potential: the new C63 will make the current one look slow, blasting the claimed 3.9sec time to 100km/h into the weeds, not to mention our own measured 12.4sec over 400m. And, of course, it…

2 min
toyota 86 powers up

SAY HELLO TO the new Toyota GR 86, a heavily revised version of the brand’s back-to-basics sports car. Once its Subaru BRZ twin had been announced, it was only a matter of time before the Toyota broke cover – but thankfully reports that its reveal had been delayed to the end of 2022 have proved wide of the mark. Local pricing, specification and timing are still to be confirmed, but a number of technical details have been released, as well as confirmation of the car’s new name. Now known as ‘GR 86’, the new coupe moves under Toyota’s Gazoo Racing umbrella to sit beside the GR Supra and GR Yaris. Like the Subaru, the 86’s familiar horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine remains, but an 8mm bore increase has upped capacity to 2.4 litres…

1 min
the market

HIGHLIGHTS Australian new-car sales have (just) topped six figures for the first time since the end of the 2019/2020 financial year sales. It’s the first time a non-EOFY month has managed this since 2018, and was led by a rise in SUV and light commercial (read: dual-cab) sales. Models like the Mazda CX-30, Nissan’s facelifted X-Trail and the also made-over Subaru Forester all saw sales jumps, but the usual top three remain – HiLux, Ranger and RAV4. LOWLIGHTS Of course, the continued increase in SUV and dual-cab sales is inversely mirrored with passenger cars, down 1.9 percent, with enthusiast and ‘style’ brands like Alfa Romeo and Citroen seeing lower sales this year compared to 2020. Even Volkswagen’s market share has dropped 6.8 percent compared to Q1 2020. The latter, however, has the launch…

1 min
the state of the world

COVID-19 DOMINATED the headlines last year and, unsurprisingly, wreaked havoc with global new-car markets, figures from analysis firm Jato Dynamics reveal. The top 11 global markets sold 7.71 million fewer cars in 2020 than in 2019 for an unprecedented 12.6 percent year-on-year drop. Just one of those countries – South Korea – recorded an increase, while the UK’s 28 percent decline made it the worst performer globally. Of course, there were bright spots amid the carnage: Toyota regained its crown as the biggest global car maker; premium cars remained in significant demand in China; and electric cars continued to sell in ever-bigger numbers. In fact, the 28 percent increase in global batteryelectric car sales highlights the investment, technology and political push behind them, at least globally, if not in Australia. Another significant trend…

3 min

PERHAPS I SHOULD be embarrassed, but after five decades of carefully recording test-car fuel figures, the compulsion is entrenched and impossible to ignore. My notebook, stored in our Skoda Octavia’s driver door bin, meticulously reports odometer and trip readings, fuel consumed, fill location and date, and the trip computer’s claimed fuel figure since the previous refill. Documenting this serves no practical purpose: I’m not writing monthly Garage reports on the Skoda. Call it inherent curiosity in all things Car. For the record, across 37,663km the Octavia drank 3202.09 litres of 95RON fuel at a rate of 8.5L/100km. My longest distance between fills: 744.3km for a consumption of 6.7L/100km. The worst produced 11.5L/km. What my figures prove is that the Skoda’s trip fuel readout is around 0.5L/100km more optimistic than the reality. Fifteen…