Wheels February 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 Issues

in this issue

3 min

ABOUT THIS TIME last year, I was very keenly eyeballing second-hand Toyota 86s. They were getting as low as $14K, but I wanted one for $12K or less. Checking online marketplaces daily, I was ready to pounce on someone desperate to sell. Then, well, you-know-what happened. In the months that felt like decades that followed, it seemed prudent to hold on to the cash I’d saved and possibly wait to see if (a) I was still in a house and not under a bridge somewhere and (b) in the supposed imminent economic cataclysm I might be able to get a used 86 GT for even less than $12K. Well, I’m not under a bridge yet, but second-hand 86s are now more like $20K. As you likely know, last year the used-car market went…

15 min
31 hottest new cars of 2021

01 VOLVO XC40 RECHARGE EV Arriving: Q2 Price: $75,000* ALREADY KNOWN FOR safety and building practical wagons, Volvo is set to bring electricity into its modern repertoire via the XC40 Recharge EV. Sitting above the XC40 Recharge PHEV, the EV version drives all four wheels via two electric motors making a combined 300kW/600Nm. The dash to 100km/h takes just 4.9sec and the claimed range from its 78kWh battery is north of 400km. Considering the XC40 is already one of the market’s topselling PHEVs, it bodes well for the all-electric version due mid-year. (*denotes an estimated price) 02 BMW iX Arriving: Q4 Price: $135,000* SHAPING UP AS the most convincing of all the electric BMWs, even if it arrives shortly after the smaller iX3 that will kick the all-electric SUV story off earlier in the year. Closer in…

1 min

DUE FEB AUDI Q5 Halfway through its second generation, the facelift for the Q5 will bring updated looks and new engines into the fold. With seven different variants offering a choice of 2.0-litre turbo diesel, 2.0-litre turbo petrol with mild hybrid, or a turbo diesel 3.0-litre V6, the range starts just shy of $69,000, and tops out at almost $90,000. Brawnier SQ5 sibling will follow later in the year. DUE Q1 HYUNDAI NEXO Hyundai already has 20 hydrogen-powered Nexo SUVs in the country, but as test vehicles on loan to governments. Now, Hyundai says it’s preparing to make the Nexo available to the public as more hydrogen refuelling stations pop up as part of a push from the brand along with Toyota. DUE Q2 HYUNDAI TUCSON Fourth-gen SUV from Seoul will bring updated styling and more green power…

1 min

HIGHLIGHTS Instead of laying down and giving up on a year in which ‘rough’ doesn’t quite do justice, the new-car market worked hard to make up for the lack of sales during Australia’s lockdown period. December 2020 saw more cars sold than December 2019 (84,239), though the year’s total didn’t manage to crack seven figures, settling at 916,968 sales. Many of Australia’s most popular models had strong individual sales through December, particularly compared with the same time in 2019. LOWLIGHTS Fortune for some brands is frustration for others, and while Toyota (and Ford’s Ranger) dominated the top of the model chart all year, brands like Mazda and Hyundai that command significant market share were unable to break onto the top rungs of the ladder. Still, Mazda held its market share steady at 9.3…

5 min

Keep it tight (no more than 200 words) and do include your suburb if via email: wheels@wheelsmag.com.au You can also have your say on Facebook (search for Wheels Australia), Instagram or Twitter LETTER OF THE MONTH ‘Stephen Corby said I wouldn’t regret the Commodore purchase. Correct’ COMMO CONUNDRUM I’M BECOMING INCREASINGLY despondent; I should not have read Ponch’s Modern Classic piece on the VE SSV (Jan ‘21). My current ‘town car’ is a ’14 VF SSV Sportwagon. So far it has 97,700km on the odo. Nowadays I’m not driving the big miles in the Commo, I just doddle around Canberra and environs on shopping trolley duties, so I feel like a pea rattling around in a shoebox. I’m intending to replace it with something smaller and equally engaging; a manual Rex before they’re killed…

3 min

THE REAL GENIUS of Elon Musk wasn’t building an electric car. It was building an eco-system that enabled customers to treat his electric-powered Tesla Model S as a realistic alternative to a conventional internal combustion engined vehicle. Telsa’s proprietary network of 120kW fast-charging stations, Superchargers, could bring the original Model S’s battery to an 80 percent charge, enough for 270 kilometres of driving, in 40 minutes. That’s what made the Model S a real car, not an automotive novelty. Electric vehicles have been around since the dawn of the automotive age. In 1899, 90 percent of the taxis in the city of New York were electric vehicles. That same year the world land speed record was set at 105.904km/h by Belgian driver Camille Jenatzy in a torpedo-bodied electric car he named…