Wheels August 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

THE GLINT OF the cherry red Camaro caught my eye, luring me in for a closer look. It was a minter, my untrained eye guessing a ’68 model, its paint, chrome splashes and gleaming glass clearly the work of an owner that cared. A lot. But it wasn’t until I leaned in to peer through the glass that I spotted the best part. Both front seats had been folded forward and wedged onto the rear bench were two bulky baby seats. “Now that…” whispered my inner monologue, “is parenting done right.” I eagerly waved over my wife who was standing on the footpath, showing the patience of a woman used to me stopping to ogle at cars. “Yes, it’s very nice Alex…” she started, but I cut her off. “No, check what’s in the back…

3 min
ferrari: the next chapter

FERRARI HAS ITS FOOT firmly on the throttle as it pushes further into a future demanding both lower emissions and higher performance. The 296 GTB is Maranello’s first return to a six-cylinder engine since the Dino 246 GT was launched back in 1974, but the addition of hybridisation means it’s far removed from an ‘affordable’ entry-level model. With huge outputs and ultra-advanced electronics, it’s a true junior supercar, and seems certain to ultimately elbow the F8 out of the Ferrari line-up. It’s also likely to cost about $500,000 when it makes it to Australia in 2022 But back to that F163 twin-turbo V6, which is a genuine benchmark. Making a whopping 163kW per litre – 488kW from 2992cc – it boasts the highest specific output of any production car engine, toppling the…

4 min
cupra is coming!

CUPRA’S copper-coloured badge packs subtle significance that’s worth spelling out. While copper isn’t in the same league as the precious metals, it’s still valuable, useful stuff. It’s up there on the podium – bronze is mainly copper – but below gold and silver. This symbolises Cupra’s position in the market, between traditional premium brands and the mass-production mainstream, explains a senior brand executive. The Cupra name also echoes copper’s chemical symbol, Cu, derived from its Latin name of cuprum. No matter that Cupra, pronounced cooprah, is actually a compression of Cup Racing, the designation applied to hot roadgoing models from the Volkswagen Group-owned Spanish brand Seat since the 1990s. Cupra grew out of Seat Sport, the company’s competition and performance car division, and continues to be active in racing. Copper is highly conductive,…

1 min
we won’t get this

THE MOST exciting model so far from Cupra won’t be heading to Australia. It’s the new Formentor VZ5, powered by Audi’s trademark in-line five-cylinder engine. For the Cupra it’s tuned to deliver 287kW, only a fraction less than in the RS3. With a torque-vectoring rear differential, drift mode, big brakes and a capable chassis, it’s a hoot to drive. But Cupra will produce only 7000 VZ5s, and they’ll all be sold before the brand reaches Australia. CIRCUIT ELECTRICS CUPRA’S PAST, as Seat Sport, is full of competition success: in WRC, BTCC, ETCC and WTCC. Though the brand’s Leon TCR still competes in WTCC, the racing emphasis has lately shifted away from noisy ICE-powered machinery. With EVs at the core of Cupra’s future, the brand competes in both Extreme E and, with its…

3 min
why le mans is going to be awesome again

GET READY to wind back the clock. The prototype glory days are about to be reignited at La Sarthe. In recent years it’s been a Toyota procession with the Japanese giant going up against privateer entries. However, that will all change with the FIA amalgamating the already established Le Mans Daytona Hybrid (LMDh) category with the burgeoning Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) class. Once again endurance racing is back in favour with Peugeot, Ferrari, Toyota, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and ByKolles committing to the new Hypercar class. Set to join them on the same grid is Porsche, Audi and BMW under the new LMDh regulations with Acura, Mazda, McLaren and Lexus all in various stages of deliberations. Peugeot is the latest manufacturer to rip the covers off its racer, the 9X8 pictured, with its…

1 min
3 key points

HYBRID GRUNT Providing the internal-combustion grunt is a 90-degree 2.6-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 – dubbed HYBRID4 500KW. The front-mounted, high-density battery is being developed by Peugeot Sport and Saft DRIVE US CRAZY The ‘X’ in the 9X8 name stands for all-wheel drive. The boosted V6 turns all fours via a seven-speed dual-clutch, while the high-voltage (900 volts) battery powers the electric motor on the front axle at more than 120km/h GONE WITH WIND Fellas, where’s the rear wing? The 9X8 uses sophisticated aerodynamic tech that channels air underneath the car (think Nismo GT-R LM), negating the need for a drag-inducing wing. It should be an absolute weapon down the Mulsanne straight…