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WhichCar Week that was - all the car news of the last seven days

By Tim Robson, 04 Jul 2020 Car News

WhichCar Week that was - all the news of the automotive week

Your five-minute catch-up of all the automotive news from Australia and around the world

July 4 - Well, bloody hell. We’ve moved into yet another phase of uncertainty and confusion… and it’s getting a bit old, isn’t it?

As travel plans for school holidaymakers and others are thrown once again into disarray as Victoria’s COVID-19 crisis expands, it’s actually become a day-to-day proposition as to whether our Melbourne-based teams can actually get out and create the content that they need to create.

It’s a huge credit to all, and a testament to their resourcefulness and resilience, that they keep finding new ways to do it.

Our magazine titles keep cranking out amazing issues, the social teams plug away at an equally challenging environment and our sites keep rolling out the good stuff that’s bringing more than two million users a month to WhichCar and its sister sites.

As we dig in to tackle the next front, it’s been another great week across whichcar.com.au, with lots of news and advice pieces doing great business.

The thought of a turbocharged V8 Toyota ute excited a lot of people this week, as the company ponders powering up the big Tundra with a leftover Lexus motor.

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Could Toyota be working on a twin-turbo V8 ute?

Speaking of motors, do you fancy a crate engine that makes more than 1400 old fashioned horsepower right of the box? Us too.

News of a less-terrible version of the old Land Rover Defender - the Ineos Grenadier - also lit up the wires, as did news that the new-age Defender would again dip into the nostalgia well for a new variant.

On the lighter side, there was a lot of interest in a prime piece of real estate for revheads, while watching a Ford Falcon do remarkable things against a Lamborghini also kept the internet meters spinning.

When it comes to advice, it seems a lot of people are still unsure about warming up a car, while a story around the future of Supercars racing attracted interest as the series started up again last weekend.

We covered off big savings on some of Porsche’s finest, and took a closer look at the incoming Mini Cooper SE electric car. Plenty of news from Volkswagen this week, too, as it previews a newV8 diesel version of the Touareg and took the tea towel off a new T-Roc.

On the industry side, the Geneva Motor Show scored some bad news, while French ad authorities banned a pushbike ad from TV because it – get this – threatened the car. Sacre bleu!

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French authorities pull bicycle ad because it makes cars look bad

Lots of news from Hyundai this week, too, as it ramps up the N moniker and announced an eight-seat SUV that definitely isn’t boring.

And if you have a couple of minutes, you have to watch this clip of a once-humble Hyundai hatch absolutely shredding a New Zealand hillclimb event. Truly gobsmacking.

If you’re lining up a trip this weekend, it’s definitely worth checking out our travel updates blog, and you can see if your drive is on our bucket list of must-drive roads in Australia.

Or you might be amongst the Aussies who think that interstate trave is still a bad idea…

WhichCar TV is back on track on your screens this Sunday, our world-famous podcast is primed, and all of our social pages are brimming with fun stuff to keep you entertained.

Thanks and talk again next week

27 June - Visiting one of the bigger automotive players this week – nice to get out of the home office, let me tell you! – was an eye-opening window into just how far ahead car companies look, and how the better prepared players are viewing the current COVID-19 restrictions as a blip on the radar and not a sinkhole in the front lawn.

The new car you just picked up has in most cases already washed around inside the company for upwards of five years before the big red bow is laid on it in the showroom. “Yeah, I was driving this thing a couple of years back,” said one of the product team as the drop sheet came off a particular car we can’t tell you about just yet.

While we’ll deal with the fallout from The Troubles for some time yet, most car companies will pop out the other end just fine.

It’s been a steady-as-it-goes week on whichcar.com.au this week, as we gingerly make our way back out into the wider world of reviewing and shooting cars.

Our big results came from the lighter side of the ledger, with the news that a US Commodore fan has built his own version of the fearsome GTSR, while yet another crazy American has crossed the country in record time… using a rental Ford Mustang!

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A rented V8 Mustang has set an insane new Cannonball Run record

As the motorsport world starts to ramp back up, fans were also fascinated by the way that world champ Lewis Hamilton keeps the kilometres off some his more precious cars.

There’s been a surge in interest around the life and times of Peter Brock this week; we were the first website to review the new biopic Brock: Over The Top, while news that his last Bathurst Supercar is up for sale also piqued interest.

And did you know Holden’s favourite son drove cars stamped with the Blue Oval? Well, you do now!

The dual-cab ute market is heating up again, and we took an in-depth look at how the incoming Toyota HiLux and Isuzu D-MAX will stack up. We’ve also compiled a great list of exactly who’s who in the new dual-cab zoo to keep you up to date.

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Why you shouldn’t buy a new dual-cab ute just yet

Another story that really dragged in the eyeballs was based on reports that VicRoads had outlawed a particular numberplate for no real reason. What’s on the plate? Click through to find out… We also celebrated the fitment of a WWII tank engine to a humble Ford sedan.

The MOTOR crew, meanwhile, has taken delivery of a particularly cool long-termer, while 4x4 Australia’s Mitsubishi Triton and our Mazda3 both featured this week.

BMW dropped details of the incoming M5 Competition, and we also took a long, hard look at Skoda’s newly revised Karoq SUV.

On the motorsport front, we reported on the odd case of the ‘noose that wasn’t’ in NASCAR, and checked on the latest Supercars calendar updates.

If you’re lining up a trip this weekend, it’s worth checking out our travel updates blog, and you can see if your drive is on our bucket list of must-drive roads in Australia. Or you might be amongst the Aussies who think that interstate trave is still a bad idea?

WhichCar TV is back on track on your screens this Sunday, our world-famous podcast is stocked with new content, and all of our social pages are brimming with fun stuff to keep you entertained.

Stay safe and talk to you next week.

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20 June -Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the water… or the café… or the gym… As Victoria prepares to readjust its life – again – the return of restrictions is a stark reminder that we’re all not out of the woods yet, as much as we’d like it to be.

Certainly the packed café strip I walked by on a trip to Melbourne yesterday looked as if nothing had happened to change people’s behaviour over the last few months…

My trip to Melbourne saw me drive there and back from my home office in Wollongong, NSW… apparently crossing paths with a lot of my industry buddies on their way to Sydney on the Hume!

Given the actions by the Victorian government this weekend, it looks like I’ll be doing more 1000km road tests in the near future!

It’s a short letter this week – I’m camping over in the beautiful but internet-challenged seaside town of Tathra this weekend, so getting access to my list of whichcar.com.au story links has been a struggle I haven’t been able to win.

I can tell you, though, that we have a great selection of terrific news pieces including an on-page comparo between the new Toyota HiLux and the inbound Isuzu D-Max, while we had a close-up look at the brand new Mazda BT-50.

There’s also a look at the last-ever Holden Commodore raced by Peter Brock at Bathurst which has come up for sale, which ties in neatly with a special film review we’ll bring you as soon as there’s internets in the air.

If you have a bit of a soft spot for a raucous V8, then Mercedes-AMG can oblige, and we take a really fascinating tour through the greenfields factory that builds the new Land Rover Defender.

The end of the financial year is almost here, too and the site is stacked with terrific advice, like this piece that identifies the best EOFY bargains in each category, and this one that talks about the $150,000 instant tax write-off scheme.

We’ve also driven the much-anticipated Jeep Gladiator ute on home soil, as well as the all-new Nissan Juke.

On the lighter- or weirder – side, Bob Katter dressing as the Grim Reaper to protest Holden’s closure is right up there,  while the hail-damaged Lambo we spied in the US has to be seen to be believed.

If you’re lining up a trip this weekend, it’s worth checking out our travel updates blog, and you can see if your drive is on our bucket list of must-drive roads in Australia. Or you might be amongst the Aussies who think that interstate trave is still a bad idea?

WhichCar TV is back on track on your screens this Sunday, our world-famous podcast is stocked with new content, and all of our social pages are brimming with fun stuff to keep you entertained as the days get chillier.

Have a great weekend, and stay safe.

Tim Robson

 

 

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13June - 2020 just doesn’t let up, does it? Sometimes it’s all we can do to focus on the day job, what with the turmoil – good and bad – that’s currently sweeping the planet.

To be honest, though, there have been a few moments where the day-to-day has faded into the background as I watch what’s happening both around the world and here at home.

It’s hard not to merely echo the sentiments expressed around the world by people much cleverer and more invested than I am, but I do feel strongly that this moment in time will be looked back upon as a genuine pivot point. 

By its very nature, the car game can – inadvertently or otherwise - exclude people that it shouldn’t, and that includes the indigenous Australian community.

We can all do better, and one small way we can help is by making sure all young Aussies have access to equal educational opportunities.

After a record-setting May for whichcar.com.au, it’s been a quieter week around the traps as attention turns to bigger stages. The biggest story of the week by far came – illicitly, it seems – from Holden’s HQ, with a leaked real estate document detailing the sale of the Lang Lang proving ground. I’ve had opportunity to visit the site on a few occasions, and it’s a pretty important touchstone in the Australian-made car game – it’ll be a sombre day when the keys are (eventually) handed over to a new owner.

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Holden Lang Lang proving ground sale brochure leaked

As the economy lurches from its own COVID-19-like fever,a great story on bargain-priced supercars also caught the eye, while details of Nissan’s forthcoming 400Z also proved a strong draw for people perhaps looking for an affordable alternative to a big-dollar sports car.

Talking of performance cars, we also covered the frankly amazing allegations levelled by Ferrari Australia’s ex-boss at some of his Italian colleagues.

It was all about sports cars this week – a limited run of Dick Johnston-inspired Ford Mustangs dragged in a lot of V8 fans, while a story about building your own virtual sports car by way of a racing sim rig was very popular.

One you may have missed over the long weekend was a first-person piece from James Dyson – yes, the vacuum cleaner guy – around the ‘failure’ of the company’s electric car. It’s a terrific snapshot into the hard numbers needed to get a car off the ground.

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"I have no regrets"; James Dyson on his stillborn $1b electric car

Audi has the clout to keep going in the EV space, and this week we finally got confirmation of the E-Tron’s launch details. Skoda weighed in with details of the Superb Scout, Mazda revealed a set of special-edition cars tocelebrate its birthday and the Ford/Volkswagen dual-cab ute picture became a little clearer.

On the lighter side, the team from Wheels magazine surprised a young fan with a very special drive-by, and we all had a bunch of fun reliving some of the cool moments from our Continental Car Lab clips on WhichCar TVCan you cook using the engine bay of a car? As they say in the classics, the answer might surprise you. 

We also dragstrip-test VW’s fastest Amarok, get nostalgic about a much-loved car game and asked our editorial team to vote for their all-time favourite utes.

If you’re lining up a trip this weekend, it’s worth checking out our travel updates blog, and you can see if your drive is on our bucket list of must-drive roads in Australia. Or you might be amongst the Aussies who think that interstate trave is still a bad idea?

WhichCar TV is back on track on your screens this Sunday, our world-famous podcast is stocked with new content, and all of our social pages are brimming with fun stuff to keep you entertained as the days get chillier.

 

5 June

June is shaping up to be quite a month, by the feel of it. The sweep of restrictions we’ve all been subject to will start to ease, and we’ll be able to return to a life that at least resembles the one we all had before the Australian Grand Prix weekend.

Or will we? Put it this way… I’m not rushing to book plane tickets or holidays any time soon. In fact, it’s looking increasingly likely that I’ll be hitting the highway a lot more as I make the 1000km commute to Melbourne to connect up with the rest of the WhichCar team from time to time.

While it might be hard to tell from the scrums currently crowding the roofing screw aisle at Bunnings, I’m betting our lives will definitely be a little different going forward – even if we can gather in groups of 50.

I’m curious to see what transpires with commuting, too. NSW kids were essentially ordered back to school this week, with the glib throwaway line that they should all be driven there. Result: chaos at the first bell. Chances are this will be replicated as more and more offices and workplaces open for business.

In and around our business this week, it’s been all about the idiots. Like the ones criss-crossing the US at breakneck speed, the ones caught at 320km/h on UK motorways or the ones that crashed a brand new Porsche Taycan (below).

porsche taycan turbo wrecked

RIP electrons

Some also might say that the lunatics are still running the asylum in the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance, too, as its new plans sew more confusion than certainty in the wake of some truly stupendous losses.

The team at Wheels dove deep into the next Ford Ranger and what we might be expecting, and the crew also unearthed an amazing story of a left-hook Commodore crossing the US (we assume not in Cannonball mode) that resonated with our readers.

We also dug in to see if there’s any merit around the notion of a cash-for-clunkers plan for Australia, and our in-depth piece on the new hydrogen plans for Australia has also fired well.

Speaking of alternative energy, Jeep’s head designer loves the idea of an electric Wrangler, we took a look at a new V8-powered SUV on its way to Australia and checked out the amazing story of a brand new 20-year-old racing Monaro.

On the new car front, we looked more closely at a trio of brand new compact SUVs en route to Australia, grilled Porsche about what it got wrong with its Cayman and said happy 30th birthday to Lexus.

We also revealed a little more sauce on the incoming Nissan 400Z and looked at just how Toyota has spiced up its tamales in the last decade (below).

Fun Toyotas

And in motorsport – okay, virtual motorsport news, we looked at the peculiar case of the e-racer fired for not racing, and we looked at how Ferrari ace Charles Leclerc turned the streets of Monaco into his own playground last Sunday.

If you’re heading out this weekend, our travel restrictions update is worth a look, and don’t forget our regular new car deals page, which is updated weekly.

WhichCar TV is back on track on your screens this Sunday, our world-famous podcast is stocked with new content, and all of our social pages are brimming with fun stuff to keep you entertained as the days get chillier.

Have a great weekend, and stay safe.

 

23 May

It’s amazing what a bit of adversity can do to change long-held habits. Take our game, for example. I’ve been treading the same car review path for more than two decades now, but in a blink of an eye, it’s all gone away.

And yet, we’re still here. Kind of says something, doesn’t it?

Sure, we’ve all made half-hearted gestures towards changing long-held habits over the years. Working at another publishing house in the latter half of the 1990s, our bosses one day proudly whipped the covers off $40,000 worth of video conferencing gear that was going to revolutionise the way we communicated with colleagues in other markets.

If it was used a total of a dozen times in its sad, neglected life, I’d be shocked.

Now, though, car launches – like the one for the new Audi S7 and the Ford Focus ST - have moved to a model where videoing in and iso-driving is the only option, while companies like Mercedes-Benz are doubling down on digital comms for media messaging.

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Mercedes-Benz EQA electric crossover spied ahead of 2020 launch

The notion of flying overseas to drive a car is as alien to me at the moment as flying to the moon – it’s potentially doable, but not for a bloody long time.

So there’s nothing for it but to be smart and resourceful, and to find new and cool ways to bring you the same car stuff you know and love – and I reckon we’re doing a great job of that.

It’s been a quieter week out there in the news frontier, but a few big stories still caught the imagination of the whichcar.com.au audiences across the board. Yanks, for example, are obsessed with crossing the US at obscene speeds, while closer to home, readers are keen to find out if we can even cross a state border yet.

There’s a terrific – and slightly harrowing – tale of a test driver crashing a Bugatti Veyron at 400km/h, while the V8-powered Ford Ranger Raptor project has crashed to the ground for the moment.

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V8 Raptor project put on ice

Tesla, meanwhile, is looking at pivoting its technology to produce a true million-mile battery, as Brabham – using the polar opposite of battery tech – put its first BT62 into a customer’s hands.

On the lighter side, we take a look at a droolworthy car palace worth a cool $30 million, and we check out a far cheaper but no less awesome Nissan Skyline R32 ute that’s up for grabs in New Zealand.

We examine the latest road toll stats in light of COVID-19 restrictions, and take a deep dive into the renewed focus on the viability of hydrogen-fuelled cars for Australia.

And speaking of new cars launching in a weird new world, we check out the Nissan Juke and the Mercedes-Benz GLB – and don’t forget our regular new car deals page, which is updated weekly.

After a couple of weeks of Breaking News segments messing with our timeslot, we’re pleased to say that WhichCar TV is back on track on your screens this Sunday. Our world-famous podcast features a great chat with Jeep head designer Mark Allen, and all of our social pages are brimming with fun stuff to keep you entertained.

Have a great weekend, and stay safe

May 16 - As the days get shorter, it seems that they are getting a little brighter – nothing like breaking the routine to lift the spirits, that’s for sure!

I managed to ‘officially sneak’ out of the home office for a few hours this week to get behind the wheel of a new car, and it was a giddy rush like I’ve not felt for a while.

I looked (and felt) presentable for the first time in months, and I went somewhere that wasn’t the nature strip across the street or the local deli! It was amazing!

What wasn’t so amazing was just how far off the pace my driving felt, though. The act of driving is a semi-conscious one, and the more you do it, the more effortless it becomes… but having only driven a computer mouse for a few weeks has taken an amazing toll on the finer points of my driving.

And, to be fair, I don’t think I was the only rusty one out there…

Be kind to yourselves as we all ease back into yet another old routine, and give yourselves a few kilometres to get back up to speed. It will come back, I promise!

It’s been another hugely busy week across the WhichCar site, led by a controversial take on the place of the dual-cab ute in our national carpark. We’d love to hear your opinion, actually – you can add a comment at the bottom of the piece.

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Opinion: Our obsession with dual-cabs is a problem

Less controversial – but a lot more amusing – was our story on a now-unemployable truck driver who used his boss’s Ferrari as a chock. Not a great career move, we would have thought…

Plenty of people have been clicking through to our travel restriction blog to find out how soon they can hit the road, too.

There’s plenty of dual-cab content to check out too, including a look at VW’s most hotted-up Amarok to date, and a speculative gaze into the rendering crystal ball to have a look at what a new Kia dual-cab ute could look like.

Couple of great stories out of the US this week (a nice change of pace), including a secret-squirrel electric motor conversion and a look at the Jeep Wrangler’s first official crash test for the current generation. Spoiler – it didn’t go well.

We also saw a surge of interest in the news that F1 ace and world’s biggest smile record holder Daniel Ricciardo will switch teams next year, at the expense of another renowned cheery chap Seb Vettel.

Closer to our end of the budget, we also revealed that track days are back on – well, sort of.

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Track days are back on - but there are conditions

We dug up a couple of rippers from the archives, too, including a Ford Falcon GT on holidays in Germany (and loving it) and a longing glance back at the Mitsubishi 380 TMR.

On a tech side, we looked at F1 gearbox tech for your car, while the state of, err,solid-state batteries was again of great interest.

And if hotrods are your bag, then a stroll through Castlemaine Rod Shop’s new digs is not to be missed.

After a couple of weeks of Breaking News segments messing with our timeslot, we’re pleased to say that WhichCar TV returns to your screens this Sunday, our world-famous podcast is back up and running, and all of our social pages are brimming with fun stuff to keep you entertained.

Have a great weekend, and stay safe.