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Wake Up To Yourself, And Give Me A Break

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This column is written for the man I met at a cocktail function in Melbourne last week who bragged about how he could do the journey from where he lives in Melbourne to where his kids live in Sydney in just under eight hours. You know who you are.

Last time I drove from Melbourne to Sydney it took me about 10 hours, observing the speed limit and stopping every now and then for refreshments and relief. I remain puzzled by those who insist they’ve done it in under eight hours. Either they’re lying, but I’m not sure what point they’re trying to prove; or they’re telling the truth, in which case they’re idiots. Take your pick. (I suspect that if you live in a separate city from your teenage kids, you’re probably the kind of man who is always trying to prove a point anyway, and you’re also a liar.)

If Google Maps is to be believed, the time it takes to drive from Melbourne CBD to Sydney CBD is about eight hours and 50 minutes. Let’s call it nine hours, in round numbers. So an eight-hour trip can only be explained by speeding. If you want to complete a nine-hour journey in eight hours, you have to drive faster – almost 12.5 per cent faster. It means doing 67.5 km/h in 60 km/h zones; and it means doing 123.75 km/h in 110 km/h zones. That’s up to you, of course, but at Madam Wheels we would never condone such a thing. (Do what the hell you want on a closed road or a track – that’s a different proposition entirely.)Say you agree with guidelines on avoiding driver fatigue that it’s a good idea on a long trip to stop every couple of hours for a break – say of 15 minutes. Get out of the car, stretch your legs, get some fresh air and switch your mental processes to something other than driving and listening to The Companion’s interminable prog-rock albums.

‘I suspect that if you live in a separate city from your teenage kids, you’re probably the kind of man who is always trying to prove a point.’

That means every two hours you extend your travel time by 15 minutes. There are four two-hour blocks in a nine-hour journey, and four times 15 minutes is an hour. That’s the 10-hour trip time, right there.An upside to electric vehicles that I had not considered until now is the limited range. I’d always thought of that as a disadvantage. But the former Labor minister and friend of Madam Wheels, Stephen Conroy, reckons that driving from Melbourne to Sydney in an electric car can’t be done easily, because of the frequent need to stop and recharge. That might be a good thing. The ABC Fact Check unit estimates that doing the trip in a Tesla (I mean, what else?) would require four stops to charge up, at 30 minutes per stop. That adds two hours to the trip time, but if, as discussed, we are already stopping for an hour anyway, the Tesla takes only an hour longer than that. The ABC says taking multiple breaks as recommended my suit the drivers of electric vehicles, but “multiple stops for recharging may not appeal to people used to stopping just once — and only briefly — to refill their petrol tank”. We’ve already discussed those sorts of people.To do a nine-hour trip in eight hours or less means speeding and not stopping, not even for petrol, and if you’re going at 120 km/h+ for a good part of the run you’ll be guzzling the stuff. Absolute madness. If you’ve ever done that, then I’m not going to pull any punches: you’re an idiot. And worse, you’re a hazard to others on the road. Wake up to yourself. And give me a break.
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Bentley Concept GT A Nod To The Past And A Vision Of The Future

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BENTLEY Motors celebrated its 100th birthday this week by gifting the world its vision of “the future of luxury mobility”.The concept EXP 100 GT showcases the high-end British brand’s projection of what electric motoring will be once battery technology has suitably improved to get get on board.

Bentley unveiled the sleek and muscular two-door coupe at its headquarters in Crewe, England, on Wednesday, the day marking the 100th anniversary of its founding.The look and feel of the EXP 100 GT provide a vision of Bentley’s future design direction while remaining true to its heritage. The vehicle’s exterior harks back to the long fastback shape of the 1952 R-Type Continental along with its rear haunches, sweeping lines and round headlights overlapping the grill.

Rivals brands such as Aston Martin have revealed details of their upcoming luxury electric cars, but Bentley says it won’t launch an EV until battery technology is good enough to warrant it – which it predicts won’t be until around 2025. By then, the EXP 100 GT will be able to be driven or to drive itself autonomously and will include “emotionally-intelligent” technology to make long trips more comfortable. That technology would be pegged off the on-board Bentley Personal Assistant, a more advanced version of Amazon’s Alexa. It’s functionality would be similar to Audi’s PIA assistant which was in the brand’s 2017 Aicon autonomous concept.

‘The Bentley EXP 100 GT is a modern and definitive Grand Tourer designed to demonstrate that the future of luxury mobility is as inspirational and aspirational as the last 100 years.’

Made from lightweight aluminium and carbon fiber, the EXP 100 GT is 5.8 metres long and almost 2.4 m wide. The vehicle’s weight savings coupled with an advanced battery system put its claimed performance capabilities in super car territory, accelerating from 0-100 km/h in less than 2.5 seconds to a top speed of 300 km/h. It will have a driving range of 700 km/h on a single charge. Bentley says it does this while keeping sustainability front of mind in the Bentley EXP 100 GT experience. Materials used in its construction and finishes include 5000-year-old wood, and its special silver paint is made from recycled rice husks. Inside, faux-leather for the seats has been made using byproducts from wine making.

The company says it’s taking a new approach to enhancing wellness on board the use of natural light. It will be “harvested” via prisms in the EXP 100 GT’s glass roof which transfer it into the cabin using fibre optics.

Adaptable Bio metric Seating can be configured in a few different ways depending on who or what is driving on the day, and include sensors which monitor and adjust temperature, passenger position and environmental conditions to suit whoever’s in the car. For example, reactive seat surfaces respond to passenger position on the road, automatically adjusting support when the need is sensed. Biometrics are also used to track eye and head movements, even blood pressure, as demonstration of the future of customized, in-car comfort. The car even has its own special scent created in collaboration with an ethically-aware fragrance house featuring notes of sandalwood and fresh moss.

As you approach the EXP 100 GT, its grill, the Bentley “flying B” badge and interior all light up. “The car literally comes alive,” Bentley says.Bentley chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark describes the Bentley EXP 100 GT as a modern and definitive Grand Tourer “designed to demonstrate that the future of luxury mobility is as inspirational and aspirational as the last 100 years”.

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Photo Exhibition Reveals Dark Side Of Rolls-Royce

“BADASS” isn’t a word that springs immediately to mind when contemplating a Rolls-Royce motor car. “Austere”, “statesman-like”, “owned-by-someone-who’s-not-me” are more the norm.

But when Rolls-Royce drapes the chrome of some its less-formal, more-powerful models with wicked dark detailing and dials up the engine capabilities, “badass” quite suddenly starts to sound more apropos. Set said vehicles loose in a Blade Runner-like landscape and convention is truly defied.Faster engines, sharper gearboxes, and dashboard and exterior options designed to deliver boardroom bragging rights – they’re just some of the appeals for the brooding, dark ones among us to whom these Black Badge beasts might appeal.

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Actually, scrap that. Madam Wheels is pretty straight up-and-down, and if a Black Badge Dawn was in her price sphere, she’d be going there. In the meantime, she’ll have to live vicariously through a photographic exhibition that’s opened in the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Tokyo dealership.It displays the Dawn, Wraith and Ghost Black Badge vehicles in scenes that see them breaking the shackles of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars convention but put them right at home in the city of Tokyo.

‘The cars are designed to attract the badass in us all, the risk-takers and disruptors who break the rules and laugh in the face of convention.’

Rolls-Royce did well in identifying the perfect palette in Tokyo for the dark interpretation it seeks to emulate with its Black Badge offering. The cars are designed to attract the badass in us all, “the risk-takers and disruptors who break the rules and laugh in the face of convention”.Which is not very Rolls-Royce at all. And yet. Photographed over two years, “Black Badge: Tokyo After Hours” is the work of three international photographers invited to use the city as a palette to showcase the three Rolls-Royce Black Badge models.

Through their British, Japanese and Singaporean lenses, we see a common story line unfolding, with these Black Bade Rolls-Royce going hard in the metropolis after dark before retiring to the calm solitude of the city limits as morning breaks. Aesthetics such as these have clearly struck a chord with the brand’s Japanese clients.

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The regional director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific, Paul Harris, says Black Badge variants account for a little over over 40 per cent of Ghost, Wraith and Dawn models delivered in the country. Eighteen photographs have been collated as part of the series, and are on display together for the first time at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Tokyo. Naturally, the three life-sized versions of the Black Badge models will be parked up alongside.

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I Had One But The Wheels (Almost) Fell Off

Beware if you drive a 2019 Mazda 3. If you’re a Madam Wheels reader you probably don’t, but maybe one of your kids does. Mazda issued a recall on July 3, concerning “an issue with the wheel studs that connect the wheels to the car”. They’re not done up tightly enough and the wheels could fall off.

The wheels won’t just fall off, of course. Mazda tells us there will be “a rattling noise” and then the wheels will fall off. So that’s reassuring. The fix is to take the car to the dealer who sold it, for “repairs”. They’re not really repairs – essentially what Mazda will do is tighten the wheel nuts. It’s something any owner could do, if they could only locate the jack and the wheel brace in the boot. Many years ago, when I was young and stupid, I was asked to drive a male friend’s (not a boyfriend’s) Ford Escort RS 2000 from Bundoora in Melbourne to Sunbury, north-west of the city. It’s not far – about 45 minutes on a good run today and probably faster then, because the area was nowhere near as built-up as it is now. But this trip had quite a lot packed into it.

‘I found the wheel brace and jacked up the Escort, then removed one nut from each of the other wheels, and put them on the front passenger-side wheel.’

It started off with me being unable to find the car in the car park of a local shopping center where its owner, Rob, had parked it earlier that day before commuting to the city. The search took a good 15 minutes, and remember this was in the days well before mobile phones so I could not call Rob to ask for better directions.I had a piece of paper with a description of the car and its registration number on it. But the description – given to me by Rob’s actual girlfriend – said the car was green and in fact Rob’s car was yellow; it was purely by chance I saw the registration number and realized what she’d done. To this day I maintain it was deliberate. She says it was a mistake. She may have been telling the truth; she certainly was stupid enough to make it.

About 20 minutes into the drive I started to feel wheel-wobble through the steering wheel. RS 2000s were fairly sporty cars, but they were, after all, built by Ford, in the late 1970s, so there was a bit of lively and sometimes unexpected feedback through the steering wheel and, unless I’m mistaken, a reasonable degree of chassis flex and the windows actually rattled. It looked just like this one. So a little vibration through the steering wheel was nothing to get agitated about, I thought. If I went a bit faster it seemed to get better for a while, but then started to get worse again. And suddenly it got terrible. Something was clearly and seriously amiss. At first I thought I had a flat tyre.

But when I got out to look, the tyres all seemed fine. It was then I noticed the passenger-side front wheel was at an odd angle. And on closer inspection I realized that all four wheel nuts had come off. I shudder to think what would have happened next. I figured I’d been doing about 80 km/h, or about 20-something meters a second, so if I could remember how long ago I’d noticed the wheel-wobble I could work out how far I’d have to walk back along the road go to find the missing nuts. But the thing had been shuddering like a wreck virtually since the get-go, so yeah, I’m probably not going to walk that far.

And then, in a flash of inspiration that I remain proud of to this day, a solution struck me. I found the wheel brace and jack in the boot and jacked up the Escort. Then I removed one nut from each of the other wheels, and put them on the front passenger-side wheel. With the wheels thus secured I completed the journey to Sunbury and explained to Rob in an only modestly expletive-strewn explanation exactly what his shit box of a Ford had just put me through.

I’ve written before about why I think it’s important that when you teach kids to drive you should also teach them the basis of maintenance and things like how to change a wheel. In that moment I was very happy that I’d been taught. Mazda’s recall notice suggests that changing a wheel may be a skill the typical Mazda 3 driver does not possess. After all, why would you have to go to all the trouble of a recall and pile up all that work on the dealers if the problem could be solved with the simple instruction to your consumers to get out there with a wheel brace and tighten their nuts?

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Pagani Convoy Hits Goodwood Festival For 20th Birthday Bash

Cult Italian hyper car maker Pagani Automobile turns 20 this year and is marking the occasion in typically record-breaking style at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

From Thursday, Pagani owners and fans of the hand-built brand have been invited to join the company’s legendary founder, Horatio Pagani, at the four-day festival where the largest and most valuable collection of Pagani vehicles ever assembled in Great Britain will form up. Around 30 Pagani Zonda and Huayra models – with an estimated collective value of more than £100 million ($A180m) – will travel in convoy from London to the hill-climb spectacle at West Sussex, England. (One hopes they’ll have a police escort, not only to ensure the valuable vehicles’ safe arrival but also manage probable incidents caused by passing drivers being distracted by what will surely be a jaw-dropping procession.)

Later that day, 20 Zonda hyper cars – one car for each year since the first Pagani Zonda was introduced in 1999 – will participate in the Festival of Speed Hill climb.

Five of the marque’s most significant Zonda models will remain on display for the rest of the festival, including the the very first Zonda of 1999, the Chassis #1 C25, as well as the 2018 Zonda Roadster, a car which holds the record for the world’s most expensive new car at launch at £15m ($A27m). If you’re wondering how Pagani vehicles can fetch such astronomical prices, take any opportunity you get to inspect them up close. They’re spectacular, almost works of art, with every detail – right down to the smallest screw – designed to be both beautiful and functional, Pagani says. Of the 30 to 40 vehicles the Modena-based company produces each year, most are sold often years in advance. So it’s little wonder Pagani owners from as far away as New Zealand, the US and Hong Kong are booked to attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed especially for the Pagani party.

‘They’re spectacular, almost works of art, with every detail – right down to the smallest screw – designed to be both beautiful and functional.’

If you want to see the cars in Australia, there is only one on show, in a Richmond showroom that’s part of Melbourne’s Zagame Automotive Group. Zagame become the sole distributor of Pagani vehicles in Australia in March last year, fulfilling a long-held dream of the company’s managing director, Bobby Zagame, who reckoned he could sell one of two of them here a year. He’s about to deliver his first roadster to a Sydney customer who won’t be keeping the valuable set of wheels in lock down. “We believe he’ll use it, and have it out on the road on weekends [so] not just have it sit with a collection and never drive it,” Zagame says. Pagani himself attended lat year’s Richmond launch where he unveiled a $5.5m left-hand-drive Pagani Huayra Roadster. A new Huayra (pronounced “why-ra” in Italian) is now on the Richmond showroom floor – this one a right-hand-drive with an asking price of $6.5m – sharing stable space with vehicles from two British brands, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and Aston Martin.
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