Defender proves popular with the ladies

PURISTS may not agree, but the all-new Land Rover Defender leaves its predecessor in the dust as far as the ladies are concerned. With modern functionality and typically high-brow Land Rover form, this first overhaul of the iconic Defender shape in 37 years provides plenty of pleasure, and takes away any 4WD pain. 

The result? It’s perfect as an affluent woman’s daily drive and a comfortable portal to her outback adventures.

And it’s not just us who think so. The Defender was recently named “supreme winner” of the 2021 Women’s World Car of the Year (WWCOTY) award, as voted by 50 female motoring journalists – including Australia’s Nadine Armstrong and Liz Swanton – from 38 countries on five continents.

Decided between cars launched between January and December 2020, the Defender also took out the Best Medium SUV category alongside other winners including the Ferrari F8 Spider (Best Performance Car) and the Lexus LC 500 Cabrio (Best Luxury Convertible). 

The WWCOTY awards kicked off in New Zealand in 2009, and rates vehicles on aspects including safety, performance, comfort, technology and value for money. 

Executive president of the awards Marta Garcia says the fact its jury is made up entirely of women motoring journalists gives it enormous value because its decisions represent the liking and preferences of millions of women drivers globally. 

“But cars have no gender and are not subject to stereotypes so the winners of these awards are, quite simply, the best cars in the world,” Garcia says.

We experienced the fully-specced First Edition Land Rover Defender 110 from Melbourne City Land Rover. Housing a diesel 240 engine, it ticked off all of our test criteria across luxury and safety aspects, and for enabling us to run our lives from it thanks to its smart-yet-functional simplicity tech. The fact it had sexy street appeal is a bonus. 

Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon (if you can get one) and Jeep Wrangler. Apart from being more comfortable on the road than both those cars, the Defender is easier to get into thanks to the lowered “access” height of its standard air suspension (which does a good job of disguising its size). 

The spaciousness in both rows make it family-friendly and provides space for plentiful power outlets and storage cubbies to better deal with the demands of modern life. The Defender’s rear bench seat could comfortably fit three adults, and has an optional third row. We were also grateful that the side-swinging boot door was conveniently hinged for on-street footpath loading. It’s the sort of detail that makes it clear the designers were actually thinking about the end user.

Equipment unique to our First Edition compared to the regular Defender line-up included a black contrast roof and unique exterior package, panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and 20-inch alloy wheels. Heated features upfront included 12-way electric memory seats and the steering wheel. Metal tread plates with “First Edition” engraving made for a stately entrance, while twin front cupholders up front were a welcome sight for those of us always on the run.

Prices range from $AUD69,990 to $137,100 plus on-road costs. Our First Edition was priced from $102,500, including a five-year warranty, before on-road costs..




Jeep helps us hit the road with purpose and an Empty Esky

COVID-19-induced travel restrictions look like they’ll remain part of life for some time to come, especially by air. That’s bad news for those of us in Melbourne, particularly, still enduring months of enforced local isolation.

We at Madam Wheels are not sure about other Melburnians, but the first thing we’re going to do once our 5km lockdown radius is removed is get into a car and go for a very long drive! Anywhere will do.

Of course, in Australia, the possibilities are endless, we’re spoilt for choice. But a fantastic new initiative might take some of the guesswork out of choosing where to go while helping struggling Australian communities at the same time.

‘We really want to encourage all Australians to enjoy the beautiful land in which we live and ensure small businesses can revive and prosper.’

Empty Esky was set up to support communities hit hard by last summer’s Australian bushfires. The not-for-profit tourism movement encouraged Australians to hit the road with empty eskys then fill them up with goods and local produce purchased from small business in those fire-effected communities.

Now, with the backing of Jeep Australia, Empty Esky founders Eleanor Baillieu and Erin Boutros have launched an interactive new website to make it easer for users to consider pre-prepared itineraries to places around Australia. Options range from Lakes Entrance, in eastern Victoria, a foodie’s guide to the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and the Scenic Rim region in south-east Queensland.

A clever feature on the Empty Esky site is an interactive map which enables Empty Esky road trippers to design their own itineraries and have it delivered to their inboxes.

Baillieu says Jeep Australia’s support helped improve the website in a way which will benefit both travellers to and businesses in the fire-affected areas.

 “It is now more important than ever to think about towns and businesses impacted by the bushfires,” she says. “They lost the summer season and now many, in particular the Victorian businesses, have been shut down due to COVID-19.”

Jeep Australia Managing Director Kevin Flynn says it’s great the new Empty Esky site is up and running as COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to ease so Australians can head out on “home-grown adventures” and support local businesses.


“If it is safe to do so, we really want to encourage all Australians to enjoy the beautiful land in which we live and ensure small businesses can revive and prosper,” Flynn says.

We couldn’t agree more.

Now, if only we could convince everyone in the car to down devices and just talk while they were on the road. Jeep Australia, can you help with a solution for that new-world issue, please?

“If it is safe to do so, we really want to encourage all Australians to enjoy the beautiful land in which we live and ensure small businesses can revive and prosper,” Flynn says.

We couldn’t agree more.

Now, if only we could convince everyone in the car to down devices and just talk while they were on the road. Jeep Australia, can you help with a solution for that new-world issue, please?

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Ladies-only Drive Days

Ladies -only Drive Days

You want to trial a super-luxury car but a simple test drive just doesn’t cut it, right?

Or perhaps you want to know how it feels to be behind the wheel of a race-ready performance vehicle going flat-out on a track that’s free of radar-armed police and speed cameras.

Madam Wheels is thrilled to introduce its Ladies-Only Drive and Track-Day Experiences, exclusive overnight pleasure trips designed for women who have the need for speed and love high-end cars.

The Madam Wheels Drive Experiences will be a girls-only adventure steering luxury cars through spectacular landscapes taking in our country’s stunning scenery. Included in the mix will be a decadent blend of champagne sunsets, fine-dining and luxurious accomodation.

So, not only will you get to drive some of the most current and finest luxury cars on the road today, you’ll also be in the company of like-minded ladies sharing an exciting, addictive and utterly unforgettable experience.

There’s little doubt that the Madam Wheels Drive and Track-Day Experiences are the ultimate girlfriend getaway. They’re also the perfect solution for:

– companies looking for creative ways to get their female executive teams together

– businesses searching for novel gifts / gestures for their high-net-worth clients as a way to maintain contact between meetings

– CEOs who’d like to give a memorable “thanks” to their hard-working personal assistants

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Jacquie Hayes Speaker Kit

Jacquie Hayes Speaker Kit

In the hot seat

Buckle up and settle in for the ride as Jacquie Hayes brings an action-packed perspective to one of the most explosive marketing opportunities in today’s economy – women.

As one of Australia’s few speakers and panellists to spotlight the issue, her message is clear: businesses that fail to recognise women’s purchasing power do so at their peril. Those who go out of their way to help women “feel the love” as consumers will thrive.

The rise…and rise…of girl power

Women hold the purse strings in the majority of purchase decisions that really matter, including buying houses and cars. They either influence what their partners buy or, increasingly, are buying in their own right as their earning power grows — a pattern seen not just in Australia, but globally, too.

As the founder of Madam Wheels, a luxury-car advisory service for women, Jacquie has the privilege of getting into the hearts and minds of women with money to splurge. She knows what they want and she’s made it her mission to get them into the cars of their dreams at the best possible price and with the most attractive conditions attached.
It isn’t pretty. The majority are underwhelmed. They feel underserved and undervalued in the marketplace.

Who’s listening

As a speaker, Jacquie shares her insights on how to sell high-end products or solutions to high-net-worth women. Her message applies to a broad cross-section of audiences including professional services executives, corporates, stockbrokers, financial planners, real estate agents, car manufacturers and dealerships, businesswomen, retailers, those in startups or tech companies, and women in the market for luxury cars, to name a few.

Keynote 1: The Rise of the She Economy: Savvy Insights for Businesses Selling to Women

It’s official. Women have huge purchasing power and this is only set to grow as their earning capacity rises. On top of that, they are among the biggest influencers when it comes to big-ticket items (“If she doesn’t like it, he doesn’t buy it”).

Yet, companies and businesses across the board fail to capitalise on the golden opportunity presented by the world’s largest buying segment!

In this keynote, you will:

– Gauge how prepared (or not) you are to meet the needs of this fully mature, ready-to-go market

– Dive deeper into the multiplier effect (even if women aren’t making the actual purchase, they are the gateway to others’ decisions, such as their children, friends or other consumers through word of mouth)

– Uncover how you can refine women’s overall experience of your service or product

– Discover how small tweaks in your customer service, engineering, design or packaging can make the biggest difference (and no, making it pink is not the solution)

– Understand why hassle-free, jargon-free and frustration-free purchasing is the way to go.

Keynote 2: Why Women Buy

Women are estimated to be earning US$18 trillion globally, a rise of $5 trillion in the past 5 years alone. Combine this with Boston Consulting Group’s predictions that women will control almost 75 per cent of discretionary spending globally within the next decade.

More and more, women are turning traditional notions on their head by purchasing the majority of so-called “male” products, such as cars and consumer electronics. It’s a perfect storm for anyone providing goods or services to this market. But how many of us understand exactly why women buy?

In this keynote, you will:

– Gain clarity on why women have become the single most disruptive consumer group in the world

– Be surprised at what motivates women to spend and buy (spoiler alert: altruism is important)

– Learn how women entrepreneurs will change the future of buying with products and services designed for women by women

– Become more sophisticated in the way you speak to, engage with and sell to women

– Hear how smart women with spending power experience numerous points of friction along the buying journey (using Madam Wheels clients as a case in point).

Vroom, vroom … and she’s off

Jacquie is sassy, spirited and switched on. It comes as no surprise given her longstanding career as a successful journalist. A natural storyteller and people-person, she engages easily with a range of audiences.

Part entertainment and part motivational, Jacquie’s keynotes (and panel discussions) reflect her irrepressible energy and passion for the subjects closest to her heart – women and luxury cars.


New Maserati MC20 supercar challenges Ferrari and co

Maserati took it to the big boys of the luxury automotive market this week with the world premier of its new supercar, the MC20. It’s likely the car has designers and engineers at neighbouring Italian brands heading back to their drawing boards.

Not only is the MC20 sleek and spectacular, it’s a car designed to be a super car on the road and a race car on the track. As the name alludes, MC20 stands for Maserati Corse (Maserati Racing) 2020.

So it’s got looks and power, with its 630 horsepower making it Maserati’s most powerful series production car to date.

‘The MC20 is an impressive offering in the high-end automotive space where Maserati goes head to head with Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin Lagonda.’

The 2021 Maserati MC20 was launched to the world in its home town of Modena on Wednesday at an event themed “Time to be audacious” – perhaps a fitting sentiment in a desperate moment in the automotive world during which the economic and social impacts of Covid-19 are further battering an already damaged global car industry.

Images released for the launch depict a car which is elegant, luxurious and by far the sexiest thing to come off the Maserati production line.

It’s initially been produced as a coupe with an internal combustion engine, but convertible and all-wheel-drive full-electric versions are on their way, possibly as early as 2022.

The all-new engine is the first Maserati has produced for itself in more than two decades, and it’s turned out something special.

Named Nettuno – Italian for Neptune, whose three-pronged weapon inspired the Maserati logo – the twin-turbo V6 engine employs Maserati-patented Twin Combustion capabilities drawn from the latest Formula 1 engines – which basically help the rear-wheel-drive car take off like a rocket.

Maserati’s claimed sprint to 100kmh in less than 2.9 seconds would see the MC20 dispense with Lamborghini’s powerful Huracán Evo and compete with the Ferrari F8 Tributo. It’s capable of making the zero to 200kmh dash in less than 8.8 seconds, with a claimed top speed of 325kmh.

The new Maserati apparently spent more than 2000 man-hours being buffeted in the Dallara Wind Tunnel and dynamics tested using more than a thousand computerised simulations.

It’s ended up with a tonne of interesting and innovative technologies on board. The butterfly doors are not only pretty on the eye but improve the MC20’s ergonomics and facilitate ease of entry and exit.

Inside, there’s little to distract from the main game – a sporty driving experience. The driver’s needs are always central. In his or her line of sight are simple forms and very few sharp edges.

The carbon fibre-clad central console features a wireless smartphone charger, the driving mode selector (GT, Wet, Sport, Corsa and a fifth, Electronic Stability Control Off button), two speed selection buttons, the power window controls, the Multimedia System controls, and an under-armrest storage compartment. All other controls are on the steering wheel, including the ignition button to the left and launch control on the right.

Other services are run through the Maserati Connect system, including navigation, Alexa and Wifi Hotspot, which can also be managed through the relevant Maserati smartphone or smartwatch App.

Maserati says the MC20 was 100 per cent designed and built in Modena in a record 24 months. Development times were optimised with the use of in-house devised virtual dynamics simulations that allowed designers, engineers and technicians to create and test digital versions of the MC20 before prototypes were built.

The resulting cars were then tested and fine-tuned during the requisite track and road test-driving sessions across a range of uses and conditions.

The MC20 is an impressive offering in the high-end automotive space where Maserati goes head to head with PorscheFerrari and Aston Martin Lagonda. It’s certainly a strong start for the Trident brand as it moves into its new Era.

Maserati is accepting orders for the MC20 now with deliveries expected midway through next year. Of course, it won’t be cheap with a list price at launch of 216,000 euro ($A351,327).

In other Maserati developments, the company launched a hybrid version of its Ghibli luxury sedan earlier this year, and plans to launch a new SUV and redesigned GranTurismo and GranCabrio models by the end of 2022.


Lucid Motors ups the electric game on World EV Day

Australia’s motoring history reached a new milestone in August 2020 when, for the first time ever, a petrol-electric hybrid was the number-one new vehicle sold over any month.

OK, that car might have been a less-than-thrilling Toyota RAV4s, but what matters is that nine out of 10 buyers of the vehicle chose the hybrid power train over petrol-only models.This news, from the Australia’s peak automotive body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), was particularly poignant as it landed on Madam Wheel’s news desk on Wednesday, September 9 – the inaugural World EV Day.

Luxury Car
Luxury Car

Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way since the early starters came to market and today’s iterations are cheaper, can drive further and be charged in more places.Almost every car maker around has joined the road towards clean mobility, and now offers – or is planning to develop – an EV.

In celebration of this growing shift – and to push for the accelerated adoption of sustainable mobility – UK sustainability media company Green.TV set up the largely social media-led “World EV Day” campaign to engage with consumers about the benefits of EVs. Driving ranges in EVs have certainly improved over time, increasing from a median 117km (73 miles) in 2011 to 201km (125 miles) in 2019.

‘Rolls-Royce Motor Cars says it will skip hybrid cars altogether and go straight to full electrification when it’s ready to do so.’

Until today, the market’s mileage queen was the Telsa Model S, which got a 402-mile (647 km) rating from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2020.But that was trumped today with the launch in the US – timed to coincide with World EV Day – of the first EV from Lucid Motors, a Californian-based company run by Tesla’s former engineering boss, Peter Rawlinson.

The 2021 Lucid Air has an estimated EPA range of up to 517 miles (832 km) on a single charge and is able to accelerate to 100 km/h in about 2.5 seconds, Lucid says – though the Air is unlikely to get the promised range if a driver tests the punch speed too often.

In reality, range — like petrol mileage — depends on a bunch of things. They include the temperature, which accessories are being used, how loaded the car is, how it’s being driven, and the software which manages the batteries.

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mercedes luxury car

Among the more mainstream premium brands, Mercedes-Benz’s incoming EQS will be its first fully electric luxury sedan, due out next year along with Audi’s e-tron GT.

Daimler boss Ola Källenius says the EQS will be capable of driving more than 700 km between charges which, if accurate, will make the S-Class-sized sedan the longest-range series-produced electric vehicle in the world.Aston Martin is unlikely to produce an electric car – if at all – before 2025 after bleeding cash last year. The British marque definitively suspended its first electric car, the Rapide E, earlier this year and pushed back the 2022 launch of its all-electric Lagonda Vision Concept vehicle from the sub-brand.

Likewise, Ferrari has said it won’t produce an all-electric vehicle before 2025 and would focus on hybridization in the meantime.

Luxury Car

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, meanwhile, says it will skip hybrid cars altogether and go straight to full electrification when it’s ready to do so. When that may be, however, is unclear, with CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös refusing to be drawn on a timeline while he was visiting Melbourne last year.

“We’ll do it when we’re ready,” Müller-Ötvös told members of the local media.As for the global EV market generally, charging station numbers have increased from less than one million in 2014 to more than 7.3 million worldwide in 2020.

That’s giving confidence to motorists in long-range driving countries like Australia and supporting increased sales.In this country, more and more vehicle owners have been choosing to electrify their drive, according to the FCAI. In the first eight months of 2020, 6694 full-electric, petrol-electric hybrids and plug-in hybrids were sold, an increase of 113.9 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

The trend reflects international appetites for taking environmentally friendly strides toward future electric mobility. According to a BNEF report, vehicle sales for EVs will be 58 per cent by 2040. As far as pricing goes, the Lucid Air today debuted in the company’s range-topping Dream Edition spec with a starting price of US$169,000 (about $A233,000). This compares to the Tesla Model S’s ask of around $US80,000 to $ US120,000 ($A148,000-$A167,000 here).

Australian pricing for the Merceds-Benz EQS is yet to be released but it’s expected to be in a similar range to that of the Porsche Taycan and the Tesla Model S.

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COVID pressures lift used-car prices as supply wanes


Deborah Molina is a woman who goes after what she wants. Director of her own Melbourne-based interior design company, she decided about a year ago to create a side hustle as a DJ.

She’s since gone live as “DJ Shawty” blending hip-hop and RNB rhythms, and now she’s on the hunt for a car which more appropriately reflects her alter ego.Her choice? A white Lamborghini Huracán. And it must be white and it must be second-hand.

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“There’s no way I’d buy a new one,” Molina says. “Apart from the $200,000 price difference [between the new and used cars], there’s also the matter of how much you lose as soon as you drive a new one off the lot.”

She’s been watching stock at premium Melbourne resellers such at Dutton Garage and Lorbek Luxury Cars but is not in a rush.”I’ve been looking for six months now. I’ll buy what suits me,” she says.

Molina is part of the swelling ranks of Australians actively participating in the used-car market since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores. The economic outlook may be grim with mass layoffs and pay cuts the norm, but Australians are still willing to spend on safety – provided they’re not paying a premium, hence the pre-loved focus.Head of Motors at Gumtree Cars Richard Dicello says he’s seen significant interest in the used-car category in recent months following the grounding of flights and the need to avoid the risk of COVID exposureon public transport.

‘We’re paying big money for [used] stock because there is no stock. People aren’t trading on new vehicles at the moment.’

“We’ve seen a huge jump in activity … [with] page views up by 11 per cent if we compared that to the first three months of the year,” Dicello says.

And a survey of COVID consumer sentiment Gumtree conducted during the second quarter of this year indicated that 87 per cent of Gumtree Cars users intended to buy a vehicle within the next three months.

Just over 10 per cent of vehicles traded on Gumtree Cars are in the premium and luxury segment, Dicello says. The site has about 150,000 visits daily which, together with affiliated companies Cars Guide and Auto Trader, is attracting a combined monthly audience of more than 38 million visits.

covid pressure lift car prices
covid pressure lift car prices

Used-car prices have been going up and are likely to keep going that way, according to research from Datium Insights, an automotive data collection agency.They rose to an all-time high across Australia in July due mainly to a lack of supply – something that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

Analyzing the numbers, Moodys Analytics found the used-vehicle market jumped 6 per cent from June to July following the second wave of COVID-19, Victoria’s resulting hard lockdown and the highest unemployment rate Australia’s seen in more than 25 years.

The Datium Insights-Moody’s Analytics Price Index found used-car prices increased 30.8 per cent since April lows, and were 16.2 per cent higher than January’s pre-pandemic prices.

“People aren’t diving into the luxury market due to uncertainty in their economic situation,” says Michael Brisson, Auto Economist at Moody’s Analytics.

luxury car for women

“You don’t know if you’re going to get your job back, you don’t if you’re going to be employed next month. So the thought process of jumping in to buy a McLaren is not going to be first on your list.”

With Australian job losses so numerable and more and more households dealing with financial uncertainty, new car sales continue to suffer.July figures from Australia’s peak automotive representative body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, showed sales were down 13 per cent on where they were at the same time in 2019.

The ongoing slide in new car sales hasn’t been helped by the supply difficulties resulting from the COVID-driven car manufacturing shut-downs in Europe, China and the US,which makes this the sweet spot for sellers in the used-car space. To cater to the growing demand from sellers, Gumtree Cars recently launched an Instant Valuation Tool which gives users an immediate handle on what their cars are worth.

Dicello says there were several reasons why we would suspect Aussies are selling their current vehicle.

“It usually revolves around a change in life or personal circumstances,” he says. “There have been some signs that people are looking for a lower-cost vehicle due to some of the pressures that COVID’s created.Even well-to-do households may be considering selling cars they could do without in order to access cash. But for those hoping for a used-car bargain on the back of someone else’s forced sale due to financial hardship, think again.

Dealerships are not able to negotiate on pricing at the moment because they can’t replace stock, says industry veteran Shaun Baker, general manager at Lorbek Luxury Cars.

“The artificial market is hurting car valuations,” Baker says. “We’re paying big money for [used] stock because there is no stock. People aren’t trading on new vehicles at the moment because they’re trying to crunch because of COVID. So stock is hard to get. There’s simply no turnover.”

Even those who might want to offload a leased vehicle may find they’re unable to because of the negative equity factor, he says.“They might owe $160,000 on a car which the market says is now worth $130,000, so they’d need to pay out a $30,000 cheque,” he says. “Finance won’t wear that across.”

Gumtree Cars’ Instant Valuation Tool enables users to enter their car’s registration-plate details to receive immediate price-range estimates they could expect to sell the vehicles for, either privately or as a trade-in.Dicello says more than 200,000 valuations have been conducted using the tool so far, demonstrating that Aussies are keen to put a value against their asset. Interest has been relatively similar across base-model vehicles to the premium end of the market.He says the strength of the Gumtree Cars valuations product compared to similar tools at Red book or is that the site connects buyers and sellers on an open platform.

“We wanted to make sure [the tool was] a seamless experience … designed to allow the consumer to quickly get a reasonable idea of what their car’s worth,” he says. “After all, it’s the second biggest purchase that Aussie’s will make during their life, right?”In the three months to July, Dicello says the site saw a significant uptick in luxury-brand search activity – Maserati searches were up 48 per cent, Aston Martin 84 per cent, Jaguar 42 per cent and Porsche 20 per cent.

Interest was also apparent among the more mainstream, higher-selling premium brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus (all up 39 per cent) and BMW and Land Rover (up 36 per cent each).Turnover on the site has been picking up, too, with 32,000 new or used cars added each week, with the total of 92,000 listings not fluctuating too much, Dicello says.

Among the luxury cars available on the site were 27 Rolls-Royce vehicles, including a 2007 Phantom for $450,000. And for those into classic cars, there’s a listing out of WA of a beautifully maintained 1955 Bentley S1 at $69,999.As for Molina, there’s even a 2019 white Lamborghini Huracán Spyder for consideration. But with low mileage and a tonne of extra specifications, she’s likely to pass on this one given its $529,990 price tag.

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Madam Wheels appears on Channel Nine’s Today Extra program


Madam Wheels appears on Channel Nine’s Today Extra program


Madam Wheels founder Jacquie Hayes speaks with Channel Nine reporter Susanne Gray about some of the inequalities women face in the car-buying equation and how they can overcome them to bag the best deal.