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Home  /  November 2019  /  Comment

It’s the oldest trick in the book.

Produce the world’s fastest, slowest, lightest, sexiest and so on car and gullible motoring journalists give you a heap of free publicity. So today, a photo of the just-released Aspark Owl.

From Japan, the Owl is the fastest accelerating car in the world: 0-97km/h in 1.69 seconds, the world’s most powerful electric hypercar (two times more power than a Formula 1 car and half as powerful as my 6.1 litre Holden SS ute) and is good for 400km/h.

Just imagine, you and your plus-one are on a hot date. You’re heading to Bridget and Mark’s Seven Seeds cafe at 114 Berkeley Street, Carlton (try the chocolate French toast, it’s OK — it’s vegan — Birdsnake Chocolate, Seven Seeds espresso semi freddo and meringue crumble with the banana chai smoothie with banana, Fly High chai, milk and Jock’s vanilla ice cream for a very easy 30 bucks all up). You turn left out of Pelham onto Berkeley Street, put the loud pedal to the floor and your necks snap back and before you see the big white, ugly Urbanest student accommodation (twin share studio with two beds separated by a book shelf, for just $345 per person per week — it’s ideal for making new friends) the Owl is cruising at 350km/h.

Aspark boss Masanori Yoshida says: “The Owl is a hypercar with great performance but never shouty or edgy, capable to convey femininity and luxury feel.” (I have no problem conveying femininity.) Best of all Masa is only going to make 50 of them and of course is offering a super, never-to-be-repeated deal for Weekend Australian readers. Yup just wire Masa $80k, mention this column and in the middle of next year you can head to Turin for a factory tour and walk away with your new Owl for only $4.7m. Remember, in Japan, owls bring luck and offer protection from suffering. In Carlton you’ll need that luck and protection at 400km/h.

While we’re talking super things, today’s edition of this very newspaper and multimedia platform carries an important report by our award-winning cricket and beer writer and connoisseur of the better things in life, Peter Lalor. It’s our annual Top 20 Australian Beers list. Let me spoil your perusal of this critical measure of the diversity, creativity and good health of this young nation by telling you that Coopers Sparkling Ale as recommended by the great man himself (Mick, not Pete) makes the top 20.

And in bad news, regular readers know the story of Ian McPherson and his 2015 Mazda CX-5 GT diesel. Ian bought the car new in June 2015 for $47k. Not surprisingly, with what we now know, Ian’s Mazda began to experience poor performance, losing power on hills and during regular driving after being serviced on November 9, 2018. Mazda told Ian that the vehicle had a known design flaw and wanted to put in a new engine, Ian said no I want a refund, but after a failed shout out to NSW Fair Trading he agreed to a new engine. Civil and Administrative Tribunal NSW general member Stuart Sutherland heard the matter and seems to have relied heavily on the evidence of Geoff Senz, an automotive consultant, who appears to have done quite an amount of work for Mazda.

Stu dismissed Ian’s case saying that “the engine was subsequently replaced” and “that the motor ­vehicle is safe and operates normally”. He didn’t have much time for the motoring press, either. “I have examined the documents from the applicants that includes articles, posts, and blogs from the internet provided by the applicants as to similar instances concerning CX-5 … these articles are not from a specialist motor vehicle magazine … I do give weight to these articles. However, there is also the expert of evidence of Mr Senz that the motor vehicle is safe and operating normally.”

Well, far be it from anyone here to suggest we are “a specialist motor vehicle magazine” but we reckon Rocket Rod Sims has a few specialists there at the ACCC when he announced a case in the Federal Court against Mazda Australia, alleging it engaged in unconscionable conduct and made false or misleading representations in its dealings with consumers who bought one of seven new Mazda vehicles between 2013 and 2017 including the CX-5. And guess what Mazda said in its 262,000-vehicle recall of the same cars in the US? The recall is “to fix a software problem that could cause the engines to stall unexpectedly without warning”. Lucky no safety issues there. And replacing a car engine in many cases does ­affect the value of the car, well, just like a recall can.

And following last week’s plaintiff plea about lack of test drives, Melissa Hamilton from the mighty Australian start-up Vmoto (the shares a steal at 24c) telexed me offering a test ride on two of their electric two-wheelers. I was hot for a spin on the Special Ducati Edition and happy to pay but as I explained to Mel, I’m not ready for that big ride in the sky.

If bikes aren’t your go, then on Monday you can start bidding on surplus-to-needs metal from the Holden Heritage Collection. Manheim Auctions have 40 cars and one zillion Holden plates up for sale. Each car comes with a letter of authenticity. I will be bidding but have a good look at the first Monaro CV8, the first Commodore Motorsport and the first Commodore Director (which I think is probably the best buy if you are going to drive it). Shannons have their conventional Sydney auction on Monday. NSW plate 22 should bring close to $1m and a 1968 Aston $450k.

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