Top nine locally-assembled cars with bigger wheels than the 2022 Formula One car
Formula One is getting one of its biggest revamps in recent years next season, with 2022’s cars looking drastically different from what we’re used to on the current grid. Among the changes mandated by the FIA are bigger rims, which have been upsized to 18 inches in diameter, wrapped in lower profile Pirelli rubbers. It’s a big jump from the 13-inch wheels being used today.
In a ‘sport’ rim-obsessed market like ours, 18 inches isn’t much to shout about any more at a time when common SUVs are often sighted sporting wider footwear. Don’t believe us? Here are nine cars assembled right here in Malaysia that offer bigger wheels than the 2022 F1 car.
The Premium variants of the popular X70 introduce a headache no Proton owner has ever encountered in the brand’s history: the high replacement cost of 19-inch SUV tyres. The wheels on the Malaysian carmaker’s first SUV and first Geely-derived model aren’t just hefty; they look pretty neat too, saving many owners the mandatory trip to Klang to tukar rim right after taking ownership of their new ride. Oddly enough, the recently-launched and somewhat limited X70 SE rides on smaller 18-inch items…
The first-generation CX-5 was probably the first SUV to introduce 19-inch footwear to the mass market when it was launched in 2012. In fact, it was too good to be true that Bermaz downsized to 17 inches mere months after the launch. The CX-5’s 19-inchers made a comeback on later, higher-spec models, as well as on the three-row CX-8. Of all of Mazda’s CKD models to ride on these wheels, the 228bhp CX-5 Turbo is arguably our favourite.
The X70’s distant cousin Volvo has a knack of designing some of the sleekest wheels in the market under its R-Design catalogue. When the new S60 first broke cover as a fully-imported model back in 2019, few expected Volvo Car Malaysia to maintain the sole T8 R-Design specification when the time for local assembly came. The five-spoke wheels are a sublime match for the S60’s fluid proportions. And with 407 combined horses on tap, it’s quite a hoot to drive too, even if its top speed is capped to just 180kph.
Possibly the most exciting car launch we’ve had in this current state of lockdown thus far, the Arteon R-Line 4Motion looks like a smashing deal on paper. A 280PS TSI mill, all-wheel drive and plush trimmings that wouldn’t look out of place in an Audi, the uprated facelift has it all. The sub-RM250k package put together in Pekan, Pahang also includes 19-inch two-tone ‘Montevideo’ alloys which look incredibly slick, not that we expect any less from the same brand responsible for some truly iconic GTI and R wheel designs.
As per the simple rules of hierarchy, all models sitting above the S60 in Volvo’s product chain had wheels that were just as big if not bigger. The S90’s 19-inch diamond-cut alloys on the range-topping Inscription Plus variant double the spoke count for a classier look, perhaps to brace itself for the incoming competition that is the Mercedes-Benz W213 E-Class facelift. The recently updated BMW 5 Series is a notable threat too, although there’s a certain allure to the big Swede saloon that makes it hard to ignore.
While the facelifted Arteon may threaten to rob some sales from the BMW 320i and 330i, the M340i xDrive remains a class above with a three-litre, turbocharged in-line six good for 387bhp and 500Nm of twist. The first ever locally-assembled M car is finished in BMW’s M Performance package, which includes a sporty set of 19-inch 792 M alloy wheels. They look great, but they’re far from the biggest rims BMW Malaysia has to offer…
Forget the 19-inch wheels; now we’re in the big leagues. Measuring 2.0m wide, 5.2m long and 1.8m tall, Munich’s largest SUV is so big it makes the 21-inch wheels fitted to the recently localised xDrive40i model look small. Local assembly has slashed a whopping RM180,000 off the X7’s initial CBU price tag. And we can’t think of many other cars that can match the Bavarian behemoth’s sheer physical presence for under RM700k brand new.
On a smaller frame like that of the facelifted GLC coupe’s, 21-inch wheels look absolutely menacing. That’s exactly what Mercedes was going for with the GLC43 4Matic, which squeezes a heady twin-turbo V6 good for 390bhp and 520Nm under the RM500k mark thanks to local assembly rebates. The Pekan-built SUV-coupe is incredibly entertaining behind the wheel as far as ‘utility’ vehicles go. But those desiring Merc’s unmistakable brand of comfort and luxury can opt for the next car for roughly the same amount of money…
While the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90 slug it out in the battle of big, posh plug-in SUVs, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is going the other way by offering a pure petrol six-cylinder powerplant for an incredibly competitive RM475k with SST exemptions factored in. Like the Volvo, it packs three rows of seats to pile the pressure on the five-seat Bimmer. The GLE450 is also dressed up in AMG Line kit which includes timeless 21-inch alloys. They’re not quite as big as the CBU’s 22-inchers, but who’s calculating?