It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for August 28, 2014. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class gets a new moniker, Mazda ponders an MX-5 Miata coupe, Jaguar experiments with a manual transmission in the F-Type, the Alfa Romeo 6C might be real, and Chevrolet storms out of the gate with the Corvette Stingray - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. Mercedes-Benz M-Class To Be Re-Named
It's normally not news when a vehicle's name is changed, unless that model happens to be the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, the model that helped launch the luxury suv craze when it first appeared on the scene in 1998. Word from Mercedes-Benz is that it's going to be homogenizing its SUV naming scheme starting with the M-Class after it's refreshed for 2016, causing the M-Class to be re-dubbed the GLE-Class in reflection of its mid-size, or 'E-Class' status in the line-up. This opens the door to both GLC-Class (current GLK-Class) and GLS-Class (existing GL-Class) renamings in the near future as these SUVs undergo their own redesigns.
02. Mazda MX-5 Miata Coupe Is On The Way
To some, the Mazda MX-5 Miata would be the perfect sports car…if it had a roof. Although the compact roadster has been incredibly successful due to its lightweight design and excellent driving dynamics, not everyone into automotive performance is also interested in being able to put the top down, which has kept Miatas out of more than a few driveways since its inception in 1989. According to the Automotive News, a coupe edition of the Miata will finally be on the way from Mazda as early as 2016, or a year after the redesigned version of the convertible goes on sale next summer.
Although the outcry for a Miata coupe has been long and strong, the Subaru BRZ / Scion FR-S twins present a cautionary tale. Recognized as excellent handlers with a strong fun factor, these two compact coupes - in many ways similar to what a Miata coupe concept would bring to the table - have been modest sellers at best for their respective co-parents.
03. A Manual Jaguar F-Type On The Way?
The 2015 Jaguar F-TYPE coupe and roadster have been well-received by anyone with eyes and a soul, but the fact that an automatic transmission - even a very good automatic transmission - is the only gearbox available with either car has been off-putting to some enthusiasts. A recent online video of the F-Type testing on the Nurburgring that sounds like a clutch is definitely in the mix, combined with claims by Car Magazine in the UK that its reporters have actually seen a prototype six-speed manual F-Type, indicate that a change for the better is on the way. Car Magazine also states that all-wheel drive will soon be added to the F-Type mix, with an on-sale date as early as next year.
04. Alfa Romeo To Target F-Type With New 6C Sports Car
The Alfa Romeo 4C isn't even on sale yet in the U.S., but Auto Express has published a report that the Italian brand will be bringing a new sports car to market specifically to do battle with the previously-mentioned Jaguar F-Type. Low volume, but featuring a 400+ horsepower twin-turbo V-6, the Alfa Romeo would be called the 6C and it would split the difference between the barebones performance of the 4C and the luxuriously-appointed character of the previous Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione that teased American buyers just a few short years ago with a limited production run. We'll have to wait until 2017 to find out if there's any actual truth to this particular rumor.
05. Chevrolet Has Swamped The Market With Corvettes
Corvette Blogger was in attendance at Corvettes at Carlisle, the annual get-together for Vette Heads in Pennsylvania, and the website has revealed that General Motors discussed total production numbers for the introductory year of Chevrolet Corvette Stingray at the event. 37,288 examples of the Stingray were sold during 2014, which is significantly more volume than the previous-generation Corvette had been able to achieve. In fact, it's more than 2010-2013 Corvette sales combined, which indicates that there was severe pent-up demand for the new sports car. Chevrolet has not sold this many Vettes since it moved just over 40,000 units in 2008.