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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 July 5, 2013. The Volkswagen Golf GTD, saying good-bye to Cadillac's super sedan, a subcompact Jeep SUV on the way, the 2014 Mazda MAZDA3 sedan, and a hydrogen fuel cell bonanza - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
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01. Volkswagen Golf GTD Is A Go
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf is still a ways away from going on sale in the United States, but once it does the redesigned hatchback will feature a brand new model: the Golf GTD. The GTD is a cross between the GTI performance hatch and the TDI diesel edition of the popular compact car, providing the fuel miserly, high-torque personality of VW's turbodiesel motor with suspension tuning that elevates its driving experience above average. Although the Golf GTD's existence was never a secret, it wasn't until this week that the German automaker confirmed that it would be sending the vehicle - in both two and four-door editions - across the Atlantic. The growing number of turbocharged diesel passenger cars in the United States indicates that the market for these thrifty and powerful automobiles is expanding at a higher than expected pace. Will American buyers embrace the idea of a diesel that is fun to drive?
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02. No More Super Sedan From Cadillac
It was an idea that seemed too good to be true at the time, and according to Automotive News, it turns out that it actually was: Cadillac will not be turning its Ciel concept into the $100k+ ultra-luxury sedan that it had initially announced it would build. The market for high priced premium metal isn't the strongest, especially for a manufacturer that would be relying on customers willing to look past the brand's lack of recent history at this lofty plateau. Instead, Cadillac will focus on the development of its rear-wheel drive flagship sedan intended to compete against the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Work on this model had been concurrent with the more expensive Ciel-styled vehicle, and the company projects that it could hit the market within the next few years on a brand new platform from General Motors.
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03. Ultra-Tiny Jeep On The Way?
At the other end of the product spectrum comes the news that Jeep will be adding a subcompact model to its product range as early as next year. Edmunds spoke with Jeep CEO Mike Manley this week, who revealed that a subcompact Jeep SUV is on its way to slot in below the recently released Jeep Cherokee. Like the Cherokee, the new subcompact Jeep SUV will ride on a front-wheel drive, Fiat-derived platform, but it will come in at 16 inches shorter than its 181-inch long larger cousin. While European-market versions of the Jeep will gain a diesel engine, Americans will have to make do with a gas-only model. There was no word from Manley on whether the cute 'ute would be Trail Rated for off-road operation by the company.
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04. 2014 Mazda MAZDA3 Sedan Joins Hatch In Limelight
The 2014 Mazda MAZDA3 sedan broke cover a little bit earlier than planned when images of the vehicle's rump hit the Internet this week. The hatchback version of the Mazda MAZDA3, which has been completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, had already been unveiled in June. One of the most striking aspects of the new MAZDA3 sedan is how much styling it shares with the graceful MAZDA6 mid-size sedan, with the same Kodo design language working well across the compact car's smaller dimensions. Two four-cylinder engines will be offered with the MAZDA3, including a Skyactiv 2.5-liter unit that delivers 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque.
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05. Fuel Cells, Fuel Cells, Everywhere
Hydrogen fuel cells are the vaporware of the automotive industry, with very few car companies actually making production-ready examples of its hydrogen-powered cars available to the public. The technological challenges associated with using hydrogen as a power source are formidable, but that hasn't stopped a slew of major automakers from trying to bang square pegs through round holes. This past week, General Motors and Honda announced a partnership to develop fuel cells by the year 2020. Honda currently offers very limited numbers of Honda FXC Clarity fuel cell sedans in the California market. Toyota has also joined the recent fuel cell party, with the boast of a hydrogen-powered car going on sale as a 2015 model.
These fuel cell vehicles won't come cheap. Toyota will price its entry, which will have a 300 mile range, somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 according to The Detroit Bureau. The Honda FCX Clarity is available right now via a $600/month lease, but that rate includes all the hydrogen fuel that the sedan could need.
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