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 June 27, 2014. Jaguar pulls the plug on the XK, the 2015 Ford Focus ST gets a new look, Hyundai spruces up the Sonata’s turbo choices, the National Corvette Museum continues to milk its pet sinkhole, and Ford swaps one 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine for another - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. Jaguar To End Production Of XK Coupes and Convertibles
In light of the success of the all-new Jaguar F-Type sports car, and in the face of sagging sales for the larger Jaguar XK coupes and convertibles, the British brand has elected to drop the latter from its line-up after the 2015 model year. The XK has served as a luxurious grand touring car since it was first introduced in 1996, and while it has enjoyed a small following the volume simply isn’t there to justify updating its aging platform to meet new crash test standards. It seems unlikely that Jaguar will be without a flagship coupe for long, as the prestige associated with the four-seat XK was at another level compared to the more performance-oriented F-Type. Much of the company’s future, however, will hinge on the reception afforded the Jaguar XE compact sedan that is slated to hit American shores in 2016 – a vehicle that is likely to be a ‘make or break’ product for the automaker.
02. 2015 Ford Focus ST Details Released
Ford has elected to refresh the Ford Focus ST high performance hatchback for 2015, giving the very quick compact a number of tweaks inside and out in order to further improve its curb appeal and driving dynamics. The Focus ST features several front end enhancements, such as a new hood and headlights, as well as a lower stance and a revised instrument panel. Mechanically, the vehicle’s shock absorbers have been stiffened, and it also rides on new front springs. Power from the Ford Focus ST’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine remains constant at 252 horses and 270 lb-ft of torque, and a six-speed manual remains the sole gearbox available with the car.
03. Hyundai To Go All-Turbo Soon With New Sonata?
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata doesn’t just feature the revised versions of last year’s drivetrains that were announced when the car was unveiled this spring. A special Eco model will also eventually go on sale late in 2014, and this version of the sedan makes use of a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 177 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission – a first for a Hyundai sedan – is matched with this diminutive engine in order to maximize fuel economy (which is projected as 28-mpg city and 38-mpg highway). With numbers like those, it seems a certainty that the Sonata’s base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine will eventually be replaced by the Eco model’s mill as the standard for the car, which would make the Sonata an all-turbo affair (alongside the range-topping 2.0-liter turbo four-banger).
04. Corvette Museum Sinkhole To Be Immortalized
What do you do when life hands you a sinkhole? Make sinkhole-ade. At least, that would appear to be the philosophy of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which lost several important cars from its collection in February when a sinkhole opened up and devoured eight Chevrolet Corvettes that had been on display. The event itself – and the subsequent ‘rescue’ of the Corvettes in question – generated a huge amount of publicity for the Museum, an unexpected aftershock that has lead to the decision to preserve the sinkhole for posterity. The Museum’s board of directors have decided to shrink the size of the sinkhole somewhat rather than repair it completely, and then treat it as an exhibition. Potentially, the facility may keep one or two of the Corvettes that were damaged during the incident at the bottom of the hole for maximum effect.
05. 2.0-liter Ford EcoBoost Motor To Be Retired
Ford has decided to eliminate the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that is currently ubiquitous across its family of vehicles, in favor of… a different 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. After less than five years on the market, the 2.0-liter mill has fallen behind in terms of technology, leading Ford to design a more efficient turbocharged engine to take its place. The new motor weighs less than the current setup and is said to better balance output with fuel-sipping frugality. Power for the unit is expect to top the 240 ponies and 270 lb-ft of torque that its predecessor produced, and it will be all-wheel drive friendly.