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 November 29, 2013. Polestar Volvos heat up North America, a lighter Mazda Miata, $1 cars, selling off your genetic legacy for a piece of the high performance dream, and Ford's automatic start/stop plague. Let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. Polestar Takes Its Performance Volvo Act To North America
Volvo has for many years lacked the kind of pizzazz in its line-up that its Teutonic competitors have taken for granted. Enter Polestar, the independent tuning firm that has long played a role in producing high performance Volvos both in the aftermarket and on the racing scene. Volvo has announced that its partnership with Polestar will finally vault the Atlantic in order to place hardcore Polestar editions of the Volvo S60 sedan and Volvo V60 wagon in North American dealerships next year.
Although Volvo currently offers a Polestar tuning package for these vehicles, the full-on Polestar models gain a significant boost in engine output, climbing to 350 horsepower from a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder motor. 369 lb-ft of torque is also on tap for these vehicles, managed by standard all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission that help the two cars leap to 60-mpg in a very quick 4.9 seconds. A revised suspension system, Brembo brakes, and slick body kits are also present and accounted for with the Volvo Polestar specials.
02. Redesigned Mazda Miata To Hit The Gym, Drop Fat, Gain Muscle
The Mazda Miata has never been accused of being a porker, although to be fair the current edition's power retractable hardtop - popular option that it is - does add considerable weight to the vehicle's diminutive package. Auto Motor und Sport has published an interview that suggests the next-generation Mazda Miata will be put through a rigorous diet and gym routine that should see it slice off significant mass until it emerges as a lithe and trim 2,200-pounder. This would put the Miata very close to the curb weight that it boasted when it first hit the market, and it would also help Mazda avoid having to produce a higher powered engine for the car to improve its performance. Overall the 2,200 lbs figure would cut nearly 300 lbs from the existing car.
03. Black Friday Cars For $1
I'm not contractually obligated to throw in a Black Friday story on this most auspicious of shopping days, but it's hard to ignore the '$1 car' promotion held by Sterling McCall Toyota in Houston, Texas. The Automotive News is reporting that for the third year in a row this dealership will be pricing three of its cars at $1, spread randomly throughout its lot, and will also offer vehicles available for a variety of other significantly discounted prices. Each $1 car is used, has high mileage (between 100,000 and 200,000 miles), and has passed safety inspection. Most of the special deals will also be on 10 year old vehicles, but knowing these facts has never stopped an enormous crowd from gathering outside the dealer's gates as early as five hours prior to the sounding of the opening bell.
04. Sell A Testicle, Buy A Z Car
You can't sell body parts on eBay - go ahead and try - but there's still apparently a healthy market for them in the United States. News.com.au has published a story discussing one man's decision to part with his testicle in order to purchase a Nissan 370Z. The going rate for half of a man's reproductive apparatus seems to be $35,000 USD, which is what Mark Parisi announced he was getting for his wedding tackle on The Doctors, a CBS television program. No word was given on whether Mark was picking a manual or automatic transmission for his new sports coupe.
05. Stop Start Technology To Colonize Ford Fleet
It's one of my least-favorite automotive technologies, and it's also one that benefits car companies far more than it does individual drivers. I'm talking about automatic engine start/stop systems designed to eliminate idling and boost fuel economy by the smallest of margins - an effect that helps brands improve their overall corporate average but in the real world does little for owners except annoy them with the rough starting and stopping of their engines at each and every red light.
Ford is going to be expanding the start/stop feature currently found in its hybrid cars. The first victim is the next-generation Ford Edge crossover, but the Automotive News reports that soon enough almost every Blue Oval-wearing vehicle will be saddled with this tedious feature. Currently, Ford intends to make the system a for-pay option, which means at least it won't be forced down our throats like it is by several other car companies.
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