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 September 27, 2013. Jaguar takes on the BMW 3 Series, the Volkswagen Routan is finally laid to rest, the BMW 1 Series loses its rear-wheel drive mojo, the DOT is sued for safety delays, and the BMW M3 and M4 get more engine details - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. Jaguar To Go 'Full BMW' With New Compact Model
Jaguar has long wanted to re-join the entry-level luxury fray, but memories of the disastrous Jaguar X-Type - which borrowed heavily from the common Ford Mondeo platform - have held the brand back. Until now, that is. We all knew that Jaguar would be bringing a small sedan to market in the near future, but Auto Express is reporting that the company will also offer a wagon version of the compact (as it did with the X-Type) and a coupe. The strategy would seem to be to take on the BMW 3 Series, which also offers a similarly-varied lineup of luxury cars and, like Jaguar, enjoys a reputation for providing enthusiast-friendly driving dynamics. It's unclear whether the wagon would make it across the Atlantic into American showrooms, but it's entirely conceivable that at least the coupe will join its sedan sibling in the United States.
02. The Volkswagen Routan Dies A Second Death
The Volkswagen Routan's stay of execution is over. The re-badged Dodge Grand Caravan (minus that van's compelling Stow 'n Go seating feature) had been a very slow seller for the German brand. In fact, demand for the Routan was so minimal that VW was forced to stop building the minivan for a long period last year in an effort to keep inventory at a manageable level. There are a few 2014 Routan models out there for fleet buyers, but not very many - and now they are destined to become collector's items as the automaker is pulling the plug on the model. In total, fewer than 60,000 Routans ever found a home, which is roughly 140,000 less than Volkswagen expected to be able to move off of dealer lots during its lifetime.
03. BMW 1 Series Sedan Confirmed As Front-Wheel Drive
Despite an advertising past that routinely poked fun at the front-wheel drive layouts of its competitors, BMW has confirmed to the Automotive News that the next-generation BMW 1 Series sedan will be a puller, not a pusher. Aimed at affordable offerings from rivals like Audi (the A3) and Mercedes-Benz (the CLA-Class), the new BMW 1 Series will ride on a new platform that takes fuel mileage at least as much into consideration as it does performance. Corporate average fuel economy regulations are as real for BMW as they are for any other manufacturer, and with a smaller fleet of vehicles on offer the brand is more vulnerable to the effects that its high horsepower models have on bottom-line efficiency.
04. DOT Sued For Dragging Feet On Backup Cameras
Way back in 2008 the Department of Transportation decided that it was time for car companies to take rear visibility into consideration when styling their vehicles, signing a law that has been ignored by essentially all automakers as side and rear windows have shrunk to surprisingly narrow proportions. As a follow-up, two years later the DOT proposed that a backup camera would need to be standard equipment on all new models sold in America in order to fight the growing scourge of poor rearward sightlines.
It's now 2013, and with backup cameras still at least two years away from becoming a legislative reality, it would appear that several groups are tired of waiting. A lawsuit was filed today against the DOT that seeks to compel the government agency to make good on its backup camera promise as soon as possible. Although backup cameras have joined the list of 'recommended features' published by the Department of Transportation, they are still far from being required gear in even the most affordable automobiles. 44 percent of all fatalities associated with backing up are children under the age of five.
05. Drivetrain Details Released For BMW M3 And M4
The speculation is over: the next-generation BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe will be powered by a twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine producing 430 horsepower. Final torque figures haven't been published - nor has the exact displacement of the motor - but the company has said that the M3 and M4 will provide more than 370 lb-ft of twist for their owners to play with. Transmission choices will include a traditional six-speed manual as well as a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual, and the coupe's curb weight is said to check in at 3,300 lbs. The first-ever turbocharged M3 (and of course, the debut M4), the move pivots BMW away from the eight-and-ten cylinder engines that had come to define recent M efforts.
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