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 22, 2013. It’s a special L.A. Auto Show edition today, and the Jaguar F-Type, the Subaru WRX and Legacy Concept, the Chevrolet Colorado, and the Porsche Macan all have starring roles. Let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
Just like the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was ubiquitous in Detroit earlier this year, L.A. turned into a show that was devoted to the new Jaguar F-TYPE coupe. After a stunning debut that featured the two-door sports car rocketing down a sound stage at 90-mph, the F-Type has received endless kudos from journalists and photographers for its sultry looks and exceptional performance. With 550 supercharged eight-cylinder horsepower available in the new R model, there’s no question that the F-Type has revitalized the British brand and introduced a fresh generation of potential buyers to the idea that the luxury company is also capable of producing track-worthy rides and not just plush cruisers. From a line-up standpoint, the F-Type coupe allows Jaguar to push the XK further into the grand touring segment without worrying about it bearing the performance banner for the automaker.
At the beginning of Subaru’s unveiling I – like most people – was eagerly anticipating my first in-the-flesh glimpse of the 2015 Subaru WRX. By the end of the entire production I couldn’t take my eyes off of the vehicle that sat beside it on the dais: the new Subaru Legacy concept. Easily the most attractive concept car that Subaru has ever brought to market, there were few mechanical details presented about the model so shapely that it would seem to guarantee a boost in mid-size Subaru sales. Nevertheless, if what I was told was true – and that the concept is essentially a slightly larger version of what will eventually hit show rooms – then the Legacy could be poised to achieve new relevance as a family sedan option.
The mid-size truck segment is one that has been largely ignored by American buyers who have shown little interested in purchasing a pickup that is not quite as capable as a full-size model while offering no real fuel mileage benefit. The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado is a second attempt from GM to answer the question as to who is really looking for a smaller-than-full-size pickup.
After a disastrous initial run, the next-generation Colorado ditches its five and eight-cylinder engines in favor of a four, a six, and eventually, a turbodiesel. Presented as a ‘lifestyle’ model – a potential crossover alternative – the Chevrolet doesn’t attempt to go up against the Silverado in terms of capability but instead makes a play based on its more manageable size as well as the upcoming fuel savings associated with its diesel mill. It’s an interesting gamble from GM, and one that could force the hand of rivals like Nissan who have avoided further development of their mid-size pickup platforms in favor of the status quo.
By now everyone’s come to the somewhat disappointing conclusion that the 2015 Subaru WRX looks almost nothing like the stunning concept car that we were shown in New York City. Instead, the new WRX follows the same design path as the previous model: a beefed-up Impreza with a pocket-rocket body kit and a new turbo motor. While the interior is much improved over past versions of the car, there had been hope that the updated WRX would split off from the Impreza and follow its own path towards more focused sports car performance. It’s a nice effort from Subaru, but it feels almost like a missed opportunity to expand the brand.
The 2015 Porsche Macan might not offer the same interior room or ground clearance as the larger Cayenne SUV, but one thing seems certain: the base model of its larger sibling isn’t long for this world. The Macan’s position as the entry-level Porsche people mover negates the importance of the naturally-aspirated six-cylinder Cayenne as the gateway to the brand, and it simply doesn’t make sense to keep two similarly-priced SUVs in the lineup. Look for the Cayenne to graduate to eight-cylinder or diesel power as the new base edition in the near future.