five for friday
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 26, 2014. Cadillac ignores its heritage with new naming scheme, Lotus recants on abandoning North America, the Subaru Impreza is updated for 2015, the Ford Mustang EcoBoost's artificial enhancement secret, and the new AMG edition of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class gets fresh I.D. - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
Cadillac has confirmed that it will be naming its new luxury flagship sedan the 'CT6.' Not only that, but it has stated that the CT6 represents the new future of branding for the automaker, with the CTS-derived name eventually spawning several other CT-prefixed number cars below and potentially above the full-size four-door. The changes would go into place with the redesign of a particular model, which means that for the foreseeable future we'll still be able to buy a Cadillac ATS or Cadillac XTS.
I think I speak for most people when I suggest that maybe moving to a third vehicle naming scheme in two decades - especially one that's basically a random collection of numbers and letters, from a heritage and customer recognition perspective - appears to be a terrible idea. It's hard not to see the mitts of new Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen all over this move, as he enacted a similarly puzzling plan at his old Infiniti job a few years ago. Coupled with the decision to move its corporate HQ from Detroit to New York City, it would seem as though we are looking at the first of many changes for the luxury automaker.
Lotus will not be offering any street-legal automobiles for sale in the United States for the 2015 model year, due to the fact that its airbag exemption for the Lotus Evora sports car has expired. With no funds on-hand to design a new safety system for the car, news of Lotus' decision to simply stop selling the Evora had many speculating that it was on the verge of abandoning North America entirely - a concern compounded by the fact that the company also laid off 325 workers in the same week.
Lotus claims that the Evora stop-sale is a short-term plan, however, and that the coupe will be back in 2016 with an airbag design that meets federal regulations. Until then, you can still purchase race versions of the Evora and the Elise from Lotus dealerships across the country, who will try their best to keep the lights on while catering to this very specific market.
The 2015 Subaru Impreza has been given a mid-cycle refresh that makes important and much-needed changes to the vehicle's entertainment system. After years of listening to customer complaints about Byzantine menu systems and poor sound quality, Subaru has given the Impreza a new 6.2-inch touchscreen audio system as standard equipment, a unit that also serves as the display for the sedan or hatchback's new standard rearview camera. On the outside, there's also a tweaked grille and bumper to match revised headlights, and the third brake light on the sedan is now composed of LEDs. Finally, Subaru has added the EyeSight safety system to the Impreza's options list, along with an available color LCD screen in the gauge cluster.
'Sound tubes' and 'auralizers' are becoming increasingly common as automakers fight through layers of noise deadening and insulation in modern cabins to bring pleasing engine and exhaust notes to sport-minded drivers. The latest model to follow this trend is the 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost, the turbocharged four-cylinder version of Ford's performance coupe. A Road & Track editor discovered the sound sweetening system when he pulled a fuse during a test drive that not only cut out the radio but also much of the engine noise he had been experiencing - a product, Ford confirmed, of a sound-canceling-and-enhancing algorithm that works through the car's speakers. In actual fact, some of the dulcet tones of the EcoBoost motor are faked by the feature.
Does it matter if a car's pleasing sonic personality is live or Memorex? It might if you want to upgrade the stereo - remove the head unit from the Mustang EcoBoost and you can say good-bye to the car's unique aural character.
Photo by Ford
There must be something in the air, because Mercedes-Benz is also getting in on the re-naming craze that has taken root at Cadillac. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMG model won't be called the C63 AMG as in years past - in fact, it won't even be labeled a Mercedes-Benz. Instead, we have been gifted with the 2015 Mercedes-AMG C63, a naming scheme that matches the Mercedes-AMG GT sports coupe. The Mercedes-AMG C63 will feature a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 (also borrowed from the GT) that will be available in regular and S trims. The base edition of the engine pushes out 469 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of twist, while the S is good for 503 ponies and 516 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard with the sedan, which won't go on sale until spring of next year.