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 5, 2014. Cadillac discusses its full-size crossover plans, the Mazda Mazda5 is no more, the all-new Mazda MX-5 Miata takes a bow, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is ready to roll, and Infiniti looks to add a flagship model - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
After spending a long time on the fence, and sparking rumors that the current Cadillac Escalade might be the last to ride on a traditional full-frame platform, Cadillac has announced that a full-size crossover will indeed be coming to the brand's showrooms. The upcoming model - which wouldn't appear for several years - would complement, not replace the Escalade, and it would offer rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive in keeping with the brand's commitment to those particular drivetrain layouts moving forward. A smaller compact rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive crossover will also be developed along a similar timeframe, leaving only the existing Cadillac SRX on a front-wheel/all-wheel drive chassis.
The Mazda Mazda5 is the most fun-to-drive minivan on the market, but unfortunately very few customers ever found their way behind the wheel of this six-passenger compact people mover. With sales figures on a downward trend over the course of the past few years Mazda has elected to eliminate the Mazda5 from its U.S. product line. Puzzlingly, the only minivan around with the option of a manual transmission will continue to be sold in Canada, where it has proven even less popular despite that country's preference for compact vehicles. There's no word on whether a replacement for the Mazda5 will appear in the form of a crossover or SUV, but it seems as though the company expects the existing CX-5 crossover to pick up the slack - not an unreasonable supposition given its popularity with budget-conscious family shoppers.
The long wait is over - sort of - as this week provided us all with a first look at the next-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Unveiled during an event at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, the redesigned Mazda MX-5 Miata is sleeker and more aggressive than the model that precedes it, all while losing 220 lbs of curb weight in the process. The 'sort of' I alluded to in my opening sentence has to do with the absence of technical data about the vehicle's drivetrain, as only leaked Japanese-market specifications describing the power plant as a Skyactiv unit have been made available. Mazda claims that the car is still in development, which is a reasonable assertion given that its on-sale date isn't scheduled until the summer of 2016.
The Land Rover LR2 will be replaced in 2015 by the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Although the differences between the two vehicles aren't dramatic, and drivetrains remain the same (2.0-liter, 240 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, all-wheel drive standard), the sub-$40k Discovery Sport points towards the brand's decision to create a new 'family' of SUVs that will target those seeking mid-level luxury. Family is an important catchword for the Discovery Sport, and the Discovery line as a whole, given that the Sport will feature seven passenger seating (vestigial though it may be) and that the next-generation LR4 seven-passenger SUV will be also be dubbed a Discovery.
Infiniti has never had a full-size sedan or coupe that could truly be labeled a flagship model, with the latest Infiniti Q70L extended-wheelbase mid-size four-door representing the largest, most prestigious car built by the brand. That could soon be changing with the upcoming Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept, which is set to debut at the Paris Motor Show next month. Although no details have been provided about the car, its curvy shape indicates either a unique four-door 'coupe' or a traditional two-door luxury car. Either design would go a long way towards raising Infiniti's profile amongst premium shoppers.