Ford reveals 50th Anniversary Mustang

The wait is finally over. Ford has revealed the all-new 2015 Mustang which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of this iconic nameplate. Ford had achieved great success with the current version of the Mustang with its retro design, so the bar was set very high with this new redesign. Opinions will likely vary, especially among purists who are very hard to please. In many ways this design is more evolutionary and incremental as opposed to something radical. It looks like the current body style was simply modified to look more modern and more like the rest of the current Ford lineup. Still, it’s unmistakably a Mustang, and that should please many fans.

The front view of the vehicle offers the most noticeable design change with the more modern looking headlamps. The front facia still looks like a Mustang, but now we’re seeing something more like the uninspired looks of the car from the 1990s. Meanwhile, the fastback rear end seems like the most aggressive part of the new vehicle and may save the overall design.

Some on the fan message boards are deriding the new design as looking like an Accord Coupe, but there was no way Ford was going to get a more modern design without getting some of this negative criticism. The retro Mustang was a massive hit, but it had lost its sales lead to the new, retro Camaro. Ford had to move on and the 50th anniversary offered the ideal opportunity.

The design provides a lower, wider stance with a reduction in roof height and wider rear fender. The return of Mustang fastback with a sleeker profile enabled by more steeply sloped windshield and rear glass.

Ford sees the new Mustang as a world car, so they will be aggressive about marketing this American icon overseas. Also, there are plenty of improvements to the vehicle as well that will please consumers.

The Mustang will now be available with three engines – a more powerful 5.0-liter V8, a 3.7-liter V6 and an all-new fuel-efficient 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. With the emphasis these days on gas mileage that should help the vehicle appeal to a broader audience. The robust 5.0-liter V8 available in the Mustang GT will feature an upgraded valvetrain and cylinder heads that yield more than 420 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard 3.7-liter V6 will have at least 300 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque. Meanwhile, the Mustang EcoBoost engine uses direct injection, variable cam timing and turbocharging to provide both power and projected segment-leading fuel efficiency. Output is projected at more than 305 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. It will be interesting to see the sales breakdown and how these engines feel in terms of power.

Ford is emphasizing that the new Mustang will be more nimble with better handling. The goal was to surpass the handling dynamics achieved in the recent Boss 302. Ford explains that the new Mustang features all-new front and rear suspension systems. At the front, a new perimeter subframe helps to stiffen the structure while reducing mass, providing a better foundation for more predictable wheel control that benefits handling, steering and ride. At the rear is an all-new integral-link independent rear suspension which might not please some of the purists. The vihicle has been modified and tuned for this high-performance application.

This new Mustang will generate considerable buzz and we’ll see how fans react when it goes on sale next year.

Infiniti reveals the new Q30 Concept compact CUV at Frankfurt

I was on hand in Germany this week at the 2013 Motor Show and snapped these photos of the all-new Infiniti Q30 Concept. Expectations are that this new concept car will be very close to the compact CUV that Infiniti will ultimately release.

The gold color really grabs your attention and the reveal came across as a big hit. The front end is very similar to the current design language we’re seeing from Infiniti, but the back end really stood out with the back window blending into the rear tail lights. The effect was very impressive.

I got shots from all angles so you can get a feel for the vehicle. The compact CUV market is very hot right now and the luxury brands are trying to grab their share as well, so it will be interesting to see how quickly Infiniti can get to a production model here.

“We are becoming the younger, trendsetting brand, more relevant and more exciting,” said Johan de Nysschen, President of Infiniti Motor Company, Ltd. “Infiniti Q50, and now the Q30 Concept, deliver on this promise.” Infiniti executives have been stressing the importance of design in the Infiniti strategy, and they are definitely pushing the envelope in an attempt to challenge the other luxury brands. It will be interesting to see if the buyer mix starts to skew younger. The company notes that “by the end of this decade, Gen X and Gen Y will represent 80 percent of buyers in the premium segment.”

The design of the Q30 is intended to create “a unique blend of features reminiscing of a coupe, a hatch and a crossover.” It definitely inspires a sporty vibe that should grab the attention of buyers looking for luxury and fun in their driving experience.

During the press conference de Nysschen was joined on stage by Sebastian Vettel, a 3-time Formula One world champion who has been assisting the company. He was presented with a special helmet to use in testing engineering prototypes of the future compact premium model, the first Infiniti model that he will have a role in influencing from its inception.

Hyundai announces pricing for 2014 Equus

2014 Hyundai Equus

Hyundai Motor America announced pricing today for the refreshed 2014 Hyundai Equus during a media event at its Ann Arbor, Michigan facility. The Equus comes in two model options – the Signature and the Ultimate. The Equus Signature has an MSRP with freight of $61,920, and the Equus Ultimate has an MSRP with freight of $68,920. Hyundai expects a sales breakdown of 70/30 between the Signature and the Ultimate.

Hyundai has positioned Equus as a competitor in the high end luxury segment, with vehicles like the Lexus LS460 and Mercedes S550 seen as the primary competitors, and the BMW 750i, Audi A8 and Cadillac XTS seen as secondary competitors. Hyundai’s strategy has emphasized packing the Equus with safety and technology features buyers are looking for in luxury vehicles and then making them standard in the Equus, while offering a price point that is roughly $30,000 less than comparably equipped target competitors. The emphasis on buyer experience has also helped Equus, with features like a dedicated Equus premium ownership champion at each dealership, at-home vehicle demonstrations branded under “Your Time, Your Place,” a valet service program with pickup and delivery on a flat bed truck with service loaner vehicle dropoff and a 3-year/36,000 mile no-cost maintenance.

John Krafcik, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America, said he’s been very pleased with Equus sales since the launch of the vehicle, noting that many auto analysts were skeptical that Hyundai could even compete in this space. Krafcik pointed to the 2013 year-to-date market segment numbers for Equus of 5.5%, which is greater than Hyundai’s overall brand share. He also pointed out that Equus scored highest among the luxury brands in the 2013 J.D. Power Customer Service Index Study.

Like other Hyundai brands, Equus sales are being held back by Hyundai’s capacity issues. When asked whether Hyundai would be adding production capacity, Krafcik declined to comment, though it should be noted that in the past he was quick to squelch any notion of new production facilities. With the American car market rapidly bouncing back near pre-recession levels, Hyundai is likely reconsidering its ultra-cautious approach to production capacity in order to take advantage of increased demand. Krafcik noted that Hyundai’s overall market share in the US has contracted a bit to 4.7% in 2013 due to those production constraints. Demand is not the problem, as Hyundai has among the lowest inventory and days supply levels in the industry. Hyundai’s incentive spend remains among the lowest in the industry second only to Subaru. With these statistics, it appears that Hyundai can easily absorb more capacity, though auto executives have to look years ahead, and the volatility of the past seven years has to be taken into account.

New Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Debuts

When a new Ferrari debuts, it’s an event. When a truly breathtaking one debuts, it’s world changing. No other car company creates the same response as a new Ferrari, and that continues with the new F12 Berlinetta’s launch. First, there are the stunningly gorgeous looks. Even their new grille design that seems so awkward on the FF, blends seamlessly on the new F12. In a world gone retro looking for new design ideas, Ferrari manages to combine the natural beauty of the past, with modern design cues.

And of course, a conversation about Ferrari’s always includes how fast it will go. In this case, power will be coming from a 740hp, naturally-aspirated V-12. No Turbos that go whoosh, or superchargers that whine, this power is all natural. In fact, this is the fastest Ferrari around Ferrari’s test track. Faster than an Enzo, faster than the new 458, and in a car that is not meant for all out speed but for long distance trips. With both devastating speed and cross country comfort, the new F12 is the automotive equivalent of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

Knee-weakening looks, and devastating performance nearly wipes memories of the F12’s predecessor the 599 nearly off the map. I thought the 599 would be the last time we saw a grand touring Ferrari that was both classically beautiful, traditionally powered Ferrari Grand Tourer. Thankfully, I was very, very wrong. Long live the new F12 Berlinetta.

Ford Debuts New Fusion Stock Car

The lore of NASCAR is filled with stories of backyard mechanics taking cars right off the showroom floor and winning races, fame, and glory with nearly stock cars. This is why NASCAR is called “stock car” racing after all. However, since the late 1980s, the cars have become less and less related to the showroom cousins. For 2013, Ford is trying to mend that gap, at least aesthetically, with their new 2013 Fusion racer.

Taking its cues from the production Fusion that debuted at the North American International Auto Show, the new Fusion race car adapts the cars dramatic headlight and grill treatment. To make the car look even more “stock,” the overall proportions of the stock car were mirrored. Even the character line that runs down the stock car’s side was replicated on the racer.

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