A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
2015 Mustang unveiled Here's a piece of trivia for you: there's no such thing as the famous 1964.5 Ford Mustang that kicked off the whole pony car parade. Ford dealers simply called them the 1965, even though they were delivered early in '64; only Mustang fanatics know how to spot the tell-tale signs that a 1965 model is the earlier debut variant.
Be happy about this, as Ford with their love of special-edition 'Stangs might otherwise have built a run of 1,964.5 launch models of their newest generation - meaning that some luckless sort would have ended up with half of a pony. Now going into its sixth generation, the much anticipated new Mustang is finally here. Or rather, it will be next year, just in time for the half-century celebration.
Opinion seems split on the design, with some folks loving the more-modern sleekness and the toneddown retro factor, while others moan that the car looks like a Fusion coupe. Really, that's not such a bad thing.
The underpinnings sound even better. For the first time since the Cobra variants of 2002-2003, the Mustang will come with a fully independent rear suspension - better for handling, slightly worse at drag racing. The five-litre V-8 will return, once again bearing the iconic fivepoint-oh fender badging, and there'll be both the excellent 3.7-litre V-6 base engine and a new 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo putting out around 300 horsepower. Remember the SVO?
What's more, this is the model year the Mustang goes global, meaning that world-wide fans of Bullitt will soon be able to park their own pony car in their garages. Here at home, of course, we'll be holding our breath for the return of the Boss and the mighty Shelby variants.
GM appoints Mary Barra as CEO
One day after the U.S. treasury sold back its last shares of GM, Mary Barra took over from Dan Akerson as CEO of General Motors. She is the first woman to lead a Detroit automaker and, in fact, the first woman to head a major auto manufacturer of any kind.
As such, much of the media coverage has been about what Barra's gender means as an indication of changing culture in the boardrooms of Detroit. A pity, as most of what makes Barra such an interesting appointment is her unique qualifications.
Trained as an engineer, Barra has been a GM employee for more than three decades, starting out on the factory floor in 1980. She has worked in manufacturing, engineering, and most recently, the human resources department. As former head of global product development, there is some evidence that she's heavily responsible for the streamlining of production, and the elimination of overcomplicated, wasteful administration.
In short, Barra's appointment marks a point at which GM appears to be focusing more on building good products, and less on the bean counting aspects. Cadillac is hugely improved, Buick continues to grow as a brand, and Chevrolet finally has some compelling offerings. There is still much work to be done, of course, but with the bleeds-GM-blue Barra at the helm, GM could finally find themselves again worthy of the name of their head offices: the Renaissance Center.
Hyundai announces performance brand "N" Hyundai has decided to go rallying next year, taking a turbocharged, flared-out version of their i20 hatchback and tackling the World Rally Championship. They've got a good team of drivers and if the car is as fast as it looks, a real chance of upsetting current champ VW.
Ever on the move, the Korean manufacturer also hinted at a new high performance badge to be found on future projects: a stylized N, shadowed by light blue and red. Hang on a sec - that looks awfully familiar.
Yes, Hyundai has decided to use an idea espoused by BMW, and totally differentiated by moving one letter further along down the alphabet. Entirely unique. Not derivative in any way.
Still, the thought of an in-house tuning division for Hyundai can't help but excite. They've always been a brash company, and with strong turbocharged engines that are easy to wring extra power out of, and a genuine rear-drive platform in the Genesis Coupe, a performance line to stand alongside their luxury-oriented Equus and Genesis Sedan makes a lot of sense.
Makeshift Paul Walker memorial draws throngs As if you haven't already heard, one of the two main stars of the Fast & Furious franchise died in a car crash on Nov. 30. He was a passenger in a Porsche Carrera GT driven by longtime friend and business partner Roger Rodas.
Both men were experienced drivers, but the car they were driving was both expensive and exotic, and had a reputation for being a handful on-track. The tiein with the Fast & Furious franchise, which glamorizes speed in a cartoonish way, has proved only too tempting to news sources, which have erupted with wild, largely uninformed speculation about what caused the crash. Reactions have ranged from calls to ban high-powered vehicles, to postulating about what might have happened had bystanders been involved.
In the midst of the frenzy, it would appear that fans of Paul Walker have not forgotten that the actor was a gearhead, a philanthropist, and a devoted father. Regardless of the manner of his death, there's a sense of loss, and makeshift memorials set up to remember the actor have gathered everything from handwritten notes to automotive trinkets.
Watch this space for all the week's best and worst of automotive news, or submit your own auto oddities to email@example.com. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendan_mcaleer.