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Auto blogTue, 15 Apr 2014 15:45:00 EST
It was 1966 when Chevrolet launched its challenger to the wildly successful Ford Mustang, the Camaro. While the competition between the two brands was already healthy, the arrival of the Camaro set off one of the most intense, model-to-model rivalries in the industry.
That competitive spirit hasn't stopped Chevy and the Camaro from wishing Ford's iconic muscle car a Happy 50th Birthday as the Ford's April 17 anniversary rolls around. These two cars have been linked over the years, and while the rivalry took a break for a few years in the 2000s, today's competition between the Camaro and Mustang is as fierce as it's ever been.
You might recall that this friendliness when it comes to major milestones isn't too rare. Ford put on quite a display for General Motors' hundredth anniversary back in 2008. As the Camaro's fiftieth birthday approaches in 2016, we wouldn't be surprised to see the Mustang sending its best wishes to its Bowtie rival.
When the 2015 Ford Mustang hits dealers, it will be with a new batch of features that will power up Sync's 911 Assist feature, and provide an even greater degree of information to first responders in the event of an accident.
911 Assist will already make a phone call, via a Bluetooth-connected phone, should you bin your car. The automatic message to first responders is a pre-recorded blurb from Ford. With the new enhancements, though, emergency personnel can learn about the maximum change in velocity and whether the crash involved a front, rear, side or a rollover impact. 911 Assist will also send information about how many seat belts were in use and if airbags deployed, allowing more accurate dispatch of resources.
"Sync will only broadcast relevant information to save time, and it constructs a very efficient message for the operator," said David Hatton, the global project leader with Ford Connected Services. "After the introductory message, the voice line opens automatically and occupants can speak directly with the operator via Sync's hands-free functionality."
Last week, in the midst of Detroit's first days seeking relief in Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code, Automotive News contributor Larry P. Vellequette penned an editorial suggesting that American car companies raise the white flag on dual clutch transmissions and give up on trying to persuade Americans to buy cars fitted with them. Why? Because, Vellequette says, like CVT transmissions, they "just don't sound right or feel right to American drivers." (Note: In the article, it's not clear if Vellequette is arguing against wet-clutch and dry-clutch DCTs or just dry-clutch DCTs, which is what Ford and Chrysler use.) The article goes on to state that Ford and Chrysler have experimented with DCTs and that both consumers and the automotive press haven't exactly given them glowing reviews, despite their quicker shifts and increased fuel efficiency potential compared to torque-converter automatic transmissions.
Autoblog staffers who weighed in on the relevance of DCTs in American cars generally disagreed with the blanket nature of Vellequette's statement that they don't sound or feel right, but admit that their lack of refinement compared to traditional automatics can be an issue for consumers. That's particularly true in workaday cars like the Ford Focus and Dodge Dart, both of which have come in for criticism in reviews and owner surveys. From where we sit, the higher-performance orientation of such transmissions doesn't always meld as well with the marching orders of everyday commuters (particularly if drivers haven't been educated as to the transmission's benefits and tradeoffs), and in models not fitted with paddle shifters, it's particularly hard for drivers to use a DCT to its best advantage.
Finally, we also note that DCT tuning is very much an evolving science. For instance, Autoblog editors who objected to dual-clutch tuning in the Dart have more recently found the technology agreeable in the Fiat 500L. Practice makes perfect - or at least more acceptable.