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Auto blogWed, 19 Mar 2014 14:32:00 EST
Generally, cars get bigger and heavier as they get older. That's why it looks so ridiculous when you park a classic Mini next to a modern version. The same can be said of the Corvette, the BMW 3 Series, Porsche 911 and, of course, the Ford Taurus. In the Taurus' case, though, that size has become a liability, particularly because the big brute isn't nearly as sizable on the inside as it is on the out.
For 2016, Ford is aiming to rectify that. According to Edmunds, the 2016 Taurus will ride on a stretched and widened Ford Fusion platform. Ford is expecting this move to go a long way in trimming the Taurus' ample body fat.
"The problem with today's Taurus is that it is overweight and even the high performance SHO is not really competitive," said a source that spoke to Edmunds on condition of anonymity. The 365-horsepower SHO variant, "actually weighs about as much as the stretched Audi A8 L. Of course, Audi uses an extensive amount of aluminum, but it is a much bigger car."
Prototypes developed by major automakers typically remain in said company's custody, but every once in a while, one trickles out into private hands. And that's just what we have here. Ford is donating a one-of-a-kind factory prototype for the 2014 Mustang Cobra Jet that will be auctioned off later this month by Barrett-Jackson in Las Vegas to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Powered by a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 mated to a T4 competition gearbox, this rare Cobra Jet prototype includes a wheelie bar, chromoly roll cage, Weld wheels, three-link rear suspension, racing brakes, 9-inch rear axle and more. It's painted in a unique satin orange with reflective gray striping scheme, bears the serial number 2014 BJMS CJXX1 and is fully ready for NHRA competition on the drag strip.
To be offered with no reserve on Saturday, September 28, 2013, the Cobra Jet prototype's winning bidder will also receive tutelage at Roy Hill's Drag Racing School in Sophia, NC, along with tours of the Ford Product Development Center, Ford Racing headquarters and Ford Design Studios with Mustang chief engineer Dave Pericak. Scope out the video and details below for what could be the ultimate Mustang experience for a good cause.
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.