The automotive industry has recently been revolutionizing itself by looking towards the future and changing things. A lot of companies participating in the season of change such as BMW, Ford, Subaru, and Nissan have been revving up innovation and leading the race with their forward-thinking designs.
What BMW did infuriated enthusiasts (or maybe just me), by changing the moniker of one of its most iconic sports cars, the M3 to the M4 to “avoid confusion between the coupe and sedan”. This change means that the coupe, which had always been the M3, would now be called the M4.
Fortunately, BMW did not abandon its origins and instead of going with the e92’s V8, it decided to return to its iconic slant six platform. However, this return to the past is anything but complacent, since stepping down to a six cylinder requires more ingenuity to put down even more power than the 414hp s65 V8 from the previous generation. BMW then revamped the new inline six engine, boosting it to 425hp by giving it forced induction, showing that change isn’t bad after all.
Subaru also joined the race for change as it experimented with the design for the next generation of the WRX STI. It focused on trying to make the popular boxer engine stronger and the chassis more rigid. Subaru successfully did so by going back to its roots, and reconverting the STI into a sedan rather than the five door hatch from the previous generation. With this innovative design, Subaru improved the stiffness of the chassis and the suspension, reducing body roll by up to 16%. Of course, Subaru kept the absolutely absurd, large rear wing from its previous generations of STIs and maintained the aggressive design style it’s always managed to have.
Nissan was also a big game changer after converting its most desired model, the Skyline, to a V6 twin turbo after all of its previous generations had been inline six cylinder engines. Originally sold only in markets outside of the U.S., the Nissan Skyline GTR became popular in the early 90’s after Nissan’s inline RB engine layout proved to be incredibly strong and successfully capable of producing up to 600hp on stock internals. This made, and continues to make, the R32, R33, and R34 generations of GTR widely sought after and helped the Skyline earn the nickname “Godzilla”. As the years passed, the company realized that “Godzilla” was in need of a new design. Aside from the previous models’ wing and rear light, the R35 generation of the GTR had radically different design cues. Although this was a huge leap of faith for Nissan, the attention to detail in the engineering of the current generation GTR carried the company to the top of the budget super car list once again.
Among all these improvements, Ford proves to be the season’s game-changer. Ever since Ford’s coyote 5.0 liter engine came out, the Mustang had never been so close to the BMW M3, but the Achilles heel of the American muscle car was its rear end. The car on paper was almost better than the e92 M3, but it always lacked one thing from all other generations: independent rear suspension.
For the 2015 model, Ford introduced independent rear suspension, finally eliminating the solid rear axle. This significant upgrade allows for smoother, faster cornering, which cuts circuit times, and makes it a decent competitor with the BMW M3 and M4. Other changes included an entirely new front fascia design and rear light design. Still, Ford managed to follow the design cues from the classic Mustang by maintaining its rear lights (the three iconic vertical lines on each side that you see on every Mustang’s rear). Additionally, the choice to bring back the retro blinkers incorporated into the hood vents of the upcoming 2016 Mustang shows Ford’s uninhibited innovation and old school charm.
Ford didn’t stop there. At the Detroit auto show, Ford dropped a bombshell, announcing the return of its most iconic, legendary flagship model. Ford declared that it would be bringing back the GT, which had become a riot in the 60’s when Carroll Shelby hopped on board to make it an absolute powerhouse that would go on to beat Ferrari at the LeMans 24-hour endurance race for four consecutive years in a row from 1966-1969. The legendary GT-40 had an homage to it named the Ford GT, which was critically acclaimed as a masterpiece that remains incredibly desired to this day. Since production ended in 2006, Ford decided another model would be needed to compete with the finest in the industry, and that is precisely what Ford intends on doing.
The 2017 Ford GT honors the design cues from the original GT40, but its engine challenges the norm. The original GT40 came with large displacement V8 engines, as did the homage GT, but instead of another supercharged V8, Ford decided to use a smaller displacement, turbocharged V6. The new engine is smaller, yet more powerful, promising to be the future of Ford’s high performance engines.
With their design choices, BMW, Subaru, Nissan, and Ford prove that racing towards the future, after all, is good – as long as the core stays true to the past.