c.2013 New York Times News Service
c.2013 New York Times News Service
Every fall, the new-car season brings fresh models and industrywide optimism, but itís also the time when automakers are forced to acknowledge whatís not selling as discontinued models disappear from company websites and dealership lots. With few exceptions, a canceled car is a slow-selling car.
Some vehicles fail to meet expectations from the very start. Many more lose their relevance over time. Itís a rare automobile that is introduced with a firm expiration date in mind.
While models like the BMW M3 and the Volkswagen Golf R are skipping 2014 because of redesigns, the vehicles presented here are truly dead. Donít expect to see new models wearing these badges anytime soon, if ever:
The genre-bending ZDX combined the ride height of an SUV, the roofline of a coupe and the four doors of a sedan. From the driverís seat it was as well-sorted as the more conventional MDX, but the ZDXís styling left buyers confused enough that Acura never met its modest goal of 5,000 sales a year.
ASTON MARTIN VIRAGE
The Virage was a head-scratcher from the moment it was announced, wedged into the narrow price and performance gap between the DBS and DB9. It was no surprise, then, that the British automaker pulled the Virage off the market after just 18 months.
AUDI TT RS
Audiís performance division conjured a 360-horsepower turbocharged 5-cylinder engine and a sweet-shifting 6-speed manual to create the RS. The result was powerful and nimble enough to transform the humble TT ó its underlying platform is shared with the Volkswagen Golf ó into a legitimate Porsche rival.
CADILLAC ESCALADE EXT
Outward appearances suggest that the EXT rode on four standard tires, but what really carried this reskinned Chevrolet Avalanche was the Escalade name. The business case was just as tenuous as that of the failed Lincoln Blackwood, yet with an 11-year run the Escalade EXT disproved the notion that a luxury pickup is a sales-proof oxymoron.
Many will remember the Avalanche by its distinctive ďmidgateĒ between the bed and the cabin. Its place in history is more significant: The Avalanche was a harbinger of todayís trucks that place as much emphasis on moving people as they do on hauling cargo. The Avalanche was undone by the gentrification of conventional pickups, including Chevyís own Silverado.
CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 AND ZR1
The new 2014 Corvette Stingray has sent the high-performance variants on sabbatical. While the Z06 and ZR1 had distinct personalities, rumors suggest that Chevroletís succession plan calls for a single car to replace the duo. Whether it will be closer in spirit to the brutal, track-ready Z06 or the sophisticated six-figure ZR1 remains to be seen.
Fisker lived and died by an Energy Department loan intended to promote the development and production of its plug-in-hybrid technology. But the Karmaís lasting contribution had nothing to do with batteries or electric motors. Rather, Henrik Fisker, the designer who founded the company, taught the establishment how to create a truly beautiful four-door car.
FORD MUSTANG BOSS 302
The Bossí fate was sealed before it even went on sale: Ford promised to sell this rowdy special-edition Mustang for just two years. Its throwback name evoked the muscle carís glory days while its 302-cubic-inch V-8 was a modern 444-horsepower dynamo.
NISSAN ALTIMA COUPE
Itís a small pool of car buyers that prefers two-door coupes built on the underpinnings of sensible family sedans. Toyota buried its Camry-based Solara coupe four years ago. With Nissan now doing the same, Hondaís two-door Accord stands alone.
Perpetually besieged Suzuki gave up on the United States market in late 2012, just as it was finding its feet. The newest of its models ó the SX4 subcompact and the Kizashi midsize sedan ó were genuinely good cars. Its Grand Vitara SUV and Equator pickup, not so much.
Toyotaís small hatchback should be remembered as a survivor. When General Motors shuttered the Pontiac brand in 2009, Toyota lost the mechanical twin (the Pontiac Vibe) that gave the Matrix scale and the experimental joint manufacturing plant where both cars were built. Rather than call it quits, Toyota relocated the tooling to Cambridge, Ontario, and gave the Matrix another four years of life.
For conservative Volvo, the plucky C30 hatchback was a rare departure from conventional high-volume segments. With its 5-cylinder engine and all-glass rear hatch, the C30 packed loads of charisma into a package that was simply too small for most luxury buyers.
The 1998 C70 was the first modern Volvo to break out of the brandís boxy design language. Initially sold as a coupe and soft-top convertible, the C70 later became a single model with a retractable hardtop. The Swedish automaker is focusing on mainstream segments as it reboots its lineup under its new owner, the Chinese automaker Geely.