It scooped the EyesOn Design best concept car award and it’s fair to say that there’s been a lot of love for the Lexus LF-LC Concept here in Detroit. This is – according to its design team – the next step for the L-Finesse design language. And where previous Lexus concepts and production cars have been busy, sometimes ill-resolved pieces of design, the LF-LC is well resolved, beautifully surfaced and with contemporary details and graphics.
Only the DRG has raised eyebrows. But even here there is disagreement. Some in the CDN team think it overly aggressive, the grille a little too Audi-like and the lamps a little too busy. But others think that Lexus has refined the grille so it’s quite distinct and that the combined lamp and DRL signature is original.
What impresses most is how – particularly in the interior – the design is cohesive despite the busyness. The interior is almost worthy of Citroen concept – there’s a certain French flair on show as well as an opulent, rich material palette. It could be too much, but everything is controlled just so, and it works.
Overall, it’s impressive to see this from Lexus, and pleasing generally to be able to say that, considered together with what we saw in Tokyo, along with the Toyota NS4 and Honda NSX here, we now no longer need to consider Japanese car design as residing in the doldrums.
Not to say there aren’t some good vehicles launching at the 2012 Detroit show but one of the best things revealed so far isn’t a car at all but the new Lincoln exhibition stand. A lattice ‘curtain’ of joined-up giant Lincoln logos defines the border of the space and is punctuated with floating boxes housing various sculptures and artworks to create a boutique store meets art gallery vibe.
Walk through the main entrance and the huge space opens out to reveal a single central raised circular podium where the MK-Z concept took pride of place (see separate story coming soon) while stairs to the left and right lead up to viewing galleries, chill-out spaces and refreshment areas. Underneath both are further glass-fronted car booths with current production cars and seating areas.
Subtle references to the Lincoln logo are repeated in a sophisticated way on the three-dimensional grey wool cladding on the side walls, but the best detail of the stand by far are a pair of expanding and contracting hanging sphere sculptures either side of the stairs. The work of Chuck Hoberman, the aluminum and steel structures are actuated by a single servo motor and expand from 4.5 ft to 15 ft in less than three seconds, controlled by computer and sequenced to fit in with the sound and music of the stand.
Already on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art, these sculptures and their showstand setting – designed by the London-based Imagination consultancy – make a fitting statement about the new sophistication Lincoln is seeking (see embedded video). Let’s hope the design of future Lincoln cars can raise their game to match.
The exterior design of the LF-LC is impressive, but it’s the interior that – in many ways – stands out more. It manages to combine a nod to the LFA, with materials and forms that are new to Lexus. And while there is a lot going on, it just about hangs together as a cohesive whole.
The Ford Fusion (née Mondeo) is the latest step in the company’s ‘One Ford’ strategy, which sees (virtually) the same products sold across American, European and Asian markets. The new Fusion will replace the existing Fusion in the US, and a slightly tweaked version of what you see here will replace the Mondeo in Europe. It’s probably the most important new car to be unveiled in Detroit this year. But it’s also not unfair to say that it’s the best thing we’ve seen so far at the show.
Not all of the concepts and new cars have been unveiled this morning, but of those that we have seen, we’ve been largely underwhelmed. The Fusion however, illustrates Ford doing a much better job of pushing their design language toward the premium end of the mainstream (it’s much better than the underwhelming Escape). Its language is recognisably Ford and clearly still belongs to the world of ‘Kinetic design’, yet it’s less busy and much calmer than before. It’s worth pointing out, too, that while in photos this car can appear like a facelifted European Mondeo, the reality in the metal is of a significantly different car.
The front end has translated off the Evos with a good deal of success and it’s only this car’s segment-busting size that creates major cause for concern. We doubt it will be a problem in North America, but the forthcoming Mondeo looks like it might have become a car whose size makes it bordering on the un-useable – or at least very tricky to park – in the cities of old Europe. By comparison, the new BMW 3-Series appears tiny.