Lincoln’s MKZ concept is not just another show car but a pre-production teaser that will be revealed in showroom-ready form within four months according to Ford Group design boss J Mays. The mid-sized sedan gives a very good impression of how Lincoln wants to revitalize its look and feel and sat well within the stunning new Lincoln auto show exhibition stand (see previous separate post). Key to the new design is a new more angular take on the Lincoln grille with horizontal rather than vertical bars within it and slimmer front lights. The sides are simply rendered with one gently arcing feature line, a narrow DLO and a high waist. Inside the effectively four-seat cabin with a partially floating centre stack, features a signature Lincoln cream and taupe/gray colour scheme but with what interior design leader Soo Kang calls, “very calm surfacing” plus great luxury details like the neatly graduated perforation on the seats and leather steering wheel wrap.
The platform is shared with the new Ford Fusion also revealed at Detroit but while the MKZ shares the same wheelbase as the Fusion, it’s a little longer. It’s role is comparable to the Ford Evos concept shown four months before the Fusion too: namely to prepare and excite the public to a new design direction, although Ford Group’s North American passenger car design director Moray Callum says “the MKZ is actually even closer to its production version than the Evos was to the Fusion.”
Those wanting to verify that assertion will only have to wait until early April when the production car is slated to launch at the 2012 New York auto show. Here’s hoping…
By Guy Bird
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.
By Guy Bird
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.
Posted by Joe Simpson