If there was one vehicle coming out of the Detroit Auto Show that I can say surprised me, it was definitely not the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette.
It was the all-new Lincoln MKC Concept. And there's a couple of reasons for this.
One, I don't recall the last time Lincoln make a concept or real-life product this good looking. Yes, it has a little bit of a European inspiration; however, it's clear that Lincoln did make it a member of its own family.
Two, I wasn't expecting Lincoln to bring a small sport-utility vehicle out to "rebirth" the brand. While it makes plenty of sense because it's been very clear to the Agents that the small, premium SUV class is a hotbed of activity -- and putting up great sales figures -- right now, I would have guessed Lincoln to do a retro throwback to get interest in the brand.
Though it would be awesome to see an all-new four-door Continental Convertible that liberally is "inspired' by Cadillac's Cien, the reality is Lincoln needs a core, volume seller. That would be the MKC.
But at the end of the day, what matters most is what YOU have to say about it!
Is THIS the Lincoln that will give this marque the much-needed renaissance it deserves?
Lincoln's press release follows:
MKC Concept New Opportunity for Lincoln
> Lincoln MKC Concept debuts at 2013 North American International Auto
Show – Lincoln's first-ever small vehicle
> Small luxury utility concept signals future Lincoln entry into industry's
> MKC Concept introduces the "Lincoln Experiences" suite of technology and
signature content to enhance the driving and ownership experience
DETROIT — Lincoln today introduces the MKC Concept, a vision of how Lincoln will enter the industry's fastest-growing small luxury utility segment.
With nearly 60 percent growth in 2012 and more than 200 percent in the last four years, the small luxury utility segment has far eclipsed all other luxury segments. The opportunity is a key next step in Lincoln's strategy to grow with four all-new vehicles targeted at the highest-growth segments over the next four years.
"We are reinventing Lincoln by focusing on the largest and fastest-growing segments of the luxury market, while offering clients something different," said Jim Farley, executive vice president of Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln. "The just-introduced MKZ re-establishes Lincoln in the largest luxury segment, and the MKC Concept highlights a key opportunity in the fastest-growing part of the luxury market."
This segment growth is being driven at both ends of the demographic spectrum. Many new buyers are coming into affluence and purchasing their first luxury vehicle. Others are moving from larger vehicles to smaller ones to simplify their lives. This growth includes China, where Lincoln will begin selling in the second half of 2014 through independent dealers.
Creating 'Lincoln Experiences'
Lincoln is being reinvented in every way – from a complete new lineup of stunningly designed vehicles to how dealerships provide surprising personal client services and how drivers engage with their vehicles. The goal is to appeal to a new type of luxury clients considered cultural progressives, who are open to new ideas and experiences.
In current and future vehicles, these "Lincoln Experiences" will include a variety of distinctive features, such as push-button transmission engagement, programmable ride control, unique and diverse powertrains, personalized lighting, and a suite of customizable functions that are unique for each client as the vehicle instantly recognizes the operator and creates a personalized welcoming sequence.
Future Lincolns also will combine these unique experiences with the option of stunning, bespoke interior and exterior design appointments that will transcend typical luxury automotive standards, furthering the brand's transformation. The MKC Concept explores many of these transformative ideas.
The MKC Concept builds on the foundation of the Lincoln Design DNA found in the new MKZ. These warm, open and inviting design cues are a core element of the brand's heritage.
"The MKC Concept has a wonderful stance and sits beautifully on its wheels," said Murat Gueler, MKC Concept lead exterior designer. "It has a sleek, sculpted body and wheel arches and elegant shoulders. The lines of the vehicle appear relatively simple on first look but with a second view reveal a dynamic three dimensionality.
"The Lincoln design team has done an outstanding job with the MKC Concept in communicating Lincoln's design vision for reaching a new and discerning clientele."
An uninterrupted, highly crafted rear-view appearance highlights the signature full-width taillamps. This is made possible by a liftgate design with a side-view cutline – a Lincoln first. It shows how the dedicated Lincoln design and engineering teams have worked together to deliver customer-focused solutions that not only elevate the appearance, but also provide maximum load capability.
"This approach eliminates the traditional vertical cutline on the rear seen on utilities, which in turn contributes to the athletic presence of the vehicle," Gueler said.
The continuity also is apparent in the execution of the frameless windows, which amplify the richness of the design, as does the signature split-wing grille. The exterior is augmented by warm, cream-based white metallic tri-coat paint, 20-inch premium wheels with polished chrome rims, and a large fixed panoramic roof that runs the length of the vehicle.
Interior design, colors and materials
High-end bespoke design, materials and execution inspire the four-passenger interior.
"There is a significant upgrade in materials and a stylish, fashion-oriented package. The materials are combined with progressive combinations and uses of stitching and colors," said Soo Kang, Lincoln interior design chief.
Just like MKZ – which sets the tone for the brand's thoughtful new approach to design – the MKC Concept features a distinct push-button gear shift selector. This enables a flowing, expressive and architectural center console design covered with riveting details, and unique colors and materials.
The headliner is wrapped with high-end material, providing a warm and luxurious feel. The pillars are wrapped with premium leather. The seats also feature premium leather and include a unique embroidered Lincoln Star and crimson stitch accents.
The Lincoln Star lattice also is subtly placed on the MKC Concept's floor mats to complement the lattice design in the speaker mesh, light fixtures and lug-nut covers.
The smooth leather also wraps the door trim uppers, armrests, bolsters, console side rails, instrument panel and cargo area.
"There is a rich softness to the exterior and interior palette of the MKC Concept," said Susan Lampinen, group chief designer, Color & Material Design. "The leather-wrapped architecture complements the open-pore and designer hand-dyed woods."
Other refined details include finishes like appliqués cut from layers of reconstructed natural wood infused with a metallic flake for a glistening effect on the steering wheel, upper instrument panel and door panels.
A true Lincoln
"The Lincoln MKC Concept is designed to strike a perfect balance between warm, inviting comfort and the engaging and superb dynamic qualities of performance, ride, handling and braking," said Farley. "This balance is focused toward a new luxury automotive client emerging in the marketplace – someone who recognizes a great vehicle and demands a balance between all-out performance and comfort."
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