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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Design: Lincoln Lays an Egg in L.A.

Ford is selling off Jaguar and Range Rover which will leave Lincoln and Volvo as its sole upscale brands. The problem is that Lincoln barely justifies the upscale tag. Where GM has made a concerted and mostly successful effort to imbue Cadillac with a new and distinct design language, as well as luxury class dynamics and materials, Ford has let Lincoln languish with badge engineered cast-off cars, a silly and confusing rebadging mission, and no real design direction. The new MKS, premiering today at the Los Angeles Motor Show, is a major disappointment.

The design, credited to ex-Volvo man Peter Horbury is based on the same Volvo platform that underpins the current Taurus and like the Taurus has excessive front and rear overhang. More damning is the ultimate blandness of the design with details like the Lincoln badge on the fenders and the gaudy chrome strips on the taillamps designed to create some visual excitement on a woefully static surface. The catwalk style surface line helps along the sides, but it meanders without definition.The "face" is a major letdown, looking more like last generation Mitsubishi than a near-premium brand. The detailing is coarse below the bumper and the headlight jewelry is lacking in imagination. The only positive point here is the lovely sculpted hood.The interior looks cheap with far too much matte plastic. The chrome seems larded on arbitrarily and there is no theme or delightful touches that would make a potential buyer look forward to spending time here.

To be fair to Horbury I hear much of the design was locked in before he took over, and his work with Volvo was top notch. Ford must do better if they expect Lincoln to compete.

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