Ford Design Director, Pat Schiavone, with the 2010 Lincoln MKT. Click image to enlarge
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Article and photos by Paul Williams
2010 Lincoln MKT
Toronto, Ontario – Understated elegance: that’s Ford Motor Company design director Pat Schiavone’s description of what the Lincoln brand represented in the past, and what consumers can expect from it now and in the future. “Lincoln’s always been for the guy that had style and class,” said Schiavone at the 2009 Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. The latest Lincoln vehicles attempt to maintain the heritage, while adjusting to new requirements for fuel consumption.
Somewhat quietly, Lincoln has introduced a fully redesigned lineup over the past couple of years, including the MKZ midsize luxury sedan, and Canadian-built MKX midsize crossover. For 2009, the all-new MKS full-size sedan debuts, followed by the 2010 MKT full-size crossover. The Lincoln range is completed by the full-size Navigator SUV.
With new government mandates for fuel economy in the U.S., aerodynamics is emerging as way to sculpt vehicles in appealing and perhaps unexpected ways to reduce fuel consumption, says Schiavone. Now, the brand is “focusing on aerodynamics as a springboard to developing a fresh, new look.”
That doesn’t mean that all cars will emerge looking futuristic and streamlined, Schiavone hastens to point out. “Birds are aerodynamic, but they don’t all look the same.”
2010 Lincoln MKT. Click image to enlarge
“Perhaps surprisingly,” Schiavone says, “much of the aerodynamic action in a vehicle takes place at the rear, rather than at the front.” He cites the incoming Ford F-150 pickup truck as having a nose that’s raised four inches, which alone might increase the coefficient of drag. “But with work underneath and at the rear, the new design actually gets better fuel economy.”
Similarly, the signature new-look split waterfall Lincoln grille — shown to most prominent effect on the upcoming MKT — is a formidable piece of manufacturing that will immediately identify the brand. However, this large form is also sufficiently aerodynamic. According to Schiavone, the MKT is a vehicle “that personifies all the Lincoln DNA in one go.”
The MKT, although as long as a Navigator, is based on the Ford Flex platform. The three-row, seven-passenger crossover will feature park-assist technology and intelligent cruise control, along with a panorama sunroof and the full range of Lincoln luxury appointments.
The grille, though, does take “understated” to something of a new level: enthusiastically understated, perhaps.
Top of Schiavone’s wish list is a rear-drive Lincoln, although such a vehicle is not planned at this time. The brand received positive press for its C Concept, shown at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Look at it for some classic and modern Lincoln styling clues (clean body sides, split grille, full width rear lights, “suicide” rear-hinged doors) wrapped in a clever compact package.
“If you guys (auto writers) help us out, we’d like to see this kind of vehicle in production,” Schiavone said. “We know people will buy luxury in a small car. Why not a compact Lincoln?”