Friday, November 18, 2005

"Lincoln charting it's own course" towards disaster in my opinion.

In the article linked above from the Detroit News, Mr. McCormack talks about how Lincoln division is "charting it's own course" after being adrift with no clear goals or direction. This is all in the way of introducing the new Zephyr as hopefully the answer to Lincoln's prayers. And while I like the Zephyr for what it is, I think that Lincoln had the right car at the right time, and they just let if float away like drift wood. The Zephyr is somewhat competative and may do better than the LS which it replaces, but not because it's a better car. The Zephyr may do well, because Ford is going to push this car hard, like they should have with the LS. Pictured and discused briefly are some of the vehicles Mr McCormack mentions as competition for the Zephyr.
The Lincoln LS came out a few years ago without much fan fare and that's the way it stayed. Stillborn, unwanted and unloved from day one. Why?? This handsome sedan, predates some of it's fiercest competitors and had such potential. Offered in V6 and V8 models with 5 speed manual and automatic transmissions, with indendant rear suspension and a non-strut front suspension. A very capable chassis and the 3.9 V8 had real potential. This could have cut the legs out from under the Cadilace CTS, even the V-Spec if given the propper attention.
The Cadilac CTS, replaced the unloved Cetera, which was based on the European Opel. Available with V6 and V8 and manual transmissions, this car was credited with giving GM a real "Euro-fighter" even though the LS came first. The V-Spec CTS is impressive, with it's Corvette sourced V8. Still sharing a "global" platform with European GM vehicles.
The Acura TL is the last generation Honda Accord Euro Spec with a 270 hp V6 and available 6 spd manual driving the front wheels. The Zephyr is underpowered compared with this model, but the larger size and more civilized ride may help it compete here. The Acura being more of a driver's car.
The Infiniti G35 is basically a four door Nissan 350Z with it's rear wheel or all wheel drive and sports car handling, as well as 285 hp, the Zephyr competes in only the most general terms. It is obviously outclassed by the small Infiniti.
The Lexus ES330 is a pimped out Camry, and still outpowers the Zephyr. But this is just a Camry, so Zephyr may lure buyers away from it's stale styling, that is until the new version comes out in 2007. Zephyr needs the new 3.5 v6 with it's 250 hp, sooner than later.
Now Mr McCormack didn't mention the Lexus GS350, which like the G35 is more performance oreinted, with rear wheel drive and excellent handling.
Nor did he mention Lexus IS 350, the latest near luxury sports car, with more power, rear wheel drive and a driver oriented chassis and interior.
Now if the LS, had been given the attention it deserved, it could have competed with these cars and shown some of them up easily. The 3.9 V8 is a version of the V8 in the Jaguar and Land Rover ranges, and supercharged versions are putting out near 400 hp in those cars. V-Spec Cadilac territory. And take a look at the Jaguar S Type R, that car sits on this same chassis.

So instead of developing the LS into a world beating competitor, Lincoln let it die and replaced it with a pimped out Fusion. What happened here????

The future of Lincoln does not look bright, with a shift toward front and all wheel drive clones of lesser Ford models being all that's on the horizon. Ford has missed many opportunities in recent years. The Thunderbird based Lincoln Mark X roadster, the Continental Concept, the LS. I still see Lincoln and Mercury adrift in a sea of despair.

Additional thoughts on the subject. For the record, I don't think the Zephyr is a bad car, nor do I think it should be removed from the line up. I look at the Zephyr as a complimentary model to the LS. I believe the LS should not be discontinued, but improved and marketed more aggressively. The LS chassis is compitent, with adequate handling and comfortable ride. The powertrains could use a little upgrading, the new 3.5 V6 should be installed as the base engine and a new 4.0 or 4.4 version of the 3.9 V8 installed. A higher end, more powerful version in line with the V-Spec Cadilacs should be developed along the lines of the Jaguar S Type R sibling. The Zephyr now fills the near luxury, entry level position at Lincoln, move the LS up the ladder a little and don't bring a 500 clone over at all. Build a new chassis to replcae the Panther Town Car, maybe based on the Australian Ford Falcon/Fairlane chassis. With the Zephyr and an improved LS Lincoln would be in a better position to compete with some of the cars above. Lincoln doesn't need a Mustang variant, it needs a better LS. The Aviator is a great vehicle for Lincoln, and the Navigator is great, but loose the stupid Mark LT. Lincoln needs a new niche vehicle. Bring out the Mark X roadster with real seating for 4 and an improved powerplant. Lincoln will not benefit from a 500 clone.

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