The Ram's Eye - A Driver's Blog: November 2013



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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Lincoln Motor Company - What does Lincoln need to succeed?




A couple of weeks ago, I made a post about a recent Motor Trend test of the Lincoln MKZ lineup. In that post, I suggested that the testing itself was hurting Lincoln's image. The vast majority of the review was about performance numbers and that doesn't seem to be what Lincoln is after so, naturally, Lincoln cars don't put down numbers you can brag about. They're simply adequate. That doesn't necessarily mean they are bad cars though. For example, if someone were to take a Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe and compare its performance to a new Corvette Stingray Z51, the Phantom would come up really short. In reality, the Phantom Coupe is very far from bad or even average. It's simply not a performance car. In fact, it's so far from a performance car and offers so much more luxury and brand prestige than a Corvette that they would never be cross shopped, but you get the point. If you use the Corvette yardstick, the Rolls Royce would come up short. The opposite is obviously true as well - if you use the Rolls Royce yardstick, the Corvette would come up short. This begs the question, though, what yardstick should you use for Lincoln?

In my opinion, this question is the core of Lincoln's problem. If you were to use any commonly used yardstick when reviewing other luxury cars, Lincoln cars would come up short. That's not because Lincolns aren't any good. It's because Lincolns do not excel at any one aspect. Going back to Rolls Royce, it offers levels of attention to detail and workmanship that are unmatched. It may not offer as many features as a Mercedes S-Class but it never claims to showcase the latest and greatest in car features. Stepping down from the ultra exclusive brands like Rolls Royce, I find that Mercedes seems to focus more on features and ride comfort. BMW, Audi and Cadillac (since the first generation Cadillac CTS) mix great handling with luxury but there are a few differences. Cadillac, for example focuses on style, sharp handling and excellent balance between ride and handling. Audi also focuses on styling but in a very conservative and constrained style and gives more weight to stability and safety through their Quattro AWD system.

This takes us back to Lincoln. What is Lincoln's focus? What is Lincoln's "specialty"? Lincoln doesn't come to mind when you're thinking of any specific luxury car feature or character. Whether you're thinking about power, handling, style, features, materials quality, or ride, none of these take you back to Lincoln. Lincolns are just average at all aspects. They may very well offer the best compromise for many buyers since there is no one single strong aspect but that doesn't do the brand image any good. That's what Lincoln needs to change.




I've heard over and over again from many people that Lincoln needs a RWD car and, while I would love a RWD car from Lincoln, I don't think it necessarily needs one. Audi has done quite well with building cars on a platform shared with VW and none of their cars are RWD or even based on a RWD chassis. It has done a great job differentiating itself from VW. What Lincoln desperately needs is a speciality - a focus. It needs an identity. Will the new Lincoln MKC show an identity? Only time will tell. The new MKZ was a step in the right direction but wasn't quite there. Here's hoping that the MKC will be.


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Chicago hit and run - this is a bad one!

If you mention hit and run, you already know there are bad driving manners involved. How do you define a bad hit and run? I think this video sums it up pretty well. In an attempt to run away and avoid having to provide insurance information, the driver hits not one or two but three cars. That's three cars while attempting to get away - i.e. three in addition to the car the driver hit in the first place for a total of four hit and runs within a few minutes. That's a bad hit and run.. luckily, the getaway was caught on camera so hopefully someone was able to get the license plate number. 


 



Monday, 4 November 2013

2015 Mustang Leaked and Engine Options Details!




Just a few weeks before the reveal date of the much anticipated 2015 Mustang, pictures and information have been "leaked." This new Mustang is very important for Ford because the aim is to take it globally which means it has to appeal to buyers not only in North America but in other markets as well. This model celebrates the 50th birthday of the Mustang and will be the first truly global Mustang model which means it not only has to be appealing to different markets, but it also has to make a very good impression and Ford is counting on three major changes - exterior design, suspension and powertrain options.

The new design is certainly striking (go to Car and Driver for a 360ยบ interactive view - 2015 Ford Mustang Leaked!). The car clearly shares resemblance with the Evos concept and the current generation Ford Fusion while looking muscular. I do wish it looked more like an evolution of the current Mustang but I do like the design. I'm not a huge fan of the very thin headlights but other than that, I think it looks great. 

The other major change is tucked under the new skin and has been long awaited by many - the independent rear suspension. There's no doubt that Ford has done an amazing job with the solid rear axle used on the current Mustang but the added unsprung mass that has to be controlled and the inherent problem with articulation can only be completely fixed with an independent suspension. Moreover, the whole chassis is getting reworked to save weight. In fact, there has been reports of the new Mustang being up to 400 lbs. lighter than the current one but I'm not holding my breath for that. I wouldn't be surprised if the chassis is 300-400 lbs. lighter than the current one but I expect added safety requirements and features to bring that down to around 200 lbs. and, according to Car and Driver, that's what Ford is targeting which is still excellent. That would put the V6 version around 3,300 lbs. and the V8 around 3,400 lbs. 




Speaking of engines, the V6 and V8 engines are expected to carryover with some changes resulting in more hp, but the major change under hood is the addition of a turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine. American Muscle reports that one of their community members shared a survey that he received after buying a 2013 Mustang and the survey shows a 3.8-litre V6, a 2.4-litre I4 (turbo) and a 4.9-litre V8 as engine options (AmericanMuscle.com - Ford Survey Accidentally Leaks 2015 Mustang Engines & Options). The engine sizes are slightly off from what is expected but don't expect that to translate into production. As American Muscle put it, the numbers were probably skewed to throw the average Joe off from thinking they are specific engines that are being developed for the next generation. What we can learn from the survey is that the V6 and V8 engines will be back, the 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine will probably be offered in the US, not just in Europe, and that it will not be the base engine. Instead, it will be an upgrade over the V6 which will continue to be the base engine.

All in all, it looks like the new Mustang will definitely not disappoint. The lighter chassis and better suspension will improve an already great handling car and, while the current Mustang isn't lacking in the power department, the power bump will certainly be very welcome. In fact, with 3,400 lbs and power in the mid 400 hp range, it should have a power-to-weight ratio that's only slightly lower than the new Corvette. And although the new look may upset some die-hard fans of the current retro Mustang, it should bring more new buyers.