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First Drive: Lincoln MKT

Luxury crossover has distinctive look, but tail is rather ungainly.

by on Sep.17, 2010

The Lincoln MKT includes styling cues from past Lincolns, but many will have trouble getting past the large tail end.

Let it never be said that Lincoln went conservative in its design of the MKT luxury crossover.

On first glimpse, the MKT seemed to have rather odd proportions. While most of the vehicle has a nice design and well-played features, the bulky rear end gives the tail end a heavy look. Let’s call it like it is: The MKT looks like it’s packing a load.

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In contrast, the design of the Buick Enclave, is striking, making it the most beautiful of the luxury crossovers. Sure, styling is a subjective area frought with peril for auto scribes. In Lincoln’s defense, luxury car buyers typically want a flashy design that stands out from the crowd. It’s also worth noting that my wife disagrees with my assessment.

Lincoln has made great use of the split-wing grille, which it is extending across the lineup. It gives Lincoln a distinctive front end design, which also points back to Lincoln’s storied past.

But still that rear end …
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First Drive: BMW Z4

Bigger and more expensive meets a downsizing marketplace.

by on Mar.20, 2009

TK

It's hoped that the new roadster will generate more showroom traffic and sales for dealers.

On May 9, the BMW Z4 arrives in showrooms worldwide; it will undoubtedly get a warm welcome. Not only from fans of the Bavarian brand, but also from the dealers, as they expect the new roadster will generate a more showroom traffic than has been seen of late.

“February was another downer for the whole market,” says Jim O’Donnell, president of BMW of North America, in a statement after BMW group sales plunged 35% last month. In 2008 the parent company’s profits almost halved as the global economic crisis took hold.

U.S. dealers are relying on used cars sales to get by; they sold 27,000 in January and February. Of these 19,000 were certified pre-owned, while 17% of the cars came from leases that were ending.  The challenge in 2009 and 2010 will be big, as even more 3-year lease contracts expire that were initiated in the boom years of 2006 and 2007.

The new Z4 made its worldwide debut at the North International Auto Show in Detroit and had its European premiere at the Geneva show.

This week, the driving events for the new model started in Spain. In fact, you can hardly compare the 2010 Z4 with the outgoing one, as the roadster is completely new, according to BMW. First in keeping with traditional auto marketing, the size increases inside and out. The length is now 166.9 inches, and width and height are respectively 70.5 inches and 50.8 inches, while the wheelbase measures 98.3. Thanks to the larger width and higher roof line, the cockpit offers more space and 14% better all-around visibility than the outgoing model. The two-piece retractable aluminum hard top folds away with the push of a button in the center console in 20 seconds. With the top down, there is 10.9 cubic feet of luggage space (- 3.6 cubic feet.), enough to stow two golf bags, provided you have chosen the through-loading option.

The Z4 was styled by two women, exterior designer Juliane Brasi of BMW’s Munich studio and interior designer Nadya Arnaout, who works in DesignworksUSA in California. The two worked together in a program that BMW initiated, in order to see if the communication between the exterior and interior designers in an early stage could be beneficiary for the package. Both ladies could not have guessed that their designs would be chosen, which “was quite a coincidence”, said Anders Warming, head of exterior design BMW Automobiles. (more…)