While still struggling to turn things around in the home U.S. market, Lincoln is looking to China to help revive its sagging fortunes. And this week’s Beijing Auto Show will be a critical step in the hoped-for turnaround process.
To support its formal launch in China, Ford Motor Co.’s luxury division is unveiling a new show car in Beijing, the Lincoln MKX Concept. And the prototype is but certain to reappear in production form in the near future.
“It’s a strong indication of the next-generation MKX,” David Woodhouse, the new Lincoln Design Director, said during a background briefing prior to the show car’s unveiling. He described the show car as, “a much more emotional design” than the fairly boxy and conventional midsize crossover it will ultimately replace.
Among other things, the MKX Concept adopts the latest revisions to the so-called “split-wing” Lincoln grille, a sweep of horizontal chrome that first debuted on the latest-generation Lincoln MKZ, replacing the traditional Lincoln “waterfall” grille.
“Great emphasis was put on the proportions of this concept vehicle,” said Andrea Di Buduo, exterior design manager of the Lincoln MKX Concept, during a Beijing Motor Show preview. “Its horizontal lines and defined undercuts are gracefully integrated and very sophisticated, yet convey a powerful and dynamic presence.”
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The show car features a sloping, teardrop roofline, wide shoulders and recessed rear windows. There’s an unusually high beltline running most of the length of the MKX Concept, complementing what Lincoln describes as “floating” rocker moldings engraved with the brand’s logo. The show car sits on wide, 21-inch machined aluminum wheels and tires.
One of the more interesting details is the way the center of the massive Panoramic roof is recessed, flowing towards the rear of the vehicle and subtly helping enhance the MKX’s aerodynamics. The notch in the glass disappears under an integrated rear spoiler that also contains all the various antennas normally tucked into the “shark fin” that has become all but ubiquitous on today’s automobiles.
LED accent lights up front, and sweeping LED taillamps that run the length of the concept’s rear complete the package.
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The show car is, notably, an exterior design exercise. It does not have a complete interior, nor is it capable of running, with no engine under its hood.
The debut of the Lincoln MKX Concept marks the first time Lincoln has previewed a show car in China, a move that has become commonplace for most other luxury makers. Among others hosting unveilings at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show are Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, the latter being the leader in China’s fast-growing high-line automotive sector.
Lincoln has been all but absent from what is today the world’s largest automotive market – and which is expected to pass the U.S. as the world’s largest luxury car market before the end of the decade. Until now, the Ford subsidiary’s only presence in China has been through the black market, Matt Vandyke, the Director of Global Lincoln, telling TheDetroitBureau.com that about 800 vehicles were sold in the country last year.
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Parent Ford also got off to a late start in the country, however, but it has recently become one of the fastest-growing nameplates in China – and Lincoln is hoping it will be able to repeat that performance when it opens its first showrooms in key cities including Shanghai and Beijing later this year.