New Lincoln! Yay, No More Baleen….Wait. WTF!
I feel so betrayed. Since Lincoln introduced the MKS concept in 2006, it’s
odd trademark “waterfall” grill has been the topic of many a joke. If you haven’t heard one, you can mad-lib it using the words “whale”, ‘baleen”, “krill” and
“butter face.” As in: The new front of that MKS is weird. It looks like that stuff whales use to strain water and catch krill, what’s that called…baleen! The interior is ok, and the profile isn’t bad, butter face…”
Jump forward a few years and many disappointed eyeballs later, and Lincoln says they’re bringing a redesign to the LA auto show. Yes! Alright boys let’s get back in the game. We had a rough start in ’06, that pass was a little weird, but it’s ok. We survived the recession, we can get the people back on our side. Ok Max (Lincoln’s head of design, Max Wolff) whattya got for us? Wait…that looks…I don’t mean to sound insulting, maybe my glasses are foggy, but that looks …..that looks the same Max. Make the jump to read on.
The redesign wasn’t only about the exterior; better power, efficiency, a sport setting and continuous dampening have improved the driving experience. But you’ll probably never experience those, because the grill is way too close to the old one. Sure the strainers have gotten smaller, enabling them to catch smaller insects than before (yay?), but looking at a timeline, calling it a redesign is like redesigning Lady Gaga’s meat dress by giving her a different purse. Let’s go to the video tape:
Ok they went with a bold face, something to identify the brand which is important in the auto world. Sometimes it works (Aston, Ford) sometimes it doesn’t (Acura). But designers have the tough task of deciding what the public will like before the public knows they’ll like it. In fashion, they drive the market. They make products, sell them to the world as the new hot thing, and we (well, people that care about clothing) buy it. Lincoln made a move, crossed their fingers, and prayed but the result was a face that was a bit too bold. A gaping mouth flanked by small headlights. Works for jaguar, not so much here.
Fast forward to now and Lincoln promises a redesign. They get another at bat. What did Max draw?
The grills are thinner, smoothing the transition from grill to body and lights, but it still has the same shape and I think that’s the fundamental problem. You could fill that area with solid aluminum, diamonds or photo copies of Scarlet Johanssen but it still wouldn’t work. To be fair, Max Wolff may have only been given permission to change things within the grill or other binding parameters. But if he was, he wouldn’t have made this video, telling us about all the awesome “new” tools they use to make the car.
This video is more off-putting than the car itself, because unless you’re 8 years old or from a 3rd world country, using computers for design or having a meeting with a giant TV behind it seems like pretty standard procedure. TST is made out of a house, and even we have a big TV to watch footage and edit from. I watched this video and at the end thought, “Yea….so?” A TV? CAD design? No shit you use these to make things today. I’ll bet my pencil holder was designed with a CAD program. If Lincoln wants to grab new, younger customers they have to realize what those customers know. Young people in that tax bracket have seen a computer before. They’ve probably been to development meetings and had their projects up on big projectors. Don’t treat them like they’re fresh off a raft of packing peanuts from Cuba.
It’s not that Lincoln makes a bad car, Matt drove 1500 miles in an MKT, and even tried to convince his dad to buy one. It’s a good vehicle. I drove it as well, and thought the ride and drive-train were great. If you need to be chauffeured (the MKT is set to replace the Town Car for said chauffeuring) it flies under the radar of adoring fans or would-be assassins. And the AWD means it can shuttle you to Beaver Creek just as easily as LAX. But the grill redesign isn’t enough, and trying to excite your customers a fairly mundane video of old techniques is silly. The older buying crowd probably won’t care, and the new crowd will see right through it. I can’t tell Lincoln what to do, but I know it shouldn’t be this.