The luxury segment is a extreme moneymaker; Ford CEO Mark Fields noted in his Lincoln presentation that fully 1/3 of profit comes from the upscale brands. Any lag in this sector requires immediate and effective action.
The Bentley, Infiniti and Lincoln press conferences gave us a window into the health and well-being of each brand.
Bentley seems pleased enough with its performance. Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer touted the latest sales gains and reminded us that Bentley’s biggest market is the US, followed by China.
Then Durheimer came to point of the reveal: the name of the upcoming SUV. It’s Ben-TAY-ga. Seems clunky at first, like rutabaga, but it does have more pizzazz than the strings of letters and numbers on some competitors.
Otherwise, Bentley showed us running shots of the recently debuted Mulsanne Speed. Who says luxury cars aren’t colorful?
Overall, this minimalist presentation showed that Bentley feels pretty good about the way things are going.
Over at Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand is on an upswing. A big lag in the lineup has been the aged G37/Q60 coupe, which is handsome enough but seems like it’s been around since flip cell phones, which its basic style pretty much has.
To ease us into the Q60 concept, Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura touted the company’s four design houses…
…and then referenced the Q80 Inspiration Concept, which debuted in Paris last October.
We saw why when the Q60 Coupe Concept rolled out – it references the Inspiration in many ways.
Proportions here are similar to the outgoing G37/Q60, but ah, the details. Like the lit logo beneath the hood/grille nub…
…the tantalizing curves defining the C-pillar…
…and the aggressive flanks.
Interior looks good too, as seen here behind Executive Director of Design Alfonso Albaisa.
French stitching is a new trend but also evokes the same pattern in the original Datsun 240Z. Infiniti’s conference showed confidence and clear eye on design.
Here’s a fly-through of the Q60 Concept’s interior:
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And then there’s Lincoln.
Make no mistake, we’re all rooting for Ford’s perpetually upstart luxury brand. We reveled in the ritz and the rust of an ’83 Continental Mark VI parked near the Cobo Center, and we cheer for a return to the brand’s storied gloried days.
The pre-presentation of strings and moving sculpture was promising, although I apparently arrived after the drummer did his thing.
Ford CEO Mark Fields stated that the “commitment to Lincoln is unwavering,” and much was made of the “deeper level of personalization” afforded by four Black Label themes.
Here’s a clip of that presentation:
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Under the cloth was the 2016 Lincoln MKX, which a product planner said is its third generation.
The revised MKX looks much like the crossovers with which it competes, albeit with some extra side curves.
Inside, it boasts 22-way power seats, along with an unfortunate mismatch of shapes of the imitation wood. Thin and curvy on the doors, pointed and blocky on the console. Seems like a hodgepodge.
I had sent out a complimentary tweet about the smartphone tray and the niceness of the rear door panels – yes, because US brands have had a tendency to cheap out back there – but then I realized it was kind of sad to be searching in back seat for something about this car that’s groundbreaking, something that will lift Lincoln perceived status up to where it needs to be. My editor summed it up well comparing the Lincoln debut to Cadillac’s:
Best way we can say it is Lincoln is re-filling its bench. Now it’s time to design one that will knock it out of the park.
Tell us in the comments – what do you think of the debuts of these three brands?