Friday, January 09, 2004

More analysis...

If you can call it analysis. Here is my look at some more of the various releases from Detroit, and LA:

Ford Shelby Cobra Concept--The original Shelby Cobra is one of my favorite vehicles. I've thought seriously about buying a replica, and just braving the weather if there is a rainstorm. To see this remake kind of bugs me. I've read on Autoextremist, that Carrol Shelby is an evil person in it only for the money, and this does seem to be a new way for him to make money. I have a feeling this concept will get made, and be slotted in the Corvette range, or a little more expensive. The design seems to have streamlined out the great British lines of the original Cobra, and I don't like that.

Hyundai HCD8--It certainly won't be a shock to people, or bring any new customers to Hyundai. I suppose the purpose might be to tell people that they have a new design studio capable of producing vehicles, or it might be to tell people that they are a fellow company, just like the other brands, in a bid for respectability. More and more people are buying Hyundais, especially in LA, but it hasn't quite shaken the reputation of being a cheap car, for a cheap price.

Jeep Rescue--The Jeep Rescue in pictures looks very small, but in fact is Hummer sized. And therein lies the problem; isn't Jeep already supposed to be known as the rugged brand? If they have to make concepts that showcase their "ruggedness" it means that the line has been compromised. Of course the gumball shaped, soccer mom Liberty has nothing to do with that. No no at all.

Kia Serato--Kia goes upscale. Very stupid.

Lexus RX 400h--Lexus' brings us the world's first hybrid luxury SUV. Smart move? Brilliant move. I don't want to sound like yet another auto industry analyst singing the praises of Toyota, but quite frankly this move is ground breaking. We have a fuel problem in the world, and no matter how many Middle Eastern countries we take over, eventually the fuel is going to run out. The only feasible technology on the market are hybrids. Period. If you want your luxury SUV 15 years from now, this might be the only alternative. Toyota went ahead and did it.

Lexus GS--The new Lexus GS is here. It's too conservative for me, and too almost-ran. As much as I laud Toyota for some things, I've always felt that Lexus is either too conservative, or too gaudy, like with their IS 300. At least they got rid of the wierd neon green fog lights that used to be on this car.

Lincoln Mark LT--I sat in the front passenger seat of the new Navigator a few weeks ago, and was totally impressed. When I saw the interior of this truck, I thought it was a concept, but evidentally this is the production version. You can see a lot of F-150 in this vehicle, and that has to be a good thing, considering the dismal failure the Blackwood was. The idea of a luxury pickup isn't that great of an idea, but if they can lower the costs down, and make the thing FUNCTIONAL, then it just might sell. But not in huge quantities.

Lincoln Aviator--This is too garish to be a production model, and must be a concept car. The design strategy of the grill is new and interesting, but I like the look better on a car than an SUV. I prefer the current Aviator look. Rounding edges here has made the entire vehicle look squat, and toylike. People buy SUVs for the presence they command, due in large part to their size. Comprising that, means a compromise of sales, especially in the luxury department, where size matters.

Lincoln Mark X--Like I said above, I love this grill look on a car. Ford is trying an approach with luxury that will either succeed brilliantly, or fail miserably, nothing in between. All the luxury car makers out there try to emulate BMW, and regularly advertise how close to a BMW they are. Certainly that is the case with Cadillac and its CTS. Here, we have something that is distinctly American, yet distinctly luxurious. I think people will be torn by the looks; it is something quite different then the Airport rental Lincolns we are used to seeing. I hope it succeeds, and I'm glad Lincoln isn't once again trying to emulate BMW (Lincoln LS anyone?), and going on alone.

Mazda MX Micro-sport--It's a concept but it sure looks like a production car. Is this Mazda's attempt to grab the youth market, like Scion/Toyota is trying? I've always felt Mazda has the best styling of the Japanese companies, and perhaps even of most of the American marques. Mazda is really making an effort to be inexpensive sport, with jazzy interiors, maybe pretty good handling, and sporty exteriors. It seems to do well in Japan and Europe, but not too well here. I like this concept.

I'll finish up with the rest of the concepts tomorrow...

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