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Bentley has offered Black Label cars (as well as Red and Green Label), Mercedes-Benz has Black Series, Audi and Porsche have Black Editions. Seeking a pass into the true luxury club, could Lincoln soon have a line of Black Label cars to call its own?
Parent company Ford trademarked the phrase "Lincoln Black Label" last month, and not only do we not have any clue what it might signify, the company might never apply the name to anything. It's an interesting way to go, though; Black Label is a hugely popular appellation for everything from soap to fashion to something called a "pore penetrator," and it's almost always meant to signify an appreciable notch above the norm. The question is, what kind of Lincoln could wear that badge and not be accused of being a cynical marketing exercise? Even on a Ford forum one poster wrote, "While I think that would be an awesome use of Black label unfortunately Lincoln doesn't have any vehicles nor the platform to back that up."
It would also be a departure from how Lincoln has signified its special lines until recently. Designer cars that began in the seventies, like the Cartier Town Car and Emilio Pucci Mark IV, gave way to the generic Designer trim level and then Signature Limited (itself a step above the Signature L) that was last used on the 2011 Lincoln Town Car. The present offerings are only differentiated by engines, lacking an equivalent of Ford's Titanium branding - on the MKS even the options packages are called "Equipment Group 20XA" - and this could be how Black Label finds a home. But tell us, what kind of Lincoln would deserve it?Permalink | Email this | Comments
"Hot. Cold. Neutral. Pathetic." Those are the four brand descriptors professional Detroit auto industry provocateur Peter De Lorenzo applies to 40 major automotive brands in his latest Autoextremist rant.
If you've been reading De Lorenzo's stuff for any length of time, you've probably heard all this before, many, many times. But the column still has its share of nuggets, like, "Alfa Romeo: The brand that for the most part exists as a figment of Sergio Marchionne's considerable imagination," and "There's absolutely no reason in the world for this vehicle to exist other than to assuage Henrik Fisker's considerable ego."
De Lorenzo's ire isn't reserved just for executives, as he ridicules Ferrari for being "frickin' greedy," calls Lexus the "Eddie Haskell of the luxury auto space" for its vanilla approach, ridicules Mazda for its "nonsensical and flat-out dumb" Skyactiv branding campaign, and tags Volvo as "the brand for people who question why the even bother to own a car anymore."
While the column doesn't actually rank all the brands, it does quite predictably say that Porsche and BMW sit at the top of the heap, with Jeep and every other successful luxury marque making up the second tier. At the bottom of the pile? Well, that's a crowded place in the mind of the Autoextremist, but that crowning achievement of failure can only be awarded to Smart. Indeed, De Lorenzo forgot to even include that brand on his list.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The winds of change are blowing at Scion, as a recent report from Wards Auto indicates the youth-focused brand is killing of the boxy xB and small four-door hatchback xD. Vice President Jack Hollis, the corporate face of Scion said there were no plans to replace either car. This is a shocking revelation for the xB, which until 2011 was Scion’s best selling car since coming to America in 2004. The first generation xB was a success for its huge funk factor that made it endearing to the finicky youth market Scion was chasing. In 2008 Scion introduced the second generation xB, which was larger, less boxy, more powerful and much heavier than the outgoing car. In Scion’s attempt to mainstream the xB to a broader audience, they killed the cool factor and sales dropped like a rock.
The demise of the xD comes as less a surprise. Introduced as a 2008 model in the US, the xD offered more contemporary styling than Toyota’s Yaris, but few seemed to notice or care. It didn’t help that Scion barely promoted or marketed the car in any meaningful way, so it’s no wonder the average subcompact car buyer knew the car even existed. With sales stuck around 10,000 cars a year for the past two years, the xD likely won’t be missed.
So that leaves Scion in a very different position in terms of product from when they first launched in America, and just recently in Canada. We have the front-drive sport coupe tC, the pint-sized iQ, and Scion’s anticipated rear-wheel drive sport coupe, the FR-S. An ultra-tiny subcompact and two sport coupes sound like a pretty thin product portfolio, so Scion’s decision to kill off both cars with four doors at once seems to make less sense, as they have now eliminated every family seeking Toyota reliability in a more interesting wrapper, as well as any first time buyer wanting a car to road trip with his buddies. It is especially sloppy product planning for Canada. You can’t enter a market trying to establish a brand identity and within two years kill off two of the three cars you introduced yourself as. There is a gaping hole being left in Scion’s product line, and Jack Hollis’ assertion of no direct replacement leaves me with serious doubts about the future or relevance of Scion.
When it comes to German luxury vehicles, it's always the same old story: BMW and Mercedes-Benz duking it out for first place, with Audi gaining ground while locking down third. So why should it be any different when it comes to naming conventions? BMW has clearly taken the lead for which car brand can have the most confusing and illogical alphanumeric badging, and thus, Mercedes is readying a new naming regimen of its own.
According to a report in Automobile, Benz will be completely overhauling the familiar "-Class" designations to make them more logical. To Germans. Who are engineers. How will this shake out? We've read the article three times and can't make much sense of it, but Automobile indicates that we should expect SUV's and crossovers to continue using the G prefix, while coupes and convertibles will use the C prefix, and the SL prefix will be reserved for sports cars. After that, well, we give up.
Supposedly a third letter of the name will designate the model range, meaning that the front-drive, four-door coupe based on the A- and B-Class architecture won't be called CLC, but will instead go by CLA. And the forthcoming GLC crossover will be unveiled as the GLA. The GLK will probably get renamed GLC, according to the magazine, and now we've entered the rabbit hole, because as Automobile writes:
Then there's the problem with the CLS-Class. It won't be receiving a new name, according to the report, which means the forthcoming two-door version of the S-Class can't be called CLS. And the G-Class won't get any of the extra letters, retaining its single-letter name.
But what of the rumored A-Class based coupe and cabriolet models? CLA comes to mind, but this name is already spoken for. Would it make more sense if the CLC-turned-CLA is renamed once again to become the CLB, since its MFA platform is also shared with the B-Class? If so, Benz has to move quickly, as the concept car that previews the CLC/CLA/CLB is supposed to make its official debut in a few weeks at the 2012 Beijing motor show.
So there you have it. If Automobile is correct, Mercedes' new naming scheme will take something that was confusing and illogical and make sure it's still confusing and illogical, but unfamiliar as well.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The RDX, Acura’s smallest SUV doesn’t get talked about much here at The Garage. First introduced as a 2007 model and motivated by a turbocharged four, the RDX has always lived in the shadow of the larger MDX, the brand’s best-selling vehicle. It hardly helped that mainstream auto media largely ignored the RDX, which is priced just under more recognized cars like the Mercedes-Benz GLK or Infiniti EX. Worse, many see the RDX’s size and assume it is just a plush Honda CR-V-it is not. In any case, Acura is introducing the second generation, 2013 RDX. Whether any past misconceptions of the last RDX can be dispelled remain to be seen.
The most notable change from the last generation RDX is the loss of the turbo four cylinder engine in favor of a 3.5L V-6 with an additional 33hp on tap, paired to an all-new six-speed automatic. An RDX with front-wheel drive will start at $34,320USD. The RDX will come standard with leather seats, power heated front seats, power moonroof, Pandora internet radio, and a rearview camera. All-wheel drive will cost an additional $1,400. The only option after that is the Technology Package, which adds AuraLink satellite communication, voice-recognition Navigation, a 60GB hard drive, dual-zone auto climate control, surround sound, power lift gate and bi-xenon HID headlights for $3,700 extra.
I can see Acura’s product planners thinking that a V-6 RDX was the way to go given its direct competition. I was present at the Acura stand at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit when the RDX was unveiled. There was no energy or enthusiasm from Acura for the RDX, and the audience of a few hundred auto journalists fed on that, and none of us cared either. It is that attitude that frustrates me about Acura today. In 1986 Honda took a huge gamble on creating a Japanese luxury brand named Acura during a time when no one associated Japanese cars with luxury. Honda created Acura, and three years later Toyota created Lexus, which destroyed Acura in sales.
I will reserve final judgement of the 2013 Acura RDX until I get the opportunity to drive one, but my fear is Acura continues to play it safe with cars no one feels any passion for. Stay tuned.
Ferrari isn't shy about slapping its logo on just about anything it thinks it can sell to fans that will never be able to afford one of its cars. We've seen phones (plenty of them), computers, a home gym... and now, headphones and iPod speaker docks.
This new deal with Logic3 features six different lines of headphones and earphones and two distinct speaker docks. Logic3 has divided its offerings into two lines: the Cavallino Collection, which is influenced by the Ferrari road cars, and the Scuderia Collection, which is inspired by Ferrari's F1 racing team.
As is common with these licensing deals, Logic3 promises that it has worked closely with Ferrari to ensure "the marque's characteristic style, design and personality are captured within every product."
Perhaps more of a concern here is how closely Ferrari has worked with Logic3 to insure that these new audio products are of a high quality. We'll note that Logic3 is not Grado Labs, and its reputation among the audiophile community is virtually nonexistent - a search of Stereophile's website, for instance, didn't turn up a single mention of the brand.
To read the full press release, click past the jump.Permalink | Email this | Comments