As the holiday shopping season approaches, one adage holds true: The best things come in small packages.
Even as we put Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, auto dealers are in full advertising mode, asking us, “Why not a new car as the season’s big present?”
Long before Thanksgiving, we spotted an Infiniti TV commercial that seemed a takeoff on the annual Lexus “December to Remember” spots that feature vehicles with large bows in the driveway. Then we noticed every other brand following suit.
There’s no shortage of vehicles to choose from if you are looking for a holiday purchase. But there are also nice surprises coming in the New Year.
So, if you’re willing to wait until next year—after all, there will be similar promotions for Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day—here are two “smallish” automotive offerings to consider for your spring buying pleasure: the all-new 2015 Lincoln MKC premium small utility vehicle and the 2014 Fiat 500 “1957 Edition.”
Both Lincoln and Fiat need new product in their showrooms, and these vehicles will help to provide it.
Lincoln has lost momentum in recent years and its vehicles are a bit hard to differentiate in their MK acronyms—MKZ, MKC, MKX, MKS—even as the company is in the midst of a four-vehicle rollout over a three-year span.
The MKZ entry-level luxury sedan, based on the successful Ford Fusion platform, is on the market and competing with the likes of the Acura TL, Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Lexus ES 350, and Volvo S60.
The full-size MKS sedan, based on the Ford Taurus, is due for a redesign in mid-2014.
After the MKC arrives next spring to establish a Lincoln presence in the small premium SUV market sector, we expect to see a new MKX mid-size SUV/crossover arriving in 2015 as a 2016 model. That vehicle is based on the Ford Edge.
Lincoln has high hopes that the MKC will make inroads in the small premium sector, a market segment that has grown by more than 200 percent since 2009. Lincoln wants to attract a mix of present luxury-car owners who are interested in downsizing and buyers new to the luxury market.
The MKC has a standard 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 240 horsepower. However, it soon will have an optional all-new 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 275 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque.
A push-button transmission selector allows for a more open front seat and console design.
Lincoln is giving the MKC a styling identity with the marque’s split-wing grille, a wraparound tailgate style, and narrow horizontal taillight treatment that also wraps around just below the vehicle’s high beltline.
MKC will be available with all-wheel-drive—a system that features sport, comfort, and normal drive modes, all of which are tied into a continuously controlled suspension damping system.
Among the safety features are a lane-keeping system and collision warning with brake support—a combination of systems that alerts the driver with an audible alert, a visual alert on the windshield, and automatic brake assist sensitivity.
In addition to active park assist, it also will feature “park-out” assist to get the driver out of tight parking spots.
An approach detection system in the vehicle senses when the driver is nearby and responds by illuminating “welcome mats” on the ground by both front doors; headlamps, taillamps, and door handles will glow with soft lighting that complements the vehicle’s exterior color.
Fiat 500 “1957 Edition”
Next year marks the 57th anniversary of the Nuova Cinquecento (new Fiat 500) that was introduced as Italy’s people’s car on July 4, 1957. It offered Italians affordable mobility during the country’s rebuilding following World War II.
Fiat built 3,893,294 examples of the now-iconic Cinquecento between 1957 and 1975, many of which still show up at Italian car shows.
To celebrate the anniversary, Fiat will offer a “1957 Edition” next year, featuring three classic Fiat 500 colors—bianco (white), verde chiaro (light green), and celeste (celestial blue). The blue is paired with a white roof, side-mirrors, and hubcaps. The hubcaps will have a historic Fiat logo.
The special editions also will have a sport-tuned suspension, throwback Fiat badging front and rear, and premium brown leather seats.
Power will come from a 1.4-liter MultiAir engine paired with either a five-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. EPA figures project 31 miles per gallon in city driving and 40 on the highway with the manual transmission.
The edition is expected in showrooms (Fiat’s “studios”) next spring.