The automotive press assembled on the lawn behind the Inn at Spanish Bay on a bright Thursday morning to see what we were told would be the next evolution of the Lincoln Motor Company. What we got was a first look at The Black Label collection.
Jim Farley, EVP of Global Marketing, Sales and Service for Lincoln called Black Label a signature of the brand for the coming years. Black Label is a collection of designer-inspired themes that are premium and unique – elevating Lincoln even further above Ford, but still making luxury accessible to a wide range of people.
Lincoln Black Label manifests itself in special materials – woods, leather, sued and other accents – as well as upmarket wheels and trim across the Lincoln range. The seats, instrument panel, doors armrests and console on all models are wrapped in Venetian leather. It is very high quality and tanned to have a soft, supple feel.
Alcantara suede, a synthetic fiber that is almost indistinguishable from natural suede and used by many luxury manufacturers, is used to cover the headliner, pillars and floor mats. It is also used as an accent fabric on the seats.
The Collection currently includes three themes, Center Stage, Indulgence and Modern Heritage. Each theme has unique interior colors, exterior colors, wheels and badging on the exterior.
Lincoln Group Chief Designer for Color and Materials, Susan Lampine, described the Indulgence theme as being inspired by chocolate. The MKZ that was on hand featuring that theme had a rich and indulgent look. In my eye, it was the best of the collection. The interior trim showcased ganache and truffle colored leather with Ziricote wood accents. Often used in the making of guitars, Ziricote is also called tonewood and is prized for its strength as well as its natural intricate grain and contrasting colors. The exterior of the Indulgence MKZ Black Label featured a deep, dark chocolate metal flake finish that looked better as you got closer to the car.
The Modern Heritage theme was showcased on a Lincoln MKC crossover prototype (hopefully, we’ll see the MKC in showrooms soon). This collection was described as a crisp, clean, modern design that was a fresh take on classic black-and-white interior architecture. It had a mid-century modern feel to it, and while the white leather seats were comfortable, the effect for me was someone dated, evoking the interior of luxury cars of the ’70s. The use of the Lincoln logo shape as a design element throughout the theme was interesting and overall the package was successful, but just not to my taste.
The theme that is sure to draw the most attention is, not surprisingly, Center Stage. Inspired by fashion and theater, this theme makes some very daring design choices, the most obvious of which is the Foxfire Red headliner. Dramatic would be an understatement. More than once I heard the term gaudy used to describe it by others in the group. Once you get past that, the black on black seats with red accents are good looking and very comfortable. This theme is intended for those who are not afraid to make an entrance.
Unfortunately the collection won’t be available until at least September of 2014, but it’s always interesting to get a glimpse of where car manufacturers are hoping to take their products and their brands. If the Black Label Collection is in fact an indication of Lincoln’s future, it’s one that will certainly be making a statement in the years to come.