Episode 859 – Fiat May Expand in Canada, BMW i8 Concept Spyder, First Drive: Lincoln MKS

April 2nd, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 9:35

Fiat is considering expanding its line-up in Canada to include the Panda and Punto. BMW revealed its third future mobility concept, called the i8 Spyder. Lincoln just introduced the redesigned version of the MKS and we’ve got our first impressions of the new model. All that and more, plus a look at the updated 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

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Welcome to the first day of the second quarter, this is Autoline Daily for April 2. I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.

Well, Alan Mulally made another $29 million last year, and the UAW is hopping mad. But get this, the union says Mulally doesn’t deserve that much money because Ford’s stock hasn’t performed that well. OMG, this is the first time in my life I’ve heard the union criticize executive pay because the stock isn’t moving high enough. These guys sound more like Wall Street bankers than Occupy Wall Streeters. So why the change of heart? Remember, the UAW owns a ton of Ford stock as part of the VEBA agreement, and it wants to see that stock soar!

Just to give you an idea of how competitive the midsize sedan segment is in the American market: nine months ago the Hyundai Sonata was the newest car in the segment. Nine months from now, it will be the oldest. The list includes the Camry, Altima, Accord, Fusion, Malibu, Optima, Passat and Mazda6. It’s a big segment, about 15 percent of the total market. In fact, if you add up all those sales, they’re more than any automaker, except GM and Ford.

While the Fiat 500 is off to a slow start in the U.S., it’s faring much better up in the Great White North. That’s why the company is considering expanding its lineup in Canada to include the Panda and Punto. So does this mean that those models are coming to U.S.? Maybe not. Canadian customers are more into smaller cars than American ones. But you might recall that smart cars were first sold in Canada before coming to the U.S.

BMW just revealed the convertible version of the i8, called that Concept Spyder. Like BMW’s other future mobility concepts, the i8 Spyder features a body constructed of a number lightweight materials. The two-seater, plug-in hybrid is powered by a 96kW electric motor and a turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine. Its fuel economy is about 78 MPG on the European test cycle. But don’t let its green image fool you, the i8 can still perform. It moves from 0 to 100 km/h in just five seconds and has a top speed of 250 km/h or about 155 MPH.

There’s a new add-on for the Volkswagen Transporter. Camper versions of these vans are immensely popular with outdoorsy folks in Europe. And good news for them, the Doubleback is an extension that motors out of the vehicle’s cargo area, increasing the interior length by six and a half feet! Think of it as a box inside a box. Very clever, and very expensive. Sticker price is nearly $90,000.


Lincoln will intro the new MKZ at the New York Auto Show tonight, but right now we get this teaser video showcasing the car’s retractable glass roof. It’s a pretty neat technology that gives us a tiny little glimpse of the car’s interior.  And last Friday, Lincoln let us drive this redesigned version of the MKS. It gets a variety of upgrades inside, outside and under the hood. Front and center is a brand-new grille, which now features very fine vertical slats. They give the car an almost insect-like face. Outback things have been cleaned up and the car gets a bigger trunk opening. Overall we found the exterior design pretty underwhelming, but like they say, it’s what’s inside that counts. Lincoln has thoroughly upgraded the MKS’ interior. We’re happy to report it has new switchgear, a more upscale layout and much richer materials. Of course, it’s also loaded with technology including MyLincoln touch, lane-keeping assist and collision warning. The base 3.7-liter V-6 has been tweaked for more oomph. It now delivers 304 horsepower and TWO more miles per gallon – up to 27 on the highway. A 3.5-liter EcoBoost six is still optional, and still awesome. Bigger and much, Much, MUCH better brakes bring everything to a stop. There’s a gimmicky-sounding but surprisingly effective adaptive suspension called Continuously Controlled Damping. CCD is part of an overarching system called Lincoln Drive Control, which lets drivers adjust the feel of things like the steering and throttle. On the track at Ford’s Michigan Proving Ground, the new MKS stacked up very favorably to some strong competition. It easily blew a Mercedes-Benz E350 into the ditch, and in our opinion, was dead-even with an Audi A6 3.0 TFSI. Pretty impressive. And that’s our overall driving impression of the 2013 MKS – Lincoln has turned a lackluster product into a solid luxury offering


(The entire Hyundai Genesis Coupe review is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

The first thing you’ll notice is it’s sleeker and more aggressive looking than before. The refreshed design incorporates Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille, a new hood and now features LED daytime running lights and LED rear taillights.

On the inside, the Genesis Coupe has a more premium feel and look to it. Hyundai added things like a seven-inch navigation screen, stitching along the IP and soft-touch surfaces to get a more refined look.

While the design improves upon the previous model, the new powertrain options will get customers even more excited for the rear-wheel-drive coupe.

You’ll need to use premium fuel to get those horsepower and torque numbers. With regular gasoline they drop slightly.

Even though the performance is way up, fuel economy wasn’t sacrificed. The four-cylinder gets in the low 20s in the city and low 30s on the highway for both the manual and automatic transmissions. And with the V-6, fuel economy ranges from 18 MPG in the city, to the high twenties out on the highway for both gearboxes.

Pricing for the Genesis Coupe starts at just over $25,000 with a four-cylinder and six-speed manual transmission. For the top trim model, which is equipped with the V-6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission, the price jumps 10 grand to just over $35,000.

The 2013 Genesis Coupe is available at Hyundai dealerships right now.

Thanks for that report Seamus.

We’ll be at the New York auto show this week, which is turning out to have a lot more new product reveals than we typically see at that show. And don’t forget to join us Thursday night for Autoline After Hours where we’ll be webcasting live from Katz’s Deli. If you’re in the area come join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo for the most entertaining discussion about all things automotive. And that wraps up today’s report.

Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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35 Comments to “Episode 859 – Fiat May Expand in Canada, BMW i8 Concept Spyder, First Drive: Lincoln MKS”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While not a Union supporter, I have to agree (though I do subscribe to a free market system) that Mulally is paid too much (but more power to him for getting it).

    The BMW i8 sure does look cool but I’m afraid it will just be another high priced ‘wondercar’ in a segment too small to matter (for the real world).

  2. Frank Nelson Says:

    My 85 year old father is considering the new MKS. He and my mother have never like Fords…..period. This is first Ford/Lincoln product that has gotten him excited. Don’t know what nerve they struck, but it’s working.

  3. tj Martin Says:

    Why would anyone pay ‘ Lincoln ‘ prices for a re-badged Mazda 6/Ford Fusion with a not so pretty party dress on ? Just buy the FORD , keep a bundle in the bank and be done with it


    Mulally – Here’s how much Mr Mulally REALLY cares about the US economy ;


    ( fourth story down )

    Now tell me just how much you think the man is worth !


    HtG envy – Wishing I could be at Katz’s myself !


    PDL’s Audi comments Friday

    Well seeing as how I’ve OWNED an Audi S series ( vs driven one ) I think I’m in the best position here to say ;

    The only ‘ Good ‘ thing ( for Audi ) happening at Audi is that a bunch of Trend Following Lemmings Worldwide are snapping up Audis left and right , filling VW – Audi’s bank accounts to the brim

    Audi having captured the Land/Range Rover syndrome of being able to sell an abject piece of junk , despite its lack of reliability/durability to the masses to a tee

    e.g. For those not able to understand Audi’s success of late;

    They’ve become a ‘ Fashion ‘ statement . Their popularity having Nothing to do with the driving/owning or maintaining experience . That sums it up in a nutshell

    Why are there so few older ( 2006 and older ) Audis one the road ? Because they fall apart , the resale is horrible and the repair costs are sky high ( Porsche sky high if you must know )

    But hey . Again . Don’t believe me !

    Go buy one and find out for yourself ;-)

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    So that’s how Mullaly and Ford are gonna deal with Lincoln, just put more technology, wood and leather on the inside, as John pointed out: “it’s the inside that counts” phew, maybe Mullaly is being overpaid.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    #3 I have said the same thing about Audi and the excuse is that they did not sell too many to begin with so that is why you don’t see the old ones around, I say BS to the 3rd degree on that theory!

  6. C-Tech Says:

    Phasing in the Punto and the Panda by introducing it in Canada first is a good idea. Hopefully for Fiat dealers they sell well and the quality is good. If I remember correctly, fuel prices are higher in Canada (higher taxes).

  7. aliisdad Says:

    That Lincoln is a really nice new “Ford”…Only problem is that you have to drive up, the first things people see is that nose….Think I’ll stick with the tri-star..
    Seriously, it would be great if we did have an American car that was the equal in performance, luxury, image, and QUALITY that could compete with the foreign upmarket makes…

  8. C-Tech Says:

    We are probably getting the best quality in the mid-sized segment in years. I guess John, you forgot about the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, aren’t they the oldest in this segment (or are they irrelavent?).

  9. C-Tech Says:

    It would be nice to see a bit more variety in the mid-sized segment, a 2-door, hatchback, wagon, or convertible.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    #8 John did and everyone else as well, despite a few tweaks and a name change, they still are way behind the competition.

  11. C-Tech Says:

    Great segment on the Lincoln MKS, now is it really that much better than the Taurus SHO it is based on?

  12. C-Tech Says:

    At $90K, I think the this “Transporter” stays in the box. It is more clever than it’s worth.

  13. C-Tech Says:

    Genesis is nice, but for the money, I’ll take one of the V-6 “ponycars” (Mustang convertible look nicer).

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    A used RV is the way to go, and now with gas prices as high as they are, there are probably a few good deals out there!

  15. Drew Says:

    To tj in #3. The MKS is on a D platform and is completely unique from the CD platform that underpins the Fusion.

    As you interject your opinion about how much anyone cares about the U.S. economy, please note all auto company CEOs have global responsibilities. Investment in one market cannot be interpretted as dissing another market. If a global company foregoes global scale efficiencies, that company puts all employees at risk.

    Please remember, Mr. Mulally went to Ford to help preserve American manufacturing, innovation, and technical capabilities. He is doing that better than any CEO.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    I remember reading that the new Fusion was to be built in the good ole USA, I guess the bean counters vetoed that better idea!

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    BTW this came fro Insideline dated Jan 2012 that the Fusion will initially be built in Mexico and eventually move to Michigan, yeah? after investing so much money in a new plant in Mexico, Ford is just not gonna pack up and move north, unless they can sell that plant to another manufacturer and make a tidy profit.

  18. Peter De Lorenzo Says:

    Oh really? For the record I owned an Audi S4, or perhaps you missed it. Then again, judging by too many of your comments, you seem to be on the last train to Wankerville. Perhaps you should step off and give yourself a long rest.

    Peter De Lorenzo

  19. Drew Says:

    Hmmmm. Great looks. Great and affordable fuel economy with no compromise to performance. Great technology and features. The new 2013 Fusion will need the capacity of both plants.

  20. cwolf Says:

    Audi interiors and body styles made me,at one time,wanting. After seeking the opinion of a couple dozen Audi drivers,including three relatives who purchased one,the first two remarks were:”It’s in the shop every other month” and “It costs an arm and a leg to maintain”. This is prolly the reason why most people lease the cars and dump them before the warrany expires. All others are have to be rich idiots!

  21. cwolf Says:

    Peter D.
    If you owned one of these money pits,you must have had a second source of transportation and drove it 90% of the time! No doubt,you would have better reliability with a Chry. product or a Tata!

  22. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ TJ Martin: Just in case you missed this: http://apnews.myway.com//article/20120401/D9TSBE5G0.html They are lying through their teeth.Since the first year of the Wrangler JK,2007,there has been the flamage problem,which I posted here several years ago.The factory trans oil cooler isn’t a separate cooler but incorporated into the radiator.While out 4 wheeling,(in 4 high) just cruising your favorite dirt roads or on the beach the trans overheats
    comes out the vent tube and lands on the hot exhaust and then comes the flamage.

    Jeeps answer to this VERY old problem is to tell the owner to “run” the air conditioner so the evaporator which is also part of the radiator,can then cool the trans.PLUS….but wait there’s more,they also recommend using 4 low to also keep the trans temp below meltdown.

    Jeep is saying this problem is only for the 2010 model year.BULLSHIT !!! Wait till they get to the brake line problems,also from the beginning year for the JK,(07).

    I’ll let ya know when it’s safe to buy one….if I live that long.

  23. cwolf Says:

    I predict the MKS will tank for the simple reason that Lincoln lost it’s following and trust. The MKZ is the ONLY car in the line-up that can save the brand. If it does not distinguish itself from the Fusion,have that luxury attractivness and good mpg’s, it will also fail to meet sales expectations. Lincoln is a day late and a dollar short!

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @ G.A. Branigan

    No worries !

    No JEEPs anywhere in my near or distant Future .

    Especially as long as Stronzetto is still in charge

  25. C-Tech Says:

    @ #23
    This is the “new” MKS. The “old” MKS did not leave much of an impression on the public. Perhaps next year we will see a name change to the “Town Car LTD” or something like that. There are a lot of Town Car, Marquis, and Crown Vic. owners/leases who will be looking for a replacement in the next 2 years. Allan are your listening?

  26. tj Martin Says:


    On the platforms . you’re correct . Mea Culpa

    But either way the Lincoln is still just another FORD in an expensive party dress

    e.g. Badge Engineering at its most cynical

    As to Mulally , if the man was truly concerned about the Sate of OUR economy he’d be moving that production back to the US where the ______ it belongs ! Not investing the Billions in loans We ( Tax Payers ) have guaranteed for FORD !

    ( yes thats true …. look it up )

    Unless of course FORD has suddenly morphed into a Mexican Brand

  27. tj Martin Says:

    ” Not investing the Billions in loans We ( Tax Payers ) have guaranteed for FORD ! ……… ‘

    should of finished with ;

    ….In Mexico

    Editing function please !

  28. cwolf Says:

    #28 ++1
    My loyalty to Ford is sinking quickly!

    #24 ++10
    Just remember: When a man looks in a mirror,he can see the truths and errs of his inner self,..when an ass looks into a mirror,it justs sees another ass!

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    This discussion reminds me of both Jaguar and of course Land Rover, whom despite horrible reliability and in the case of the latter, lousy customer service, keeps flourishing even with the gas going up, I guess some well-off folk don’t consider reliable transport high on their priority list.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like Peter DL had a good Audi owning expetience, and tj less so. I’ve had good experience with Chrysler products, as has my sister with a Jeep, but Pedros sister has had a bad experience with her Chrysler product. Why does this bring on all the nastiness here?

    As far as Audi’s “falling apatt,” etc., how about some data on how long they last compared to other brands? It’s out there, but I don’t subscribe to Polk, which compiles such data. Maybe someone out there does, and could look up the percentage of different brands of older cars still in service.

    As far as dealers, if Audi dealers suck, then so do Benz and Porsche dealers, at least in my area, because they are one and the same.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit would you agree that a good indicator on a brands durability is in the amount of the old stuff you still see driving around 15 yrs or so after they were put into service, I understand no luxo car owner is gonna keep their vehicle for more than 5 yrs, but these cars just don’t get swallowed by the earth, they are sold as second hand to other folks, ok, but where are they? I see tons of 15-20 Hondas and Toyotas all over the place.

  32. HtG Says:

    Maybe they’re getting sent to off shore markets? I do recall Audi’s Johan de Nyschen(sp? verzeihen Sie mir) telling John that warranty costs were coming down. Did you see Pat Goss talking about buying used German cars, Pedro? ‘Not without an extended warranty.’ When I was dreaming about a Boxster I saw how expensive regular maintenance is, and thought no way would a previous owner have kept it up. No way I want to either.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, some cars from the U.S. go to offshore markets. I see quite a few on Caribbean islands when I have been on cruises. A lot of big Chevy vans seem to make that trip, and are used for airport shuttles, etc.

    Still, I think part of the lack of our seeing 15 year old Audis is because not that many were sold in the U.S. at the time.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t know about the rest of the world but in Central and Latin America, used Toyotas are in demand, specially trucks and jips (suv) due to their ease of service and durability, Kit, in all fairness with the sister’s Journey the one and only issue has been the brakes (a design problem) nothing else has gone wrong, supposedly the dealer service manager said these last pads were redesigned and there would be no more problems, we have to wait and see, one more visit and it will be 4 times and here comes lemon-law baby!

  35. Ale Says:

    …hey Mitsubishi called and they want their Gallant front end back from Lincoln.