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2003 Chicago Show, Part II


2003 Chicago Auto Show Index by TCC Team (2/10/2003)

2002 Lincoln LS

2002 Lincoln LS

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LINCOLN CHANGES DIRECTION, WON’T CHASE CADDY
"We don't have to be Cadillac," James Padilla, President of Ford Motor Co. North American Operations, in an interview after a press conference at the Chicago Auto Show. Padilla said the number-two automaker has launched an extensive review of future product plans for Lincoln, which has long been considered Ford's answer to Cadillac. But Padilla said Ford has had second thoughts about following Cadillac upscale. "We're looking at how we can get more synergy with Ford products," Padilla said. Lincoln will keep its sport-utility vehicles and continue to sell entry-level luxury cars and other luxury models that utilize the brand's traditional strengths as an American luxury brand but it won't follow Cadillac "north" with pricier models beyond roughly the $40,000 to $50,000 range. One sign of the change is that Ford has already killed plans for building a high-performance Lincoln LS with help from McLaren to compete with Cadillac's new V-Series CTS. Ford, however, also will look at building different kinds of vehicles for Lincoln. One candidate for future development is the Lincoln Navicross, which could utilize the platform developed for the Ford Freestyle activity vehicle, Padilla said. "But we haven't decided that yet." —Joe Szczesny

SUBARU XTs THE FORESTER

2004 Subaru Forester 2.5 XT

2004 Subaru Forester 2.5 XT

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Subaru used to sell an XT coupe, but the new turbo version of the Forester isn’t anywhere near as wacky as that two-seat, four-wheel-drive flying wedge. The Forester 2.5 XT sports a 210-hp, turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-liter flat four that also makes 235 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm and wears body-color side cladding and six-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels. A five-speed manual is standard as is an in-dash six-disc CD changer. No pricing information has been released. —Marty Padgett

VW CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF GTI

2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition

2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition

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The VW GTI 20th Anniversary Edition emerged in Chicago slightly later than VW press folks had hoped, but made its debut nonetheless for the press in advance of its spring on-sale date. The $23,225 GTI will come with VW’s 180-hp turbo four and a six-speed manual transmission, which VW says is good for a 0-60 mph time of just more than seven seconds. Eighteen-inch, Z-rated tires, vented four-wheel disc brakes and 15-spoke alloy wheels mark the special edition, which comes in a choice of yellow, black or blue exteriors. —Marty Padgett

TRICKLE DOWN LUXURY

With Reagonomics being revived in Washington, maybe it’s only appropriate to be discussing the idea of a trickle-down theory of technology. Breakthroughs developed for top-line luxury vehicles will eventually make their way down to even the low end of a manufacturer’s line-up, suggested Bob Dover, head of Ford Motor Co.’s so-called “Brit Group,” consisting of Aston Martin, Land Rover and Jaguar. Aluminum bonding technology first used on the exclusive Aston Martin Vanquish is now migrating to the slightly more mainstream Jaguar XJ, and could eventually help Ford expand the use of the lightweight metal in an effort to improve fuel economy. During the keynote speech at the Chicago Auto Show, Dover emphasized that “You can’t sell technology for technology’s sake,” but there’s plenty of opportunity to use it to make driving safer, cleaner, more fuel efficient and more satisfying. —TCC Team

HIGHER VOLUME, MORE DEMANDS

The U.S. luxury market tripled over the last decade, and now accounts for about 1.5 million cars and tricks a year – nearly ten percent of the overall U.S. market. That’s partly the result of an improved economy, said Bob Dover, a senior executive with Ford’s Premier Automotive Group. It’s also the result of consumers stretching to buy a brand that they see as a “reward and a signal…to the world.” But Dover stressed there’s been a shift in buyer expectations, as well. Luxury motorists are demanding more content, better performance, safer vehicles, even while telling manufacturers to hold down costs.


 
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