Joy Falotico, President of the Lincoln Motor Company proudly unveils the all-new Lincoln Aviator at the LA Auto Show. Immediately, one has to take note of how this SUV simply dwarfs her, and nearly anyone else for that matter. But, the expansion of the large SUV market at the LA Auto Show is very evident throughout the convention center, so the Aviator isn’t alone.
As electrification of this segment gains ground, there’s little penalty for navigating the additional girth about town, aside from the issue of parking. However, this is not one of the next generation of powertrains.
The Aviator has to survive with either the base 3.0-liter, V6 that provides 400 horses and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. The Grand Touring model kicks those numbers up to 450 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque with hybrid drive and twin-turbos. The majority of this country basks in low gas prices, and the additional cost of this power is probably meaningless. However, in Los Angeles, the gas prices are indeed significant. Those that can afford the new Lincoln Aviator should be able to handle the added cost of fuel, but that doesn’t mean they will be happy about it.
Is the newest Lincoln about power, or precision and poise? The powertrain is but one part that fits together with the bigger picture of what encompasses the Aviator. Fortunately, Kemal Curić, Chief Exterior Designer for the all-new Lincoln Aviator, boils down all the elements and provides insight into how this design fits the esthetic of Lincoln buyers.
Interview and images by John Grafman
AutoDesignO: Can you tell us a little bit about the Aviator and how it came to be the way it is?
Kemal Curić: Today we are proud actually to present the all new Lincoln Aviator to you. Particularly one model we are very proud of is the all-new Aviator – in the Grand Touring Spec, that you can see in two different forms. One in Flight Blue color, which is our new color for this model.
This is our newest vehicle and it’s based on our Quiet Flight. It’s the vision for Lincoln Motor Company and it’s basically four tenants, which are the beauty, gliding, human, and sanctuary. We use those words, actually to inform the design language. So, if you think about the human factor, if you look at the front face of the vehicle, for example, you can recognize this very seducing, alluring face. Which is not meant to attack you, it’s actually meant to seduce you. And, you’ll find some of the human factors like the eyes. We put a lot effort into those.
Lincoln Aviator is definitely what we call the Ultimate Expression of Quiet Flight – Curić
We basically put a lot of effort into dehumanizing the face almost and wanted to give this very confident look to the vehicle. And, if you keep looking at the grill, the way it’s spec’d (looking at the blue car)… Grand Touring, it came from 1950s and 1960s inspired by European cars. I am sure you are familiar with back in the days, there was a new type of a vehicle introduced into Europe, which meant basically you were able to drive cross-country without stopping, and drive really comfortably.
So, now, in combination with three-liter, twin turbo engine, and electrification, and you don’t have any range anxiety. On top of that – the original word means Gran Tourismo and Grand Touring – you also have the power and the performance when you need it. So, it happens effortlessly, which was our mantra for Lincoln for many years now. This is definitely what we call the ultimate expression of Quiet Flight. The vehicle that you see right here (at the Los Angeles International Auto Show).
Again, this is the most powerful Lincoln we ever built. I am very proud of that. Another thing I want to highlight in this vehicle is the gesture of the vehicle. This car is based on a rear wheel drive platform, which obviously enable the design team to create something very compelling. You can see for example the very short front overhangs with the very long powerful hood. As well as the stance of this entire vehicle. The way it sits on the podium (at the LA Auto Show), has such a great presence.
AutoDesignO: What do you think helps differentiate this product, the Lincoln Aviator, from what now seems to be a sea of SUVs out on the market?
Kemal Curić: I think this, like I mentioned in face of the vehicle, the Quiet Flight. And this human-touch that we gave Aviator, not only in the exterior and the interior, sets us apart from everybody else. You will find some of the amazing features in this vehicle.
There’s a lot of features. So, just for example – to mention one, the air suspension. Basically the vehicle will kneel down 50 millimeters, which is almost two inches, or come down to basically ease your way in. And, then with the electronic door, which comes forward to you, it’s just effortless getting in and out. The car will adapt itself to all your needs. It will know you. You will be able to open the door with your cell phone. It will actually be very personalized to your needs and to yourself.
AutoDesignO: What was probably one of the more challenging aspects for your design team in coming up with this?
Kemal Curić: Well, to be honest, we had a really great collaboration. Marketing really knew the customer and their needs. That’s, I think, what’s so special with Lincoln is they always listen to the customer and their inputs. And, then the engineering obviously enabled us to have these amazing proportions. As a designer, it’s almost like a no-brainer, to create something very compelling when you have these great key enablers. And, then you listen exactly to your customer.
Especially on the interior side. I mean, if you look at the interior, the wavy layout, the interior. It feels very spaciousness, so you have this horizontal emphasis on the vehicle and you have this very comfortable 30 way adjustable seat. And one thing you realize, when you sit in this vehicle and you close the door, we call it a Sanctuary Feel. So, it’s so quiet inside. You can enjoy actually being encapsulated in your vehicle from this outside noise. We put also a lot of emphasis on this vehicle taking some of the noise in the interior away. Like the button’s noise. You have the joy of driving instead of being distracted – too many gimmicks and too many buttons.
AutoDesignO: Well, this is not visual design. But some of the changes with the Lincoln Aviator, including some of the door chimes or seatbelt buzzers. You’ve made some changes to that, haven’t you?
Kemal Curić: Yes, I mean, that’s just again going back to the human aspect. We wanted to…which informs all our Lincolns. It’s very personalized. And this is basically what we think is a luxury. Having this as well. Not just the way it looks, the way it feels, but also the way it sounds. So, we felt it’s very unique and special. If you touch some of our buttons on the interior, the way they operate, the way they feel, and the way they click, we put a lot of effort in that as well. Not just the chimes. So, there’s a lot of inspiration, as well, on the sound design.