Source: Detroit News
Mercury banks on '06 Milan
Ford vehicle is company's first return in lower mid-size segment.
By Eric Mayne / The Detroit News
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Ford Motor Co.'s long-term outlook for Mercury calls for sunny skies, and the 2006 Milan debuting today at the Chicago Auto Show will be a key barometer of the forecast.
The Milan is Mercury's first entry in the lower end of the mid-size car segment since the defunct Mystique debuted more than a decade ago. Derived from the same platform that will shoulder the 2006 Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr, Milan is the fourth of five new vehicles joining the Mercury lineup by 2007.
"We're going to be watching Milan very closely," said Erich Merkle, senior auto analyst with IRN Inc.
Mercury hopes its sporty design attracts new, younger customers. The average age of today's Mercury customer is 60.
The Milan was designed to attract young urbanites with Euro-centric tastes.
"It's a style that reflects a more modern way of living, a contemporary lifestyle which is very popular now in many cities," said Peter Horbury, Ford's executive director of North American design.
"The apartments, lofts - people don't furnish them with walnut and chintz curtains."
Mercury also hopes the Milan's 160 horsepower, 3-liter, in-line 4-cylinder engine will draw attention from Honda Accord and Toyota Camry owners who normally shun 6-cylinder engines.
About 70 percent of the 814,000 Accord and Camry models sold last year in North America had 4-cylinder engines.
Ford does not market a mid-size car that offers anything less than six cylinders.
The Zephyr will have a 3.0-liter V-6 as standard equipment. The same engine will be optional on the Milan and Fusion, but every V-6 will be mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission - a rarity in the segment.
You can reach Eric Mayne at (313) 222-2443 or [email protected].