Lincoln C Concept at 2009 Detroit Auto Show

  • Looks like: Lincoln is experimenting with a small car
  • Defining characteristics: City-runabout size, ludicrously large Lincoln grille
  • Ridiculous features: Suicide doors are always a ridiculous feature
  • Chance of being mass-produced: The design could work now; the innards will debut in the new “Star Trek” movie this summer

Small luxury cars aren’t a booming segment in the auto industry. There are just a few models we can name: BMW 1 Series, Volvo C30, Audi A3 — not exactly the best-selling cars out there. But Lincoln is aiming at this segment with its new C Concept.

The C stands for C segment, which is the class in which the next Ford Focus will reside. Indeed, the C Concept will be based on the next Focus. The current version of the European Focus is a hit overseas, and it’s much more upscale than the Focus we have in the U.S.

Creating a Lincoln version shouldn’t be hard at all. Creating buyers will be the tough part. But back to the concept: The design is all “city runabout,” which is what the company was aiming for, but we think its hatchback could be a bit more flattering and stylish. As is, the rump looks a bit too bulbous. The C’s interior is really over the top and reminds us of all the radical concepts we’ve gotten used to over the years, before automakers had to testify in front of Congress.

Also impressive is a potential future engine that gets 43 mpg on the highway. It’s a turbocharged four-cylinder we can only hope will become a reality.

Ford also shows off a futuristic version of its Sync system in the video below. The interface shows a computerized receptionist of sorts helping the driver conduct business from the driver’s seat. While the depth of interaction might be a few years off, features like finding locations, phone numbers, weather, etc. are all available on the latest Sync-powered navigation units in the upcoming 2010 Taurus and the current Lincoln MKS.

Many more photos below.

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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