Jude P. Morte / Raymond D. Young | August 10, 2004 00:00
Cool CatThe animal known as the lynx is smaller than most felines, considerably less in size and heft than other wild cats. But its size makes it well-suited to hunting small game such as rodents, rabbits and other small animals.
Similarly, the current model Ford Lynx is smaller than the other vehicles in Ford's vehicle lineup, but its size makes it well-suited to chasing (and even outrunning) Japanese passenger cars.
In order to find out if the aforementioned hypothesis is true, the author managed to test drive a Ford Lynx 2.0 RS.
The Lynx RS shares the primary chassis/body/exterior configuration as its Lynx Ghia/GSi brethren, but features an aggressive-looking body kit, complete with spoiler, side and skirts, front fascia and a mesh grille that features the Ford logo and the "RS" label. The headlights are now one-piece models instead of two-piece models, with turn signals, dim and bright versions all within the transparent housings. When turning the headlights on, it is sufficient just to leave them (the headlights) at "dim"; the "bright" setting is aimed too high. In fact, switching to the "bright" setting in really dark areas (such as Taft Avenue-Libertad) makes onlookers (from 11-20 meters) close their eyes.
It is interesting to notice that the Lynx RS carries a moonroof, a feature common in coupes, limousines, high-end sedans and sport utility vehicles. This feature can be accessed by two switches located near the rearview mirror. One switch tilts the mirror five degrees upward, moving from the rear portion of the moonroof. The other switch slides the moonroof glass forward and backward, providing the driver and front passenger to suck in au naturel air. The moonroof is perfect for smokers who wish to get rid of the clinging scent of tar and nicotine while driving and those who think that Metro Manila air is still worth breathing. Just don't open it when beside a smoke-belching vehicle, a garbage truck or a truck that carries meat or produce. You don't want any durian, meat or garbage smell sticking to the Lynx RS's interior, especially if you have a date and he/she is riding shotgun.
Handling, braking and steering
Unlike several local felines that have become roadkill along Metro Manila's streets, this cat manages to ease through road hazards without difficulty. One actually hears the bumps when the 16-inch rim/tire combination navigates through deadly potholes (such as the EDSA-Shaw Boulevard underpass) but rarely feels them. But don't let the car pass through primarily rocky roads; the vibrations and noise generated by the wheel/tire combo can be a little irritating.
Steering the car is a breeze, thanks to the aforementioned front strut bar in the hood. The car responds to even the slightest move of the steering wheel, but the steering wheel tends to veer to the left while moving. Although the author made sure that both front tires were properly inflated to 28 pounds per square inch (psi), the steering wheel still veered towards the left.
Stopping is a bit spongy in this car, requiring a little more effort to prod the brakes. This problem becomes noticeable when decelerating from 120 kph downwards, but grabs enough to prevent collisions. On the other hand, the handbrake grips very well, even on 30-35 degree inclines.
Under the hood
Just looking under the hood of the Lynx RS, one can see that this PhP 819,000 passenger car has enough grunt to match most compact sedans in drag race. Its two-liter, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder double overhead camshaft (DOHC) engine puts out 143 horsepower, with a five-speed manual transmission (m/t) to deliver all 143 horses to the pavement.
With all those vital engine statistics in mind, the author discovered that if the Lynx were given a long stretch of road (like the Skyway), the car is capable of hitting 190-195 kilometers per hour (kph), perfect for hunting down Japanese compact cars. He also found out that this cat can be a long distance runner or a sprinter, with matching advantages/consequences. For instance, flooring the gas pedal makes fuel consumption drop considerably. After a couple of hard launches and high-spirited, high-rev driving from Alabang (using the Skyway) to New Manila (Quezon City) the author noticed that the fuel gauge dropped from full tank to ¾ full.
On the other hand, if this cat is used as a daily driver within Metro Manila, the car is capable of sipping less than 1/4 th gasoline. The author noticed that by navigating EDSA during rush hour traffic in three days, the fuel gauge moved from half-full to a millimeter below half-full in just 36 hours.
Engaging the clutch is smooth, but stick shift motion tends to be a bit balky when upshifting from first to second gear. Vibration is evident as one puts his/her hand on the stick shift, but is not enough to disturb the driver.
When one opens the hood of the Lynx RS, one will discover that the engine features a suspension part commonly bought in automotive aftermarket stores - a front strut bar. Color coded to match the red paint of the RS, the strut bar makes the Lynx handle as if it were on rails.
One immediately notices that the color of the seats (a black/red moquette motif) match the exterior and that the "RS" label is displayed prominently on the front backrests and the front mats. Entering the driver's seat, the white face gauges are sure to catch one's eyes with their huge fonts and easy-to-read layout, especially the rightmost-located tachometer. In fact, when one drives the RS at over 100 kph, the tachometer is the first gauge to be viewed. Unfortunately, the gauges aren't as good-looking at night, due to the green backlight emitted by the gauges. It would be far better if the backlight were another color, such as orange or red.
The green backlight theme also reaches out to the odometer (located in a central position under the speedometer) and the radio's digital display. But unlike the gauges, they are more visible than the gauges proper at night than in daytime.
Providing added flair to the race-inspired theme of the RS are aftermarket-type sport pedals, metallic silver trim on the armrests/doorhandles/shift boot housing, synthetic carbon fiber trim lining around the radio and a driver-friendly steering wheel. The emergency brake and dashboard feature several series of lowered dots that are nice to the touch, while the airconditioning unit provides ample cold air.
A keyless entry remote control unit provides quick entry and exit from the vehicle, but the author found out that the lock button on the remote is slightly worn and off-center. Accessing the trunk from the interior, accessing the foglights and loose change is done via a series of buttons and crevices situated near the driver's left knee. The author noted that turning on/off the foglights and reaching for spare change while the RS is in motion can be distracting.
The trunk easily swallows two golf bags and a duffel bag, but when closing the trunk lid one will notice that the match of the trunk lid and the exterior are not a perfect fit. In fact the trunk lid tends to rattle a bit upon closing.
Turning on the RS's radio can be a bit distracting, with the volume/on-off dial located on the rightmost side. Also irritating about the radio is that there are only 12 frequency modulation (FM) stations that can be saved within the radio's memory and that the compact disc (CD) slot does not work.
General comfort of the seats is high. Occupants of all shapes and sizes will enjoy the car's faux aftermarket race seats with side bolsters. The rear seats have the ability to seat pleasurably three people of normal size, with both front seats moved all the way back. Backrest pockets provide storage for magazines and other junk for rear passengers.
In spite of the many negatives surrounding the Lynx RS, the author is convinced that this car is worth acquiring, due primarily to its interior comfort, its get-up-and-go engine, its moonroof and its sporty exterior. Sadly, this cat is now an endangered species due to the fact that Ford Philippines will be launching the popular Ford Focus compact car within a year's time. The author hopes that Ford, as a champion of environmental causes, will act to save this cat from extinction.