Lincoln has issues, and it knows it. Ford’s upscale brand, which had been overshadowed by its former-siblings Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo, must find a way back to the elegant glory it enjoyed through the 1960s.
Clean styling, advanced technology, and impeccable service were once hallmarks of the brand. Executives hope the re-designed 2013 MKZ will entice luxury buyers with an incredible car and attention to client delight.
“The new Lincoln MKZ represents the future of Lincoln in both style and substance,” said Jim Farley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales and Service.
“It is proof of our commitment to deliver a new breed of Lincolns for a new generation of Lincoln clients -- motor cars that are distinctive, elegant, full of technology and a delight to own.”
That’s a lot of Rolls-Royceisms to absorb, so Lincoln had better be able to put its cars where its fancy words fly. Clients? Motor cars? Distinctive? Are we talking about the brand that takes world-class Fords, adds chrome and leather, and calls them luxury cars? Well, yeah, and it just might work—especially with the distinctive cars that are on the horizon.
They’ll be separated from Ford in the same way siblings are separated by Jack-and-Jill bathrooms. They have their own space, but are very much on the same floor and with the shared parents. The all-new MKZ will be based on the same European-derived architecture that supports the new Ford Fusion and Mondeo, the latter only across the pond.
Only the MKZ will be equipped with Lincoln Drive Control, an electronic system that alters the suspension, steering, and throttle to give drivers a comfortable, yet dynamic, ride. The system can adjust the suspension up to 50 times per second!
Exterior styling is also differentiated from the Fusion. The front wears Lincoln’s bow wake grille, but now with horizontal rather than vertical slats. It is a theme that dates to the ‘40 Continental.
Strong shoulderlines, clean surfaces, elegant chrome detailing around the windowline, and full-width tail lamps hearken to the ‘60s Continentals—some of the most beautiful cars ever sketched. Bringing all to the current decade, LEDs shine in the running lamps and taillights.
Retractable glass roofs let the sunshine in. To give interiors unique ambience, push-button transmissions, responsibly-harvested wood, premium soft leather, and sweeping curves are part of the portfolio.
A 10.1-inch LCD touchscreen operates the MyLincoln Touch and SYNC infotainment systems. Active Noise Control repels unwanted engine sounds. Bringing true theatre-quality sound to the MKZ, the car is available with THX(R) II Certified audio with 14 speakers and 700 watts of output. It promises an incredible experience.
Choice of three powertrains
Unlike in the past, buyers will be able to choose between three powertrains: Turbo-four, V6, and Hybrid. The standard 2.0-L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine delivers 240 hp, 270 lb-ft of torque, and outstanding 22/33-MPG city/hwy. (front-drive only).
An updated 3.7-L V6 offers 300 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, as well as 18/26-MPG (AWD). Techies will gush over the hybrid with a non-turbo 2.0-L four-cylinder engine and battery drive system.
Official fuel economy numbers have not been released, but the similar Ford Fusion Hybrid is expected to achieve 47/44-MPG city/hwy. Whichever powertrain drivers choose, they’re in for an outstanding experience.
They’re probably in for an outstanding experience even without fancy powertrains. Ford managers have been working with Les Clefs d’Or, the international association of hotel concierges, to teach participants at the Lincoln Academy how to treat customers with the utmost courtesy.
Concierges will be able to speak with Lincoln shoppers through online video to discuss vehicle features and to ease the transition from looking to buying. Buyers do much of their research online and Lincoln aims to become more relevant.
Somebody is going to ask why Ford didn’t just keep Jaguar and/or Volvo and save all of this hassle. Well, try as they might, Ford lost billions on those two brands and was glad to see them go. Now, it must make its way with Lincoln as its only luxury brand.
Somebody should remind executives that GM has spent untold billions on Cadillac, including dedicated rear-drive platforms, to make it a success. We’ll see if Ford has that kind of fortitude or if Lincoln will become another casualty along Ford’s rise to the top. It should be an interesting drive.