It’s a ‘new breed of Lincolns for a new generation of Lincoln clients’ according to Marketing boss Jim Farley.
It’s a handsome car, but it’s got work to do. For a start I’ve heard that message before from Geordie design supremo Peter Horbury during his Detroit days (2004-09, before he headed off to help Chinese manufacturer Geely in their bid for world domination).
I was on a shoot in LA once with excellent snapper Alex P and, coming over from the UK, he insisted on hiring a Lincoln Towncar. He loved it – it was huge, plush, gorgeous to drive with every luxury you could imagine apart from a Jacuzzi. But the rest of us laughed and laughed, and kept asking where he’d put the poodle. Usually all you see of Lincoln drivers is a pair of tiny hands, the top of a grey whippy ice-cream hairdo and the ears of a lapdog. Maybe also flashes of reflection from the diamonte dog collar.
The Towncar also looked uncannily like the Mercury Grand Marquis I had back home in Ann Arbor, or a cop car, or a taxi, but with more shiny bits. At least Mercury has gone, so there won’t be a mid-point car muddying the distinction between Ford and Lincoln any more.
And there must be a distance between the brands. The previous MKZ was a nice car, but didn’t offer enough over the excellent Ford Fusion to justify its premium price.
The marketing folk chose to unveil the 2013 MKZ in the Frank Gehry-designed HQ of InterActive in Chelsea, New York to make a point about sculpted metal work and lots of glass. It was designed by the team led by ex-Cadillac man Max Wolff (what a great name for a bad guy – I’m sure he isn’t). It has a long, sloping coupe-style roof, an arrow-straight crease down the side and big blingy wheels. The divided front grille is even closer to the gorgeous 1938 Lincoln-Zephyr, and it offers a massive sunroof.
Europeans will hate it, but who cares what they think?
The engines are a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that delivers 20% better fuel economy compared with the 2012 MKZ. A 3.7-liter V6 produces 37 more horsepower than the V6 it replaces, or there’s a hybrid. Everyone gotta have a hybrid. (Diesel is still regarded with much suspicion in the US). The 2012 MKZ Hybrid is rated at 41mpg in the city and 36mpg in highway driving.
We’re promised a more dynamic drive and lots of sophisticated electronic goodies both to aid safety and keep the occupants entertained, or in touch with work.
Lincoln was the best-selling U.S. luxury brand as recently as 1999. Now it is eighth, battling Europeans such as Audi as well as homegrown competitors such as Cadillac.
For the sake of a grand old brand, let’s hope it appeals to the younger buyers Lincoln wants.