Opulant Marque Makes a Comeback

Lincoln refreshes its range to recapture its luxury motoring crown.

By Ghaith Madadha

Once a byword for American luxury motoring, Lincolns have ferried US presidents from Calvin Coolidge to George H.W. Bush. Squeezed between European and Japanese luxury brands on one side, and an ever-improving Ford range on the other, Lincoln has perhaps become less focused in recent years. Ford’s luxury brand, which is billed as the Lincoln Motor Company since 2012, is now attempting a comeback.

Lincoln seems to be targeting the prestige segment that Audi and Saab previously occupied. The MKZ, the first of a new crop of elegantly futuristic Lincolns, is still a well-appointed mid-size executive saloon, based on well-regarded front-drive derived Ford Fusion underpinnings.

The MKZ’s black charcoal paint, sharp ridges, and deliberate lines help mask its 4.9-meter length, while its revised ‘eagle-wing’ browed grille looks more assertive and integrated in the flesh. It has sculpted and hunkered down style, with huge turbine-like multi-spoke alloy wheels, defined bonnet creases, muscularly chiseled haunches, high waistline, and rakish roofline seamlessly merging with the rear deck.

The MKZ’s range-topping sporty 3.7-liter ‘Cyclone’ V6 engine is also used for the base Ford Mustang pony car and niche Ginetta G60 sports car. Delivering 277 lb/ft torque at 4000 rpm and 300 BHP at 6500 rpm to front wheels, the MKZ pounces off-the-line with briefly entertaining tire chirp and torque-steer, and covers 100 km/h in around 6.5- to 7-seconds. Willing at low revs, flexible in mid-range, and eager to redline, the MKZ is refined and instinctively progressive.

When driven through a 6-speed automatic gearbox, shifts are smooth and timely in default mode. Sport mode holds gears longer before up-shifting, sharpens kick-down responsiveness and holds gears when using sequential paddle shifters for a sportier experience. The MKZ’s suspension can also be switched between comfort, sport, and a fluently balanced default mode suitable for most circumstances.

Though offered with optional four-wheel-drive for improved wet weather traction, the driven version is however a rare mid-size front-drive saloon that is nimble and agile. And while not overtly positioned as a sports saloon like a rear-drive BMW or Infiniti, the MKZ adopts Ford’s deft hand at engaging, responsive, and alert front-drive chassis fine-tuning.

The MKZ feels light on its feet in towns, with pleasantly light steering that provides clarity and inspires cornering confidence. Turning tidy and eager, the MKZ may lean more than a hard sports saloon, but nonetheless feels balanced and agile. Its progressive high-revving engine allows precise power modulation, but if pushed hard to under-steer, throttle lift-off brings it back in line, while stability control corrections are subtle.

The MKZ’s classy cabin features soft touch textures, quality leathers, and metallic accents. The center console houses storage space and the touch control SYNC infotainment system, with14-speaker stereo, climate control, and various other gadgets. Highly adjustable seats and steering provide good driving position while one uses dash-mounted push-button gear selection and steering-mounted sequential paddle shifters. Creature comforts include remote ignition, full-length panoramic roof, and remote-opening boot. Uniformly spaced and generous sized at 549-liters, the MKZ’s boot lid provides adequate access but isn’t particularly long, owing to the rakishly slanted roofline. Rear legroom is well accommodating, but the low roofline makes rear headspace a premium for tall passengers, though still better than some rivals.