2017 Lincoln MKZ Revealed

Last Spring at the New York Auto Show, Lincoln unveiled what it calls the “new face of Lincoln” on the Continental Concept, a vehicle that it is to be putting into actual production (after the vehicle, of course, has been “productionized” from its conceptual form) in 2016.

Last Spring at the New York Auto Show, Lincoln unveiled what it calls the “new face of Lincoln” on the Continental Concept, a vehicle that it is to be putting into actual production (after the vehicle, of course, has been “productionized” from its conceptual form) in 2016.

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Continental Concept

This Fall (today, in fact) it revealed the “new face of Lincoln” on a car that hasn’t been a concept for quite some time, on the Lincoln MKZ midsize sedan, a car that Kumar Galhorta, president of Lincoln, points out is an exceedingly important product in the brand’s portfolio.

So I ask David Woodhouse, Lincoln design director, about how close to the facial features the MKZ, which has undergone an extensive midcycle refresh, is to those of the face that is to launch sales of several thousand cars.

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Real 2017 Lincoln MKZ

And he says quite close.

A key difference is that given the nature of a concept—where things are built by hand, not by machines—the depth of the grille is deeper than achieved on the MKZ.

But still, close.

While midcycles ordinarily call for front and rear fascia changes, something new under the hood, and perhaps new trim on the inside, for the MKZ they went further. Much further.

As in not only changes to the front and rear fascias (in the back the lower apron and the tailpipes, really, in the front a comprehensive transformation), but new front fenders and a new hood.

And as for the box that says “Modify the powertrain,” they’ve marked it with a giant checkmark in the form of a Lincoln-exclusive (i.e., the Ford models don’t have one) 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that is expected to produce 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. This is not performance for leaving rubber on the road surface. Rather, in Lincoln’s approach, it is for “refined and effortless performance.” Meaning that you step on the accelerator and the car moves out smartly. The MKZ with the available Driver’s Package has Dynamic Torque Vectoring, which means that torque is shifted to where it is needed to keep the car going where it is supposed to.

(They’re also offering the MKZ with a 245-hp 2.0-liter turbo four and a hybrid version. The car is available as all-wheel or front-wheel drive. And for those opting for the 3.0-liter engine and a FWD setup, know that the horsepower will be 350 though the 400 lb-ft of torque will remain the same.)

On the inside, yes they’ve changed out some of the trim. “Some” as in “all.” Woodhouse: “Every panel on the interior is changed.”

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The most significant—or at least obvious—change is on the center stack, where the painted polymer has given way to real aluminum. Yes, real metal surfaces sweep down from the center of the IP. On the Driver’s Package there is the use of real carbon fiber trim to accent the aluminum. (Woodhouse says that there are two new up-trim Black Label interiors that use wood—but he points out that this is wood done in a way that doesn’t make you think of a plastic applique.)

He says that one of the drivers of making modifications to certain areas of the interior was a need for the installation of speaker grilles for the Revel audio systems available for the car.

Another change—something that will certainly set Lincoln apart from its competitors in the luxury segment, particularly the one that used to be headquartered not far from Dearborn—is that they’ve installed things like knobs, buttons and switches on the IP. It is not as though they are stinting in the least bit on the tech—they’ve got that whether the issue is connectivity or safety—but they are reacting to a demand from consumers for something that’s more automotively ergonomic.

Odd as it may sound, Lincoln is a challenger brand in the luxury space.

And from the looks of the 2017 MKZ, it is up to the challenge.