Lincoln MKZ


Debut: 2012
Maker: Ford
Predecessor: Lincoln MKZ / Zephyr (2005)



 Published on 4 Jan 2013
All rights reserved. 


Back in 1998 Lincoln was still the best selling luxury car brand in the USA. Since then its fortune has been sliding like a roller coaster. Following the retirement of old-school Town Car and Continental, and the failed attempts to revitalize the brand with LS and MKS, the once prestigious brand has been largely forgotten by the American public. Last year, its ranking dropped to 8th with only 82,150 cars and SUVs sold, trailing Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Acura, Cadillac, Audi and Infiniti. In global scale, it barely sold more vehicles (if not cars) than Jaguar. Until now, Lincoln is still the biggest headache of Ford CEO Alan Mulally.

One problem troubling the brand for long is the lack of a clear identity. Most Lincoln products are lightly modified versions of Fords. They simply lack the style, build quality and mechanicals to compete with the global luxury brands. To address this problem will take a lot of time and money. However, if it succeed, the return will be enormous. The first step Mulally has taken is to establish a new design center in Dearborn (near Ford HQ) dedicated to Lincoln. It is the first standalone Lincoln design department since the 1970s. Over time, the center will expand to 180-strong, including stylists, engineers, technicians and modellers. Its first product is the new generation MKZ.



The new MKZ is no longer a rebadged Ford Fusion. While it continues to share platform with the latter, it gets a completely different body shell that speaks of style more than ever. Frankly, its proportion is as ill as a typical American family man – being too fat in the center. A tall and arcing waistline means not even the oversized 19-inch wheels can hide its bulk. But at least its waterdrop shape washes away the conservative impression associated with Lincoln. Moreover, elegant design details like the "split-wings" front grille and headlights assembly, full-width LED taillights and a stepped waistline deliver a classier image than previous attempts. This overweight family man is quite smartly dressed.

Inside, the cabin is distinguished from Ford by employing a tall transmission tunnel that flows smoothly to the center console. It doubles as a good armrest as the gearshift lever has been replaced with a push button and steering-wheel-mounted paddles. Unfortunately, that's where its good points end. You will notice much the same instrument readings, cheap turn-signal stalk and some switchgears as the Fusion. Materials are not much better. The alloy accents are obviously plastics. While most plastics are good quality for a mid-size family car, they are not good enough to be used on a premium car whose price can go up to US$50,000. Ditto the touch-screen infotainment system, which is just a revamp of MyFord Touch. However, most disappointing of all is the amount of space on offer: blame to the arcing roofline, the Lincoln offers the least rear headroom in the class (front headroom is not much better). Those over 6 feets will find headroom extremely tight and legroom barely adequate. The shallow side glass also leads to a claustrophobic feel to the rear passengers. Compare with Ford Fusion, the Lincoln sibling offers less cabin space as well as luggage space, something you won't expect for the premium you paid. For a car measuring 5 meters long and carrying 1800 kilograms of mass, its space efficiency is appalling.



The immense weight also hampers its performance. The same 240-horsepower 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine that serves as range-topper on Ford is offered as entry-level engine here. It satisfies as long as you don’t expect the same brisk acceleration as BMW 528i. Sitting above it is a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter DVVT naturally-aspirated V6 that is carried over from the larger MKS. By the standard of V6 it is not particularly sweet revving or sounding. Power delivery is linear rather than strong. Mating to an ordinary 6-speed automatic it does the job decently without putting a smile on your face. There will be a hybrid model using the same powertrain as Fusion Hybrid. Expect its performance will be even more marginal.

We admire the ride and handling of Fusion. The MKZ is built on the same suspension and chassis hardware but enhanced with electronic adaptive damping and a control system ("Lincoln Driver Control") that alters the setting for steering, throttle, gearshift and damping altogether. Moreover, most buyers are expected to get AWD system to reverse its cheap family-car-based image. Does it deliver on the road? Mostly. The steering retains the response and precision of the Fusion. The firm-biased suspension handles its mass competently in corners. The braking is strong and reassuring. Ride quality doesn't match most other luxury cars though. The lack of expensive aluminum suspension components and a higher-than-usual center of gravity mean it needs a stiffer setup to deliver the same body control. As a result, in Normal and Sport mode the ride is quite harsh on uneven surfaces. Comfort mode is acceptably absorbent but sacrifices handling. Meanwhile, the part-time AWD system, which sends power to the rear wheels only when the fronts slip, never skips the impression of a front-wheel driver. Admittedly, most Lincoln drivers are unlikely to push their cars hard enough to reveal this shortcoming.



So the new Lincoln is a bold departure from the old path, but it is also flawed. It doesn't look handsome and expensive enough. It accommodates too little and rides too hard to be called a luxury car, especially one carrying an American badge. Its performance and handling are both marginal in the class full of driver-oriented machines. For what it offers, the asking price of $40-50K looks nonsense. You can buy the much better BMW 5-Series and Audi A6 with comparable money (although they are not so well equipped), knowing that they are made in Germany with the best dedicated components. In contrast, the Lincoln is built in Mexico together with its much cheaper, handsomer and arguably better driving Ford Fusion sibling. The turnaround plan of Lincoln still has a long long road to go.
Verdict: 
 Published on 4 Nov 2016
All rights reserved. 
MKZ facelift and V6 twin-turbo


Lincoln MKZ has received a facelift earlier this year to enhance the sense of luxury and distance itself further from sister car Ford Fusion. The facelift concentrates at the nose, which gets a more conventional mesh grille and wider LED headlights. It is a positive change, but the whole car still cries for a classier proportion than the cab-forward, banana-shape profile.

However, the most important change for this model year is the addition of a flagship performance model, 3.0T AWD. Replacing the outgoing 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V6, the new 3.0-liter direct-injection twin-turbo V6 is derived from the 2.7-liter unit serving Fusion V6 Sport. It shares the compacted graphite iron block (although C&D incorrectly claimed aluminum) but has both bore and stroke increased to realize the new capacity of 2959 c.c. Horsepower jumps to a neat 400, while peak torque is equally neat at 400 lbft. This makes the MKZ more powerful than anything in the class, including Mercedes C43, BMW 340i and Audi S4.

Predictably, such a high output needs AWD system to cope with. The car gets a GKN Twinster setup in similar concept (but different spec) to Ford Focus RS. 2 hydraulic multi-plate clutch packs transfer power to either rear wheels, not only enhancing traction but also allowing torque vectoring. Nevertheless, its setup is not as aggressive as the hot hatch. Normally the car drives the front wheels only, and there is no drift mode, of course. You can have the 3.0T engine equipped on front-wheel-drive MKZ, too, but its output is deliberately limited to 350 hp to tame torque steer. Strangely, the 400 lbft peak torque is unaltered.

Despite the headline power and torque figures, the 3.0T AWD doesn’t feel as quick on the road. C&D’s 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds was achieved on a test car with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, which are actually not offered to production cars (sometimes manufacturers play tricks to get headline test figures). Other motoring journalists tested the car and reported that it didn’t seem as powerful as 400 hp. One reason is the car’s immense kerb weight of 1900 kg. Another is the slow reaction of the outdated 6-speed automatic, which should not have been used on a premium car.

Make no mistake, the 3.0T AWD is not a sports sedan. While it is fast enough on straight, its limitations are exposed in corners. The soft-setting suspension reveals too much roll in fast corners. The nose-heavy chassis understeers when pushed regardless of torque vectoring – can’t imagine it shares AWD hardware with Focus RS! The steering is troubled with torque steer at times, and its feedback is quite muted. There is not much fun to drive the car hard. Instead of driving excitement, its best asset is cruising refinement. On highway, it is smooth, quiet and relaxing to drive.

Unfortunately, the cabin is not luxurious enough to support the role of luxury cruiser. The interior design remains more Ford than luxury. The surfaces are mostly soft-touch or metallic-effect plastics, lacking leather or other expensive materials. More unfortunate still, Lincoln prices the car way too high. A fully loaded MKZ 3.0T AWD costs 66K USD, more than even a BMW 535i. Lincoln clearly overestimated its brand image and the competence of its salespersons.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine

Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD
2012 (2016)
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4930 / 1865 / 1478 mm
2850 mm
Inline-4

1999 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
240 hp (245 hp)
270 lbft (275 lbft)
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/45VR18
1774 kg
-
7.4*
21.6*
MKZ 3.7 V6 AWD
2012
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4930 / 1865 / 1478 mm
2850 mm
V6, 60-degree

3726 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
-
300 hp
277 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/45VR18
1815 kg
-
6.3*
16.5*
MKZ Hybrid
2013
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4930 / 1865 / 1478 mm
2850 mm
Inline-4, Atkinson cycle + electric motor
1999 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
-
-
141 hp + 118 hp = 188 hp
129 lbft + 117 lbft
CVT
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/45VR18
1743 kg
-
9.4*
25.3*




Performance tested by: *C&D, **MT





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
MKZ 3.0T AWD
2016
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4925 / 1865 / 1475 mm
2850 mm
V6, 60-degree
2956 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
400 hp / 5500 rpm
400 lbft / 2750 rpm
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/40ZR19
1900 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.8*
12.0*


















































Performance tested by: *C&D





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