Lincoln makes some noise about Quiet Luxury.
What exactly should a luxury car be?
Lincoln has been asking itself this very question, and after taking a look at some of the usual suspects the MKZ will do battle with, they aren’t sure the other guys have the correct answer. These days it seems that the luxury car class is suffering from an identity crisis- there’s a little too much sport creeping its way into these cars, which in turn are trying to be all things to all people.
Mostly the strategy is met with mixed results- you end up with a car with sporting pretences that doesn’t perform all that well (and usually offers an unduly harsh ride) or on the flip side, something that feels too soft, isolated and floaty. Lincoln’s current is to straddle that line while incorporating the values that made the brand what it is- focusing on “Quiet Luxury”, offering a more “human” approach to driving. The MKZ you see here is no apex slicer, and it’s just fine with that. Conversely, it doesn’t feel nautical with copious body roll and marshmallow tuned suspension, either. You might call reinvigorated Lincoln “Lincoln 2.0” which embraces the future while keeping the best from its past- the reboot is looking promising.
Yeah, starting with a twin-turbo V6 with 400 horsepower!
One of the biggest complaints Lincoln critics would volley at the products was that they weren’t much more than gussied up Ford products, especially where the engines were concerned. The outgoing MKZ employed the exact same powertrains as corporate cousin Fusion had on hand- not even a little power bump to distinguish between the two. The 2017 MKZ still offers the same hybrid drive and 2.0 litre turbo four cylinders you find in the Fusion, but the range topping 3.0 twice turbocharged V6 is completely new and exclusive to Lincoln.
Oh yeah, and don’t call it an EcoBoost engine- Lincoln has stopped using that designation for its artificially aspirated models, preferring a “T” suffix instead. In a nod the old massive V8s that used to provide motivation to Lincoln’s classic Continentals and Mark Series Coupe models, it churns out a meaty 400 horsepower and an equal amount of torque. This gives the MKZ a delightful amount of urge that still performs quietly and smoothly, if missing some of that waftability a large displacement V8 might provide. If you want the same kind of power out of your E-Class Mercedes or Audi, you’ll be spending a torrent of money over the MKZ’s asking price for the privilege, and that’s before you even begin adding options to similarly equip them the MKZ you see here.
Its mated to a 6-speed automatic that shifts beautifully even in Sport mode, and needless to say we’re happy with a Lincoln that doesn’t want for power- not since the Mark VIII LSC of the late 1990’s have we seen a Lincoln this fleet of foot. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic that doesn’t call attention to itself and shifts unobtrusively. We didn’t bother with the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel because they don’t respond with any urgency, even in Sport Mode. Best to just leave the shifting up to the computer.
The styling has a sort of Dean Martin meets Brad Pitt thing going on…
If that’s a way to describe old-meets-new styling themes, we get it. Take the front end- borrowing heavily from the Continental concept car, its got that restrained assertiveness you would find from the Rat Pack era of massive, floaty Lincolns mixed with modern flourishes like the mesh grille and LED accent lighting. A few people remarked how it strongly resembles Jaguar’s XF, nice company to keep from a design standpoint. The stylists resisted the urge to slather it with chrome and unnecessary scythes and creases (cough-cough, Lexus) and we think it looks quite fetching in Magnetic paint our tester was wearing. The rear styling is a carry over from the outgoing MKZ, and it’s certainly distinctive with its thin strip of Geordi LaForge inspired LEDs- we hope that the next MKZ will share some of the same styling language we see on the front end.
The interior has received some love, too.
Lincoln turfed the old much-maligned MyFord Touch based system for the unanimously better Sync3 infotainment centre, and it’s better in every way. That, and they installed some actual buttons and switches for the climate controls which means no more dreading upping your fan speed by a notch or two. While we’re talking about the infotainment, we have to heap praise on the Revel Ultimate Audio system that comes as part of the Luxury Package (which includes LED lighting for $5,500.) It is staggeringly good, so much so that we felt compelled to dig out our old CD collection to listen to our favourite tracks- streaming audio from the smartphone and satellite radio compress the music too much.
The clarity all the way up to irresponsible volume levels is intricate and precise, and the depth of all the sounds coming out of the speakers is incredible. We have heard high-end systems in cars that demand close to $10K on the option sheet, but they simply are no match for the Revel’s magic. You can enjoy your favourite tuneage while basking in the fragrant Bridge of Weir leather thrones, and there isn’t a surface to be found that feels cut-rate. There’s even a splash of carbon fibre trim here and there, although we’re not so sure that sticks with the Quiet Luxury ethos. We are sure of the air conditioning’s prowess, however. This summer has been a hot one, the kind where you get into your car after it’s been baking in the sun all day and immediately thumb the MAX A/C switch. Doing this in the MKZ will dramatically slash the interior’s temperature in short order, and it’s so effective that if you leave it cranked for long you could moonlight as a driver for the meat packing industry and safely transport a side of beef without spoilage.
At this price threshold, the question must be asked: does it finally feel more special than the Fusion on which its based?
As we alluded to earlier, that was perhaps the biggest criticism leveled at the 2016 vintage of MKZ; that it felt like simply like a blinged up Fusion, that Lincoln could have done more to distance one of its mid-level luxury cars from the Fords on which they are based. The MKZ and Fusion are still closely related- park the two close together and you’ll see what we mean- but this time around, Lincoln’s efforts to make the MKZ stand out have paid off smartly. There is the styling we talked about earlier, as well as the broad shouldered 3.0 turbocharged V6 that will not be found under the hood of anything with a Ford badge. There’s also the way it feels and drives, and we can say with confidence that nothing in the Ford lineup delivers such a creamy, comfortable ride and will spoil occupants with noise levels that are exceptionally quiet. Suffice it to say, Lincoln is finally on the right track- we can’t wait to see what they’ve got in the pipeline next.
2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T- Specifications
- Price as tested: $68,000
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Engine: 3.0 turbocharged V6, 24 valves, DOHC
- Horsepower: 400 @ 5,500 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 400 @ 2,750 rpm
- Curb weight: 1,901 kg (4,191 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 12.9L/100km (18 mpg)