Lincoln MKZ Concept Reshapes Brand

2012 Detroit Auto Show


  • Lincoln MKZ Concept-- 2012 Detroit Auto Show

    The Lincoln MKZ Concept, which debuted at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, embraces a simpler look for its next-generation vehicles and previews design changes for the brand. | January 10, 2012

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2012 Detroit Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • The Lincoln MKZ Concept, which debuts on Tuesday at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, not only heralds the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, but previews design changes for the brand.
  • Lincoln says it is embracing a simpler look for its next-generation vehicles, as well as continuing to draw on cues from such vintage cars as the 1938 Lincoln Zephyr.
  • The four-passenger Lincoln MKZ Concept rides on an all-new midsize platform.

DETROIT — The Lincoln MKZ Concept, which debuts on Tuesday at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, not only heralds the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, but previews design changes for the brand.

The production version of the 2013 MKZ is expected to debut in April at the New York auto show, a Ford insider told Inside Line.

Lincoln says it is embracing a simpler look for its next-generation vehicles, as well as continuing to draw on cues from such vintage cars such as the 1938 Lincoln Zephyr. The four-passenger MKZ Concept gets what the brand calls a "more refined interpretation of the split-wing grille introduced on the 1938 Lincoln Zephyr." That seemingly small detail is considered legendary among automotive historians. "The 1938 Lincoln Zephyr's low, horizontal grille created panic at GM," according to the 1996 book A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design by Michael Lamm and Dave Holls.

Even if Lincoln does not succeed in riling up its Detroit competitors with redone design details, it still seems intent upon reshaping the brand and drawing in younger buyers.

"With the Lincoln MKZ Concept, we are not introducing a new car," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president for global product development in a statement. "The MKZ Concept is the next step in the reinvention of Lincoln, something we've been quietly, but aggressively pursuing."

The automaker said that the concept sedan "strongly hints at the production model arriving in dealerships later this year, as well as Lincoln's design future." The four-passenger Lincoln MKZ Concept rides on an all-new midsize platform, Ford said.

Lincoln sales were flat in 2011. Lincoln sold 85,643 vehicles in 2011 versus 85,828 in 2010, reflecting a decline of 0.2 percent. The MKZ, a companion to the Ford Fusion, was the best-selling Lincoln last year. Ford sold 27,529 MKZs in 2011 versus 22,535 in 2010, reflecting an increase of 22.2 percent. But sales of the Lincoln MKS and MKT were down substantially last year.

The MKZ Concept gets a sweeping roof line, a panoramic glass roof and an aluminum and boron steel superstructure. No powertrain details were made available. The cabin gets a push-button transmission gear selection, liquid crystal instrumentation and "responsibly harvested" poplar wood trim. The perforations on the seatbacks are supposed to look like "champagne bubbles rising from the bottom of a glass," said Lincoln in a statement.

Edmunds.com says: Are these design changes enough to lure young buyers away from BMW and Lexus?

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