2013 MKZ will have to restore Lincoln’s image as a competitive luxury brand

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 2, 2012

Production of the redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedan started last month but it’s faced with the formidable task of restoring the brand’s image as a competitive luxury brand. The production version is on display at the New York auto show. It’s in the small-luxury segment where many customers enter the luxury market.

Since its introduction as the 2006 Zephyr (which was renamed as the MKZ), it has fallen behind its rivals in the segment dominated by the BMW 3 series, Mercedes-Benz C class, Infiniti G and Cadillac CTS. GM is hoping that with the addition of new technologies, it will be able to close the gap. Some believe that the MKZ is just one of the steps for Lincoln.

It joins the updated MKS sedan and MKT crossover in the brand’s current offering. Lincoln will be offering seven new or revamped Lincoln products by the end of 2014. The MKZ is the first to demonstrate its new identity. C.J. O'Donnell, Lincoln group marketing manager, said that around 40% of present Lincoln sales are conquests.

Rebecca Lindland, an IHS Automotive analyst, said that Lincoln aims to increase this number to 60% by the end of 2015. She added that Lincoln has to convince the target buyers “one car at a time."

The automaker would be pressured to give these buyers the types of luxury appointments that the major players could offer, aside from the more competitive lease rates and monthly payments for this segment, which it considers to be highly price-sensitive. To attract more sales, Lincoln plans to gain an edge compared to the high-volume luxury brands by offering excellent customer service.

Design teams for the new Lincoln MKZ created an inviting interior that showcases bold architectural elements, fine details, and rich natural materials.

There is an abundant amount of innovation and technology inside the new MKZ. For one, a contemporary 5-button interface replaces the conventional mechanical transmission shift lever. The individual Push Button Shift buttons engage Neutral, Park, Reverse, as well as forward gears in Drive and Sport modes. The Push Button Shift gave the MKZ designers the freedom to make a multi-level center console that is sculptural and that features more functional storage areas.

Moreover, the car’s full-color 10.1” LCD instrument cluster is located ahead of the driver and operates the latest SYNC version with MyLincoln Touch. The new design joins together dimensional indicator rings that frame a reconfigurable Thin Film Transistor LCD. Another critical component of the MyLincoln Touch is its nearly flush-mounted center 8” LCD touch screen display where you can see information clear, easy-to-reference and color-keyed quadrants.

Meanwhile, covering all of the seating surfaces inside the car is premium-grade, supple leather. Additionally, metal-toned and responsibly harvested wood surfaces lend a comfortable and luxurious feel to the interior space.

The MKZ’s standard luxury amenities include an audiophile entertainment system equipped with 11 speakers, a cabin air filtration system, heated front seats, 10-way power controls for the driver's seat, Active Noise Control, and remote start capabilities. This ANC system electronically targets frequencies as well as reduces their intensity, thus making the MKZ exceptionally quiet. And to make your driving experience more refined, the other frequencies are enhanced subtly.

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