2012 Detroit Auto Show: Lincoln MKZ Concept is ready to reinvent the brand

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 10, 2012

Lincoln had a clear task for the 2012 Detroit Auto Show: to unveil a new MKZ Concept and make a buzz with its new design language. Looking at the photos, we must admit that the American manufacturer did an impressive job and the new MKZ Concept will definitely outperform the competition. The new MKZ Concept hints at the production model that will arrive at the dealerships later this year.

The design shows a new interpretation of the split-wing grille, introduced on the 1938 Lincoln-Zephyr. The concept also features a panoramic glass roof spans uninterrupted from the windshield to the top of the backlight.

The rear of the car comes with an extremely thin and distinctive full-width taillamp graphic, while the exhaust tips are cleanly integrated in the rear fascia. The interior looks warm and inviting and comes with innovative features such as push-button transmission gear selection, an open, tiered center console and liquid crystal instrumentation.

The hearth of the interior is a 10.1-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD positioned ahead of the driver that operates with the latest version of MyLincoln Touch.

Lincoln didn’t give us any details regarding the engine but says that the sedan is capable of utilizing multiple powertrain options in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. Just like the MKS and MKT with EcoBoost, the new Lincoln MKZ Concept features Lincoln Drive Control and the sophisticated Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension.

Underpinned by new midsize platform, the new Lincoln MKZ Concept could be fitted with multiple powertrains and configured as front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. Just like the newly launched introduced MKS and MKT models with EcoBoost, the MKZ styling study is specified with Lincoln Drive Control and Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension.

Mark Fields, president of The Americas at Ford Motor Co., commented that Lincoln is an important part of the company's success, adding that the luxury segment is a significant part of the auto industry.

He noted that the luxury segment account for between 11 percent and 13 percent of overall sales in the United States. He remarked that since Ford considers the importance of winning luxury customers with strong new vehicles, the carmaker is investing heavily in Lincoln.

In the past 14 months, Lincoln managed to form a dedicated team that includes designers, engineers, quality and manufacturing experts as well as marketing and sales leaders -- bringing in people from luxury brands and even from outside the auto industry.

Fields remarked that this team has a commitment to deliver world-class vehicles with a high level of customer experience. Several new team members have commenced working this year in the new Lincoln Design Studio located in Dearborn, Michigan.

Exterior Design

According to Wolff, the front exterior graphic of the Lincoln MKZ Concept could also be seen through a dramatic sweep of the instrument panel. He remarked that these flowing forms help create a functional yet comfortable interior that should appeal to younger and more diverse customers.

The luxurious and comfortable cabin of the new Lincoln MKZ Concept makes use of bright and satin-finished aluminum, poplar wood, and leather. Its seats are wrapped in champagne-colored leather with dark taupe accents – resulting to a champagne perforation pattern that conveys the image of champagne bubbles rising from the glass bottom.

In addition, the interior of the Lincoln MKZ Concept features a push-button transmission gear selection, liquid crystal instrumentation as well as an open, tiered center console.

It is also offered with a reconfigurable 10.1-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD – mounted just in front of the driver – driven by the latest version of MyLincoln Touch as well as an eight-inch LCD touch screen that is nearly flush-mounted on the center.

Basically, the Lincoln MKZ Concept is a styling study underpinned by an all-new midsize platform that allows it to be powered with several powertrains in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. This new Lincoln MKZ Concept is provided with Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension and Lincoln Drive Control.

Press Release

Lincoln MKZ Concept: Future Vision Today

The new Lincoln MKZ Concept, revealed today at the North American International Auto Show, signals a significant step in Lincoln's reinvention, providing a clear vision of its next-generation vehicles.

"With the Lincoln MKZ Concept, we are not introducing a new car. We are essentially introducing a new brand," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford Motor Company group vice president for Global Product Development. "The MKZ Concept is the next step in the reinvention of Lincoln, something we've been quietly but aggressively pursuing."

Lincoln MKZ Concept: Exterior

The MKZ Concept strongly hints at the production model arriving in dealerships later this year, as well as Lincoln's design future.

"The MKZ Concept's shape is a vision of simplicity completed with just a few strokes," said Max Wolff, Lincoln design director. "Our movement as a brand is toward something we call elegant simplicity. It's something warmer and more restrained, which is moving away from complex designs and traditional luxury." (View a video highlighting the main design elements of the Lincoln MKZ Concept here.)

Warm hues are evident in every aspect of the new vehicle's Cognac-colored exterior. The deep finish is achieved with a rich base coat covered in multiple layers of tinted clear-coat finishes.

By retaining key, recognizable brand design elements, the MKZ Concept remains clearly identifiable as a Lincoln. One example is the more refined interpretation of the split-wing grille, introduced on the 1938 Lincoln-Zephyr. (Click here for image.)

The sedan's profile is dominated by a long, sleek and sweeping roofline that allows the design to break away from the traditional sedan three-box shape. The lengthening of the roofline enables a more flowing, elegant and more naturally aerodynamic appearance. (Access Lincoln MKZ Concept specifications here.)

A panoramic glass roof spans uninterrupted from the windshield to the top of the backlight. Integrated into the sedan's aluminum and boron steel superstructure, the fixed-glass expanse extends to the side roof rails of the cabin, creating an airy, open interior. (Click here for gallery.)

LED technology enabled an extremely thin and distinctive full-width taillamp graphic. Exhaust tips are cleanly integrated into the rear fascia.

Lincoln MKZ Concept: Interior

The Lincoln MKZ Concept's four-seat interior is open, warm and inviting. "The front graphic is repeated in the dramatic sweep of the instrument panel, helping tie the interior to the exterior. These flowing forms create a comfortable and functional interior that particularly appeals to the younger, more diverse customers we are targeting," said Wolff.

Innovative interior features include push-button transmission gear selection, an open, tiered center console and liquid crystal instrumentation. The reconfigurable 10.1-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD positioned ahead of the driver operates with the latest version of MyLincoln Touch™ as does the nearly flush-mounted center 8-inch LCD touch screen.

Responsibly harvested poplar wood, aluminum in bright and satin finishes as well as leather help create a sculptural, luxurious and comfortable interior space. Champagne-colored leather seats with dark taupe accents feature a champagne perforation pattern, so-called because the perforations on the seat backs conjure the image of champagne bubbles rising from the bottom of a glass.

Lincoln MKZ Concept: Engineering

The Lincoln MKZ Concept is a styling study that rides on an all-new midsize platform. The sedan is capable of utilizing multiple powertrain options in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.

Like the recently introduced MKS and MKT with EcoBoost™, the Lincoln MKZ Concept features Lincoln Drive Control and the sophisticated Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension. (Click here for information on these Lincoln technologies and here for background on the Lane Keeping System, another feature integrated into the MKZ Concept.)

The Business of Lincoln

"Lincoln is an important part of our company's success," said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president of The Americas. "The luxury piece of the industry is significant. In any given year in the U.S., the luxury segment is 11 to 13 percent of overall sales, and it is important for us to win customers in the luxury market with strong new vehicles. That is a key reason we have invested so heavily in Lincoln."

During the past 14 months, Lincoln has built a dedicated team – including designers, engineers, quality and manufacturing experts as well as marketing and sales leaders. The team includes people from luxury brands, some outside of automotive.

"This team wakes up every morning thinking about Lincoln – and only Lincoln," Fields said. "These are the people committed to delivering world-class vehicles with a customer experience to match."

Many of the new team members begin working this year in the all-new Lincoln Design Studio in Dearborn, Mich.

Under Wolff's direction, construction of the 40,000-square-foot studio began in early 2011 and ultimately will house more than 180 modelers, engineers, stylists and designers in a space that encourages creativity and collaboration.

"This is the first time Lincoln has had its own studio since the 1970s," said Wolff. "Having our own space is critical to the continued development of the brand. We are passionate about creating beautiful, even seductive, vehicles – and the MKZ Concept marks just the beginning."

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