“Imagine,” Ford’s marketing wunderkind Jim Farley suggested, “if your service advisor knew your name? If he knew your preferences? What you wanted?” Well, as a former owner of two Phaetons, I don’t need to imagine that. Everybody in VW service at my local dealer knew my name, my wife’s name, our weekend plans, and which one of the dealership’s loaners I liked best (“Blackie”, a Passat 2.0T). That’s what happens when you sell cars that require frequent servicing and have nobody on staff in the entire country who can perform said servicing in even a marginally competent fashion.
Farley, of course, wasn’t talking about 5400-pound German crapwagons. He was talking about treating Lincoln buyers to the finest dealership experience available.
The most radical concept Farley showed the crowd was the idea of a “personal shopper” who could be contacted online and who would help the buyer shop the competition as well as shop Lincoln. Don’t know which Lexus is right for you? Why not let someone from Lincoln tell you? While it sounds absolutely hare-brained, in the Keeping Up With The Kardashians era, the idea of access to personal shopping help may actually bring some intenders Lincoln’s way. Luxury for the middle class: it’s a time-honored winning formula.
The production-spec MKZ which wandered into the middle of Farley’s presentation is actually a pretty good example of that philosophy. It doesn’t look anything like the Fusion with which it shares its bones, and it has a very solid three-level powertrain selection that, frankly, just points up how crappy GM’s Impala lineup is. There’s a 237-horsepower EcoBoost four, the very popular hybrid drivetrain complete with long-distance electric-only capability, and the 3.7L Duratec putting out 300 horsepower. The Duratec is the fastest but least interesting of the three, of course.
Interior designer Soo Kang sat with our hairdresser-turned-journalist Julie Hyde for a moment to explain her ideas behind the interior. She arrived in the United States as a working concert harpist and continues to let music direct her endeavors. Her favorite part of the MKZ’s interior is the pushbutton shifter that permitted her to create an uninterrupted horizontal sweep line in the console. “Every corner of the car,” she stated, “should be spacious and serene.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the whole presentation was the artist who created multiple “sand drawings” in time with a perfectly coordinated jazz-fusion sextet, complete with gorgeous violinist. The performance piece was clearly painstakingly conceived and thoroughly rehearsed. It went off without a hitch. Unfortunately for Jim Farley, what stands between him and his perfect performance — a nationwide array of disgruntled, financially strapped Lincoln dealers — may be too high a bar to clear.