Car Design college was a wake-up call for this auto-obsessed kid: it festered with two-faced people. There are bastard-coated souls smiling to your face, stabbing you in the back during Portfolio Review. Or friends that pity you, being your crutch via white lies and false kindness. Bad news, especially for a Lincoln-Mercury fanboi saddened by how the MKZ became as two-faced as the industry that spawned it.
The Lincoln MKZ trades the sistership Ford Fusion’s wannabe Aston schnoz for a gigantic butterfly smashed on the face of today’s upright, stubby proportioned sedan. It works, as there’s a balance of soft curves and thin lines with hard bends and thick marks.
The butterfly grille is organic but peep that Chevelle SS worthy hood bulge! The bulge has a strong center backbone and “power dome” shape that shrinks as it reaches the front fascia. Very Hot Rod Lincoln.
The butterfly grille effortlessly translates and surrounds the pointy-fast headlight assembly. It’s a dramatic change from the first MKZ, as you’d be hard pressed to mistake it for a Fusion. (yet) The lower valence’s chrome trim and fog light harmonize with the butterfly too.
Note the lighter red section below my finger: an interesting soft bend at the hood’s edge, in contrast to the power done hood. Forehead much? It’d be less flabby if the bend started with the headlight’s leading edge and swept back into the body. Then, instead of being a receding hairline, we’d see a transition between the hood-fender cut line and the central power dome.
Too bad about the solid grill space on the lower valence. It looks cheap, yet nothing like the yards of fake texture on spindle-grilled Lexi and big mouth Audis.
Aside from that odd forehead (it really needs to start at the headlights) the MKZ pushes the right buttons. Everything dances to the same DJ, and the bumper’s soft curve sympathizes with the butterfly grille. And it transitions to the muscular fender haunch well.
Interesting interplay between smoked and shiny surfaces! The MKZ’s rims blends unique ideas seamlessly, in stark contrast to the rough draft originally seen on the MKS.
And then it became all Fusion: the latest iteration of wrong-wheel drive American Luxury is a Fusion with more chrome. Literally, thanks to the solid chrome DLO Fail between the A-pillar and the door.
Again, too much of a Fusion…even if it really isn’t. If you are a badge engineer, my analysis of the Fusion will come in handy. The door skins are different, but something’s lost in translation. Perhaps it’s the BMW style handles. Or the less edgy cut lines that still retain the Fusion’s angular windows. More on those later.
The point? The “let’s avoid badge engineering” mantra that we all believe needed more money, more dedication and less modification of an existing platform to work on the MKZ.
A fixed vent window paired with DLO fail? Usually one replaces the other, but the MKZ needs ‘em both to “accomplish” an A-pillar with such speed. Ford’s insistence to honor Aston Martin via family sedan failed. (Aston uses the fixed window, which obviously works on that body.)
The chrome-y Fusion mirrors work quite well. Too bad they aren’t unique, but whatever. This isn’t the first (last?) front wheel drive Lincoln to portend the brand’s future, as this isn’t a 1988 Continental.
Wait, is this one of them fancy flagship BMW 7 series door pulls? A pretty shameful rip off. So kudos to Lincoln for not raiding Ford’s parts bin, ribbons of shame for raiding BMW’s warehouse instead.
Perhaps badge engineering ain’t such a bad thing, no? No, it’s bad…that was a trick question, son!
The problem stems from the razor-sharp tail lights, artificially pushing back to the quarter panel/C-pillar. And the soft spot once reserved for a “tire hump” or faux Continental kit. It’s the same idea as the power dome hood, taken to an incorrect extreme. What was needed?
The ideal balance of soft and hard elements presented up front. How the MKZ’s butterfly grille blends with the curves of its lower valence. This avoids the two faces of the MKZ’s design.
Nah, Robocop can’t handle these flabby planes with voluptuous BMW door pulls. But kudos are in order for not adding DLO fail to the C-pillar, like the original, super badge engineered, Lincoln MKZ.
This is where things get ugly. Perhaps the decklid’s extra black trim is an homage to the Continental tire hump. Perhaps the two antennas (especially the quarter panel’s fixed mast) honors the CB radios that kept the Bandit out of Smokey’s reach. Or it’s just a sloppy workaround for a moving roof panel.
Then there’s the flush mounted spoiler out back: too many parts to make a single trunk lid!
The extra crease adds another harsh element to the MKZ’s contrived tail. It’s almost an homage to the Bangle Butt 7-series of yesteryear; begging for the refined (refined-ish) butt of today’s 7-series: Vellum Venom review here.
Here you see the rotund-ness of the lower valence, in shocking contrast to the trunk lid. Notice how rapidly the tailpipes fade to a distant vanishing point, compared to the gentle curve of the tail light.
The harsh crease (mentioned above) encapsulates the problem: it lacks the elegance of the power dome hood on the MKZ’s butterfly front schnoz. TWO-FACED! It’s an edgy and lumpy border, just as looney as a Continental tire hump. At least the tire hump had some precedence, and uber presence.
No matter the MKZ’s flaws, this is still a bad ass design feature.
While Fusion has poorly finished metalwork here, the MKZ’s rubber needs much detailing to avoid the ravages of time. Totally worth owning such a huge glass roof. Or not: skip the two faced, almost-there badge engineering and get the Fusion.
Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.