A Wild-Ass Look At Lincoln's Future Products

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Ford’s Lincoln turnaround continues to be a hot topic for industry watchers who have a hard time squaring the success of the Ford brand with the weak performance of Ford’s luxury efforts. Thus far, the X-factor is Lincoln’s product, which has for too long consisted of little more than tarted-up Fords without any of the the unique attributes that drive luxury brand aspiration. So, what does the future hold for Lincoln’s product plans? According to FordInsideNews, the answer is as predictable as it is troubling: Global C-Platform. That’s right, Lincoln’s future is based on the same platform as the future of the Ford brand.

At this year’s North American International Auto Show, Ford was entirely focused on its new compact C-platform, touting the global appeal and flexibility of the gubbins beneath its new Focus. It was classic Ford stuff: leveraging huge volumes of competent but modest underpinnings into a portfolio of vehicles designed to transport people the world over. But then techno-democratic evangelism has been a Ford strong suit since the Model T put the world on wheels; Dearborn’s problem over the last century or so has been in creating the durably desirable luxury brands that bring in huge profits on lower volumes. And based on the latest rumors, that challenge isn’t about to go away.

According to FordInsideNews’s sources, 2013 will be the year of Lincoln’s re-boot, with four new or refreshed products planned. The first is a Global C-Platform-based compact hatch, with styling inspired by the 2009 Lincoln Concept C. But besides the 1.6 Ecoboost engine and 43 MPG, it’s not clear what this compact Lincoln will bring to the table. And with the MKC name tipped for this don’t-call-it-a-Focus, it’s tough to imagine it doing anything a Focus Titanium can’t.

Keeping with the C-Platform theme, another rumored 2013 Lincoln is a re-worked version of the next-gen Ford Escape, which was also previewed in Ford’s Compactfest in the form of the Vertrek concept. Another global C-product, the Vertrek replaces both the European Kuga and the Escape, so it’s safe to assume that (like the Focus) even the Ford version will be relatively upscale. Once again, Ford’s desire to make its Blue Oval brand a leader in quality and technological proliferation seems to be trading off with its unwillingness to develop wholly unique products for its luxury brand. Which means that, once again, Lincoln’s future depends on Ford’s ability to differentiate its luxury platform with design and packaging.

One hint about Ford’s approach to this all-important differentiation comes from rumors about the next-generation MKZ, which is being developed as part of Ford’s effort to unify its Mondeo and Fusion midsizers into a single global product. With a new platform that combines elements of the Fusion’s CD3 and Mondeo’s EUCD as well as Ford’s 3rd-generation hybrid drivetrain, the MKZ will be the first product to be styled by Lincoln’s new design boss, Max Wolff. And, reports FIN

In addition to the different styling, the new MkZ will also feature an exclusive Vista Roof, which the Fusion/Mondeo will not receive. MkZ will also see further technological differentiation from the Fusion. Also in the tech department, MyFord touch will be an option on the Fusion and Mondeo, while the MkZ will have MyLincoln Touch as standard equipment.

So Lincolns will have a fancy sunroof, and gets MyLincolnTouch as standard… does it sound like we’re beating the “luxury brand as trim level” trap yet? If Wolff’s styling doesn’t absolutely blow consumers out of the water, it sounds like Lincoln’s turnaround could need a turnaround. Plans for a revival of the Lincoln Aviator, a rebadge of the new Explorer, don’t really change that perception either. Nor do planned “refreshes” of the MKS, MKT and Navigator. In short, Lincoln’s future sounds like a healthy helping of more of the same, and if there are some convincing new differentiation tricks that haven’t been tried yet, we’re still waiting to hear about them.

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  • John John on Jun 14, 2011

    I'm with bikegoesbaa and some other posters. Lincoln irritates me because I want so badly to love it. I'm a late twenties, married, college educated, reasonably highly paid professional living and working near a large metro area. In my lifetime, I've had a Mark VIII, a late nineties Continental, an LS, which I loved, and my dad was always a Lincoln guy as well. I love brand markers like the 1960 series slabside Conti, the late sixties early seventies Mark III, and even some of the older Conti's and Mark series from the late seventies and eighties. Point is, I love Lincoln so much as a solid American brand with an extremely potent cultural heritage in this country. It's the heritage of Lincoln that fits my psyche more than anything else, the idea of driving an American marque that's been building luxury machines for a hair shy of a hundred years, some of them residing in the pages of history as automotive art and architecture. But nothing strikes me like that when I walk into a Lincoln dealership. Nothing Lincoln has offered since the LS and the Mark VIII LSC has struck me like that. Nothing excites me. There's no two door luxury coupe. There's no serious four door sports sedan. Hell, even the Acura MDX outclasses the MKX in almost every way. And the MKS? It's a TAURUS. My wife says Lincolns are old man cars. Lincoln hasn't put out anything strong enough for me to change her mind for years. I just bought her a new Mini S. I'll buy myself another car within the next two years. I want it to be a Lincoln. I'd drop 50 grand tomorrow if they had a car I wanted. I have brand loyalty to a brand that has nothing to offer me. I don't think I'm alone here. Lincoln, wake up and realize who your buyers are and what they want. You have the cache, the heritage, the history, and the potential buyers. You just don't have the cars.

  • Googz Googz on Aug 18, 2011

    You can offer the same the same amenities as Ford's limited trim-level, that's not the problem. The truth about Lincoln is their cars are ugly, with exception maybe to the MKS. You can not compare Lincoln cars looks to Audi, BMW, Lexus, Infiniti, and even Cadillac. It's like comparing Phyllis Diller to Angelina Jolie. Why are Fords selling well? Ford cars are really nice looking in addition to have great quality. They compete with both european and asian competitors in terms quality, safety, and aesthetics. I own a 2011 Fusion and I love it. Even further, Fords are aesthetically more pleasing to the eye than anything in the Lincoln line up. If you want Lincoln to be competitive with above premium brands, get rid of the ugly new grills, hire some italian and/or german car designers, and make them gorgeous, make them prettier and more eye catching that its luxury brand competitors. at minimum it's entry-level brand. Some suggestions: - why isn't there a freaking coupe in the lineup? Look at the CTS coupe? Make a lincoln version of the Mustang, with convertible in the mix. Isn't that simple to do? - look at what Cadillac is doing with the upcoming XTS - beautiful. Make your next Continental-equivalent gorgeous. - i like the suggestion made by another commenter. Maybe the lincoln brand is dead. bury it. create a new brand and start a new

  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.https://www.lhd.com.au/lhd-insights/australian-road-death-statistics/
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.
  • Lorenzo The other automakers are putting silly horsepower into the few RWD vehicles they have, just as Stellantis is about to kill off the most appropriate vehicles for that much horsepower. Somehow, I get the impression the OTHER Carlos, Tavares, not Ghosn, doesn't have a firm grasp of the American market.