New York Auto Show: New MKZ, and Lincoln's Heartbreakingly Optimistic Vision Of The Future

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
new york auto show new mkz and lincoln s heartbreakingly optimistic vision of the

“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.

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  • PJ McCombs PJ McCombs on Apr 04, 2012

    Too bad about the Joan Rivers front fascia, because the interior really is a knockout. As for customer service, what Farley is describing sounds like gimmickry. 'Exceptional service' is staff who do their jobs highly competently, efficiently, and with minimal intrusion on your schedule, every time. But that requires investing in said staff, which would be a lot more work.

  • NulloModo NulloModo on Apr 05, 2012

    One interest styling element that I didn't notice until I'd seen the photos a few times is the white/cream colored posts/mirror-bottoms. I don't recall anyone doing that before, and I'm not sure why, it looks great. The interior shot shows a standard speedometer with the two typical MyLincoln Touch LCDs on either side. From what Autoblog was reporting the whole gauge cluster is supposedly going to be one big LCD, ala Jaguar or Land Rover. I'm wondering if this was a pre-production model made before that change had been implemented, or, since the car in the photos seems to have the Hybrid badge, if the hybrids will just carryover the standard instrument cluster that's on the current MKZ hybrid.

  • Master Baiter "...but the driver must be ready to step in and take control. The system is authorized for use during the day but at speeds lower than 40 mph..."Translation: It's basically useless, and likely more stressful than piloting the car ones's self.
  • Alan My friend has a Toyota Kluger (made in 'murica). A Highlander. These things are based on a Camry platform. I have driven the Kluger we had at work and I find them quite boring even for a SUV. An appliance. I hope this will deliver some driving pleasure. I found the Camry a better boring vehicle.
  • Alan Most Lexii look good to reasonable.....................until you see the front ends with their awkward grilles. It actually would look normal on a GWM, LDV or any other Chinese vehicle.
  • Tassos These last months, every day seems to be another great, consequential piece of news for Tesla, who does not just DOMINATE, it OWNS the US and FREE WORLD BEV market.It is the ONLY (repeat ONLY) maker that builds its huge best sellers at a PROFIT, ie, SUSTAINABLY. FOrd EV is bleeding 3 billion in losses. GM hides theirs, and I bet they are even HIGHER. VW has spent a huge no of billions and its ID series has been an UTTER FAILURE.Toyota, already 12 years too late, is yet to try. I doubt they will succeed to dethrone TESLA.
  • Tassos Again: I never took VOlvo seriously in the last 20 or so years.Chinese Volvo-Geely has a dizzying number of models, I have lost count how many,YET its sales and market share in the US has always been DISMAL these last 20 years.It ranges from a pathetic 0.5% to 0.8% of the US market.For comparison, Toyota has 15% and GM has even more. Tesla has almost 10 TIMES VOlvo's share, with a PITTANCE of really TWO Models, the 3 and the Y, as the S and the X hardly sell any copies any more.So why do we keep reading articles about Stupid VOlvo?Because they have the best PR department of any maker.