Just in case not everyone in the world wants a new MKX wagon . . .
Could the new MKS sedan move buyers to pick Ford’s premium brand by moving in a completely different direction?
We’ll have to wait until next summer to find out for sure, but this thoroughly modern rendition of a full-size luxury car has a lot to offer, including smooth looks and a content-rich environment that will woo upscale buyers.
The MKS is the intended successor to the Town Car, which has been primarily relegated to limo duty. That leaves the Ford Fusion-based MKZ as the sole passenger car in the Lincoln fleet. By contrast, much of the competition, including Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi have at least three separate car models. The importance of the MKS to Lincoln’s future cannot be overstated.
Lincoln stylists have come through with a shape that could pass for something from the Lexus, Infiniti or BMW shops. Particularly noticeable is the sweep of the roofline and truncated rear deck that gives the car a finely tailored appearance. Any resemblance between the MKS and its aged Town Car relative is unfathomable.
The interior appointments hammer home the luxury theme but in a subtle way that also departs from Lincoln tradition. Real ebony wood trim is available for a touch of opulence, but it’s actually sourced from furniture construction cast-offs and not from virgin timber.
Only the star logo in the middle of the leather-coated steering wheel and the engraved name on the control panel give away the fact that this car doesn’t hail from Japan or Europe. It’s a first-rate attempt at creating a firstclass environment.
Traveling in MKS style involves a 270-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift controls. The power level is modest and noticeably shy of the 300-plus ponies posted by many competitors, but it’s certainly sufficient. Lincoln has confirmed that a turbocharged version of this engine with an expected 400-plus horsepower will be offered for the 2010 model year as part of a performance-oriented package. The MKS can be ordered with frontor all-wheel-drive.
Lincoln is endowing its new sedan with a wealth of comfort, convenience and techno-focused items, keeping the options list to a minimum. Notables include adaptive headlights that pivot in the direction the car is turning, keyless push-button start/stop and a capless fuel filler that automatically opens and then seals itself after refueling. Also on the menu is radar-based adaptive cruise control that maintains a safe distance from the car ahead and a heat-sensing LED (light-emitting diode) keypad that unlocks the vehicle from the outside. Voice-activated satellite navigation is part of the optional surround-sound audio system. Lincoln-Sync, a voice-activated system for controlling entertainment and communications devices, even the ones you bring from home, is standard MKS fare.
These items are in addition to climate control, rain-sensing wipers, rearview camera, front and rear proximity sensors, heated front and rear leather seats with power adjustment and a dualpanel moonroof.
Lincoln plans to introduce the MKS with a starting price of about $38,000 in the hopes of attracting younger (under 50) buyers who would have never considered a Town Car and would dismiss the entry-luxury MKZ as a bit too basic for their needs. In fact, the product planners and marketing types fully expect that 60 percent of MKS buyers will be first-time Lincoln customers.
If those predictions turn into reality, the MKS could prove to be one of the more successful products to roll off the division’s assembly line in some time, becoming a real boon to the Lincoln brand and endearing the nameplate to a new generation of customers.