Lincoln flagship:

Lincoln Black Label – Top Level Trim Does Not Make a Flagship


I have to admit that I’m rooting for Lincoln.  I used to work there and the Lincolns were “my” cars – Lincoln Continental Town Car, Lincoln Continental Town Coupe (yep, there was a Town Coupe in 1981), (eh hem, the Granada/Monarch-based Lincoln Versailles dubbed the “Mini Mark”), the Fox-based Lincoln Continental, and the Lincoln Continental Mark VI Coupe and Mark VI 4-door.

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Lincoln MKS – New Lincoln Flagship


AutoPacific and VehicleVoice just drove the all new Lincoln MKS in Washington DC and rural Virginia. We were the third of three waves of journalists and analysts to evaluate the MKS, but our wave had the added advantage of driving through a microburst of wind, thunder and lightning that tested the car’s systems from its all wheel drive, rain-sensing windshield wipers and latest generation SIRIUS Travel Link system. So the first two waves drove the cars in perfect weather and we got the best of it – a challenge.
Competes With Executive Luxury Products
The Lincoln MKS is a contemporary luxury car positioned against the Cadillac STS V6 and Lexus GS350. Other competitors Lincoln identifies are the Acura RL, Infiniti M35, and up-level Cadillac CTS. There was even mention of Nissan Maxima and Hyundai Genesis. The MKS is actually longer than the BMW 750Li and competes well in interior spaciousness even with the long wheelbase competition (BMW 750Li and Lexus LS460 L). Lincoln won’t have to apologize for the car being a “little Lincoln”… it is full sized.
Against its STS and GS competition, Lincoln has a good value story being base-priced thousands less and including gobs of standard equipment. In fact, loading up an MKS to the specs I would personally choose yields a price point of about $43,000 for the AWD version.

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New Lincoln Design Cues Begin Appearing on MKS
Styling is not particularly head-turning, but Ford’s stylists were able to push the design envelope a bit further than when the MKS was first seen at auto shows about 18-months ago. Since then, Ford Design has developed a palette of Lincoln DNA design cues that were rushed into production on the MKS. The result is an MKS style that incorporates Lincoln’s new bow wave grille, simple bodyside sculpturing and a kickup over the rear wheels in the rear quarter panel. There is a large Lincoln star placed on the rear surface of the front fender – a cue we will be seeing on future Lincolns. The rear end has LED taillamps distinguished by hockeystick shaped backup lamps on the inboard surface. A cue we particularly like – borrowed from the BMW 750Li and Infiniti M are the fore-to-aft bright inserts in the roof panel. Nice touch. The MKS can be had with large 20-inch tires and wheels that really fill the wheel openings but don’t deteriorate ride quality.
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Lincoln MKS R78 VehicleVoice Blog.jpg

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2009 Lincoln MKS – LA Auto Show


On Monday, November 6 Ford gave Detroit-area journalists a glimpse of the 2009 Lincoln MKS Mid-Luxury Car. We had reviewed the concept of the MKS previously in VehicleVoice and found the car lacking. In its first incarnation, the MKS came across as a JapoEuro design exercise without much American flair. It was bigger than it looked and that is not necessarily a good thing. Given the somewhat lukewarm reception that the MKS concept received, especially in light of the very positive reception of the MKR Concept at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, Ford’s product development team went to work on upgrading the MKS in subtle ways.

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Production MKS Execution Now Has Presence
The production MKS now has the presence and ambiance that it should have had all along. The former blandonymous grille has been replaced by Lincoln’s new double wing face grille. There is a Lincoln logo mounted in the space between the grille wings. Character lines are crisper. The taillights are reminiscent of Maserati European taillights of a few years ago… with backup lights mimicking the boomerang effect of the Maserati pieces.
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The interior is very upscale and continues Lincoln’s interior themes first seen on the Navigator, MKX and MKZ. Ergonomics appear to be excellent, but this is characteristic of Ford’s large entries produced at their Chicago Assembly Plant (Taurus/Five Hundred, Taurus X/Freestyle, Sable/Montego).
But… a “Flagship” It’s Not – Four Reasons
Reason One: Ford describes the MKS as its “Flagship”. While it will be its newest passenger car entry, the venerable Town Car is Lincoln’s Flagship until Ford simply cannot justify continuing the Panther lineup (Crown Victoria – now fleet only, Grand Marquis, Town Car) produced at Ford’s St. Thomas, Ontario assembly plant. But, with such a high percentage of Town Car sales to the fleet and executive car business, maybe Ford is not counting Town Car any more.
Reason Two: Another reason we don’t buy into MKS as a flagship is the MKR concept shown at last year’s Detroit show. A wow piece if ever there was one, the MKR showcased all of the Lincoln design cues in one place. A stunning piece of work! Now, if they would produce the MKR on a RWD V8 platform, I’d buy it.
Reason Three: The MKS is V6 only. In the beginning, the MKS program included the 4.4L V8 found in the Volvo XC90 and S80. This Yamaha-built unit is terrifically expensive and I guess Ford decided not to pony up to add it to the MKS. Mistake.
VehicleVoice and AutoPacific have conducted several research projects on what makes an ideal $50,000 luxury car and the evidence is very clear that a V8 engine in the lineup is the price of entry for a car in this class. The V8 does not have to be standard, but it needs to be offered. Sure it may be a low installation rate – especially with $3.00 per gallon gasoline, but the image halo of a V8 is indisputable. Having a twin turbo direct injection V6 gives MKS some performance panache, but there is no replacement for numbers of cylinders and displacement.
Reason Four: You will be able to get into a base MKS for less than $38,000. This is not flagship pricing. Clearly, Ford is leaving room at the top of the heap for a premium priced flagship with the specifications necessary to really command price points over $50,000.
Let’s not forget Reason Five: Nomenclature. Hopefully, once Jim Farley gets his feet on the ground he will review Lincoln’s present nomenclature plan and scrap it. Not clean or easy, but having Lincoln’s with alphanumeric nomenclature is folly. Go back to names!
Ford’s press release for the MKS is shown below the fold.
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