MKZ could be zowie car Lincoln needs
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If you believe the guiding principle espoused by Carlos Ghosn, the successful CEO of Nissan and Renault — that there's no problem at a car company that good products can't solve — then you can consider the Lincoln MKZ a problem-solver.
Lincoln, a Ford Motor (F) luxury brand, needs hip, high-profile cars to elevate its image and get it onto high-profit shopping lists that its aging Town Car sedan can't and its more modern but neglected LS haven't.
Lincoln hopes its new crossover utility vehicle, MKX (Test Drive, Nov. 17), will grab a share of the lucrative crossover market, and that this week's subject, the MKZ sedan, will shore up the brand's position among entry-luxury buyers.
Lincoln's tumble has been swift. Just six years ago at this time, Cadillac and Lincoln were in what was essentially a four-way tie with Lexus and Mercedes-Benz in the race for best-selling luxury brand. Now, Lexus dominates, BMW and Mercedes come next. Caddy, in fourth place, outsells Lincoln 2-to-1, says sales tracker Autodata. Lincoln sits seventh among the nine high-volume luxury brands, ahead of only Infiniti and Audi, Autodata reports.
Thus, Lincoln needs a zowie car. MKZ could be it.
What a sweetheart, this rapid evolution of the midsize sedan Lincoln launched a year ago under the name Zephyr (Test Drive, Dec. 23). The decision to revamp it just a year into its life shows Lincoln's urgency. Usually, such overhauls are done three or four years into the model's life.
Renaming it at the same time seems unsavory, like a crook taking an alias to start a new life. The controversial plan to rename Lincoln models was underway when Peter Horbury became executive director of design, so, Horbury joshes, "If you don't like it, nothing to do with me. If you like it, it's amazing what you can get done in a short period of time."
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