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Lincoln MKZ gives new face to classic luxury brand

April 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Lincoln just took the wraps off its latest offering - the next generation of the MKZ luxury sedan. It's an all-new shape, and Lincoln's designers were given the task of setting a signature look for the Lincoln brand.

"We told the designers, if the line doesn't belong there, get rid of it, but the lines that remain have to be dynamic and it has to be elegant at the same time for the luxury market," said Solomon Song, Lincoln's design manager.

That luxury market is a very competitive one - especially in regard to Lincoln's long-time American nemesis - Cadillac. In recent years, Cadillac has gotten noticed and gained traction in both sales numbers and a perception of luxury that's youthful and interesting to look at.

Lincoln has some catching up to do with its cross-town rival, and they're pinning their immediate hopes on the MKZ, which will hit showrooms late this year.

Technology abounds in the MKZ including things like the stylized instrument cluster, lots of LED lighting and the availability from the get-go of a hybrid powertrain.

That's all well and good, but in first impressions with potential buyers, it's all about looks.

For any car brand, and particularly a luxury one, it needs to have an identifiable face, and that face is defined by the grill. The MKZ's grill is the new face of Lincoln.

The grill is key. Cadillac has a bold grill design, and you know right off the bat when you see it that it's a Cadillac. Lincoln's new grill is a tribute to its own past, but it's done in a contemporary way.

"It's the gesture. It's the heritage you want to follow, but you don't want it to be old and dated," Song said.

It also has to impress the right people.

"It's sort of incumbent on them to come up with something that really resonates, not just as a luxury car and something imposing when you see it in your rearview mirror, but something that says 'Lincoln,' and I think they've done it with this," said Robert Ross of Robb Report.

The newest Lincoln is off and running, and dealers are eager to get it into their showrooms. It has a new look, and now it just needs new customers - the right customers - to get it on its way to success.


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