There’s nothing traditional about the Lincoln MKZ: It’s fast, handsome, and as sharp as a razor at the corners. It’s everything you could want from a sedan and more, says Y’s Alvin Thomas
The Lincoln MKZ is many things: it’s a family sedan, a comfortable long-haul cruiser, a well-crafted luxury car and a striking car to look at. However, not in a million years did I think that I’d be saying this: the MKZ is a fast car. No, it’s a ridiculously fast car – and there’s not a bone in it that would give away its sporting pedigree… at least not at first glance.
To experience just how bonkers the car is you must drive it – and that I did this week. Not much has changed in the MKZ over its previous model year or for that matter, even from its 2017 variant.
But in addition to the features of old, you now get a newer SYNC3 infotainment system, and above all, a brand-spanking- new engine that makes a world of difference.
The fully-specced model we drove this week dons the same fascia from 2017 – you get the flagship Lincoln Continental-esque chunky yet chic headlamps and an elegantly-brushed aluminium-finish 3D grille.
However, gone is the beautiful landaulet-style panoramic sunroof, in place of which you now get a smaller regular sunroof. But all is not lost: the side profile is accentuated by two strong character lines that flow from the hood and towards the tail lamps of the car, and the 19-inch (48cm) multi-spoke brushed alloys.
Meanwhile, the tail lights are made with a large LED light strip that seems sourced from a spaceship. It’s incredibly stylish but tasteful. Rounding off the posterior of the sedan are the fake dual chrome-tipped exhausts.
Things remain intact inside as well. However, the greatest add-on must be the new leather-wrapped seats, higher-grade plastics on the dashboard, and the new 8-inch touchscreen.
The latter infotainment screen takes the cake, though. The SYNC3 interface is as smooth as butter, and the accompanying maps are easily some of the most refined ones I’ve tried out in a long time. It even shows 3D images of landmarks, which is a nice touch.
Everything inside is laid out like you’d expect from a Lincoln. There are buttons aplenty but they are all neatly labelled and are easily accessible even when driving. There is a myriad of soft-touch (mostly padded) surfaces inside; namely, the armrest on the centre console, the top portions of the dashboard and the inserts on the door.
The seats are cushy too, and the soft leather swaddles you unlike any other car I’ve tested at this price point. The side bolstering and the lumbar are great too although you can adjust the latter to suit your requirements if need be.
There’s abundant leg room in the rear but the sloping roofline can hinder head space in the rear for those taller than, say, 182cm. Despite that, there’s an indent on the headliner in the back that cuts away to make more room for tall passengers. Still, five passengers can ride around in absolute comfort in the MKZ without breaking sweat (or losing any dignity).
Boot space, as expected, is respectable. At 436 litres, the space also exceeds those of its many competitors from Germany, Japan and the US.
That said, not much else has changed inside the cabin. Where things really start to take shape is in the powertrain. The previous generation of the MKZ (which we tested sometime in 2016) came with a forgettable performance, owing to a fuel-thirsty and gargantuan V6 motor.
For the current model year, however, they’ve been a bit more conspicuous. So out goes the 3.7-litre dinosaur, and in comes the new and refined 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Don’t let the 500cc drop in the engine displacement fool you; it’s more powerful and torquey than the engine it replaces.
The results are frankly quite staggering!
It breathes out 365hp and 560Nms of torque; figures that can hold its competitors by the lapels. This, coupled with the six-speed automatic transmission makes way for some gut-wrenching acceleration at any given speed.
Pushing the pedal to the floor will allow you to hit the 100kph mark in just 5.8 seconds. The underlying thrust can even propel you far into the seat; it’s something we really haven’t experienced in a while from a sedan of this size.
Turbo lag is existent but only marginally – and the torque kicks in at about 2,500rpm, as is expected from Ecoboost engines.
Acceleration aside, the MKZ’s all-wheel drive system keeps the car in shape when it detects slip. This means, no power is lost due to wheel spin or unnecessary sideways action. Pushing the car into a corner hard will undoubtedly induce a hint of understeer before the traction control kicks in. At this point, the car will be brought back to its initial line.
The electric steering is intuitive at the best of times, and the ratios are quite sharp. We would’ve loved to have had a bit more feel from the rack, though. Nevertheless, the well-weighted steering wheel made for some interesting daredevil moments during my test drive.
Also building a sense of confidence in the driver are the brakes. They offer superior stopping power, and the force is distributed rather linearly – if with a bit more kick early on.
Where the Lincoln really shines is in providing the passengers with the right mix of speed and comfort. Cruising down the Sultan Qaboos highway at 130kph is no different from lurking around town at low speeds.
The 245/40 Hankook tyres and the suspension do a great job of soaking in road imperfections while still providing adequate grip on corners. We suspect comparable Mercedes-Benz and BMW variants to be on a par with the Lincoln in on-road comfort, and noise, vibrations, and harshness (NVH) levels too.
From a swanky comfort cruiser to an executive sedan with elegance and poise, the MKZ has certainly come a long way in a short period – and for that very reason, we admire it. In many ways, it even begs us to ask why we’d rather have the Germans when it comes to luxury cars.
The monopoly has been broken, and the boffins from Bavaria know that. After all these years, the Continental star (Lincoln’s logo) is shining bright – and we couldn’t have asked for anything better.
• Engine: 3.0-litre ‘twin-turbocharged’ Ecoboost V6
• Transmission: Six-speed automatic
• Power: 365hp
• Torque: 570Nms
• SYNC3 system w/ navigation
• Radar-guided cruise control
• 8-inch touchscreen
• 10.1-inch multi-information display screen
• 19-inch alloy wheels
• Leather upholstery
• Selectable drive modes
• Wide-angle radar sensors
• Lane departure warning
• Collision mitigation system
• Revel audio system