2013 Lincoln MKZ

"I pulled into a Tim Horton’s parking lot and saw the “cool” kids with their souped-up cars parked diagonally. From the moment I pulled in, every one of them was gawking at the MKZ."

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No longer your grandfather’s car

The 2013 Lincoln MKZ is a brilliant example of innovation and redesign. I had an opportunity to test a loaded 3.7 MKZ over a weekend in early April. I took advantage of every minute and had a ball—and didn’t even use up a tank of fuel!

What really stuck out for me was when I pulled into a Tim Horton’s parking lot and saw the “cool” kids with their souped-up cars parked diagonally. From the moment I pulled in, every one of them was gawking at the MKZ as I intentionally sought the furthest parking spot.

Prior to getting into the MKZ, I had a chat with Jamie Rae, Product Marketing Manager at Lincoln Canada. He explained that Lincoln is focusing on crafting a unique driving and customer experience. With the Information Age redefining dealership performance, the Lincoln folks are going above and beyond to attract and retain customers, from first contact to keeping in touch after the purchase.

Rae indicates that the MKZ has been completely reinvented from the ground up. There’s a breath of vitality in this vehicle. It has excellent driving dynamics and top-of-the-line technology, including adaptive cruise control, adaptive LED headlamps, blind spot sensors, lane-keeping alerts and active park assist (which left both me and my audience duly impressed after trying it out).

Jamie pointed out the fluid design of the entire vehicle: an open centre console (which seems to be inspired by a suspension bridge), smooth, flowing lines throughout and an eye-popping retractable roof.

The traditional lever gear shift has been replaced with a push-button system mounted just to the right of the dashboard, giving a huge open feel to the cabin. The large eight-inch touchscreen is easy to navigate and hosts numerous options, including ambient light colors, audio choices, available navigation and a rear back-up camera.

When we discussed what to expect once the car was in motion, Rae outlined the refined, adaptable and engaging feel the MKZ offers. The top-end preferred model comes with a 3.7 V6 motor with all-wheel drive, and produces 300 horsepower. To keep things quiet and serene in the cabin, active noise control measures have been implemented.

At the Lincoln Design Studio in Dearborn, Michigan, the MKZ is chief designer Max Wolff’s first Lincoln. Using his international experience in Australia and Asia, Wolff infused the MKZ with elegance, grace, technology and a modern voice. The step away from tradition and complexity has been replaced with something inviting, approachable and fun to drive.

In addition to the 3.7-litre V6 engine, the MKZ also offers a 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine at 240 h.p. and a 2.0- litre four-cylinder Hybrid at 180 h.p. In yet another example of bending conventional industry wisdom, Lincoln has priced their MKZ Hybrid model identically with their 2.0 EcoBoost model—both start at just over $38,000 MSRP. This customer- based move illustrates that they’re clearly willing to appeal to a wide array of people. In this import-dominated mid-size luxury market, Lincoln is taking aggressive steps and offering something innovative and attractive.

On a Thursday evening, I went from midtown Mississauga to the Leafs game and drove the MKZ Hybrid. In rush-hour traffic, the cars close to me were giving my ride the once-over, and I did notice a few who gave it a twice- if not thrice-over—and rightfully so!

For the hour and a half it took to get there (which for once, I didn’t mind at all), I was able to thoroughly test out the heated and cooled seats, various My Lincoln Touch controls, and dashboard options on the 10.1-inch LCD cluster. On the way home in much lighter traffic, enveloped by my choice of interior lighting, the MKZ was very responsive.

During my weekend with the 3.7, I drove out to Belfountain and really got an understanding of how smooth and powerful the MKZ is. Switching into Sport mode, I took full advantage of the paddle shifters, which made for a dynamic, sporty and exhilarating drive. When engaged, the Sport mode modifies the whole feel of the MKZ. In an instant, the handling went from freeway mellow to back road agile.

So while this can be a luxurious daily driver, it also has a strong performance output for those who take long drives with changing terrain; if you’ve ever been through Belfountain, you know there’s hills and turns aplenty! There’s ample power going up both shallow and steep altitudes. I opened up the panoramic sunroof and while it’s not a true convertible, it’s the next best thing. Even with only the sun shade open, a tremendous amount of natural light fills the cabin.

With the MKZ, Lincoln has illustrated their dedication to offering a luxury vehicle that complements brains with beauty. Gone are the days of being pigeonholed as “grandfather’s car.” Today’s Lincoln exemplifies a transition towards leading the luxury car segment through reinvention, with an intelligent amount of options, attractive styling, a luxurious interior and exterior, smart technology, a revamped customer experience model and a vehicle that should have a wide customer appeal across the spectrum.

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