Detroit 2012: Lincoln MKZ Concept Begins Brand's "Reinvention"

This elegant luxury car on display at Lincoln’s Detroit auto show stand looks little like the current squared-off MKZ midsize sedan -- but this show car is indeed the concept version of the next MKZ. Despite the “concept” designation, Lincoln says this car “provides a strong hint” at the production version of the next-generation MKZ.

"This is the next step in our reinvention," said Ford marketing vice president Jim Farley. "For Lincoln to succeed with today's luxury clients, we need to reinvent every part of the ownership experience."

Farley explained that the Lincoln brand will relaunch itself by offering a more personalized customer experience at dealerships, along with a new ad campaign designed to make the cars feel "more bespoke." He says the brand's ideal customers wear custom-tailored outfits, stay at boutique hotels, shop at local farmers' markets, and never eat at chain restaurants. The goal is for Lincoln to chase down the nearly 800,000 annual sales cornered by foreign luxury brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Lexus.

"We have started on a journey to a more personal, more compelling future for Lincoln," said Farley.

Some of the car’s styling recalls the updates applied to the 2013 Lincoln MKS and MKT at the Los Angeles auto show, like the new split-wing front grille. The overall design, though, is that of a four-door coupe akin to the Audi A7; the MKZ now has a gently sloping backlight and panoramic glass roof. LED headlights, chrome 20-inch wheels, and LED taillights that span the rear of the car complete the concept car’s upscale appearance.

The interior is likewise a paradigm shift, both in appearance and quality, from the current MKZ sedan. Wood, aluminum, and new champagne-colored leather adorns the cabin; there are only four seating positions, as the center console extends through the length of the car. Instead of a physical shifter, the driver operates the transmission by way of five buttons on the left-hand side of the center stack.

Lincoln says the MKZ concept could use any number of engines or transmissions, and that the platform could accommodate front- or all-wheel-drive configurations. Like the 2013 MKS, it will feature Lincoln’s new Continuously Controlled Damping adaptive suspension, as well as tech goodies like a Lane Keeping System.

Will the production version of the next Lincoln MKZ look like this concept? "This is what the future of Lincoln looks like," says brand designer Max Wolff. We'd say that's a tacit confirmation that the next-generation MKZ will hew closely to this glitzy show car.

For more on the Lincoln MKZ concept, check out our First Look here. For more on the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our Detroit Show homepage.

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