The previous generation Lincoln MKZ was launched on a wing and a prayer… a redesigned split-wing grille and a prayer that it, along with the revised sheet metal, would revive the brand’s wilting fortunes. The wing didn’t work, even though it was touted as the bedrock of the American premium marque’s future design language, nor did the prayer. The model disappointed with a below-par interior and a ride quality that didn’t befit its premium positioning. So, Lincoln did the wise thing, hastily pulled that design language to pieces and redrew the future, first with the all-new Continental luxury saloon, and now, the refreshed 2017 MKZ.
So, viewed head-on, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ looks like a completely new car, although it’s still very much a Ford Fusion underneath. The redesigned front fascia now follows the new signature styling cues established by the current flagship, the Continental. Anchored by a new one-piece chrome grille that deftly incorporates the logo’s outline in the mesh design, and new adaptive LED headlamps, the redesign immediately elevates the mid-size saloon’s road presence.
The rest of the exterior is pretty much the same as before, with the rear retaining the Dodge Charger-esque LED light strip running across the width of the tailgate. However, the interior has not received any major updates.
It’s the same old layout with the quirky push button controls on the driver’s side of the dashboard for the transmission and the ‘floating’ centre console.
There’s enough space for oddments in the form of cup holders and door racks, and additionally the space left by the hollow in the centre console can hold a small bag, leaving more leg room in the footwell for the front passenger. The overall quality of plastics and other materials used in the cabin is still not up to the high standards set by German and Japanese competitors or even those of the current crop of Cadillacs. The driver’s seat is generally comfortable, but being above average in size, I found the seat back to be a bit too narrow to provide sufficient lumbar support.
Anchored by a new one-piece chrome grille that deftly incorporates the logo’s outline in the mesh design, and new adaptive LED headlamps, the redesign immediately elevates the mid-size saloon’s road presence.
There’s one big change, however, which is sure to add to the 2017 MKZ’s appeal. It’s the new 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. This is not a powerplant shared with the Ford Fusion, which still uses the 2.7-litre Eco Boost V6 as its top engine. In addition to this air of exclusivity, the six-pot is actually a major improvement over the relatively dull 300bhp 3.7-litre V6 the older model had. Mated to an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, the twin-turbocharged unit produces 370 horsepower and 570Nm of torque. This engine is so good that once you pin the accelerator pedal to the firewall, you forget whatever other shortcomings the MKZ might have. With a torque delivery that’s seamless, and surge in power that appears to be endless, this engine is almost as good as the one in the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. The six-speed automatic gearbox also does a good job handling all this power and torque. Opting for the Driver’s Package gets you Dynamic Torque Vectoring, which adds to the car’s already agile dynamics.
It’s also not lacking in comfort, convenience and safety features, which are of high priority to customers in this segment. The output from the premium Revel audio system is flawless, with the machined metal speakers adding to the cabin’s aesthetics. The fully retractable panoramic glass roof is said to be the largest such in saloons, but the flip side is that the roof slides back over the rear windscreen blocking almost half of the top section. Then there’s the adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, park assist, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, a lane-keeping system that uses a forward-facing camera to detect lane markings and a Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert. And since mid-size saloons are mostly bought as family cars, it’s heartening to know that the 2017 Lincoln MKZ has also earned the highest safety award issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Even though this is not a generational update, the changes to the MKZ are significant enough to warrant a more serious consideration from potential customers. While the 3.0-litre turbo mill is the star here, those looking for a good-looking American saloon with just enough power for everyday driving and decent fuel economy can take a look at the other engine option, which is the 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder that’s good for 253 horsepower and 389Nm
of torque. Prices start at Dh160,000.