Playing the name game
2007 Lincoln MKZAfter just one year on the market, Lincoln is once again mothballing its classic “Zephyr” nameplate and affixing the moniker “MKZ” to its newest entry-luxury sedan. And please, don’t call it the M-K-Z. It’s the Mark Z – Mark after the series of luxury coupes Lincoln produced between the late 1960s and late 1990s, and Z after the Zephyr. Besides, Zephyr probably reminded too many Gen-Xers of the ill-fated Mercury family sedan of the same name that was sold during the disco era, so good riddance.
A name change is not all that’s new for the 2007 Lincoln MKZ, shown for the first time at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show. The car’s formerly standard 3.0-liter V6 is ditched for a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 good for 250 horsepower, and an intelligent all-wheel-drive system that can split power not only from front to rear but also side to side is newly available. To help differentiate the upgraded Lincoln MKZ from the one-year-only Lincoln Zephyr, a redesigned grille, a refreshed front fascia, chrome trim on the mirror caps, and new 17-inch wheels with a machined finish mark the new car – no pun intended. Oh, and there’s an “MKZ” badge on the back.
Everything else about the 2007 Lincoln MKZ is carried over from the Zephyr, including its impressive 600-watt THX-II Certified audio system with 14 speakers. Also carrying over is the fact that the Lincoln MKZ doesn’t present itself as a wise value proposition compared to the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan upon which it is based. Sure, the MKZ gets a few unique features, but the important bits and pieces like the 3.5-liter V6 and intelligent all-wheel drive are also offered on the Ford and Merc. That’s what happens when an automaker plays the badge-engineering name game, but hey, it seems to work for Lexus, which bases its successful ES on the pedestrian Toyota Camry.
Photos by Ron Perry