With all apologies to the Cadillac ATS, GM’s lightweight BMW battler isn’t the only all-new premium sedan on its way to dealerships from an American automaker: The next-gen 2013 Lincoln MKZ will attempt to bring Ford’s lux division back to relevance in the short-term future, and it’s now available for ordering from local Lincoln dealerships. However, outside of their timing, the MKZ and ATS won’t have much in common: While the Cadillac is explicitly taking aim at the German competition with a performance-focused rear-wheel-drive entry geared toward exceptional driving dynamics, Lincoln is leveraging a more luxurious, technologically focused approach to go up against vehicles like the Lexus ES350.
Now, that’s not to say the compact ATS doesn’t offer some nice tech toys—including the Cadillac CUE system and Magnetic Ride Control—or that the larger, mid-size MKS will drive like a luxobarge of yore—since it won’t. But it does seem as if the two brands are relying on two distinctly different strategies for success, and that’s a good thing, since Lincoln really needs to build its own unique positioning if it’s going to attract the kind of new buyers it needs to survive.
The party line from Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president for Global Marketing, Sales and Service: “The new MKZ and MKZ Hybrid are proof of our commitment to reinvent the Lincoln brand for a new generation of Lincoln customers. There’s a large group of thoughtful individuals who take great pride in planning and following their own unique paths, and the MKZ is the first of a number of all-new vehicles designed with this same attitude to be a compelling choice for these independent-minded consumers.”