Giving up on global success
“Reach Higher” is Lincoln’s advertising tagline, but “Reach Lower” might be more appropriate. Or so you might conclude after listening to Ford Motor Company Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Americas, Anne Stevens, tell it during the 2006 North American International Auto Show unveiling of the Lincoln MKS Concept. Pitching Lincoln as a reward for people with American values who’ve achieved the American dream but don’t want to display success in a pretentious fashion, Stevens claimed, “We have no aspirations for Lincoln to compete on the world stage.” Evidently, the view from Dearborn is that the battle for customers is in America, and that cars like the MKS Concept are what Americans want to buy. The Lincoln MKS Concept is one of two new models that Lincoln is planning to spin off the corporate platform that dates to the 1998 Volvo S80. This is the smaller, sportier car, intended to replace the Lincoln LS sometime in 2007. A larger model will supplant the Town Car for 2008 or 2009. Blandly handsome, the Lincoln MKS Concept breaks no new ground. In fact, from a distance it looks like a Buick Lucerne with a traditional Lincoln waterfall grille, Acura headlights, and the fender vents from a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am. Have a beer or two, and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the Lincoln MKS Concept and an Acura TL at the rear, right down to the trapezoidal exhaust outlets. Aside from unique “five/five” chromed and vapor-blasted 10-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels wearing 245/45 rubber, there is nothing original on the exterior of the MKS Concept, but there’s nothing offensive, either. Except those Burt ‘n Sally side vents. Inside, the Lincoln MKS Concept is trimmed in Silvered Birdseye maple wood and polished alloy metals, and the panoramic Vista Roof lets in lots of light. Heated and cooled 14-way power seats upholstered in Aniline leather, a passive entry system that automatically sets various controls to programmed personal preferences, a navigation system, Bluetooth wireless communication technology, and a 14-speaker DVD audio system with 500 watts of power are also included. Gauges are lit at light with Lincoln’s signature cool white illumination. Under the hood there’s a 315-horsepower, 4.4-liter V8 engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels. Other technologies packed into the Lincoln MKS Concept include adaptive LED lights that help to see around curves in the road, push-start ignition, and what might be a lesson to the Germans: Lincoln’s Mobile Media System (LMMS). With LMMS, the driver selects one of five main topics from a touch screen, and then uses a rotary knob on the dash to choose a function. The Lincoln MKS Concept also includes hard keys on the center console for main controls. Lincoln also installs a full complement of airbags and other safety technologies that help to keep occupants safe. Expect a new Lincoln MKS production model to arrive sometime in 2007 as a 2008 model. And when it shows in showrooms, don’t expect it to compete on the world stage. After all, according to Lincoln, the MKS is what Americans have been clamoring for, and you just never mind the fact that BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus have been mopping the floor with this once proud American luxury marque for years.
Photos by Ron Perry