Lincoln MKZ Concept live in Detroit

Lincoln isn't inspiring many purchase decisions these days, as the luxury make sits in dead last in sales. That could change with the introduction of a few key products, starting with the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

Ford marketing boss Jim Farley introduced the MKZ Concept at the Detroit Auto Show, and we very much like what we see. The concept, which should look a whole lot like the production model that goes on sale later this year, really pops on the elevated turn table. The rakish, full-length glass roof retracts so all four passengers can enjoy open air. We heard the word "bespoke" a few too many times during the presentation, but Lincoln promises a more individualized purchase and ownership experience.

Lead designer Max Wolff pored over the details of the luxurious interior, including unique stitching, individualized seating for four, push-button gear selector and a floating center stack that was inspired by modern suspension bridges. Wolff also pointed out that future Lincoln models will be designed at the automaker's new design studio in Dearborn, which employs 180 dedicated designers and engineers.

We don't have any information on powertrains, but we're expecting the production car to be released with all the info at the New York Auto Show. Hit the jump to read over the Lincoln press release, and feel free to peruse the high-resolution images from the Detroit Auto Show.
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Lincoln MKZ Concept: Future Vision Today

DETROIT, Jan. 10, 2012 – The new Lincoln MKZ Concept, revealed today at the North American International Auto Show, signals a significant step in Lincoln's reinvention, providing a clear vision of its next-generation vehicles.

"With the Lincoln MKZ Concept, we are not introducing a new car. We are essentially introducing a new brand," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford Motor Company group vice president for Global Product Development. "The MKZ Concept is the next step in the reinvention of Lincoln, something we've been quietly but aggressively pursuing."

Lincoln MKZ Concept: Exterior

The MKZ Concept strongly hints at the production model arriving in dealerships later this year, as well as Lincoln's design future.

"The MKZ Concept's shape is a vision of simplicity completed with just a few strokes," said Max Wolff, Lincoln design director. "Our movement as a brand is toward something we call elegant simplicity. It's something warmer and more restrained, which is moving away from complex designs and traditional luxury." (View a video highlighting the main design elements of the Lincoln MKZ Concept here.)

Warm hues are evident in every aspect of the new vehicle's Cognac-colored exterior. The deep finish is achieved with a rich base coat covered in multiple layers of tinted clear-coat finishes.

By retaining key, recognizable brand design elements, the MKZ Concept remains clearly identifiable as a Lincoln. One example is the more refined interpretation of the split-wing grille, introduced on the 1938 Lincoln-Zephyr. (Click here for image.)

The sedan's profile is dominated by a long, sleek and sweeping roofline that allows the design to break away from the traditional sedan three-box shape. The lengthening of the roofline enables a more flowing, elegant and more naturally aerodynamic appearance. (Access Lincoln MKZ Concept specifications here.)

A panoramic glass roof spans uninterrupted from the windshield to the top of the backlight. Integrated into the sedan's aluminum and boron steel superstructure, the fixed-glass expanse extends to the side roof rails of the cabin, creating an airy, open interior. (Click here for gallery.)

LED technology enabled an extremely thin and distinctive full-width taillamp graphic. Exhaust tips are cleanly integrated into the rear fascia.

Lincoln MKZ Concept: Interior

The Lincoln MKZ Concept's four-seat interior is open, warm and inviting. "The front graphic is repeated in the dramatic sweep of the instrument panel, helping tie the interior to the exterior. These flowing forms create a comfortable and functional interior that particularly appeals to the younger, more diverse customers we are targeting," said Wolff.

Innovative interior features include push-button transmission gear selection, an open, tiered center console and liquid crystal instrumentation. The reconfigurable 10.1-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD positioned ahead of the driver operates with the latest version of MyLincoln Touch™ as does the nearly flush-mounted center 8-inch LCD touch screen.

Responsibly harvested poplar wood, aluminum in bright and satin finishes as well as leather help create a sculptural, luxurious and comfortable interior space. Champagne-colored leather seats with dark taupe accents feature a champagne perforation pattern, so-called because the perforations on the seat backs conjure the image of champagne bubbles rising from the bottom of a glass.

Lincoln MKZ Concept: Engineering

The Lincoln MKZ Concept is a styling study that rides on an all-new midsize platform. The sedan is capable of utilizing multiple powertrain options in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.

Like the recently introduced MKS and MKT with EcoBoost™, the Lincoln MKZ Concept features Lincoln Drive Control and the sophisticated Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension. (Click here for information on these Lincoln technologies and here for background on the Lane Keeping System, another feature integrated into the MKZ Concept.)

The Business of Lincoln

"Lincoln is an important part of our company's success," said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president of The Americas. "The luxury piece of the industry is significant. In any given year in the U.S., the luxury segment is 11 to 13 percent of overall sales, and it is important for us to win customers in the luxury market with strong new vehicles. That is a key reason we have invested so heavily in Lincoln."

During the past 14 months, Lincoln has built a dedicated team – including designers, engineers, quality and manufacturing experts as well as marketing and sales leaders. The team includes people from luxury brands, some outside of automotive.

"This team wakes up every morning thinking about Lincoln – and only Lincoln," Fields said. "These are the people committed to delivering world-class vehicles with a customer experience to match."

Many of the new team members begin working this year in the all-new Lincoln Design Studio in Dearborn, Mich.
Under Wolff's direction, construction of the 40,000-square-foot studio began in early 2011 and ultimately will house more than 180 modelers, engineers, stylists and designers in a space that encourages creativity and collaboration.

"This is the first time Lincoln has had its own studio since the 1970s," said Wolff. "Having our own space is critical to the continued development of the brand. We are passionate about creating beautiful, even seductive, vehicles – and the MKZ Concept marks just the beginning."