We first saw spy photos of the Lincoln MKT concept only a week ago, and it's now here as a concept at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. Based on the fact that a development mule was spotted already, you can ignore Lincoln when it says the MKT is a potential new vehicle for the brand. It is a new vehicle for the brand. The new premium CUV is believed to be based on the platform of the Ford Flex and follows the Explorer America concept in being powered by one of Ford's new EcoBoost engines. Like its sedan sibling, the MKS, this one gets a turbocharged 3.5L V6 that allows you to choose between either E85 or premium grade petroleum-based gasoline. The premium requirement is the result of the engine being optimized for the higher octane ratings of the biofuel. The upside is that output jumps from 340 hp/340 lb-ft to 415hp and 400 lb-ft. All of that twisting force is transmitted through a six-speed automatic transmission and distributed to all four wheels for propulsion. The voluminous interior of the MKT has also been optimized for comfort and luxury with only four seats allocated for passengers. If a production version with a third-row bench arrives, this looks like the likely candidate to replace all those Town Cars in livery fleets. The body work incorporates more of the new Lincoln design cues that first turned up on last year's MKR concept but were too late for the MKS. That body work is formed from "upcycled" plastics produced by Sabic Innovative Plastics, the same people who produced the materials used on the Chevy Volt and Hyundai Qarmaq concepts.
Follow the jump for Lincoln's official press release with more details than we can muster at this late hour, and check back later today for live shots of the MKT from the floor of the Detroit Auto Show.
LINCOLN UNVEILS ULTIMATE TOURING VEHICLE CONCEPT;
PREMIUM UTILITY FEATURES ELEGANCE, SPACE, EFFIENCY
• Growth opportunity: The Lincoln MKT concept shows a new potential vehicle for Lincoln, demonstrating the brand's new design language works as well on a spacious luxury utility vehicle as it does luxury sedans like the new 2009 Lincoln MKS.
• EcoBoost power: Ford's global solution for improving fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for millions of customers – EcoBoost engine technology – powers Lincoln MKT.
• Responsible luxury: The Lincoln MKT concept reaches a new level of responsible luxury with the use of more environmentally friendly materials that offer a premium look and feel.
DETROIT, Jan. 14, 2008 – Lincoln today pulls the wraps off a new premium utility concept vehicle – unsurpassed in its balance of spaciousness, comfort and fuel efficiency – that shows customers a new way to tour in style.
The Lincoln MKT concept features a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine with turbocharging and direct injection that produces the power and torque of a V-8 engine with the fuel efficiency of a V-6. EcoBoost – combined with advanced transmissions, electric power steering, weight reductions and aerodynamic improvements – is a key part of Ford Motor Company's vehicle sustainability strategy.
The company is introducing EcoBoost engines that will deliver up to 20 percent better fuel economy on half a million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles annually in North America within the next five years. Ford will first introduce EcoBoost in the Lincoln MKS next year. The luxury sedan will feature a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, delivering an estimated 340-horsepower and more than 340 lb.-ft. of torque on regular gas.
"EcoBoost engines can deliver better fuel economy and performance on a full range of vehicles, from small cars to large trucks," said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. "The Lincoln MKT concept offers the comfort of a luxury sedan, the spaciousness and flexibility of a full-size utility and the performance of a sporty roadster – executed with new technologies and materials that make it as environmentally friendly as it is elegant.
"The Lincoln MKT concept is understated but powerful – inside, outside and under the hood."
The Lincoln MKT concept features an EcoBoost engine that's flex-fuel capable, providing the driver with the flexibility to switch back and forth between premium gasoline and E85 ethanol-gas blend. Burning these high-octane fuels, the MKT concept's V-6 engine delivers 415 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque – an impressive 118 horsepower per liter.
The concept's engine is mated to a six-speed transmission for greater fuel efficiency. Fuel efficiency also is helped by weight-saving, eco-friendly "upcycled" materials from SABIC Innovative Plastics.
Two upcycled plastic materials, Valox iQ and Xenoy iQ, were used in making the Lincoln MKT body panels, energy absorbers, wire bundles and glazing. The resins are made from discarded soft-drink bottles and other polyester waste, keeping them out of landfills, reducing energy consumption and shrinking the vehicle's overall carbon footprint.
Some applications of the resin help the vehicle resist heat and chemicals and also improve overall noise and vibration.
Drivers and passengers alike will appreciate the Lincoln MKT concept's spaciousness – right down to the seats that mirror those found in first-class aircraft cabins. Four executive-sized chairs offer comfort and unprecedented leg room. As an added pleasure, second-row heated and cooled thigh supports deploy from under the seats, while footrests deploy rearward from the front seats, allowing passengers to fully recline.
"We envisioned this concept as a modern grand tourer, really a Learjet of the road," said Peter Horbury, executive director of Design, The Americas. "With the Lincoln MKT concept, you find a premium utility that could as easily accommodate a businessperson slipping into the back seat on the way to his or her next meeting in the chaos of Manhattan as a family packed up for a weekend getaway to the coast."
The vehicle's symmetrical interior design divides the cabin thoughtfully, providing all four passengers equal access to the vehicle's appointments.
Through the use of soothing tone-on-colors, eco-friendly materials, ambient lighting and flexible storage, the MKT concept offers customers a unique combination of serenity and connectivity.
Environmentally friendly details include the plush, hand-knotted rug made from banana silk that covers the floor and complements the contrasting Creamy Pearl chromium-free leather seats.
Elsewhere in the interior, chrome accents – including a one-piece sculpted door handle featuring a baroque-influenced graphic – mirror the elegant lines on the concept's exterior.
For the center stack, designers invented and patented a solid-state lighting technology that allows them to project onto a contoured surface in 3-D. Until now, all projection was limited to flat surfaces with square or rectangular boundaries like a flat-screen television.
This new technology allowed designers to use non-traditional shapes and spaces for information displays as well as unique storage spaces in the center stack.
The expansive instrument panel and twin-level center console, finished in a reconstituted oak veneer, houses an assortment of technologies, including an instrument cluster inspired by Swarovski crystals. It uses Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) strategically positioned so light appears to emanate from the center of three circular dials and radiate to the outer edge of the dials.
The MKT concept's center console, which runs the entire length of the vehicle to create a feeling of continuity between the upper and lower portion of the cabin, contains individual air vents, audio and climate controls, and personal storage.
In addition, a flat screen deploys from a floating overhead console which also hides two small cameras, each aimed at one of rear seats to provide on-screen "conference calling."
In the rear cargo area, a smart space behind the second-row seats provides additional storage. Designers also included a power lift system that raises and lowers a series of rails behind the rear seats to allow flat-load or compartmentalized storage.
Lincoln's timeless design on a whole new package
The Lincoln MKT concept features Lincoln's signature double-wing chrome grille, encapsulating LED headlamps that wrap around into the sculptured hood, lending the luxury utility a powerful presence.
Its elegant body side chamfer runs along the shoulder, with dynamic haunches over the rear wheel arches. Inset into each front fender and traveling through the door panels are chrome Lincoln stars with spears that add visual length to the car. Meanwhile, winged, curb-clearing doors give the car a dramatic sense of direction, agility and forward movement.
A substantial C-pillar creates an aura of privacy for the rear occupants. Like limousines, the MKT cuts an interesting profile – long, low and comfortably wide. The signature roofline runs the entire length of the greenhouse and remains uninterrupted. The roof itself is glass, allowing in natural light.
As an unconventional surprise, designers incorporated a bustle-back design into the concept. The classic look provides massive storage capacity, crucial for any trip.
From the rear, the concept is instantly recognizable as a Lincoln, thanks to full-width LED taillamps stretching from side to side.
The exterior is bathed in a rich Liquid Bronze Metallic paint that compliments the chrome brightwork. The intricate 21-inch, 14-spoke interlocking chrome aluminum wheels have body color accents.
"The Lincoln MKT concept represents harmony in motion, balancing sculptured shapes and contours traditionally associated with beautiful cars on a crossover vehicle that offers the luxury of space and efficient, powerful performance," Horbury said.
Engine: 3.5L V6 EcoBoost
Horsepower: 415 HP @ 5750 RPM
Torque: 400 lb.ft. from 2000 to 5000 RPM
Transmission: 6-speed select-shift AWD
Length: 208.4 in
Wheelbase: 120.7 in
Width: 78.7 in
Height: 63.9 in
Front: 67.1 in
Rear: 67.0 in
Independent Rear Suspension
Front: 41.5 in
Second Row: 39.4 in
Front: 42.0 in
Second Row: 44.0 in