Ford takes pains to differentiate MKZ and Fusion under the hood
The new 2013 Lincoln MKZ will have two engine choices, including a hybrid.
With the same pains Ford took to make sure the Lincoln midsize sedan looks different from the new Ford Fusion midsize car, the automaker promises the cars will be different under the hood as well.
"The reinvention is under way," Jim Farley, global head of sales and marketing, said Tuesday at the global debut of a concept that similar to the model that will go on sale this fall.
The design of the production model was finished before the concept was ready, but it takes little imagination to envision the real-world version.
To be added: door handles, side mirrors and room for a fifth passenger -- the concept has only four seats.
Exact details of the engines will be revealed when the production model is shown this spring at the New York auto show.
The MKZ could share some four-cylinder EcoBoost engines with the Fusion, but they can be calibrated to change everything from noise control to suspension systems and electronic throttle control, said Scott Tobin, the car's vehicle line director.
The plan calls for optional engines with unique displacements.
While the Fusion will be sold with a choice of three gasoline engines, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid, the MKZ will only have gasoline and a single hybrid option.
But if there is demand for a Lincoln plug-in, Ford engineers can deliver it, Tobin said.
The MKZ is also expected to have an eight-speed automatic transmission, adjustable damping of the suspension and a host of other new technologies.
Farley would not say whether Ford will continue to offer a MKZ hybrid for the same price as the gasoline version, as was the case in the outgoing version, but he did say the current practice is successful.
"The MKZ is the flag-bearer from a volume and image standpoint," said Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive Consulting in Northville. Cadillac also started its current renaissance with the midsize CTS.
"You start at the core of the market and expand out," Robinet said.
Lincoln's resurgence starts with the high-volume MKZ and will end with the MKS full-size sedan, which just received a freshening.
Marketing leaders are planning a full promotional push for Lincoln to position the MKZ as its best-selling model going forward.
"It will pull everyone into the family," said Ford CEO Alan Mulally.
Ford has promised seven new or significantly updated vehicles for Lincoln by 2014.
After a series of bland designs for Lincoln, the new MKZ "is so striking it will cause people to aspire to own a Lincoln again," said Dave Sullivan, product analyst with AutoPacific in Ann Arbor.
"We spent time working on the vehicle to get it right," said C.J. O'Donnell, head of Lincoln marketing and the first member of the Lincoln team created in 2010. "The first steps for Lincoln have to be exactly right."
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