The North American International Auto Show in Detroit takes place in Ford’s backyard. The show’s Cobo Hall digs are a quick 15-minute drive from the automaker’s Dearborn world headquarters. That’s also about the same distance to Ford’s sparkling new gift to its Lincoln nameplate – a 40,000-square-foot studio that’s home to more than 180 modelers, engineers, stylists and designers in a space that encourages creativity and collaboration.
It seems appropriate, then, that the big news coming from Lincoln is their new MKZ Concept unveiled at the show. The company hopes the MKZ represents the first step in the brand’s reinvention. According to Ford and Lincoln executives, that reinvention also includes a hybrid version of the MKZ Concept as well as seven new or significantly updated vehicles by 2014.
According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, the car will launch initially with just EcoBoost gasoline engines, but “there will be a hybrid in the family,” said Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth. However, execs would not confirm that Ford will continue the practice of offering a Lincoln hybrid for the same price as the gasoline version, but said that current practice is proving very successful.
The new-look MKZ is a striking departure from the less-than-inspiring previous version, which was basically a tarted-up Ford Fusion. The new MKZ design is dominated by swooping lines, a much cleaner look and the now ubiquitous LED running lights. The most striking feature on the car’s exterior is the unique split-wing front grill design that the company hopes will become the brand’s trademark.