Lincoln has been hard at work in recent years whittling the age of its typical buyers. And the effort—comprising its rollout of sleeker, sportier crossovers like the MKC and MKX, an SNL-parodied ad campaign featuring a deep-breathing, deep-thinking Matthew McConaughey and its “Date Night” promotion—is seemingly paying off. In just seven years, the Lincoln buyer has dropped from a median age of 67 to a spritely 58. (Still a few clicks above the luxury-industry average of 54.)
And so it wasn’t altogether surprising that, for its hush-hush press preview of the new MKZ luxury midsize sedan in early November, the 98-year-old company chose a decidedly hip venue—a former bathhouse in New York’s East Village. Inside, after signing a couple non-disclosure agreements, members of the press were given a roundtable introduction to the vehicle, hidden under a white sheet in a corner of the airy space, from Lincoln executives.
Once unveiled, the car looked (at least to one non-trade journalist’s eyes) much like a Lincoln sedan, albeit with a newfangled one-piece Continental grille and redesigned adaptive LED headlamps. An available fully retractable panoramic glass roof was less obvious—purposefully so—but a definite plus. The essence of what the new MKZ embodies, we were assured, is “quiet luxury.” And every element of the model’s design, inside and out, was realized with those two words in mind.
Indeed, the all-wheel-drive automobile, with its 3.0-liter GTDI V6 engine, features a dizzying array of technologies that make the driving experience more of an afterthought: adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, an auto hold system, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, enhanced park assist, push-button gear shift and a new Revel audio system with self-adjusting noise-cancellation technology. Which is to say that the MKZ driving experience is supposed to feel more like a float through space in a somnolescent cocoon than a heart-racing, asphalt-gripping dash. For some, that’s exactly what a long commute in stop-and-go traffic demands, and also something not many competing luxury brands are touting at the moment—quiet luxury.
For their part, Chinese buyers are apparently hungry for what Lincoln’s been cooking. Since entering the market in November 2014, Lincoln has opened 22 Chinese dealerships and is on track to operate 25 total in the country by year-end.
Stateside MKZ buyers who yearn for an added level of refinement and exclusivity can pay a few thousand more for one of three “Black Label” themes: Chalet, Vineyard or Thoroughbred. “The Chalet comes with fiery Birchwood, Vineyard brings merlot ash swirl wood and Thoroughbred is characterized by Chilean maple.” All of the top-tier cars feature Alcantara material headliner and seat accents. But perhaps best of all for Black Label owners? Car washes are gratis.