On a bright and clear day, this big luxury sedan bounces sunlight off so many shiny surfaces it’s a veritable rolling disco ball.
Outside solar rays ricochet off its chromed badge and grille slats and the brightwork that edges every orifice, the polished 20-inch alloy rims, the tinted glass and the gleaming and flawless paintwork. These are all positive reflections. This is a full-sized and full-bodied Lincoln luxury car after all and expected to make a clearly understood statement that, well, reflects its status.
It’s the reflections that flash around inside in dazzling and distracting profusion that are rather a nuisance. The aluminum alloy and chrome trim pieces – all nicely done and tastefully attractive – unfortunately replicate themselves on the windscreen and the side glass and confuse the pictures seen in the outside mirrors. Even the speedometer dial throws tiny internal reflections of its graphics. And all this, while its effects are heightened by high-noon sunshine, are also problematic on duller days.
Also, while we’re in bitching and moaning mode, what’s with the paddle shifters tucked in behind the steering wheel? Five minutes behind the wheel and you realize how redundant they are in this competent enough handling – and over some surfaces rather surprisingly hard riding – but luxury oriented cruiser.
Nobody who buys this car is going to be kidded into pretending it’s a sports sedan and drive around popping quick up- and downshifts with the paddles, and their lethargic response doesn’t encourage such nonsense anyway.
Which isn’t to say the version tested – the MKS AWD EcoBoost, base price $53,000, as tested $66,880 laden with options – is shy on power. EcoBoost was likely coined to make the optional 3.5-litre, twin-turbo, direct-injection V-6, which produces a take-me-seriously 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, sound more politically correct.
Although what’s particularly “eco” about it is unclear, other than like all modern motors it meets the latest emission standards, consumes less fuel than its power ratings might suggest and isn’t a V-8, which unless it’s a vegetable drink, is no longer considered entirely wholesome.
The MKS’s fuel economy ratings are an okay 12.5 litres/100 km city and 8.1 highway and after a tankful of highway cruising (consuming 9.0 litres/100 km) and semi-rural driving, it had averaged a not too bad 11.0 litres/100 km.
With the six-speed automatic transmission directing its always available and plentiful torque to all four wheels, this engine makes driving the MKS effortless in around-town traffic, summons up rapid acceleration for a quick secondary road pass and easily tours along a turnpike.
And if you wanted to do something as socially unacceptable as drag race the guy in the V-6 Mercedes E-Class next to you at the lights, with a 0-100 km/h time in the less-than-six-second range, you’d walk him in this hot-rod Lincoln.
Solid performance and decent handling are key elements of a modern luxury car, even a Lincoln, and the MKS obviously has both, but Lincoln buyers are undoubtedly more interested in its style, interior appointments and the latest technological gadgetry, than how it stops or goes around corners.
The MKS has exterior styling that lets it travel comfortably in company with its peer group, but doesn’t project a really distinctive Lincoln signature look, as Cadillac has – like it or not – managed to do, to set it apart.
A better job was done inside where just about everything’s covered in Scottish Bridge of Weir hide and trimmed in real metal (as the test car was) or recycled Ebony. Although it seems that old-fashioned notion that you shouldn’t wear black and brown together has been overruled by modern “taste” as that was the rather jarring combination in the test car.
The just-a-bit-short seats are heated and cooled, the climate control system is effective and the ultra-quiet cabin is filled with sound by the premium audio system. Rear-seat room is generous for two and the trunk holds 529 litres.
And the gadgets. Where do you want to start? With the Active Park Assist (auto-parking), or MyKey, that lets parents silly enough to lend their MKS to their kids stop them from playing the radio too loud (plus other things)? Maybe with the Lincoln Sync voice activation of communication and infotainment technology? Or the plethora of safety stuff, including Pull-Drift Compensation that keeps the car in line in side winds, Adaptive Cruise Control, head-up display Collision Warning, Safety Canopy, SOS Post crash Alert, blind spot mirrors and rear-view camera systems. Or my personal favourite, the cap-less fuel filler.
The test MKS also came with a $3,500 appearance package that included the metallic trim, Lincoln logo mats, leather-wrapped wheel and 20-inch alloy wheels, a $6,500 package that added many of the high-tech items just mentioned, plus a $2,200 sunroof.
According to U.S. consumer studies, people who buy an MKS like it a lot, and I can understand that, but my sense is it’s a car that, as is the Lincoln brand itself, still in search of a real identity.
2011 Lincoln MKS
Type: Luxury Sedan
Base Price: $53,000; as tested, $66,880
Engine: 3.5-litre, DOHC, V-6
Horsepower/torque: 355 hp/ 350 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.5 city/8.1 highway; regular gas
Alternatives: Acura RL, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac STS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo S80, Lexus GS