Our Ã¢â‚¬Å“DrivenÃ¢â‚¬Â series highlights the several cars I was able to sample at IMPAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Spring Brake 2009 event. These short takes are summaries of my driving impressions of the cars on the roads surrounding Bear Mountain State Park in Rockland County, New York.Ã‚Â
The Lincoln MKS debuted last year, and was generally well-received, but for one exception-a lack of horsepower. The biggest story of 2010 for Ford Motor Company is the new 3.5L V-6 Ecoboost engine. Boasting 355hp mated to a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, the MKS is now a serious contender, and The Garage is among the very first to drive this car.
Personally, I think a Lincoln should always be black, so the MKS on hand was an instant pleaser. Settling into the plush, but not well-bolstered seat, I set out on the twisty roads surrounding Bear Mountain. Surprisingly, the MKS is a large car that “shrinks” around you. The size and heft of the car were not apparent in what were challenging roads. You won’t mistake the brakes, steering and handling of a 5-series BMW, but that isn’t the point. The power of the Ecoboost V-6 is smooth and strong, and befits the character of the car. There are paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but when I did use them, it seemed out of character for the Lincoln.
My only letdown was the interior. Sure, you knew you were in a luxury car, but there was no pop, or any one thing that impressed you. Some of the plastics on the console felt a little cheap, and the controls for the audio/climate control, and essentially everything else just felt average. In the cut-throat market the MKS competes in, the interior could be a deal breaker.
But the Lincoln does have a few major advantages over its competition, whom I consider the Infiniti M45, Lexus GS460 and Cadillac STS. All three of these cars have V-8 engines, but have less power than the V-6 MKS. And none of them are all-wheel drive like the MKS. You would consider the Caddy STS V-8 as the MKS’ closest competitor, but get this-The STS has 35 fewer hp and costs $9,000 more. That is something to think about.
Lincoln has the makings of a great car on its hands with the MKS Ecoboost. And yes, it has undercut the price of its competition by quite a margin, but you feel that once you step inside. For a base price of nearly $48,000 USD, performance alone will not sell the MKS, not in this class. Like a fine, tailored suit, the Lincoln buyer wants to stand apart, feel cosseted, and special. With the MKS Ecoboost, you have the machismo, the refined drivetrain, now let’s just tweak the interior and you have a winner.