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Lincoln Motor Company - What does Lincoln need to succeed?




A couple of weeks ago, I made a post about a recent Motor Trend test of the Lincoln MKZ lineup. In that post, I suggested that the testing itself was hurting Lincoln's image. The vast majority of the review was about performance numbers and that doesn't seem to be what Lincoln is after so, naturally, Lincoln cars don't put down numbers you can brag about. They're simply adequate. That doesn't necessarily mean they are bad cars though. For example, if someone were to take a Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe and compare its performance to a new Corvette Stingray Z51, the Phantom would come up really short. In reality, the Phantom Coupe is very far from bad or even average. It's simply not a performance car. In fact, it's so far from a performance car and offers so much more luxury and brand prestige than a Corvette that they would never be cross shopped, but you get the point. If you use the Corvette yardstick, the Rolls Royce would come up short. The opposite is obviously true as well - if you use the Rolls Royce yardstick, the Corvette would come up short. This begs the question, though, what yardstick should you use for Lincoln?

In my opinion, this question is the core of Lincoln's problem. If you were to use any commonly used yardstick when reviewing other luxury cars, Lincoln cars would come up short. That's not because Lincolns aren't any good. It's because Lincolns do not excel at any one aspect. Going back to Rolls Royce, it offers levels of attention to detail and workmanship that are unmatched. It may not offer as many features as a Mercedes S-Class but it never claims to showcase the latest and greatest in car features. Stepping down from the ultra exclusive brands like Rolls Royce, I find that Mercedes seems to focus more on features and ride comfort. BMW, Audi and Cadillac (since the first generation Cadillac CTS) mix great handling with luxury but there are a few differences. Cadillac, for example focuses on style, sharp handling and excellent balance between ride and handling. Audi also focuses on styling but in a very conservative and constrained style and gives more weight to stability and safety through their Quattro AWD system.

This takes us back to Lincoln. What is Lincoln's focus? What is Lincoln's "specialty"? Lincoln doesn't come to mind when you're thinking of any specific luxury car feature or character. Whether you're thinking about power, handling, style, features, materials quality, or ride, none of these take you back to Lincoln. Lincolns are just average at all aspects. They may very well offer the best compromise for many buyers since there is no one single strong aspect but that doesn't do the brand image any good. That's what Lincoln needs to change.




I've heard over and over again from many people that Lincoln needs a RWD car and, while I would love a RWD car from Lincoln, I don't think it necessarily needs one. Audi has done quite well with building cars on a platform shared with VW and none of their cars are RWD or even based on a RWD chassis. It has done a great job differentiating itself from VW. What Lincoln desperately needs is a speciality - a focus. It needs an identity. Will the new Lincoln MKC show an identity? Only time will tell. The new MKZ was a step in the right direction but wasn't quite there. Here's hoping that the MKC will be.


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