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23 February 2024

The car that can drive you crazy

By Ryan Harrison




The Lincoln MKZ sits non-threateningly right in the middle of the entry-level luxury car category. The American thoroughbred gives you all a car of its calibre should: a high degree of comfort, smooth handling and bundles of power. But it doesn’t threaten its often more expensive peers of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The main reason is it has this uncanny knack of giving you an incentive to like it and then giving you an equal reason not to. You are caught between loving it one minute and the next it is tapping you on the shoulder to remind you about something that could drive you crazy. Maybe I should be more specific.

Let’s start with power and acceleration. This 2008 model has plenty to offer, with its 263bhp 3.5-litre V6 engine. Off-the-mark speed is strong and at 120kph a gentle toe tap on the throttle gives you a reassuring bite – which is perfect for those out-of-town weekend trips when the roads are clear enough to really put this car through its paces.

In higher speeds it holds its shape very well without a hint of a shake and you feel confident overtaking in this six-speed automatic that has ample road grip.

But the negatives that accompany this are unavoidable. As you put your foot to the floor when traffic lights turn green you are serenaded with an orchestra of screaming revs that try hard to drown out the powerful sound system. Accelerating involves more hoarse power than horse power, which is a noticeable difference from the gentle hum that resonates from the engine at normal cruising speeds.

Reaching 0-100kph in 6.7 seconds can also mean a little loss of control, making it difficult to see how it can feel so smooth once you reach the speed limit. The power is definitely there but this mid-size sedan makes you work hard to control it in the early stages of acceleration. And it is during these periods that you are penalised more than other cars in its class on fuel consumption – the American gas-guzzler could count the petrol station forecourt as its second home.

When you decide to decelerate from 100-0kph the brakes are a little too soft for my liking. With the daily grind of traffic jams and intense breaking with no prior warning, it is vital that your brakes are responsive, but in the lower speeds you find yourself having to stamp so heavily on it you feel like your foot is about to go through the floor to achieve adequate pull-up.

Parking the hefty MKZ on your driveway, however, is made easier thanks to the electronic beeper that guides you safely when reversing, but that tap on the shoulder will be back to remind you of the nasty blind spot and awkwardly large turning circle. Car parks – especially ones with snug spaces – are therefore a bit of an adventure with challenges lurking around every corner.

The feel of luxury inside is undeniable, with seats ergonomically engineered to suit every need and simple pleasures such as cup holders perfectly placed. For those with lower back problems, a touch of a button can inflate the lower half of the seat to gently offer more support. Passengers in the back also have plenty of leg room and you won’t have to compromise on luggage when you go away thanks to the cavernous boot.

Unfortunately, the equal and opposite force for the interior is the niggling presence of faux walnut and seemingly pleather coating all around and a lack of imagination on the dashboard. The stereo buttons are also a bit on the clunky side and the design around the speedometer and fuel gauge does not inspire.

The one thing screaming out at you when driving alone with the radio off is the silence that the MKZ brings. When cruising around the UAE, the only thing that punctures this quiet is incessant honking.
Therefore, overall the car passes as much as it fails the region’s
gruelling driving test. Its fierce acceleration gives you an edge when overtaking and when you glimpse a piece of straight open road the higher gears can provide a little extra kick. It has solid, responsive handling and the reverse beeper, which will be the only noise you’ll hear on the inside of the car, helps you negotiate awkward parking spaces.

For nervous overtakers across the nation – of which I don’t think there are many – the MKZ’s blind spot will give you some food for thought. The same goes for nervous parkers. Keep both hands on the wheel when you want to arrive at 100kph in a hurry and be aware that making it back to zero can provide your right foot with a workout.