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Motoring: Air-conditioned seats make Lincoln Zephyr a cool ride

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | September 18th, 2006

This is the new Lincoln Zephyr, but not for long.

After just one-year of sales, Lincoln has decided to change the name of this model to MkZ (Pronounced: Mark Zee, perhaps to entice modern day Zorro's into buying one).

Why they have decided to change the name is beyond me, because to me, the Zephyr name holds much more credibility.

With the name change, a few technical details are changing too, but we won't worry about those today. The Lincoln Zephyr came as a big surprise because I just wasn't expecting this car to impress me like it did.

In the past, I have never enjoyed driving any of the Lincoln models. They have all been big, gas-guzzlers that drive like land yachts. I never found any of them particularly good looking either, but all has seemed to change now.

The Zephyr is a very elegant looking car, from every angle. The amount of looks and praise this car got in the week I had it, sure came as a surprise.

While under the skin, this car shares its structure with the Mazda6, although the Zephyr looks nothing like its corporate sibling.

It's the same story inside. The interior is uniquely Lincoln, which is great, because their interiors have always been good on luxury.

So the Zephyr has a well-built interior that not only looks good, but works quite well too. The seats as you'd expect are very comfortable, but they also have a feature that I have never seen on a car at this price. Yes, I am talking about air-conditioned seats, which is great for those hot summer days. During my week, temperatures sure were soaring, so I took full advantage of this feature.

Another feature I took advantage of was the navigation system. These days, many luxury cars come with optional navigation systems, but I can't remember any system being quite as good as the one in this Zephyr. What makes this navigation system better than the others is the size of the screen, the touch screen features, which are very easy to understand and use, and the clarity of the map. Many map screens are very hard to read and comprehend, not so with the Zephyrs nav, others should take note of this.

My only complaint about this interior is that the dashboard reflects horribly on the windscreen, which can be quite distracting. However, I sure can learn to live with this fault.

I can also live very comfortably with the fuel consumption. I know Lincoln's have never been known for good fuel economy, but this one is different. I averaged 11-liters/100km, which is phenomenal for a car with 221 hp. That power comes from a 3.0-liter, V6 engine, which has 24 valves and variable camshaft timing. Together with 205 lb/ft of torque, driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, which makes for a pretty quick car. Sure, you have to get on the accelerator with a bit more punch, but when you ask this car to perform, it goes surprisingly well. More surprisingly, it even sounds good. I surely didn't expect this car to have a tuneful exhaust note, but it does.

On top of it all, it even handles decently. Sure it isn't a sports car, so don't try to tackle corners like you're on a rally stage, but for normal use, the body control is tight and the steering feels good.

The only area I would like to see a dramatic improvement in is the brakes. They don't feel quite up to the job and require a lot more effort to stop the car than I expected.

Other than that, this car did rather well. I get to drive many different cars every year, and with most cars, I can pretty much know what to expect even before I even sit down in the drivers seat. This car surprised me and proved to be much, much better than I expected it to be.

If there is a hurdle this car needs to overcome, it is to prove that it is worth its money. At a base price of about $37,000 and an as tested price of $44,209, it is an expensive car, and at this price point it has some very tough competition.
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