Luxury and beauty are not one and the same.
For example, the 2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD sedan is beautiful, elegant in its simplicity.
But it is not luxurious in the norm of embracing excess and inaccessibility. There is nothing excessive about it, little about it that plays to common notions of prestige.
That is not a bad thing.
The new MKZ, redesigned for 2013, offered with front-wheel drive as standard equipment but also available with all-wheel drive, as driven for this column, is a wonderfully uncluttered, deceptively beautiful automobile — a work of flowing lines inside and out.
It is “deceptive” only because it must be described in the popular context of “luxury,” particularly as it applies to automobiles. A case in point:
The MKZ AWD, priced at $51,205, arrived in my driveway simultaneously with the 2014 Audi A8 Quattro TDI L (the long-wheelbase “executive” car of the Audi lineup), priced at $99,445.
Empirical observation quickly determined which car was “luxury.” The A8 Quattro had the price, inaccessible for most of us. It had the goods — supple, rich leather; fine wood veneer; a clever but complicated onboard telecom and navigation system; a smooth, authoritative 3-liter six-cylinder diesel engine (240 horsepower, 406 pound-feet of torque).
The A8 Quattro was so stunning in presentation I figured it would overwhelm any thoughts I might have about the comparatively smaller and seemingly less well-endowed Lincoln MKZ AWD. So my first choice for a drive was the MKZ, equipped with Lincoln’s optional 3.7-liter gasoline-direct-injection V-6 engine (300 horsepower, 270 pound-feet of torque).
It was an addictive choice — so much so that I drove the MKZ every driving opportunity of every day until the people from Lincoln came and took the MKZ away — three days before the Audi folks snatched their A8 Quattro.
What happened? I was seduced by the wonderful lightness of being afforded by the flowing, beautifully uncluttered exterior-interior design of the MKZ. I felt as if I were a deep-water stingray easily plumbing the ocean’s depths and resurfacing to move through air with equal ease and efficiency.
Can stingrays fly? I don’t know. I’m a lumbering landlubber. But in the MKZ AWD I believed I could fly, felt as if I were flying although tethered to the road by optional 20-inch-diameter wheels shod with high-performance summer rubber.
Weight had something to do with it. The MKZ, like its Ford Fusion sibling, has a roomy, comfortable interior bracketed by a wide windshield and back window. There is a panoramic glass roof overhead in a tightly constructed, mostly aluminum body that weighs a tad more than 3,500 pounds.
Visually, the car appears to weigh considerably more. It is a deception enabled by technology — notably 12 sensors that continually monitor the MKZ AWD’s body movements over roads good and bad, blending nicely with the smoothness of one while mitigating the imperfections of the other.
There are those of us for whom driving is therapy. I am one of those, but only in an exceptionally comfortable, easy-to-drive automobile.
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD is such a car — blessed with an interior so simple, so spectacularly uncluttered and free of buttons and gimmicks that it borders on boring. But it’s not, not in the least. It is what happens when thought precedes form and function and when form and function trump prestige — ignition and push-button gears neatly, vertically arranged on the left side of a center-mounted control panel; most car functions and systems easily controlled and monitored via an eight-inch-diameter, dash-mounted screen; standard and optional safety systems that collectively make the MKZ, with its signature winged front fascia, one of the safest cars on the road.
I wouldn’t buy it for prestige. It offers little of that. I’d buy it for the simple joy of driving, of which it provides plenty.