The 2006 Lincoln Zephyr teaser unveiled at the 2004 New York International Auto Show illustrates how Lincoln can bring its hallmarks of elegant design and comfort to a new generation of customers. The midsize, five-passenger Lincoln Zephyr is a premium sedan with features that assure comfort and refinement worthy of a Lincoln. Just as significantly, it also introduces the design elegance and refinement that have made Lincoln Navigator and Aviator such desirable nameplates.
This teaser vehicle unveiled in New York sets the stage - and sends a strong signal - for the production version of Lincoln's next sedan. The concept builds on themes explored in the Lincoln Mark LT and Lincoln Aviator concepts that were unveiled at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Production Version is on the Way
The Lincoln Zephyr fits perfectly with the brand's strategy of providing additional entry points to draw new customers into the Lincoln showroom.
"The Lincoln Zephyr is a clear example of how we are able to bring exciting new products to the Lincoln stable by leveraging efficiencies throughout the Ford Motor Company organization. These great new products and the new customers they will attract are at the core of the Lincoln renaissance." said Darryl Hazel, Lincoln Mercury president.
Production of the Lincoln Zephyr will begin in 2005 and will go on sale later that year as a 2006 model. It will complement the existing Lincoln lineup and provide a new entry in one of the "sweet spots" of the luxury market - the growing midsize premium segment.
"The Lincoln Zephyr has all the design and comfort leadership that consumers expect from a Lincoln, but in a new segment that is more accessible to young professionals. This is definitely the most youthful of all Lincolns. It's all about great, elegant design, exceptional comfort and a youthful attitude," said Mark Birnhart, product marketing manager.
Shape of Things to Come
The Lincoln Zephyr's confident stance is wide and planted, suggesting a bold and aggressive attitude. It is instantly recognizable as a member of the Lincoln family - note the distinctive chrome waterfall grille and marquee placement of the Lincoln star emblems front and rear.
Design statements such as the bold horizontal lines of the taillamps and grille reinforce its athleticism. Instead, the Lincoln Zephyr establishes its sport sedan persona with geometric elements such as a steeply raked windshield, strong horizontal themes and wide, large-diameter, spoked alloy wheels.
"Wheels play an important role in generating a positive first impression, and these wheels reinforce the Lincoln Zephyr's confident personality," said design chief David Woodhouse, who led the teaser concept design under Executive Director Henrik Fisker at Lincoln's California Design Center. "The Lincoln Zephyr sits low, with a strong, wide stance. Everything emphasizes the purposeful, confident character of this vehicle."
The wheels are 19 inches in diameter and feature a symmetrical 12-spoke layout that complements the Lincoln star located on the flush center caps. The spoke pattern puts the Lincoln logo in the "crosshairs," like a telescopic sight, drawing the eye toward the wheel center.
The car's color - a warm golden silver called Cashmere - was chosen to work in harmony with the dramatic cabin design.
Luminous and Luxurious
"It's a very light and bright combination," Woodhouse said. "Everything from the body color to the interior is very light. This gives it a luminous, luxurious feeling, which accentuates the real wood, genuine leather and metallic accents."
The side profile is complemented by chrome trim at the belt line, door handles and mirror caps, and the soft glow of satin aluminum wheels. The light body color also provides a strong contrast to the bold, dark window graphics.
The rear window sweeps well up into the roof, but due to its steep angle, appears wide and low from the rear, reinforcing the strong horizontal lines of the taillamps, which extend well into the trunk lid.
The rear bumper surface is nearly flush, contributing to the clean, uncluttered lines. Completing the effect is a lower tray framed by a thin line of bright metal trim milled from solid aluminum. Twin chrome tailpipes set wide apart extend through the lower fascia.
The horizontal theme continues at the front of the car, where a classic Lincoln grille, executed in chrome, is flanked by wide, jeweled headlamps with projector-style barrels whose lower edges dip down into the horizontal turn signals. Side markers are integrated into the headlamp barrels as well, for a tailored appearance.
The front bumper fascia is likewise nearly flush, surmounting a lower fascia that repeats the rear theme with a wide, horizontal air intake and wide-set, twin round running lamps with chrome trim rings.
Lavish Interior Design and Package
"There's a strong European influence in the design theme, but we didn't lose the essential North American qualities," said Phil Simmons, chief designer. "You see that in the way it carries itself - there's a uniquely North American confidence, a certain swagger, almost."
Design themes explored in a series of recent Lincoln concepts come into sharp focus in the interior of the new Lincoln Zephyr. Expect to see most of these elements again when the production car is unveiled.
"Lincoln is renowned for being a design leader, and nowhere is this more apparent than in our interiors," said Marek Reichman, director, Interior Design Strategy. "The design philosophies explored in our concept vehicles, as well as many of the materials such as real wood, are already making their way into Lincoln production vehicles, such as the Navigator and Aviator. With the new Lincoln Zephyr, they will find their fullest expression in an automobile."
The key interior features of the Lincoln Zephyr are a commanding driving environment and the sophisticated interplay between surface textures, such as satin aluminum, chrome, leather and wood.
The center console flows upward into a symmetrical, full-width instrument panel. The center stack features a prominent information center that serves as the controller for the exclusive THX™-certified ultra premium audio system as well as a navigational screen. All buttons and knobs are chromed, as are the one-touch louvered air vents, interior door handles and the control stalks on either side of the steering wheel.
One show-stopping feature that was seen on the Lincoln Mark LT - a corrugated aluminum waterfall that flows downward into the center stack from the top of the instrument panel - is personalized to the Lincoln Zephyr with wider, more tactile raised surfaces.
"It's a bit like a roll-top desk brought to the 21st century," Woodhouse said. "Metal ribbing gives the center stack a lot of surface interest and lends a feeling of strength and confidence."
In keeping with the light exterior colors, the Lincoln Zephyr interior features light surfaces including sophisticated Harewood, an exotic wood installed with its fine grain pattern running horizontally. Wood is used symmetrically with a wide horizontal band on each side of the instrument panel, as well as facing the center console. Wood frames the chrome center of the substantial shift knob and is used in the hand grip area between the spokes of the steering wheel.
The gauges were inspired by stylish wristwatches, with rounded rectangular housings, light faces and chrome hubs and pointers. The tachometer is given equal prominence with the speedometer in the symmetric array. The effect is enhanced by white LED lighting at night.
The steering wheel is distinctively Lincoln, with four parallel horizontal spokes. Redundant audio controls and speed controls reside in satin metal inserts that serve as the inner face of the spokes. The steering wheel is trimmed in leather, with a prominent Lincoln star at its center.
The seats are faced in new, softer premium leather, with shapes inspired by the classic Eames lounge chairs. "There's a clean, tailored theme to the seats," Woodhouse said.
The two-tone theme, with seats that are lighter in color than the center console and other panels, reinforces the organic symmetry of the design. Yet the overall impression is one of light and airy elegance and refinement.
The rear-seat passengers are just as cosseted as those up front - a testament to the efficient packaging in this midsize Lincoln.
The rear seat features a generous fold-down arm rest with contrasting surfaces. As in the front, door panels use accents of satin aluminum, as well as technical metallic speaker cover fabric.
The Lincoln Zephyr is designed to provide confident and effortless driving enjoyment. It builds on Ford Motor Company's CD3 midsize-architecture, customized for Lincoln ride comfort and driving dynamics.
The Lincoln Zephyr features a specially tuned and more powerful version of the Duratec 30 3.0-liter V-6 engine with intake variable cam timing (VCT), mated to a premium six-speed front-wheel-drive transmission and, following the launch, available all-wheel drive.
The new six-speed transmission amplifies engine torque to provide better acceleration than comparable vehicles with four- or five-speed transmissions. Electronic throttle control and the electronically controlled transmission calibration assure smooth and seamless shifts, for quiet performance worthy of the Lincoln brand.
This is the first new front-wheel-drive Lincoln since the Continental, which featured front drive from 1988-2002, and is the lightest Lincoln - a key enabler in creating a responsive driving experience. The twin exhausts behind the single central muffler help to reduce back pressure, for added performance.
The Lincoln Zephyr team was able to develop, tune and refine a complete vehicle package in about 30 months - a very short time for a new vehicle program, made possible by the ability to tap into assets throughout the Ford Motor Company. Much of the initial work, including analysis of potential interior noise sources, benefited from the use of sophisticated computer-aided-engineering tools.
Dampers, spring rates and bushings in the fully independent suspension have been specially selected and tuned for Lincoln driving characteristics, with an emphasis on comfort without sacrificing nimble response. The power steering system also has been uniquely tuned to complement the suspension and tires, which have unique internal construction for comfort and quiet performance. The large, four-wheel disc brakes provide confident stopping performance.
For occupant safety, the Lincoln Zephyr features a robust steel "safety cage" construction, with engineered crush zones to absorb impact energy. Ford Motor Company's industry-leading Personal Safety System provides a combination of active and passive safety features, such as front and side air bags, side air curtains, occupant classification sensing, three-point safety belts with front-seat pretensioners and retractors, tire pressure sensing, anti-lock braking and traction control.
A production version of the Lincoln Zephyr will be offered for sale in the United States, Canada, Mexico and other markets in late 2005 as a 2006 model. Pricing and final specifications will be announced closer to launch.
Lincoln Zephyr Name Recalls Era of Elegance
The original 1936 Lincoln Zephyr was based on an innovative concept by Dutch-born designer John Tjaarda of the Briggs Body Corp. He drew inspiration from the aerodynamic "streamliner" trains that were catching the nation's imagination - including the record-setting diesel-powered Burlington Zephyr that helped to end the age of steam.
Lincoln Zephyrs also were noted for spirited performance - with an impressive (for the time) 110 horsepower from their flathead V-12 engines. This combination of elegance and attitude made the 1942 Lincoln Zephyr convertible a perfect prop - along with a succession of martini glasses - for the famed "Thin Man" movie series, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as debonair crime fighters Nick and Nora Charles.
Despite its elegant appearance, the new Lincoln Zephyr was by far the least costly Lincoln of the time, benefiting from mass-production efficiencies.
Delivering on the Promise
Lincoln Mercury's revitalization is built on strong products - 11 new vehicles including five new Lincolns in six new segments within the next four years. The Lincoln Zephyr follows the Aviator and Mark LT as the third new Lincoln introduced so far in 2004.
The new Lincoln Zephyr expands the brand into the fast-growing premium-midsize market, where Lincoln expects to find a new generation of customers.
"This will be the first taste of luxury for many buyers and their first exposure to the Lincoln brand," said Product Marketing Manager Mark Birnhart.
"We see tremendous potential for Lincoln in new categories, including the medium premium segment, where we will be competing with the Lexus ES330, Acura TL, Infiniti G35 and Cadillac CTS. Consumers are telling us that they want new choices, and we're responding in a highly targeted way," he added.
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