DEARBORN, Mich. -- The speedy track at Dearborn Proving Ground, historic vehicle test facility for Ford Motor Company in Michigan, consists of a long straight strip once used as an airport runway and a banked loop around each end.
To run this course at speed without losing traction or control, a driver needs a vehicle which responds precisely to instantaneous commands from accelerator, brake and steering wheel, plus a suspension setup that checks overt body roll to keep all that mechanical mass balanced atop the four rubber footprints on pavement.
What one driver uses to power down the straight section and whip around each end's parabolic loop happens to be the flagship sedan in Lincoln's line which now incorporates a unique direct-injection and twin-turbocharged V6 engine plus tightly-tuned suspension and steering systems in the package of a mid-size model but the cabin of a big car with high-riding seats for five and a load of luxury gear.
And the new optional twin-turbo V6 -- promising the fuel economy of a V6 but pumping the power and torque of a big V8 -- is labeled the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6.
The twin-cam aluminum twin-turbo engine with direct-injection and VVT (variable valve timing) delivers 355 hp at 5500 rpm and torque of 350 lb-ft spread over a broad band from 1500 rpm to 5250 rpm.
The new engine ties to a six-speed electronic automatic SelectShift transaxle with steering-wheel paddle shifters and standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the EcoBoost V6 come in at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
And when you plant your foot hard on the go-pedal, this sleek machine races down that long Dearborn straight and seems like it's about to fly off the runway.
That's quite a kick for a plush luxury sedan stuffed with high-tech controls and fancy cabin appointments.
Lincoln's newest sedan looks elegant and classy in a bold design for the body which focuses on a double-wing grille that's a modern homage to the classic 1941 Continental.
The prow of MKS adds horizontal louvers in the fascia to underscore the grille with piercing optics of projector-type HID (high-intensity discharge) headlamps wrapping around front corners.
MKS's package shape features a windshield with steep rake and the rear window also with an aggressive slope plus side windows tipping inward to the roof.
Flanks show slight bulges for fenders around large wheels with a subtle character line etched into the leading edge of each front fender and drawn rearward in a gradual rise to the tail deck.
And a high beltline pitched parallel to the character line gains a trim strip of polished stainless steel which rings the cabin windows.
On the tail, there are large red LED (light-emitting diode) lamps streaked by vertical white light strips.
And protruding from the base of a thick rear fascia are chrome caps of dual exhaust pipes.
Standards on the 2010 Lincoln MKS with EcoBoost include 19-inch premium painted aluminum wheels capped by P255/45R19 V-rated all-season tires, the steering-wheel paddle shifters and AWD system, Lincoln's Intelligent Access with Push Button Start, adaptive HID headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and a rear-window power sunshade.
Lincoln also constructs the MKS '10 with a naturally-aspirated 3.7-liter aluminum V6 VVT engine rigged for standard front-wheel-drive (FWD) or optional AWD traction.
When using regular (87 octane) unleaded gasoline, the V6 produces 273 hp at 6250 rpm and the torque hits 270 lb-ft at 4250 rpm.
With premium (91 octane) fuel, the engine bumps up to 275 hp at 6250 rpm with torque to 276 lb-ft at 4250 rpm.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the V6 come in at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for MKS FWD and 16/23 mpg city/highway for MKS AWD.
The AWD device for MKS amounts to an electronically controlled system that's always engaged and automatically splits the engine's torque between front and rear wheels -- up to 100 percent in either direction -- to keep tires rolling on pavement.
The spec sheet for MKS '10 lists lots of active and passive safety equipment.
Passive devices include smart dual-stage frontal air bags for front riders, plus seat-mounted side air bags up front and curtain-style side air bags front and rear.
Active safety systems range from four-wheel disc brakes tied to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) plus a traction control system (TCS) and electronic stability control (ESC).
Suspension for MKS is completely independent. MacPherson struts up front have rear-facing L-shaped lower control arms and isolation via a sub-frame. A multi-link design in back has stamped steel lower control arms and cast upper control arms with vertically mounted shocks positioned at the outboard end of the suspension arms.
The EcoBoost edition scores larger stabilizer bars fore and aft to maintain a flatter pose when cornering.
MKS measures up for the mid-size class as a four-door sedan with a generous passenger compartment that's large enough to carry five adult riders in luxurious comfort.
The cabin layout pitches a pair of bucket seats up front divided by a multi-function console and followed by a rear bench for three with seatback split 60/40 in sections.
Twin front buckets with firm side bolsters adjust 12 ways via power controls and contain internal mechanisms for heating and cooling. Rear seats also get heat elements.
Hand-wrapped premium leather hides by Bridge of Weir in Scotland cover all seats in MKS and trimwork consists of rich hardwoods and polished metal.
* Adaptive Cruise Control -- a radar-based system capable of maintaining a precise distance between the MKS's front bumper and the back bumper of a vehicle ahead.
* Rearview Camera -- for keeping an eye on the vehicle's rearward path.
* Active Park -- the car can actually park itself.
* Lincoln Sync -- voice-activated control over in-car phones, media players and USB storage devices.
Price points for the 2010 MKS begin at $40,870.