But I think following the trend makes Lincoln and Cadillac look trashy and pathetic. When Lincoln and Cadillac really had prestige as luxury cars, they created the trend.
Quality is important, good service is important, luxury is important, and performance is important. Obviously Lincoln and Cadillac need to focus on all four, just like the German and Japanese luxury brands.
But I don't think Cadillac and Lincoln will ever again be the measuring stick by which other brands are measured if they're so clearly focused on measuring up to BMW and Mercedes! You can't set the trend when you're following it.
I agree about the names. The only "designation" names that make sense are BMW, and MB. They denote vehicle type and engine type in a sensible manner (C, E, S, 3, 5, 7).
I've taken a look at Lincoln's marketing and brand approach, and frankly, I don't think they're benchmarking any brand specifically.
This is not to say they're not targeting individual vehicles, in cases. The Lincoln MKZ is aimed at a grey area where the Lexus ES350 ends and Acura TL begins. It's luxurious and roomy, but not spongy soft like the Lexus. It's relatively buttoned down and doesn't embarrass itself as a road car (especially with AWD), but it's just not as razor sharp as the Acura TL.
The Lincoln MKZ doesn't pretend to target the 3 or 5 Series, or C or E Class.
The MKZ can carry four people very comfortably, the trunk is cavernous, it has nice optional equipment, it drives nicely, it's been reliable as clockwork, and its price is very reasonable. To many people, that's a sale, and has Lincoln on the radar of people looking for an entry-level luxury car.
Now, for the mid-cycle enhancement. The point of this MCE is fairly routine and simple.
The exterior style is being updated both to address the giant tail-light assembly, and to bring both front and rear end in line with it's new Lincoln stablemates. The MKT, MKS, and likely MKX will adopt the bow-wave Baleen Whale Mouth grill.
The interior is ALL-NEW. Although the current interior is award-winning, the giant blocky dash and high cowl annoyed many prospective customers, so it is getting an MKS-style revamp.
Driving dynamics should be upgraded as well. Expect an overall better driving car (ride and handling), with better NVH characteristics. I am expecting the new 3.7L V6 under the hood to replace the 3.5L, making it a modestly lustier drive.
One thing to keep in mind is that this may be the last Lincoln MKZ ever. Circa 2012-2013, the Ford Fusion and Ford Mondeo will become one vehicle, and it will spawn an upgraded sister car, with meaningful mechanical and visual differences. I expect this car to be the Mercury Milan.
The MKZ will be replaced by the Lincoln MKR, which for lack of a better explanation, is the Lincoln CTS. Dramatic style, RWD/AWD, V6 engines, and a reasonable price tag. Architecture will be shared with the next-generation Ford Falcon on GRWD, which is currently being hammered out at Ford product development. It's still awhile off, so in the meantime, this MKZ will be Lincoln's entry-level vehicle.