Future CC Outtake: 2017-19 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T FWD – The Crazy Car Nobody Is Talking About

When I first heard the Lincoln MKZ was getting a twin-turbocharged 3.0 V6 for its mid-cycle refresh in 2017, I was intrigued. Naturally, I assumed it would be offered exclusively with all-wheel-drive but, as I read on through the press material, I was gobsmacked to find it was also being offered with front-wheel-drive. Sure, Lincoln detuned the 3.0 by 50 horses. Nevertheless, can we talk about how batshit insane it is that there’s a front-wheel-drive, mid-size sedan with 350 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque?

I’d like to see some discussion about it. There’s certainly been no reviews of this bizarre powertrain combination. Every few months, I scour the internet trying to find a professional or a detailed consumer review on the FWD 3.0T to satiate my rampant curiosity. And yet, I’ve found nothing that will tell me just how wild the torque steer must surely be.

The closest thing I could find was a review of another overpowered Lincoln: the front-wheel-drive version of the mechanically related MKX 2.7 twin-turbo. Car & Driver had this to say:

At anything beyond half throttle, the MKX just can’t get a grip. The comfort-oriented suspension allows serious rear-axle squat under acceleration, pitching the nose up and unloading the front wheels, resulting in fruitless wheelspin. If there are pavement irregularities or a whiff of steering input when the power comes in, the driver needs both hands on the wheel to keep pointed straight. Stability control actually seems to worsen this effect, applying the brake to one front wheel, then the other, generating a seesaw response. We’re talking about steering-wheel-yanking torque steer like you haven’t seen since a 1980s Saab Turbo. Much of the 2.7T’s extra power goes to waste when it can’t route excess torque to the rear wheels. We tested during dry conditions in California and can’t imagine how rambunctious it might be in the wet or in snow.

Ouch. And that’s in a car around 300 pounds heavier and one that’s down 15 hp and 20 ft-lbs. How quickly must a MKZ 3.0T FWD destroy its front tires? And what would possess Lincoln to offer twin-turbocharged front-wheel-drive models, especially when high-performance Lincolns in recent history (MKS and MKT EcoBoost models) have been AWD-only?

There have been front-wheel-drive vehicles approaching this level of performance in the past but they have typically been designed from the get-go to be able to handle it, like the first-generation Oldsmobile Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado, or the final generation of Cadillac Seville. Rarely has a front-wheel-drive vehicle received a high-performance powertrain halfway through its model cycle, especially a car that has no sporting aspirations whatsoever. Lincoln, your MKZ may be whisper quiet but I’m not sure front tire-smoking shenanigans and (presumably) unwieldy amounts of torque steer fit the mantra of “quiet luxury”. Such antics are rather unbecoming of an otherwise quite appealing premium sedan.

I can’t readily head to a Lincoln dealership and harangue a salesperson for a test drive so somebody will have to fill in the blanks for me: how do 350 horses and 400 pound-feet of torque feel in a front-wheel-drive MKZ? Is it all I had feared hoped it would be?