Lincoln has a lot riding on the success of its next mid-size MKZ sedan, which it refers to as the birth of “a new brand.” When designer Max Wolff was tasked with styling the next MKZ, his challenge was making the car distinctive enough from its Ford Fusion cousin, while avoiding the potentially polarizing style of earlier Lincoln models.

The net result is the Lincoln MKZ Concept featured in the video above. As Wolff describes it, the car features Lincoln’s new styling direction, called “elegant simplicity.” The focus of this style is a move away from traditional luxury, with an emphasis on warmer and less complex designs.

From the outside, even the concept’s cognac-colored paint was chosen to convey warmth, while the clean lines of the car represent a simpler-yet-more-inviting design than the current MKZ sedan. From the rear, the concept's taillights and trunk lid seem influenced by Aston Martin, formerly owned by Ford.

Up front, the MKZ Concept retains Lincoln’s now familiar wing-shaped grille, but it’s dialed back a notch or two from previous, near-comical designs. The MKZ Concept finally looks like a luxury car, instead of just a mid-size sedan with a few upgraded appointments and design features.

Inside, the “elegant simplicity” theme is carried on. The panoramic roof gives an open-air feel, making the whole interior feel larger than it is. The seats, covered in champagne leather, even boast perforations meant to resemble bubbles rising from the bottom of a champagne flute.

In a nod to simpler times, the MKZ sports a retro push-button transmission (last seen on a Lincoln in the 1950s), yet comes packed with the latest in infotainment wizardry, displayed on both a 10.1-inch LCD driver display and an 8-inch touchscreen LCD in the center console.

We’ll have our own walkaround video from the Detroit Auto Show posted soon, but in the mean time enjoy the video of the MKZ Concept supplied by Ford.