The cars we loved.
The Ford Motor Company has teased a new Continental a few times since the last ones were sold back in 2002. In the 15 or so years since that last one rolled off the assembly line, the luxury landscape has changed dramatically. Even before 2002, American standards like Lincoln and Cadillac were no longer the dominate players they once were. There was a time not much more than 25 years ago that the mention of Lincoln inspired visions of opulence and luxury to restrained American standards.
So when a Continental concept car in 2015 promised style and luxury that rivaled the storied past, many were excited. The concept car had a certain panache about it that gave hope to raising the profile of Ford’s
clueless luxury brand.
A year later the production Continental was unveiled. It’s styling closely following the concept, down to the Jaguar inspired front end treatment. It features subtle luxury design treatments like the unique door handles that are integrated into chrome beltline of the car.
The new Continental, Lincoln’s flagship car has three engine choices, two of them thoroughly modern. The base engine, a 3.7L V6 (similar to the one in the base Mustang) has 5 more hp than the Mustang at 305. The more refined, efficient and powerful choices have direct injection and twin turbos. At 2.7 and 3.0 liters, these V6 engines offer 335 and 400hp respectively. That’s less power than the Hyundai Genesis G90 or Cadillac CT6 sedan. No V8 is offered, as to suggest that such ancient power plants are left to less tech savvy muscle car or pickup truck enthusiasts.
The Lincoln is a solid design with a beautiful interior and quality materials. Three trim lines are available with no less than 10 exterior and 5 interior colors. There is also an attractive array of wheels ranging from 18 to 20′. The problem is that may not be enough is today’s tough luxury car marketplace. In a world where Hyundai and Kia can be seriously crossed shopped with Lexus, Audi and Cadillac, the Lincoln just may not stand out enough as presented.
It’s possible that over the course of the new models life, it might pick up more cues from the show cars that came before it. To the Continental’s credit, Ford has no other car that will share platform directly.
If marketing a luxury car is in part cashing in on it’s heritage, Lincoln won’t stray too far from it’s reputation with an “emphasis on quiet luxury”. That might conjure up images of big float boat rear wheel drive cars but the Continental will have a modern adjustable suspension (Lincoln Drive Control) front or all-wheel drive configurations. Whatever driver stability the suspension might produce is likely to be overshadowed by the 30 way adjustable front seats that promise hours of custom comfort.
This might be the Continental’s niche as ironically more luxury car makers tout performance while trying to capture ever younger buyers. A big opulent ride (the kind preferred by old school luxury fans) may still have a market. Even Buick who has remade itself is retaining at least one car with the big cushy ride that certain buyers expect. It is also why the Toyota Avalon has done so well, even as it has moved ever so closer to Lexus like appointment.
Quite honestly, I don’t know if the Continental has a chance in today’s market. While attractive, it’s no more a standout than a handful of other luxury cars in its price range. Cadillac’s sedans now have a presence about them that make them stand out, even Hyundai has given it’s two luxury sedans a makeover worth noticing. Did I mention that Volvo has stepped up its luxury game too? It might take more than Matthew McConaughey to move a Continental these days.