It is finally here! Ahead of its big public debut this coming week-end at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, Lincoln chose to reveal its new, and arguably most important vehicle in the past ten years, Continental Concept to an assembly of reporters. And, right from the start it has to be said: this is big.
For Lincoln, as with every luxury car manufacturer, a four-door sedan is the only appropriate kind of flagship. Sales leaders may be crossovers and luxury utes but it is usually the role of the sedan to define a brand’s image and presence: the Audi A8 always offers the best its brand has to offer, even if the haves of this world will probably consider a Q7 first.
There were many rumours as to what this new flagship would be: would it ride on a long-wheelbase but necessarily narrow MKZ platform, would it still use the Volvo-developped shell of the MKS, or would it be a new platform altogether? At this point it is still difficult to say, as FoMoCo and Lincoln seem to be keeping the technical bits secret at least until the official Auto Show presentation. All that we know so far is that the car is propelled by a brand-exclusive 3.0 V6 with EcoBoost, and that it is most likely going to be all-wheel-drive in its optimal configuration. Indeed, with the demise of the RWD Ford Falcon platform, the downsizing of the Mustang platform and of course FWD’s advantage in mass-market application, it is unlikely the big Lincoln will go back to that configuration.
But from the looks of it, it is neither based on a midsizer nor a carry-over of the previous platform: the Concept is pure American full-size luxury. It is long, low, wide, solidly planted on the ground thanks to sober but eye-catching 21-inch wheels. We’ll definitely come back to it this week but its DNA sure carries the mark (no pun intended) of many iconic American designs – and not only from Lincoln. Details abound, both in the sheetmetal and trim pieces. All will obviously not make it to production but I have a feeling most of it will. FoMoCo CEO Mark Fields even says so himself:
The Concept is a very strong hint – I’ll underline very strong hint – as to what you’ll see in the production vehicle.
Apart from the design’s merits on its own, what is also striking is (once again) an almost complete departure from the rest of the Lincoln line-up. Gone is the split-wing grille, new is the headlight array, and even the full-width tail light unit evolves from what the MKC and MKX crossovers had only just recently adopted. The question is then: is this to set the Continental apart within the Lincoln line-up in order to reach higher with a certain visual identity, while the MKZ and crossovers remain with the “old” design identity to appear more accessible and youthful?
Or will this new identity trickle down the line-up, possibly when the MKZ is due for a mid-cycle facelift in a year or so? Even then, not all questions would be answered. Would crossovers remain with a different and more rugged identity aligned on the Navigator, and will legacy names come back across the range?
Until all these questions are answered, we can only take time to enjoy what the Concept has to offer. Even inside, it is to me a return to Lincoln’s finest hours: this rich shade of blue applied throughout the cabin, the use of chrome and a very intricate center console design speak of Continentals of the 1960s, definitely.
Undoubtedly, this Continental Concept piques the curiosity of car enthusiasts at large. And that is a good thing! Reactions on the internet this morning were very positive and there is no doubt that the Continental will seriously steal Cadillac’s momentum next week in New York.
This week, to celebrate this important development at Lincoln, you’ll see a complete design review inside and out, a media round-up and more. Make sure to check out the links below for more multimedia, including some sexy B-roll videos on the Lincoln page.