Product planning works in cycles it seems, with ups and downs and some releases gaining more traction than others in the buff book world. Back when the current MKZ debuted, it sort of went under the radar even though it was a really bold move for Lincoln. Then people really took to the MKC compact crossover, surely because it shook up a segment that currently carries itself much more momentum than midsize sedans. Then the MKX luxury crossover was released in concept then production form, and the media just took note of a recipe further improved yet over the MKC’s.
But then Lincoln made a splash, a big splash, with the surprise release of the Continental Concept in New York. Everything changed: corporate identity, marketing philosophy, naming convention… So, today, as we await the release of the production version of the Continental at the next Detroit Auto Show, we look back at the reception this landmark concept received in the buff book world, where established car magazines are usually pretty skeptical towards Lincoln.
The folks at Car and Driver named the Lincoln Continental Concept one of their “Best in Show” picks for New York 2015 but seemed a little reluctant to praise the car’s design overall. Still, they noted:
The whole interior treatment, resplendent in dark blue and chrome, suggests the glory of the jet age without being slavishly retro. […] The exterior has its moments. In profile, it’s somewhat Mulsanne/Phantom-esque. From the rear, it’s aces. We especially like the quad exhaust with asymmetrical outer tips. […] The epic 30-way power seats, which have an equally impressive 50 engineering patents associated with them. That the seats look like robotic centipedes reaching out to give you an awkward hug, well, that’s pure gravy.
Over at MotorTrend the Continental made the cover with a bold “Continental is back.” tagline and a “World Exclusive” report.
Even though they lamented the choice of a pedestrian platform and front-wheel-drive, they said:
Lincoln drops the moustache and the mic on the luxury car world. […] The iconic name is back, the split-wing grille is gone, and to answer your first question: No, it’s almost certainly not rear-wheel drive. […] But that’s just a bit of misdirection when confronted with the return of such a historic nameplate on a concept so dripping with potential. It’s impossible not to gaze upon its long lines and curves, the position of the greenhouse, atop yards of chrome and Rhapsody Blue paint, and imagine [what could be]. […] The concept seen here is a chrome-dipped dream that makes a lot of promises we’d love to see the production car deliver.
The reporters and editors of Automobile Magazine were probably the harshest, dissecting the Concept’s design (from photos alone, to boot) and trying to find evidence of plagiarism in every line. To this one, the grille, To that one, the haunches. Names like Kia were even thrown in, though we did see in a previous article that if anything Kia was following luxury brands from Germany and Italy, not the other way around. They still do note:
It’s a marked departure from Cadillac’s playbook of German-style sport sedans. […] In pictures at least, the Continental Concept projects the look of a brash, broad-shouldered American luxury sedan with 21st century flair. […] The cool, ‘Mad Men’ name that rolls off the tongue” is one of the Lincoln Continental concept’s best attributes, says executive editor Todd Lassa. […] We’ll have to wait and see if the production Continental, due within the next year or so, will maintain the concept’s undeniable presence and provocative nature. […] Mike Floyd notes that both the Cadillac [CT6] and the Lincoln garnered more attention than any other cars at the show, and counts that as a win for the overall spirit of the American luxury sedan. “They have different missions given how their brands are positioned, but they’re both full-size luxury sedans with presence and style, the kind of cars that America used to turn out by the bushel full,” he says. […] The Lincoln Continental’s sheetmetal is lovely and rounded and looks rather British next to the BMW-chasing “Cadillac Touring-6,” the moniker brand president Johan de Nysschen used in the show introduction.
Road and Track had minimal coverage but still appeared enthusiastic:
After 13 years, Lincoln’s greatest nameplate is coming back anew, with an exclusive turbo V6 and style for miles. […] Yes, this thing is rad. The monochromatic blue-over-blue Continental Concept show car looks killer in person.
Over at Autoblog, enthusiasm could also be felt throughout their thorough coverage and interviews with Lincoln and FoMoCo executives. There was also a good assortment of pictures and videos. Here is what they had to say:
There’s no other way to say it: the Continental looks stunning. It’s a long, low-slung sedan, with a shape that’s reminiscent of the Ford Interceptor Concept from 2007. But this thing is all Lincoln, and shows a host of new design cues that will no doubt work their way across the brand’s range. […] The Continental Concept is a seriously sweet thing, and we can’t wait to see how it transforms into a production car next year. […] Lincoln and Cadillac grabbed the spotlight this week at the New York Auto Show in a dramatic fashion that evoked the brands’ glory days. America’s two luxury carmakers went toe-to-toe with their glittering reveals and plans for ambitious expansion. […] All of this resulted in almost blinding attention. The concept drew rave reviews, stirred controversy with Bentley designers who argued Lincoln ripped them off, and most importantly, pointed a way forward for the newly determined brand that hopes to compete with Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Cadillac and Lexus. […] Gone are unattractive styling trademarks like Lincoln’s winged grille, while less polarizing elements like the vehicle-spanning taillights have been refined. The three-box design, meanwhile, dismisses the coupe-like stylings of the latest MKZ , opting for a long hood, short deck and a more traditional three-box layout. […] The Lincoln Continental Concept took us by surprise earlier this week, and based on reader response to it thus far, seems poised to be one of the shining stars of this year’s NYAS. […] This new Continental’s take on the future of the company is both modern and respectful of the members of the family that have gone before it.
Quite nice, eh? But, as usual, the reaction I was most looking forward too was that of the editors of Jalopnik, which I think hold a certain voice within the “trend-setting millenials” market. And although their platform has now become more of a “lifestyle” portal, I wanted to know what that kind of car guys thought of such a forward-thinking yet old-fashioned sedan. And of course, it made for a great read:
Considering the dramatic rebirth Ford has undergone in the last decade, Lincoln’s comparative lack of direction is pretty surprising. Maybe, though, this new Lincoln Continental Concept represents the re-discovery of something Lincoln’s so desperately needed: an identity. [Discussing Lincoln Drive Control] I can’t think of any car with any kind of selectable driving mode that doesn’t offer those three basic preferences. A Lincoln should have some setting like HyperSmoothClass mode, where the suspension is softened to such a degree that you could play Jenga in the back while driving over railroad tracks. […] I think Lincoln actually has managed to make a handsome, elegant car here that doesn’t totally feel like everything else on the market, and that’s a very good thing — provided they can keep that feeling from getting watered down as this makes its (probable) way from concept to production. […] It’s the first thing we’ve seen from Lincoln in quite a while that gets close to what the brand’s original spirit and appeal was all about — elegance, refinement, and a distinctively American take on luxury and comfort. We don’t need another copycat BMW or Audi, and it looks like Lincoln is finally out of that trap and on its way to rediscovering itself. Good luck!
And then the kicker:
Inside the Lincoln Continental Concept, it’s like Elvis never died. It’s the best car in on planet Earth. Just from a planet Earth in a parallel universe. it’s not a car from 2015 at all. It’s not even a car from 2025. It is a car outside of space and time itself. […] I love the new concept from Lincoln. I hope this is definitely its new direction. Because somewhere, out there in the multiverse, Elvis Presley is still crooning. And he’s crooning for this new Continental.
Does it get any better than that, really? Incidentally, there is a stunning gallery of photographs from the floor of the New York Auto Show, featuring of course the Continental but also a slew of other new models and favourites. It is most definitely something to see, and you can find it in the links below.
Before we go, I wanted to highlight a rather… perplexing comment from the folks at Car and Driver. It’s mostly inoffensive and tacky, but I got a chuckle out of it knowing that car magazines already have the reputation of catering to a certain kind of readership:
Oh, man, the carpet. If carpet can save Lincoln, it’s the stuff in this car. We want a girlfriend made of the plush, plush carpet. Or at least a cat—a cat would probably be more appropriate.
- Coverage of the 2015 Lincoln Continental Concept, at TheMarkOnline
- 2015 New York Auto Show Photos and Stuff, at Kinja.com
- Media round-up: Lincoln MKC revealed to enthusiastic reviews, at TheMarkOnline