Can Lincoln Really Do Luxury Luxuriously Enough?

Car and driver headlined an article about Lincoln with wording about the brand’s  focus on luxury over performance. They didn’t really address the point.

2015 Lincoln Continental concept: caranddriver.com
2015 Lincoln Continental concept: caranddriver.com

I’ve been very busy so it’s taken me eleven days to get around to drawing your attention to this one. After the boiler-plate text about there not being any chance of European sales (there will never be European sales of Lincolns), the blog from Car and Driver gets down to the point and notes how luxury not performance is the main focus of the new Continental. This is a theme we like to bang on about at DTW, the by-now tiresome predominance of performance over non-quantitative aspects. You could be cynical and say Lincoln, with its FWD engineering can’t ever compete with Germany’s best.

You could be less cynical and say that it makes sense to offer something other than balls-to-the wall performance when accessing that performance becomes less and less meaningful most of the time. The counter argument is that BMW, Audi and Mercedes have comfort and luxury covered regardless of whether or not you want to access their cars’ performance potential.

For many American customers, wary as they are of German engineering (it’s seen as frightening when out of warranty), a familiar American nameplate offers comfort you can enjoy and reliably simple/simpler American mechanicals. That might be tempting for many. So, can the USicans beat the Germans on quality of fit and finish if not on sheer technological might?

I would say that if Ford is serious about offering a luxury car without the kind of cutting-edge engine technology of the imports (from Germany or Japan), they have to be deadly serious about the refinements the driver and passenger can see and feel. So far, there is no evidence either way about the Lincoln Continental. I welcome the turn to comfort over performance. Question is: can Ford deliver on this and will they?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

33 thoughts on “Can Lincoln Really Do Luxury Luxuriously Enough?”

  1. The glasshouse could be taken from a Phaeton and the wheel-design is a variation of an Audi A8-wheel.
    But the complete car looks great, to my eyes.

    1. I’d thought of food processor blades, but then I remembered some fold out metalised Christmas baubles we had when I was a kid. I guess they’re supposed to be evocative of turbine blades or something. And, if the car’s maximised for comfort, it doesn’t need those low profile tyres. But that’s concept cars for you – even ones intended for production.

  2. Am I in the minority here`? The car looks quite derivative to me. It´s not bad for what it is yet it manages to be a mishmash of other people´s work in exactly the same way as the much-loved LS of many moons ago. Will they ever learn? Fred: you are dead right about the low profile wheels. High profile would would have sent out a very nice signal.

    1. Yes, but it’s quite a satisfying mishmash. Having owned Aston Martin, Ford seemed to think it gave them poaching rights to use that grille on current models. Having owned Jaguar, I guess they think the same. I suppose we shouldn’t begrudge them a bit of return on their huge investments.

  3. The grille is an oblong. There’s not much to it. Given that the car is FWD, the coke-bottle hips are semantically wrong. The whole car is a box of wrong. It screams performance, now I look at it properly.

  4. There is no reason why Ford, sorry, Lincoln cannot offer decent ride comfort AND “sporty” handling. Ford already offers fairly soft springing, especially compared to the Germans (Mercedes excepted), yet their cars remain fun to drive. Turning the dial even further towards Comfort need not condemn Lincoln to flaccid body control and terminal understeer.

  5. It’s a valid point of Riichard’s about the styling of the rear saying RWD. There’s a debate on a US site with some folk saying it is no good because it’s front-driven and others saying that FWD is fine. Actually, to my mind there’s no problem with it being front driven except that it doesn’t look that way.

  6. Nonsense. Bentley stylists have been faking rear-drive styling cues on the A8/Phaeton derived Flying Spur since it came out. Or is if ok to be inauthentic if you’re German?

    1. But the car it’s based on is, and you’ve conveniently forgotten that Lincoln plan to sell the V6 ecoboost model with all-wheel drive, just like the Bentley that Mr Donckerwolke claimed Lincoln had copied to produce the Continental concept.

  7. My impression is that proportion-wise, the Continental is not as much fake-RWD as the current Audi line-up. In the angle of the above photo, there is even a hint of cab-forward. The Coke-bottle is of course nonsense, though.

    Regarding luxury, if it means surrounding you with softness, cushioning and pampering you, disconnecting you from the outside world and decelerating you, it’s something the Americans could do and thereby discern themselves from the Germans. For this, I’d be willing compromise on utmost perfection in all fittings, as long as nothing rattles and the surfaces at my hands are pleasant to touch. Let’s hope they get it right.

  8. I for one am glad that Ford has apparently stopped the MK-whatever naming convention and has put together a credible looking Continental, even if it lacks ‘authenticity’ in the eyes of some. If they call the long wheelbase edition a Lincoln Town Car then I can imagine fleets of these prowling around Manhattan ferrying one-percenters to and from Wall St, and let’s just forget that MKT nonsense.

    Much as I would love Lincolns that adopted the crispq mid-century modernism of the 60’s Continental as a template on a bespoke platform, I would much rather that Ford gave its dealers a car to sell right now and won some of those open-minded (or fickle?) American car buyers who are willing to give a modern Lincoln a go instead of an Audi, Acura, Cadillac or Lexus at trade-in time. Lincoln can get bolder once they’ve convinced people used to Japanese or European dealer service and Japanese functional reliability that they are worth the purchase price differential over a Fusiondeo, Eskugape or Taurus. Just like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, GM and VW do with their US market luxury cars to varying degrees of success.

    1. Lincoln is chasing Chinese sales with this Continental, not US ones. I like it, but it’s not exactly a traditional Lincoln design – but not an exact copy of the Bentley Flying Spur or Mulsanne despite what VW may say. I personally think they’d be best served by partnering closely with ChangAn in developing luxury models for Asian markets (not just China); and focusing on the MKC, MKZ, MKX, Navigator, a ‘Lincoln Cougar’ based on the Mustang (or potentially a single model reborn Mercury with a essentially a luxury Mustang sold out of US and Chinese Lincoln [and Ford; at least in China] dealerships), and a few more small luxury SUVs.

  9. FordLexusMazda: I will come back later with a longer response. For now I want to say hello and welcome to DTW. Are you somewhere in N America?
    How did you find this site? Random search?
    We’d love to know, out of curiosity and so we can target you with spookily appropriate advertising….

    1. Thanks for the welcome. No, I’m from Australia and I discovered you guys through another motoring site.

  10. Here is the car in series trim – the changes on the front and the white does not do the car any favour, but the door handles and the exterior mirrors are stunning details.

  11. It would be interesting to hear what Ford say to themselves about the new Genesis from Hyundai which has rear wheel drive and the option of a V8. The interior, as commentator says, is more like what you´d expect from Lincoln than the Lincoln. I agree about the mirrors and doorhandles. Is the grille a bit Jagwah?

    1. Indeed, I had a quick look at the above image and wondered why Markus was posting a picture of a Jag in a Lincoln article. In mitigation I was multi-tasking (always a mistake).

    1. It is a good review. The only criticism I’d have is of the Author’s acceptance of the inevitability that the concept would be so watered-down. I’m not so tolerant. When a showcar shows a mini gas turbine powering spokeless wheels with the rims floating electromagnetically outside the hubs, I understand why it won’t be made. Also, certain shapes and details still can’t be achieved in production. But, really, most of what was shown on the Lincoln, such as the chrome strip beneath the doors and the narrower rear lamps, could have been achieved with a bit of thought.

      I don’t worship at the shrine of Steve Jobs, but I do respect his unaccommodating attitude when people told him that this or that couldn’t be done. Now that Piech is no longer running VAG, are there any visionary dictators left in the car industry? Someone should have been more persistent and unyielding when productionising this car.

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