At last year’s New York International Auto Show, Lincoln’s was arguably the best looking display. They built a beautiful brand statement – elegant, upscale, sexy, pleasantly retro – and then filled it with the most forgettable cars you’ve ever seen. Look at this line up and then tell me that you could muster up a single shit about any of these cars:
And the names? MKS. MKZ. MKC, MKX, and MKT. I’m not making this up. The cars are so mind-blowingly homogenous that I genuinely feel sorry for the marketing department, who do seem to occasionally have their finger on the pulse of the Mad Men vibe that Lincoln could wear so well.
You want to root for Lincoln. The brand has been part of the American landscape for almost a century. So the announcement that there would be a flagship concept car reveal at NYIAS 2015 got people paying attention. Then when Lincoln revealed that the car would be the new Continental, the most revered name in the brand’s history, the buzz became as loud as the neon signs on the Las Vegas strip. Would this new car let Lincoln swagger through the crowd, drink and cigarette in hand, bow tie undone, and sit once again on their rightful throne as America’s true luxury bad ass?
The Continental concept is a big, boring hulk of a car, the automotive equivalent of the navy blue business suit. The design is tidy enough, and it does have some beautiful lines, but Lincoln is playing it safe here. The lights on the front and rear look like they were ripped straight off of an Audi, the body cribs heavily from Bentley. Maybe too heavily. The interior is insanely plush, however, which is a nice nod to the luxury cars of days gone by. Most damningly, though, the Continental simply lacks presence (the number one essential ingredient for any status-mobile), a neat trick considering its truly gigantic size. The best thing I can say is this car looks like a great place for a nap.
Ford CEO Mark Fields has said that the business plan for the new Continental hinges significantly on the Chinese market, which may explain the conservative design. That’s too bad. The Continental is an American icon, and it could have been the shot of true character that Lincoln needs.
Oh well. At least this Lincoln will have a real name.
Click on any photo below to open the gallery view:
“Your mom’s boring.”
That’s what I was first tempted to type in response to your post. But, I want to be better than that. I want to tell you that yes, the 2017 Lincoln Continental may be to the American luxury sedan market as the Jaguar XF/XK/every-other-Jaguar-ever is to the European luxury sedan market. But that doesn’t mean that it is entirely devoid of inspiration… Have you seen the facebook discussions going on about it? The comments are range from “Looks hella good” to “its just an other thing in the brand. You need a serious flagship…” Not my poor grammar, thank you very much.
But what is lacking, I think, is the vitriol that I would have expected from another terrible release from a boring, pointless, dated luxury brand such as Lincoln. But the public isn’t pointing and laughing. They are pointing and saying “Hey, I like that!” I would have been the first to ridicule another boring sedan from Lincoln… because I was among the first to hate everything that came after the LS. Heck, I hated everything before the LS. The LS wasn’t that bad.
Now, I am not prepared to give my opinion on the new Continental, but I can say that most of what I have been reading has not been “NO SWAGGER: THE BIG, BORING LINCOLN CONTINENTAL CONCEPT.”
Leviticus: I’m not suggesting it’s not a step in the right direction for Lincoln. But it’s still not enough; the Continental is a missed opportunity to make a pivotal statement about the brand. A brand which sorely lacks identity. I think Lincoln is well aware that their cars need substance (using their most iconic historical name for the car is a hint) but this design isn’t enough to redefine the brand. Is that asking too much? I don’t think so. Case in point: Cadillac’s identity was on the ropes in the ’90s and early ’00s, but the 2003 CTS changed everything. The Art & Science design language from the Evoq concept car (combined with a return to rear wheel drive) told the American public that Cadillac had woken up and suddenly remembered who they were. That’s the kind of moment that Lincoln needs here.