The Ford Motor Company is 2-for-2 when it comes to surprise auto show reveals this year.
In January, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the blue oval took the wraps off of the Ford GT, a $400,000 super car that no one saw coming. That model captivated media folks and attendees alike, with not a few people wondering how Ford kept the project a closely guarded secret.
Move forward nearly three months and a second surprise model is set to be unveiled this week at the 2015 New York International Auto Show. That model is a large, 2+2 sedan, and has been dubbed the “Continental Concept.” The sedan’s introduction comes just as rival General Motors officially reveals the Cadillac CT6, its own long-awaited response to such German rivals as the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Lincoln Continental Concept
While the concept Lincoln Continental will compete with other large luxury sedans, it will also serve as the replacement for the current Lincoln MKS, the premium twin to the Ford Taurus. Thus, it won’t compete on the same level as the CT6, but it will push Lincoln in the same upwardly aspiring direction as Cadillac.
In a press release, Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO says, “Luxury at its best is about simplifying and quietly exceeding expectations, rather than being the loudest statement on the road. The Continental Concept showcases the promise of quiet luxury from Lincoln going forward. It also is a strong indication of what’s to come next year as we introduce our new Lincoln Continental full-size luxury sedan.”
That statement might be taken as a slap against Cadillac, which has been trumpeting the CT6 and related concepts quite loudly and increasingly relentlessly over the past few years. Indeed, the buzz surrounding an anticipated top-of-the-range Cadillac model has sometimes been drowned in a cacophony of stories articulating various aspects of the soon to arrive CT6, with each one offering more details about the coming product. Nevertheless, it is Cadillac, not Lincoln, that will have a production version of the CT6 on display at the Javits Center in Manhattan this week.
Continental History and Cachet
For its part, Ford Motor is demonstrating that it not only intends to simply manage Lincoln, but to return the brand to its former glory. The Continental name is instantly recognizable and has more model cachet than the Town Car, Navigator and a host of forgettable MK nomenclatures combined.
The Continental name first appeared in 1939 and lasted until the late 1940s. It was reintroduced in 1956 and was affixed to various Lincoln products through 2002 before the model line was dropped. In more recent years it was best associated with the term “Mark” as in Lincoln Continental Mark VII.
Notably, the “MK” naming convention now used was to suggest “mark” with the corresponding model name. For example, the MKX could be referenced as “Mark X” and the MKC as the “Mark C”. What is interesting is that the proposed Continental, like the current Navigator, will sidestep that nomenclature.
Platform and Engine Details
There are some details about the concept that are not yet known and should be revealed at Lincoln’s press event at the Javits Center this week, with further details disseminated closer to the production model’s full reveal later this year, likely at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The 2017 Lincoln Continental will likely ride on a front-wheel drive platform, but it may offer all-wheel drive only, in keeping with what Audi does with its larger vehicles. Notably, a Lincoln-exclusive turbocharged 3.0-liter engine would power this model, based on the EcoBoost engineering design this automaker introduced more than five years ago. Besides turbocharging, EcoBoost includes direct injection and variable valve technologies.
Highlights of the Continental Concept include a new, mesh grille layout; jeweled LED headlamps; suede leather seats with foot rests; a mirrored tray table with a built-in tablet; champagne holders and more. Clearly, the proposed model pushes into the same luxury range occupied by Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac, to name a few.
Additional Lincoln Models
Although the Lincoln Continental elevates the brand, an oversized rear-wheel drive sedan is still a few years away. And that sedan is in the planning stages and would become the capstone product for the marque.
At this point, Lincoln is avoiding the European market, concentrating on the United States and China to supply much of its growth. Lincoln is new to China, but its products are being well received. Chinese consumers are familiar with the brand and the Lincoln Continental could very well amplify the marque in its two principal markets.