Lincoln has been through some tough times in recent years, but this year's Detroit Auto Show provided some strong evidence to suggest Ford's luxury arm is well and truly alive. The new Continental takes a unique path by ignoring Nurburgring lap times and pulling out of the technology arms race kickstarted by Mercedes and BMW. Instead, Lincoln has presented the quintessential modern American luxury car.
Central to the Continental experience is the idea of "quiet luxury". While that might sound like a Grade-A piece of marketing spin, early impressions are that they've lived up to that motto.
Opening the door reveals some of the most comfortable seats we've ever had the pleasure of sitting in. With 30-way adjustment, including individual motion for your left and right thigh, they can be tweaked to fit almost any body shape perfectly. What's more, the Bridge of Weir leather on the seats has been chosen because its quality rivals that of high-end furniture, and the wood running down the middle of the dashboard is real, not the horrendous high-gloss plastic prevalent in the last Continental.
They might not have 30-way seats, but rear passengers have been looked after as well. Their seats recline, and backseat drivers have their own control panel for the climate control and audio integrated into the central armrest.
As well as sitting in leather-lined comfort, passengers should be treated to a whisper-quiet ride thanks to active noise cancelling, acoustic laminated glass and tires that are lined with foam for better acoustic performance. Just how much those tires and wheels will cost is still up in the air, but anything that can help cut down on the never-ending slap-slap from American freeway expansion joints should be the first box ticked on the options sheet.
If Lincoln has hit the mark with its interior design, the exterior isn't quite as successful. The Continental is a handsome car, but there's no details or cues that are totally unique – something pointed out by ex-Bentley designer Luc Donckerwolke, who took to Twitter to point out some, er, big similarities between the original concept and Bentley's own Flying Spur.
There's no doubting it has presence though, and we can't imagine too many buyers being turned off because the car looks a bit like a Bentley.
The Continental's exterior designers might have been channelling Bentley, but there's no W12 under the hood. Instead, there's a turbocharged V6 producing 298 kW (400 hp) and 542 Nm of torque for effortless, smooth progress. What's more, there's no 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint time quoted, which is yet another hint that Lincoln is serious about the whole "quiet-luxury" mantra.
That said, there are a few features that should keep keen drivers happy. One of the three modes on the adaptive air suspension's options is labelled sport, and there's torque vectoring on the rear axle to shuffle the power around for good grip and go out in tight corners. If you're after a limo that can also get down and boogie, you're probably better off looking at a BMW 7 Series, but that's kind of the point with this car.
The Continental will be on sale from autumn (Northern Hemisphere), with no mention of pricing yet. We can't wait to see if the driving experience can match the new-American luxury experience promised by the interior.
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