Lincoln should be known for more than just crossovers overseas.
Americans have a lot of automotive options, but it seems like we’re always pining for what we don’t have. Old Nissan GT-Rs come to mind, as do classic British cars like the nutty Vauxhall Lotus Carlton. But what about the American cars the rest of the world—as in the countries that prefer right-side drive—are missing out on? We kicked off this series by talking about a no-brainer, the Chevrolet Camaro. Now we’re going to jump back into the revived world of American luxury with the new Lincoln Continental.
The new Lincoln Continental made its debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show and came packing 400 horsepower and all-wheel drive. The sedan didn’t differ too much from the concept version, which is a roundabout way of saying that it looks sophisticated and refined. Lincoln has actually been doing great these last few years thanks to crossovers and Matthew McConaughey. In fact, Ford’s luxury marque is the fastest growing luxury brand in the US—at least it was this time a year ago. The automaker’s future success rests on crossovers, but in terms of branding we think that the Continental would do more for the company. That’s true both at home and abroad.
What would the appeal of the Lincoln Continental be overseas? Its combination of a cheap(er) price and more power compared to its German and Japanese rivals. The Continental isn’t going to steal sales en masse from the likes of BMW or Lexus but if it came in at around $50,000 with AWD and 400 horsepower heads would certainly turn. Ford said it will offer a range of V6 engines for the Continental, and some of those will likely come from its platform twin, the Ford Fusion. The new sedan is actually front-wheel drive, so that in conjunction with the turbocharging should help boost its mpg. Spacious sedans are prized in Asia and we could easily see businessmen in Singapore or Hong Kong cruising around their capitalist island paradises in a Continental.
Of course the big fish to fry would be the UK, and to a lesser extent Australia. When it comes to the UK, the Continental’s best chance for success would be as a cheaper and more powerful alternative to what Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes, etc… offer. No one will mistake the cabin or look of a Lincoln for that of a BMW but numbers talk, especially when they concern horsepower and price tags. As for Australia, well we think the combination of a dying domestic auto industry and a 400-horsepower V6 (should be a V8) will do the trick. America and Australia are basically the same place as far as cars go. Right? Of course a right-hand-drive Lincoln Continental wouldn’t be a sales smash, at least in terms of volume. But that’s not the point.
Lincoln is fighting to regain its mojo and needs all the positive publicity it can get. There was once a time when America’s massive luxury sedans from the likes of Cadillac and Lincoln were known around the world. That time is long gone but these automakers seem to be hell bent on making a comeback with crossovers leading the charge and sedans following suit. We think a right-hand-drive Continental should be riding in that wake. C'mon, Ford! Just turn a few Mondeos (the UK's Fusion) into Continentals and see how it goes.