The American automaker shows a lot of promise.
There was a time when American luxury was above all else. Sure, modern cars from Cadillac and Buick are doing well as far as sales are concerned. But Ford, one of the oldest and most iconic American automakers, hasn’t had a proper car in the luxury market for some time now. But all of that seems to be changing as Lincoln’s new Continental and Navigator Concept have the automaker facing in the right direction. Now’s a good time for Lincoln to make a comeback into a market it once dominated.
Today the word “luxury” doesn’t really conjure up images of American cars, but ones from Britain, Germany and, surprisingly, Japan. But that wasn’t the case in the good ol’ days. The first Lincoln Continental appeared on the scene in 1941 and set the tone of the brand. Everything on the coupe was huge as bigger really was better. The trend of go big or go home continued into 1946 as the Continental featured a powerful V12 engine under the elongated hood. In 1956 the Continental Mk II featured graceful lines and bold colors and was symbolic of post-war America's prosperity. The 1958 Continental Mk III wasn’t to everyone’s liking. Smooth, flowing lines were replaced by hard edges and the soft top was truly hideous.
After the hate-it-or-love-it ’58 Continental, the Continental Mk V returned to put Lincoln on top again. Not only did the gorgeous car have suicide doors, but the car also went on to be the President’s very own limousine. When '72 rolled around, Lincoln confusingly put out the Mark IV Continental (that was actually the fifth generation), which ditched the elegant styling for a muscular look. This would also continue onto the 1979 Mark V. The ‘80s and ‘90s saw the Continental falter against German and Japanese competitors, which also translated into a failed model in 2000. It’s been a long journey for the Continental, but Lincoln has taken a page out of its old book with the sedan and fingers crossed it pays off.
There’s been a lot of talk of how the new Continental looks like something from Bentley, Jaguar, or even worse, its less-expensive brother the MKZ. But let’s face it, if the new Continental looks like a Bentley, is that really a bad thing? Absolutely not. Unlike the hideous Continental from 13 years ago, the new one, whether it’s copying another brand or not, is a major step up. However, the true magic, and where the Continental will have to stand out, is on in the inside. Modern luxury cars have set a new standard for interior comfort, features and quietness. Lincoln hopes to raise the bar with its idea of "quiet luxury." While we’ll have to wait to see if this has worked, the Continental has already done what it was made to do—spark people’s interest.
A recent report from Automotive News claims that Lincoln already has a list of 40,000 people interested in the new sedan. If that’s not a victory for an automaker that has been out of the top-tier luxury sedan game for over 13 years, we don’t know what is. It clearly won’t be the most luxurious car on the road, but it will get people interested in American luxury sedans again, which is a triumph in itself.