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New York show: Lincoln resurrects Continental

American dream: Big bold American sedans are back, and Lincoln is the latest car-maker to show off its take on the theme, with the Continental concept.

Lincoln Continental concept breaks cover, will be the brand’s next flagship

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Lincoln logo31 Mar 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

FORD’S luxury brand Lincoln is fighting back against its GM counterpart Buick with its full-size Continental sedan concept that is set to become a production reality next year, in the United States at least.

Revealed ahead of its New York motor show debut this week, the concept resurrects a Lincoln moniker that dates back to 1939 and was more recently used for the ninth-generation version in 1995 before being discontinued in 2002.

The Continental is the latest model in what is becoming something of a renaissance for big American saloons, with Cadillac’s CT6 that is also set to debut in the Big Apple, and potentially, a Buick-badged car from the same GM Omega platform, based on the Avenir concept from this year’s Detroit motor show.

The exterior styling of the Avenir concept was penned at GM’s Australian design studio in Melbourne and based on a sketch by local designer Warrack Leach.

Set to arrive in American Lincoln showrooms next year as the brand’s new flagship, the Continental also previews the look of future Lincoln models, according to Ford Motor Company president and CEO Mark Fields.

“Luxury at its best is about simplifying and quietly exceeding expectations, rather than being the loudest statement on the road,” he said.

“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.”

Design highlights of the curvy concept include a new centered chrome grille design that does away with the split-nose look of current Lincolns, a bulbous front end and heavy use of chrome around window sills and side skirts.

The big Lincoln is fitted with ‘E-Latch’ door handles that hide in the vehicle’s beltline and allow the opening of the doors with the touch of a button, and also ensure the doors close quietly.

Up front the Continental features unusually styled LED matrix headlights incorporating ‘laser-assist’ high beams that help improve visibility by reducing glare, while the tail-lights use light-through-chrome technology.

The super-premium cabin includes what Lincoln describes as its “most sensual materials ever,” starting with Venetian leather seat and door panels with Alcantara seat inserts, a satin headliner, shearling wool carpet, chrome flourishes and even rose gold trim around the instrument cluster.

Finding a comfortable seating position should not be a problem with patented 30-way seats that conform to different occupant’s shapes and sizes, while the passenger side rear seat can fully recline, much like many business class airplane seats.

A tinted sunroof can be controlled by rear-seat passengers, allowing them to determine the level of heat being let into the cabin, and it can cool the interior down by 8 degrees Celsius and block out 99 per cent of UV rays at the flick of a switch.

Rear-seat occupants can also control the Revel Ultima audio system, and climate control, while a tray to support a tablet extends from the rear of the centre console when required.

Power comes from a “Lincoln-exclusive” 3.0-litre V6 EcoBoost petrol engine, but the American luxury car-maker has not announced performance and fuel figures.

The flagship gains ‘adaptive steering’ and Lincoln’s ‘drive control’ tech, and it rides on massive polished aluminium 21-inch wheels.

Active safety gear includes the company’s Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Enhanced Park Assist and a 360-degree camera that displays on the touchscreen.

When it makes it to production, the Continental will sit at the top of the American Lincoln line-up, above the MKS, and given Ford Motor Company’s push into China with the Lincoln brand late last year, it is a no-brainer for the large sedan-loving country.

Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood told GoAuto that there are no plans to introduce the Lincoln brand to the already crowded Australian new-car market.

Lincoln design director David Woodhouse said the company wanted to capture the nameplate’s history with the Continental’s design.

“The Lincoln Continental name is associated with iconic beauty and elegance,” he said. “Capturing those qualities and building upon them drove us as we crafted this thoroughly modern sedan concept.”

Mr Woodhouse took over the role of Lincoln’s head of design in April last year, replacing Australian Max Wolff who held the role for three years before being demoted to chief exterior designer.

Another Australia, Peter Jones, is in charge of Lincoln’s interior design, but it is unclear what input Mr Wolff and Mr Jones had in the final look of the Continental.

As GoAuto reported in May last year, Lincoln has used Ford Australia’s engineering expertise to work on a replacement for what was believed to be the ageing MKS sedan, with a Ford Fusion-based mule captured doing the rounds of the You Yangs proving ground near Geelong.

It is now known whether Ford Australia’s engineers have had any involvement in the development of the production version of the Continental, due next year.

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