Classy and Confident
In 1917, a man by the name of Henry Leland founded the Lincoln brand and named it after the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln (who preferred to be called by his last name).
By Helmut Dostal
By 1922, Henry Ford had moved in and the Lincoln brand became part of the Ford Motor Company. The brand went through a variety of iterations and emerged in the ‘60s and ‘70s as the Lincoln Continental. It was one of the world’s largest production cars, just shy of 20 feet in length, and it became the favourite of presidents, film stars and industry leaders, who loved its style and prestige.
In fact, the White House secret service purchased the Lincoln four-door convertible that Kennedy was riding in at the time he was assassinated in ’63.
Meet and greet
Today, with a renewed commitment by Ford’s CEO, Mark Fields, and a re-birth of the Continental name plate, Lincoln is roaring back into the automotive “luxury club.”
We’re introduced to the new Continental for the first time on the beautiful grounds of the family-owned Davis Estates winery in Napa Valley. Mike Davis, the winery’s owner, hosted a sumptuous wine-paired lunch for us on his Calistoga estate, and we had our first orientation session from the enthusiastic Lincoln team.
Love at first sight?
Well, almost. The generous dimensions make the Continental larger than its stable mate, the MKS, resulting in a stronger presence and more interior space. Its flowing lines are accented by the solid chrome trim that elegantly connects the elevated door handles and the rear-view mirror base. I can see hints of Bentley in the confident look of the front end, not a bad association. The execution of the rear end is clean but a touch utilitarian.
Once inside the cabin, the sumptuous seats and creature comforts are hard to ignore. Lincoln’s interior designers have pulled out all stops with their style, functionality and finish. With an industry-leading 30-way adjustability, two seating features stand out: (1) The thigh support is individually adjustable from side-to-side and (2) The driver’s upper torso is supported independently of the lumbar support. In plain English, these seats can be adjusted to fit just about anyone to the T.
An excellent sound system would be expected in any car that claims luxury status and the Continental certainly makes good in this category. With 19 scientifically positioned premium speakers to support the Revel Ultima Audio system, available active noise control and elegantly executed speaker enclosures, the cabin ambiance gets major points.
The dash is well organized but could do with a few less opulent chrome frames around the controls. An option, however, that looks very sharp, available in the Black Label Rhapsody package, is the interior, designed in rich blue leather. This option comes with other goodies such as vehicle detailing once per year and Lincoln’s remote service, free pick-up and delivery of the car for service and maintenance appointments.
Once on the road, the Continental proves to be a powerful and very comfortable car. My test drive through the Napa Valley and Silverado Trail and over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco was in the “Reserve” model. The Reserve is the top-of-the-line Continental with a 400 hp, six-cylinder twin turbo, all wheel drive that is available in Canada, along with a 300 hp “Select” model.
I felt a good connection to the road with precise steering response and feedback. Having selected the perfect seating position, the Conti delivered a calm, in-control driving experience. I believe the sales literature refers to this as the Lincoln’s “quiet luxury.” With lots of power under the hood, the throttle response in stop-and-go traffic is quite immediate, and once at highway speeds it’s confident sailing.
It is always tempting to review a new model by drawing constant comparisons to other manufacturers’ offerings and getting lost in pitting technical data and specifications against each other. In the final analysis, it has to be the individual’s gut feeling that determines how a new car fits with one’s personality, preferences and lifestyle. My guess is that the Continental will resonate well with the spirit and style of Lincoln’s past, reborn into today’s luxury class. lincoln.com