After a 13-year break, Ford has dusted off the Lincoln Continental badge for a brand new concept car for the New York International Auto Show which, the company claims, heralds a return to opulent, yet quiet luxury.
According to the brand's design director, David Woodhouse: "The Lincoln Continental name is associated with iconic beauty and elegance." And while that may be true in North America at least -- the Continental has never threatened European shores -- it's also true that what passes for automotive luxury has moved on considerably since the last time the Continental was on sale, back in 2002.
And the new Continental concept is clearly making up for this lost time. Due to go on display officially on Wednesday at the New York Auto Show, it has an exterior that wouldn't look out of place at a top European golf club carpark and an interior full of technological tricks that are focused on comfort, rather than simply being gimmicky.
For example, the seats are the most flexible and adaptable ever fitted to a car. They have 30-way adjustability to suit any driver or passenger, and the side bolster that touches the door for extra cushioning and support automatically deflates to make getting into and out of the car easier. Staying with this theme, simply touching a button hidden under the door handle will make it automatically open or close and the car knows when its owner is in proximity and will light itself up in the evening to make it easier to see and pick out a route.
"Luxury at its best is about simplifying and quietly exceeding expectations, rather than being the loudest statement on the road," said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. "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."
Aware of what its mostly German competitors can offer, the Continental Concept's rear off-side passenger seat also reclines flat when the front passenger seat is moved fully forward. There is a sliding center console table with an integrated touchscreen display for a spot of productivity on the move. There is a champagne compartment between the rear seats and two hand-made leather carry cases are integrated into front seat seat-backs, which can be detached when needed.
There can be a huge difference between a show-focused concept car and the real-world model that eventually goes into production, but the concept and the road-going cars will both feature a turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine and a raft of active driver safety aids including pedestrian detection, park assist and pre-collision assist.