Photos by Lincoln
With the 400-horsepower V-6 engine of the more advanced model and a fully independent suspension, the new Lincoln Continental is an effortless drive.
‘My pappy said, ‘Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop drivin’ that hot rod Lincoln.’”
That rockabilly hit came out in 1955. It may also have been the last time anyone put the words “hot rod” and “Lincoln” in the same sentence.
Many of the Lincolns coming down the pike since have been but warmed-over Fords — a recent MKZ Hybrid that came through had in the trunk Ford Fusion floor mats that fit perfectly. The MKC is the nicest Escape you can buy and an MKX is at its heart a Ford Edge. (To be completely fair, Lincoln is differentiating itself with exclusive engine offerings with more power.)
Enter the Continental, a car that doesn’t exist in any form with a blue oval on the front. A car presaged but never realized under Gerry McGovern’s American Luxury concept when the now-Land Rover design chief was penning new Lincolns in the early 2000s.
It’s been some time since Lincoln has hit one out of the park quite like the new Continental. It employs, arguably and oddly enough, the same kind of reductive design simplicity McGovern is bringing to Land Rover. On the outside, its simplicity is its elegance, with a presence that commands attention yet details that don’t overwhelm.
The door handles are blended seamlessly into the shoulder crease down the side, creating a clean design. At the rear, the tail lights are incorporated into a strip that runs across the width of the rear facade. Up front, the Lincoln grille is both bold and elegant. Bling is understated and just enough.
In Canada, we get two powertrain options, with all-wheel drive for both: a 2.7-litre twin-turbo V-6 (335 horsepower) and a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V-6 (400 horsepower). Power flows through a six-speed automatic transmission.
The result? You can now put “hot rod” and “Lincoln” into a sentence again and mean it.
The 3.0-litre is delightfully powerful, with a pleasing, throaty exhaust note and not nearly the fuel-economy penalty you’d expect, with a respectable — for a large sport sedan, anyway — 12.3 litres per 100 kilometres combined rating.
On the road, that power, combined with adaptive steering and fully independent suspension, provides for effortless driving. A heavy feel to the steering wheel gives it a luxe touch, while the nearly 14-inch rotors on the front and rear disc brakes provide excellent stopping power.
Inside, the Continental has possibly the best Lincoln interior yet. There’s nothing in the Ford lineup that comes anywhere close to this design, which also includes — finally — an attractive execution of Lincoln’s pushbutton transmission controller, integrated nicely into the surround of the touch-screen display.
Those who might have expected jokes about Lincoln having created the perfect mobster’s car will be as disappointed as prospective mafiosos: the trunk’s 472 litres of cargo volume is big, but hardly enough space for more than one person who refused an offer he couldn’t refuse.
The trunk is nicely appointed with carpet and chrome accents and is large enough for most non-Mafia needs.
Lincoln has hit a home run with the Continental, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things that were more grating than great. The adaptive headlights did a good job of dimming for oncoming traffic at night. Too good, actually, often mistaking street lights for approaching cars and dimming way too early in the process.
I’m also not a fan of Lincoln’s application of lane departure prevention: if you’ve ever gone bowling with kids and the side rails have been raised to prevent gutter balls, you have a good idea how this feels. Instead of centring the car in the lane as some systems do, Lincoln’s system waits till you’re just about to cross before applying intervention. It can be a touch intrusive.
As well, the interior lights had a bit of a glitch: when entering and driving away, the reading light above the centre console would sometimes not shut off, and would also at times stay on when leaving the vehicle.
Some of the technology that works really well includes the active parking assist, the glorious sound system and what Lincoln calls Perfect Position Seats, powered front seats adjustable up to 30 different ways, including separate adjustments for each thigh support.
The heated and cooled seats work very well, too. Heating is supplied by an actual heating element: some systems that offer both heating and cooling use the fan for both, which means the heating isn’t that great.
Despite some chinks in the armour, the Continental is, finally, the Lincoln that stands very much apart from its extended Ford family. “Hot rod Lincoln” is a term that may not have applied for a very long time, but with the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V-6, it certainly does now.
2018 Lincoln Continental
2018 Lincoln Continental Interior
2018 Lincoln Continental
The 2018 Lincoln Continental presents a commanding and yet simple exterior, with details that are impressive, yet not overwhelming.