Opulence taken to the next level

BY Jim Kerr. Nov 18 04:00 am

The Continental, the flagship of the Lincoln lineup, has returned for 2017 and sets its own path in refined luxury. Since the first model in 1939, the Continental nameplate has been synonymous with luxury, but the definition of luxury has changed with the times and so has the car. Today, the new Continental expresses luxury in three ways: elegant design, effortless power and serene interiors. After experiencing this new Continental, I can tell you they have met those goals and added even more to the car.

The Continental is available in two models — the Select and the Reserve. Both are all-wheel drive with 6-speed automatic transmissions and use V-6 turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engines. The Select trim is equipped with the 2.7 litre twin turbo engine that puts out 335 horsepower and 380 ft-lbs torque, while the Reserve is available with either the 2.7 L or a 3.0 L twin turbo engine that has 400 hp and 400 ft.-lbs. torque. The driver can select between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes through the instrument cluster controls and can set their choice of mode for both Drive and S positions on the push button gear selector. In Sport mode, the engine holds gears longer and downshifts are firmer, while suspension damping is changed to provide a firmer ride. Comfort mode is more relaxing, but still provides very good ride even on twisty roads.

I tried out all the drive modes in a 3.0 L equipped Continental and the effortless power goal is certainly achieved. It is responsive, has a great steering feel and never left me feeling as if I needed more power nor another gear in the transmission. Power when you need it, smooth and responsive at all times is a great definition of effortless power.

Design beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but great designs are timeless. Design can express power, speed, elegance or beauty. The best designs portray many of these at the same time. The Continental design is one of elegance. Graceful lines, judicious use of chrome, the repeating of themes such as the Lincoln Star emblem repeated in the grille, the design of the LED headlamps and the projection displayed by the puddle lamps. The sleek door handles are part of the beltline molding and operate with the touch of a finger, while at the rear, the full-width tail lights impart a sense of continuity. The Continental design is smooth, sleek, understated and elegant. I think it will look good in 20 years from now, which for me is the true test of automotive design.

The serene interior is comfortable enough to meditate in, the seats are superb. Available 30-way Perfect Position seats have individual operating thigh supports, adjustable upper shoulder support and massage functions. To say they were comfortable is an understatement. I would like a couple of them in my living room! A rear seat option on the Reserve model is offered with a 15-degree reclining seat back, power lumbar support, heat, cooling and massage.

The interior fit and finish is excellent, with all controls at your fingertips and displays that are clearly visible in all light conditions. The dash and centre stack controls are backlit with multiple colours that look great, but also make selecting the desired control easy during nighttime driving.

Interior sound levels are extremely quiet, partially due to laminated glass in all of the side windows. Conversations with rear-seat passengers never require a raised voice. Traffic and wind noises are noticeably absent from the interior. Filling the interior is great sound from the available Revel Ultima audio system. Nineteen speakers are used to portray a full spectrum of sound that is audiophile-quality from any seat in the car. While there are fade and balance controls, they are not needed. Instead, you can select Audience, Stage or Normal Stereo mode to place the sound where you wish. Stage mode puts you right in the middle of the musicians for that close-up experience, and proprietary software adds lows and highs to compressed music formats for that full music sound. Superb and worthy of any listening room. let alone a car.

From the welcome of the lighting as you approach the car to the finish of the trunk interior, the Lincoln Continental combines style with luxury and purpose. Well done.

james.kerr@sasktel.net