Tag Archives: Lincoln MKS

Power in the front, party in the back

The Continental will officially replace the MKS in 2016 (Image: Ford Motor Company)

The Continental will officially replace the MKS in 2016 (Image: Ford Motor Company)

Continental goes front-drive, MKS taken behind barn


There’s going to be a death in the Lincoln family.

The long-running, slow-selling MKS flagship (‘Sex Panther’, as the young folks call it) will go the way of Betamax in 2016, with that year being its final production run.

As difficult as this news is, the trip to the glue factory for the antiquated and invisible MKS has a silver lining, as it will herald the arrival of a new King – er, flagship.

RIP MKS, LOL (Cropped image: Ford Motor Company)

RIP MKS, LOL (Cropped image: Ford Motor Company)

The Lincoln Continental, teased last winter as the saviour of the Lincoln brand (and the first nail in the coffin of the company’s confusing alpha-numeric model names) will take residence at the top of the model lineup.

Big, bold and packed with luxury and yesteryear cues (if the prototype is anything to go by), the Continental would position Lincoln to better do battle with its luxury rivals.

While the vehicle’s power plant was always stated as being a brand-exclusive turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, the drive wheels remained a mystery until recently. Lincoln has confirmed that the new Continental will be (wait for it) front-wheel drive.

Yes, the flagship positioned to take on the Cadillac CT6, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BWM 7-Series, Lexus LS and Jaguar XJ (all rear-drive vehicles) will be front-wheel drive, with an AWD option.

This revelation could take some of the wind out of the sales of hardcore Lincoln aficionados who remember – probably not all that fondly – the previous front-drive Continental (1988-2002).

1991 Lincoln Continental (Image via)

1991 Lincoln Continental (Image via)

Does front-drive mean the Continental will be a dud? Don’t bank on it – after all, the stately design and interior drooled over by auto journos last winter doesn’t disappear just because the car’s torque is being funneled to the front wheels.

(It remains to be seen, however, whether the concept was nearly production-ready, or whether we’ll see a watering down of the design and furnishings in a production model)

All-wheel drive is also nothing to scoff at, especially if the torque is biased towards the rear, or even distributed evenly. This means your dream of hooning a new Continental in the snow could soon become a reality.

Still, the greatest Continentals of yesteryear were rear-drive, as are the big players in the modern luxury market.

On the domestic front, Cadillac’s recent reveal of a range-topping rear-drive CT8 sedan could make the Continental look wanting in comparison, especially given the angular, Elmiraj concept car-inspired design seen in renderings.

Like finding out whether that noise outside the window is a raccoon, the wind, or something much more sinister, only time will tell.

If the interior of a front-drive Continental looks like this, maybe people will be forgiving (Image: Ford Motor Company)

If the interior of a front-drive Continental looks like this, maybe people will be forgiving (Image: Ford Motor Company)


The plot thickens…

If the Continental name returns, could it return Lincoln to the forefront of luxury motoring?

If the Continental returns, could it return Lincoln to the forefront of luxury motoring?

Recently, this humble blog teased you with insinuation and speculation about the possible unveiling of a modern-day Lincoln Continental at next week’s New York International Auto Show.

“It can’t be,” some said.

“Get the f*** out of here,” said others.

“You’re drunk,” opined the rest.

Well, according to the handsome and trendy staff at Jalopnik, there’s plenty of reasons to believe this is exactly what will happen.

Exhibit A? A partially crafted website that gushes about the new Lincoln Continental concept in professional PR-speak. Much mention of “you” and “we”, which is classic ‘personalize-the-carbuyer/automaker-relationship’ jargon.

No images were made available on the page, which was discovered by a Ford fan at blueovalforums.com early on March 25, but the code associated with the page references a 2017 model year Lincoln Continental.

If the Continental name does return, my fingers are crossed for styling elements of the 60s and 70s.

If the Continental name does return, my fingers are crossed for styling elements of the 60s and 70s.

Until now, the bulk of the speculation (when there was any), was that Lincoln would pick New York to tease the 2016 MKS, which currently serves as the aged flagship of Lincoln’s passenger car line.

Any true flagship would require rear-wheel-drive to compete with other luxury automakers, something that can be now be accomplished by Ford’s new and versatile D6 platform.

A source told me this past weekend to expect a rear-drive Lincoln sedan at New York, and it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to carry over the MKS name onto a new rear-drive platform when they have the name ‘Continental’ in reserve.

Yes, the MKS exists (relatively unchanged since 2009) and dutifully reflects Lincoln’s alpha-numeric naming trend, but ‘Continental’ has more caché and remains instantly recognizable as a Lincoln model and luxury symbol.

Whether or not the MKS soldiers on in a new guise, slotted beneath a new Continental, what does Lincoln have to lose by trying to recapture the magic of the past?

The brand is still struggling and can use all the attention it can get.





Mystery date

The Lincoln MKS is due for a styling change, but will it also get a name change? (Cropped image: Ford Motor Company)

The Lincoln MKS is due for a styling change, but will it also get a name change? (Cropped image: Ford Motor Company)

What is Lincoln going to reveal in New York?


Anyone who closely follows the ongoing turnaround of the Lincoln brand will know that something new is expected to be unveiled at the New York International Auto Show this April.

This shadowy Lincoln Motor Company vehicle is said to be a large sedan, underpinned by the new, modular ‘D6’ platform developed by parent company Ford and announced late last year.

That platform is the product of a $5 billion cash injection from Ford, designed to end years of stagnation at Lincoln by enabling a slew of possible new products. The D6 platform is said to be able to accommodate front, rear, or all-wheel drive setups.

An all-new flagship model would be beneficial to Lincoln at this crucial time.

An all-new flagship model would be beneficial to Lincoln at this crucial time.

The most recent Lincoln product to have work done was the 2016 MKX, which was doing the auto show circuit this winter.

Lincoln’s flagship large car is the MKS, a long in the tooth model introduced back in 2009 that’s in serious need of a redesign. Given the recent attention given to the MKZ, MKX, MKC and Navigator, it’s a no-brainer that the MKS would be next in line to receive a new look, and new architecture.

But will the New York debut be the MKS?

In December of last year, folk-rock icon Neil Young (who is marketing an audio product via his music company Pono) let slip that his product would be available on the 2016 Lincoln Continental. That model name hasn’t existed for over a decade.

Lincoln execs were mum on the issue, according to the Detroit News, leaving people to wonder whether Neil’s years of drug ingestion had left him momentarily confused.

Earlier this year, autoevolution.com speculated on the New York debut, posting information garnered from a source that stated that Lincoln would indeed be unveiling a large, rear-wheel-drive sedan at the show.

Lincoln is under pressure to produce a memorable flagship for the brand, especially when considering rival Cadillac’s planned entry of its range-topping CT6 sedan.

The Continental is Lincoln's most famous and recognizable nameplate. Is it too much to ask for a revival?

The Continental is Lincoln’s most famous and recognizable nameplate. Is it too much to ask for a revival?

Rear-wheel-drive would make sense, now that the funds and architecture exist to make it happen. But the New York Auto Show website doesn’t tease the MKS, but rather a ‘to be determined’ model.

Now, it could still be the MKS, which could easily appear on new, rear-wheel-drive architecture. But wouldn’t a memorable name – one that defined Lincoln for decades – make a bigger splash?

A source close to the company told me today to expect a rear-drive Lincoln sedan in New York, and cagily hinted that the Continental name can’t be ruled out.

If true, this would be big news for those who have longed for the triumphant return of that storied nameplate, which brings with it images of iconic, Kennedy-era sedans that defined American luxury.

We’ll have to wait and see whether these wishes will be satisfied – the show begins April 3 – but it’s nice to see some buzz building around Lincoln again. Whatever sedan is unveiled, we can only hope that it’s pleasing to the eye and a competitive entry into its class.

Suicide doors, I’m sure, are definitely too much to ask for.







Lincoln’s identity crisis

Kissin' cousins...

Kissin’ cousins…

Automotive columnist John Phillips has an interesting piece in the July edition of Car and Driver.

In it, Phillips describes the Lincoln Motor Company as being devoid of direction and purpose – an automaker undecided as to what it wants to be in the automotive landscape. Lincoln’s badge-engineered lineup (essentially, luxury re-treads of Ford vehicles), are a “distracting abstraction,” Phillips argues, existing solely as a second sales stream for Ford.

This kind of speculation is nothing new, as Lincoln has been drifting like a ship without a rudder for some time, but it’s still worthwhile. Lincoln is a storied nameplate that has become almost invisible, and deserves to return to prominence.

While traditional rival Cadillac now boasts an appealing lineup of aggressively styled vehicles that knows who their competition is, Lincoln’s offerings lack an overall design philosophy.

Judged on their own merits, each vehicle in Lincoln’s lineup has things to like about it, but there’s no denying they’re simply ‘Fords…with luxury’. Luxury, and an odd grille.

I know the retro waterfall thing is supposed to emulate the face of the classic 1940 Continental, but it always looked like a beached whale to me. The MKS is nice but forgettable, the MKT is a bizarre land boat that’s rarer than a Toronto Conservative, the MKX seems to be a top trim level for the Ford Edge, and the MKZ – the most visible new Lincoln – boasts a no-cost Ford Fusion hybrid drivetrain as its centrepiece along with ‘different’ styling.

The Lincoln MKS: a whale of a sedan.

The Lincoln MKS: a whale of a sedan.

Phillips argues that Lincoln needs to do something completely new – something that’s distinctly a product of Lincoln, and not Ford – in order to emerge from automotive purgatory.

I don’t see why this isn’t possible. Ford is making money, and I’m sure it would like to make Lincolns that generate large sales (and buzz). In the 60s and 70s, Lincoln was a powerhouse, selling luxury coupes and massive formal sedans like they were going out of style (and they were).

In the 1980s, Lincoln held its own over Cadillac precisely because they hadn’t gone on the badge-engineering ride that GM had entered Cadillac into.

(See clip for evidence that Lincoln played up this angle, advertising its “uncompromised individuality.”)

Things started to fall apart in the 1990s after the Mk VIII was put out to pasture and the front-drive Continental started withering on the vine, leaving the Town Car as the remaining ‘classic’ Lincoln.

The rear-drive Lincoln LS (2000-2006) that followed earned some impressive accolades, but is now as remembered as the Cadillac Catera of the same era – ie, not at all. Badge engineering began in earnest in the LS’s wake, with the introduction of the Fusion-based Zephyr in 2006.

The Zephyr thudded into the marketplace with lacklustre sales, forcing the Ford Motor Company to almost immediately rebrand it as the MKZ (while also giving it an engine upgrade and grille redesign).

The rest is history.

I’m sure Lincoln will one day find the direction it needs, but what direction that will be escapes me. I know many car enthusiasts still wish for a modern, rear-drive incarnation of the Continental (with suicide doors, no less!), but Cadillac’s newfound hotness didn’t come from re-hashing the deVilles and Fleetwoods of years past.

On its own, the new MKC small crossover is fairly attractive, with a duo of interesting turbo fours. However – call me a traditionalist – Lincoln needs to be primarily about sedans. We will watch.