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.
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).
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.