China might be in economic turmoil right now, but nobody expects the world’s second-largest economy to be any less important in the long term to companies selling everything from soybeans to designer handbags. For global automakers, China has been and will continue to be paramount to their planning of new vehicles, especially in the highly profitable market for luxury sedans and SUVs.
Ford’s coming 2017 Lincoln Continental, unveiled Tuesday at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, was certainly built with China in mind.
“I want this vehicle to do well in the United States, but the competition is fierce in luxury sedans,” Rebecca Lindland, senior automotive analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said in an email. “I can see it doing really well in foreign markets, especially China and the Middle East.”
Longer and roomier on the inside than its predecessors, with a panoramic sunroof and seats that can be electronically adjusted in 30 ways, Lincoln’s new flagship sedan is heavy on what Ford calls “quiet luxury.” This means the focus here is on design, elegance and occupant comfort, not as much on zero-to-60 metrics, or how well it might handle high-speed runs on curvy German highways.
The 2017 Lincoln Continental — the first Continental in 15 years, which will replace the Lincoln MKS — adheres largely to the concept version of the car that showed up at the New York International Auto Show last year, only the interior carpeting and some chrome trim has been removed.
What it’s retained from the prototype are features that attracted big crowds last year, including button-operated door handles that are baked in to the chrome beltline that runs along the base of the windows. Inside, the car has electronic buttons galore, including three that remember different seat configurations.
Lincoln says the new Continental will come with three engine configurations, including a brand-exclusive 3.0-liter twin turbo V-6, with 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque delivered to all four wheels. A 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 and a naturally aspirant 3.7-liter V-6 will also be available in either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
As you would expect in a car focused on technology and occupant comfort, the model comes with a standard 360-degree camera. Automatic forward-collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control will be available as options.
“Unlike Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac and Lincoln just aren’t globally recognized,” Michelle Krebs, senior automotive analyst for AutoTrader.com, told International Business Times last year when the concept Continental debuted in New York. “This globalization is starting to happen a little in China, however. Lincoln just arrived there last year, and it’s doing very well so far. That’s why the Continental is so important; it’s the first truly global vehicle for Lincoln.”