This is our best look yet at the production version of Lincoln’s all-new Continental flagship sedan, which will serve as the replacement for the MKS when it goes on sale next year. Previewed in concept form back at 2015 New York Auto Show, the production version looks almost identical to the striking show car (much to Bentley’s chagrin), right down to its vertical-split grille, traditional three-box shape and transparent-chrome tail lights.
The platform underpinning the car is a stretched version of Ford Motor Company’s [NYSE:F] front-wheel-drive (with available all-wheel drive) CD4 architecture, which is found in a variety of existing models such as the Fusion, Edge crossover and Lincoln MKZ. The stretched version of the CD4 platform is common to the all-new 2016 Ford Taurus, which made its debut in Chinese-market trim at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show.
Lincoln Continental concept
The Continental prototype featured in our latest spy shots is likely to be a U.S.-spec car, but an even longer version tipped to be sold exclusively in China where it will be aimed at the market’s chauffeur-driven class is being developed. The new Taurus measures in at 197 inches in length, and we suspect the new Continental will be similar in size. The long-wheelbase model, however, should stretch beyond 200 inches.
At least one powerplant we can be sure of is a new 3.0-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, previewed in the Continental concept car. Front-wheel drive will likely be standard to help maximize fuel economy, although we suspect most Continental buyers will seek the available all-wheel-drive setup. A hybrid variant may be offered as some point in addition to a more powerful version with a larger capacity engine.
Lincoln Continental concept
We don’t have any photos showing the interior but it’s safe to assume that the general layout of the cabin in the Continental concept will be transferred faithfully to the production model. Three seats should feature in the rear of the U.S.-spec car, though Chinese versions could offer two individual executive seats up back. Look for plenty of chrome, leather and various soft-touch materials. A premium Revel audio system should also feature, along with the latest Sync infotainment system and connectivity options as well as plush seats with 30-way adjustment.
Lincoln hasn’t set a firm date for the launch of its new Continental, stating only that it will go on sale in 2016, meaning it will likely land as a 2017 model. A debut at next month's 2016 Detroit Auto Show is looking likely. Per Lincoln, key rivals will be the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. We also suspect a few potential buyers for the new Cadillac CT6 may want to wait and see what the new Continental turns out like before signing on the dotted line.