Motoring with Augustine Moyo: Luxury Ford: Blessing or blasphemy?

Lincoln Continental Concept at New York International Auto Show.
Lincoln Continental Concept at New York International Auto Show.

THIS has been the biggest news in the US and in the global motoring arena. Ford, unveiling a car to take on the world’s finest luxury sedans.

Could this be a blessing for the automotive industry or blasphemy?

Ford recently announced plans to take on the luxury sedans of this world as we have all come to know them by unveiling the Lincoln Continental luxury sedan, which is also a four-seater. The Lincoln is not a newcomer per se on the global motoring arena. It is a yesteryear brand that has been revived to take on only the world’s best. It’s the same car that US President J.F Kennedy was assassinated in.

Lincoln has been part of Ford since 1922. Back then in day it was dubbed “The ultimate expression of Luxury” and Ford seeks to have the Lincoln Continental as its “ultimate” game changer.

The Lincoln Continental returns under “The future of quiet luxury” banner.

The new luxury sedan from Ford is indeed discreet luxury. Ford is also separating Lincoln Motor Company from its mass market products.

With a glass roof that tints itself at the touch of a button and first class travel features for the rear seat passengers, this is something definitely to look forward to.

I am not sure if our local dealerships will have the expertise to service this one, given their poor record with the current Ford Ranger T6 trucks which they flooded the market with and have failed on customer satisfaction. The T6 left many customers with a bad taste in the mouth about the Ford brand.

The Lincoln Continental indeed marks Ford’s return to luxury cars and the unveiling of the Lincoln Continental comes at a time when even the French Government has ordered car manufacturer Renault to prioritise the manufacture of luxury cars as opposed to smaller cars.

I had never really been a fan of Ford until I owned my first Ford, which happened to be a Ford Ranger T6 – although my first car was a Mazda 323 Scamp.

No one will deny the fact that Ford has upped its game in the car business. The Ford Ranger T6 undoubtedly changed the way we looked at double cabs and it was indeed a paradigm shift from the conventional truck. It caused quite a stir when it hit global markets.

Rival car manufacturers like Toyota, with its Hilux, did feel the heat and it gave them a run for their money. Ford last year also unveiled the new Mustang which will be available in global markets.

Ford didn’t end there.

Also last year, Ford unveiled the new Ford Everest, which is also something to look forward to this year when it hits our markets. However, the best news of the year is the announcement by Ford to break into the luxury sedan segment and take on Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW with the Lincoln Continental.

There are luxury cars and then there are ultra-luxury cars like your quintessential Rolls-Royce. I am not sure if the Lincoln Continental will upset the German marquees because one thing for sure the Germans mean business when it comes to both luxury and horsepower.

One thing that is very clear is that Ford hasn’t announced its intentions in waging the horsepower war with the German cars.

I don’t want to take anything away from Ford with the Lincoln Continental. I strongly believe time will tell. At the same time, Ford is unveiling the Lincoln Continental after having done enough homework on its competition and definitely they know what they are up against.

However, one thing that has been made loud and clear by Ford is its return to the luxury cars league, and it is determined and not looking backwards. However, just after the unveiling of the Lincoln Continental at the 2015 New York International Show, Ford has found itself in a bit of some controversy, with one of Bentley’s top designers reportedly attacking Ford over the Lincoln Continental’s design, which the VW Group-owned Bentley designer says resembles their Flying Spur. Look, depending on which way you look at it, the issue of resemblance between Bentley’s Flying Spur and the Lincoln Continental is neither here nor there.

In my view, really, the return of the Lincoln Continental is just one of those headaches for rivals as has been the norm.

Ford has really been aggressive in its designs and marketing strategy.

Recently, Ford chief executive officer and President Mark Fields hinted that the new Lincoln Continental would be part of Ford’s strategy to penetrate the Chinese market, as this “refined” luxury sedan will be the “future of quiet luxury opposed to bling luxury”.

I am, however, interested to know how Ford will balance the Chinese equation and the U.S. equation with regards to the Lincoln Continental “the future of quiet luxury”

One thing that you can’t take away from Ford is that it has made a lot of success in the last couple of years despite the last four to five years presenting a tough market, particularly in Europe.

This luxury sedan is something definitely to look forward to, but I wonder how the Lincoln Continental will fare with its 3-litre V6 Ecoboost engine against other rival luxury sedan sedans from Germany in particular given that their luxury marquees have V8 and V12 power-plants and hybrid engines.

Even the Japanese who are considered to be conservative have a V8 in their luxury icon – the Lexus LS.

Still, the Japanese have stayed far off from the “horsepower war” with the Germans. Different markets have different needs when it comes to vehicles.

Definitely in a market like ours where one’s status in society is measured by the size of your engine (in luxury cars), a 3-litre V6 Lincoln Continental will be a tough sell, in my opinion.

 

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