A car grabbed my attention from about four lengths ahead on the highway coming into downtown. A Bentley? No, it didn’t have the right rear end. A Rolls? Definitely not.
Once I got closer I realized that the car was a new Lincoln Continental and looked darn good cruising among the mass of plebeian automobiles on the highway. So good, in fact, that I had to wonder when the last time was that a Lincoln caught my attention and demanded a double-take.
Okay, in all honesty, the last time it happened was with the MKT, a crossover SUV of exceptionally unfortunate proportions. The Continental, though, turned my head for all the right reasons. Seeing that car, paired with the recent release of the Genesis luxury brand, got me thinking that the luxury market suddenly looks a lot more interesting than it did even a year ago.
Because of the Continental, Lincoln’s sales are up for the year, and, for the first time in about two decades, there’s a growing optimism that the brand can compete with the world’s best luxury cars. The company is in the midst of revolutionizing its customer experience and adding comforting touches to its new cars. Automotive News described them like this,
Lincoln programs its vehicles to embrace approaching drivers by pleasantly brightening the headlights, projecting a “welcome mat” by each door and making the handles glow in a color that complements the exterior paint. Upon entry, the center stack lights up in a meticulously designed progression and the start button pulses invitingly.
Those are the kinds of special touches that can connect owners to their cars and help build brand loyalty. Paired with an enhanced customer service program that includes a free pickup and delivery service for maintenance visits, Lincoln could suddenly be the hottest luxury brand to watch over the next couple of years.
If Genesis doesn’t steal its thunder.
Hyundai’s luxury brand has unveiled its G80 sedan and could give buyers some convincing reasons to choose it over the likes of Lexus, Cadillac, and Lincoln. The G80, along with the flagship G90, are priced lower than the competition but offer a similar level of luxury. Both cars are generating positive reviews and, so far, look to have what it takes to compete.
A potential problem is how Genesis cars are sold. For the time being, customers have to visit a Hyundai dealership that has a special Genesis section to test-drive and purchase a Genesis car. That’s a far cry from Lincoln’s improved customer experience and could prove to hold back buyers who value special treatment more than saving a few bucks on their cars.
Could the Genesis G80 or Lincoln Continental pull you away from other luxury automakers?