Future Cars

First Look: Lincoln C Concept

Forget the Continentals of your past, or the big, long rear-drive concepts of the early ’00s. While BMW has proven that rear-wheel-drive c-segment size luxury works, with its 1 Series, Lincoln is turning next to the 2011 Ford Focus’ platform for post-global warming luxury. To prepare us for a CAFE-friendly world, Lincoln rolled out the C concept (for c-segment, and so far, without an “MK” prefix) at Detroit. Looking much like a Renault with Lincoln’s “flying wing” ’41 Continental retro cue grille, the C is about the length of the ’11 Focus, but about 2.75-inches wider for three-abreast seating via two flat benches. Ford designers cite the ’39 Lincoln, ’56 Continental II and ’61 Continental as inspiration. But the a-pillar is curved much like a Renault Espace’s, and the c-pillar ends in a Clio-esque bustle trunk. While there’s no tumblehome, a deep shoulderline accents the profile. The stainless steel-like top is actually aluminum with a metalized paint, and the gray interior wood trim is recycled driftwood veneer. The Lincoln C has more interior space than a ’61 Continental, J Mays and Freeman Thomas proudly note. The engine, theoretically – Lincoln didn’t open the hood — is a planned 1.6-liter EcoBoost four with central direct injection, variable valve timing on both cams and an interesting stop/start system to shut down the engine for red lights and stop signs. Restarts use a fraction of the starter energy required for a cold start by injecting and igniting fuel in the cylinder closest to top-dead-center on the compression stroke. The six-speed, twin-clutch “Powershift” transmission uses more efficient dry clutches (Audi DSG’s wet clutches require an oil pump). It gains 9-percent better fuel economy than a conventional automatic transmission, Ford says. Including some key weight savings, Ford expects the EcoBoost-powered C would get about 25-percent better fuel economy than a similar car with a 2.0-liter.

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