Automobiles

Lincoln gives us a peek at a luxurious future with the Continental Concept

Big luxury and big styling is back in fashion at Lincoln. The company will debut the Continental Concept later this week at the New York Auto Show, but you can get an early peek here.

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The global economy is picking up, and so too is Lincoln. The Ford-owned luxury automaker's sales are up by 12 percent so far this year, boosted thanks to some newfound success in China. Nine Lincoln dealerships opened there last year, and three of them have already managed to enter the company's top 10 highest-volume dealership list.

What's next? The company will reboot its MKX crossover this year, but next year we're told to expect a new full-sized sedan. If we're lucky, it might look something like this, the Continental Concept.

The Continental, first introduced in 1939, hasn't been seen since 2002, when its long production run came to a close. Its spirit returns in this concept with a new focus on personal luxury, and a goal of capturing the international market. Specifically, China.

Design Director David Woodhouse says that goal had a heavy influence on the design. "The story of the interior is really around second-row accommodation and amenities. It's very much informed by luxury air travel." Like in a private jet, rear seats can recline and there are fold-up work tables if needed. The front passenger seat will automatically move out of the way, too, should Sir or Ma'am in the back seat wish it.

"The indulgence of the interior is really through the materials," Woodhouse said. "Carpets, Alcantara around you, an almost silk-like headliner. It's a really indulgent place to hang out." There's even a hidden beverage holder to keep your bottle of Moet on ice.

The rear seats of the Continental Concept look like a very nice place to be. Lincoln

There's some interesting tech, too, including a somewhat elaborate welcoming procedure: "We worked a lot at Lincoln on the detection of the customer as you come up to the vehicle, and how it comes to life. That coming to life begins with the badge," Woodhouse said. "It illuminates, and there's a beautiful flow through the headlights, around and across the front end and through the car."

The lights actually shine through the chrome on the car. ("Not something we can deliver in production yet, but it's something we're looking at," Woodhouse said.) The Continental is also augmented with automated parking and four high-definition cameras stitched together to provide a 360-degree view of the surroundings.

Despite the luxury of the car and the dramatic styling, it isn't particularly huge -- roughly the size of an Audi A6 . It, and its deep blue paint, will be appearing on the show floor at the New York International Auto Show this week, and with any luck Lincoln will see fit to bring something like this to dealers next year.