So, you're dreaming of owning a BMW or a Jaguar. Why? Because you want a luxury sports sedan with great handling and a manual transmission. But, your budget doesn't allow you to pay more than $35,000. You're in luck. There's a new car in town. It can compete with BMW and Jaguar. And it's a Lincoln. That's right, a Lincoln.
The all-new Lincoln LS is aimed squarely at the BMW 5-series and hits its target right on. And it costs about $10,000 less. If you've never thought of owning a Lincoln, read on. You might change your mind.
The driving experience of the LS is its most exciting aspect. We purposely tested the V6 model with a manual transmission to see if a Lincoln could be fun to drive. It is. The German-made Getrag gearbox is very smooth and precise. Shifting gears is a joy, at least for those who want to do their own shifting. The benefit of the manual is that the straight-line acceleration of the car with a V6 is all but identical to that of the V8 with an automatic transmission.
The sport package comes with 17-inch wheels, low-profile tires and what Lincoln calls the European suspension. This $32,250 model offers excellent handling and a smooth ride. The steering is one of the nicest of any car on the road as it gets stiffer the faster one drives. It makes the car as much fun to drive on windy mountain roads as a sports car.
A sporty driving experience is also available by ordering the SelectShift automatic transmission with either with the V6 or V8 engine. This is the first time a Ford product has used this type of transmission: The driver can select either fully automatic or manual shifting. In the manual mode, the driver changes gears by pushing the gearshift lever forward to shift up or by pulling it back to shift down. (A computer makes sure that the driver does not try to shift down when the car is going too fast. And it will shift up automatically if the driver forgets to shift when the engine reaches the redline.) The SelectShift transmission is included when the sport suspension package is ordered.
In a brief drive in a V8 with the standard 5-speed automatic transmission, we found the steering was not as crisp and the car supplied a cushier ride. It was still a lot better than one would expect from a Lincoln but not as sporty as a BMW.
The dynamic handling of the LS is world class because the engineers spent considerable time developing a car with a nearly perfect 50/50-weight distribution -- half the weight is on the front wheels and half is over the rear wheels. Most cars have a definite weight bias toward the front end. Lincoln managed this balancing act by moving the battery to the trunk and making the hood and front fenders from lightweight aluminum.
Jaguar fans were concerned when Ford announced the new Jaguar S-Type would share the same platform as the new Lincoln LS. But the two cars arrived on the scene with different characters. What they do share is excellent handling and great acceleration performance.
With a pedigree as good as this, the LS should be world class -- and it is. In fact, with its competitive pricing the LS is a serious alternative to the traditional BMW for a driver who wants a luxury sedan that is fun to drive. The LS is the sort of car for the person who wants to be different from the others in the country club driving up in their Mercedes-Benz or BMW.