While Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus each announced interesting and important new models at the North American International Auto Show, two announcements were arguably more important for their respective companies. Lincoln took the wraps of its new Continental, a full-size sedan designed (if I may paraphrase Donald Trump) to make an American brand great again. And Hyundai announced the creation of Genesis, a new luxury brand
In Lincoln’s case, they’ve been trying to claw their way back from oblivion over the past few years introducing well executed if understated crossovers, the MKX and MKC. But they’ve lacked that signature vehicle that could help the brand regain its luster and climb back on the pedestal it once shared with Cadillac as a premiere American luxury auto maker.
For Genesis the mission is different. Like Toyota 30 years ago when it launched Lexus, Hyundai isn’t satisfied to sell smartly designed, well made, affordable cars to the masses. They want some of that sweet high margin, low volume luxury money. In order to make that happen, they’ve put together an all-star design and engineering team to help them get it. Led by Luc Donckerwolke, former Audi/Bentley design chief and engineering mad scientist Albert Biermann who, until he was poached by the Korean conglomerate last year, was running BMW’s highly acclaimed M division, Genesis is hoping to be taken seriously among luxury intenders right out of the gate.
Unlike the offerings from BMW, Audi and Cadillac which are clearly high-performance, driver-first, full-size sedans that offer a great deal of luxury, the G90 and Continental will feature a driving experience focused more on luxury, comfort and quiet, with power, performance and handling that should be more than adequate. In the case of both cars, technology will play a big part in the driver and passenger experience including driver assist, safety, information and entertainment.
We’ll have a complete review of both cars as they become available for test drives. Does the luxury market have room for two new players? Or will Lincoln and Genesis be left on the outside looking in. We’ll keep you posted.