A new generation of Americans, however, wants
to buy American luxury cars that don't feel American. Rather than the marshmallowy,
boat-like feel of big Lincolns and Cadillacs, they want cars that feel European - tight,
fast and precise - which is exactly what the new Lincoln LS offers. It's the Town Car's
Think of the big, classic Town Car as a fat couch potato and the
lean LS as a wide receiver in the NFL - or at least a pro golfer. It's certainly not your
grandpa's Lincoln, and it's helping to redefine American luxury in a new century.
Younger Lincoln buyers, many of whom previously worshipped at the
altar of BMW and Lexus, like the LS because it has the look and feel of a high-end import
with a pleasingly American price, a combination that spells a full frontal assault on the
dominance of Europe and Japan in the sports-sedan arena. It's no pretender.
Starting around $33,000 for a well-equipped V6 model, the LS offers
a terrific mix of luxury and excitement with swift acceleration, confident braking,
sports-car-like steering, and inspirational handling. Its performance closely matches that
of the BMW 5-series and exceeds that of the Mercedes-Benz E-class, both of which cost
thousands more than a similarly equipped LS. Watch out for pricey options, though, which
can easily push its price to $45,000 or higher.
While the 2003 LS isn't an entirely new car, more than 500 of its
parts were changed since last year, Lincoln claims. The result is a car that is not just a
second-rate contender, as was the 2002 model, but a truly world-class sports sedan that
can compete with the big boys.
One of the most noticeable changes is variable valve timing for both
the V6 and V8 engines, making them smoother and more powerful than last year's merely
competent powerplants. A 3.0-liter V6 makes 232 horsepower (17 more than last year), and
the more popular 3.9-liter V8 cranks out a buttery 280 horses (28 more than in 2002). Both
are good choices.
Despite the higher power output, interior noise is improved with
extra insulation and more refined engineering, making the LS cabin surprisingly quiet
without adding weight. Leather seats are standard on all models, dash materials are
top-notch, driving controls are well placed, and gauges have a classy, stylish look.
Interior construction seems solid around the front seats and on the dash, but some trim
around the back-seat roof feels cheap and flimsy.
Exterior styling is understated and elegant, with clear influence
from BMW in its front end. A classy split grille with taut, creasing lines looks blatantly
European to mirror the car's handling and performance.
Why buy it? It's a legitimate alternative to the high-priced
European and Japanese sports sedans that are crowding the streets of suburban America.
From a performance perspective, it's breathtaking. Overall, it's encouraging to see
Lincoln make such a sporty, well-executed sedan that's not stodgy like the Town Car.
Finally, there's a new "Hot Rod Lincoln."