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Back in Black

Lincoln continues its climb back to luxe.

The Center Stage theme's dramatic combination of blacked-out interior and striking red headliner and accents is meant to evoke the experience of being in a darkened theater.

"American luxury car” – it wasn’t long ago that the phrase itself was completely oxymoronic. GM’s Cadillac has gone a long way in putting Detroit’s finest back on the map, particularly with its popular CTS and ATS sedans. However, its XTS is a non-player in the large luxury segment, and a true flagship, likely based on the impressive Elmiraj concept, is still several years away.  

And then there’s America’s other so-called luxury brand: Lincoln. Its late Town Car model was a ubiquitous mainstay among taxi fleet operators (and Mafioso types). Otherwise, mainstream luxury consumers pretty much couldn’t care less about the historic brand. However, when parent company Ford divested itself of its other luxury holdings, like Jaguar and Land Rover, long-languishing Lincoln once again became a focus of the company’s upscale aspirations.

Lincoln has not announced plans to develop a flagship on the order of, say, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Lexus LS. However, the company is significantly dressing up its current and future offerings with its forthcoming Black Label line, a collection of ultra-premium bespoke interior and exterior treatments combined with personalized shopping and driving experiences. The concept is similar to customization arms like BMW Individual and Range Rover Autobiography. The hope is to lure luxury customers with an eye for design.

Starting with more than two dozen potential concepts, Lincoln designers boiled its combinations of premium materials down to three themes. Drawing on fashion and theater, the Center Stage interior motif dramatically combines jet black with striking red suede headliner and door and seat accents. The Indulgence package, inspired by premium chocolate, features ganache- and truffle-colored Venetian leather with grainy ziricote wood – reportedly its first use in an automotive setting. Lastly, the Modern Heritage theme reflects a clean, modern aesthetic with a classic black-and-white palette, glammed up a bit by metal flakes in the wood trim.

No word yet on the price premium for Black Label treatment when it becomes available later this year on the MKZ sedan and forthcoming MKC crossover. It will also include a “shopping and ownership experience” component through designated dealerships. It remains to be seen how meaningful Black Label will be in Lincoln’s revitalization. Regardless, it seems to lend a bit more believability to the once-foreign concept of American luxury.

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