There’s no denying that Lincoln is in a better place than it’s been in years. The Navigator and Aviator have taken the American luxury brand in a bold, distinctive direction. There’s no reason the Lincoln Continental couldn’t have distilled this down into a similar experience, but as you’re probably aware, the Continental never managed to get the formula exactly right. But lest you think that Lincoln simply didn’t have it in itself to craft that sort of swaggering, desirable sedan that could stand out in a way the Continental couldn’t, the Lincoln Zephyr Reflection “preview car” is here to set the record straight in Shanghai.
If you think “preview car” sounds like PR doublespeak for a concept car that … ahem … previews a forthcoming production model, then you’re not wrong. Indeed, Lincoln claims the production variant of this concept is ready to go and is due to hit dealerships in China next year. Look for the saleable model to sport larger side mirrors and perhaps a less intricate grille arrangement relative to this concept.
That said, the Zephyr Reflection is not a China-market analog to our recently departed Continental. In fact, it is much smaller than that car. If it’s hard to tell this, then that’s because there are a lot of stylistic flourishes that effectively add length, elegance, and athleticism to the Zephyr Reflection’s design. Check out the strong lower door crease and side skirt arrangement. These features reduce the visual height of the doors, giving the effect of a longer wheelbase and a hunkered-down stance, while also adding some visual contrast and complexity. The Audi A7-esque tail lip, the sharply swooping body line just below the windows, the kink at the C-pillar? All of these work together to build a car with some real distinct Lincoln character—and without losing coherence.
Up front, Lincoln’s contemporary “hexagonal bean” grille is present. Here, it’s encrusted with inset Lincoln shields. It also features some fascinating curvature and is bisected by a bold accent bar. The headlights and inlets at the lower corners of the car’s fascia don’t necessarily scream Lincoln or resemble other products, but that’s not the Zephyr Reflection’s fault so much as it’s the result of a brand employing a design language that’s still in the infancy. There are other suitably bold and aggressive details, too, such as the horizontal rear light fixture (with a compelling turn-down at the corners) and the crisp, modern (and thus screen-intensive) interior.
While Lincoln calls the Zephyr’s design language “Quiet Flight,” it’s certainly louder than “Quiet Luxury.” And so too is the strategy behind it. Lincoln is working to design unique cars for the Chinese market (ahem, the Zephyr Reflection), and also produce these models locally to avoid punishing tariffs. The Chinese-produced Lincoln Corsair PHEV debuted alongside the Zephyr Reflection, and it won’t be the last—part of what we assume is still the plan to produce as many as five vehicles in China.
The production Zephyr Reflection will almost certainly never make it to our shores, but perhaps some of its Quiet Flight DNA will help the next generation of Lincoln SUVs and crossovers stand out.