Devil in the Details: Up close with Lincoln's Continental Concept

When you're resurrecting a name most associated with pampered land-yachts of the 60s and 70s, you can either fight it or – as Lincoln has with the new Continental Concept – embrace it, shag pile and all. A vision in navy blue and chrome, the meaty sedan previews, so the Lincoln Motor Company says, next year's production Continental, undoubtedly shedding some of the more outlandish features in favor of commercial viability. That'll be a shame, though, since as I discovered at the New York Auto Show today, what the Continental Concept excels at is detailing.

Some concept cars, you suspect, would fall apart if you breathed on them too heavily. Others, like this Lincoln, feel so solid that you suspect you could – if you didn't mind running over a few of your fellow show-stand visitors – drive it straight out of the convention center and onto the streets of NYC.

Like Buick's Avenir concept shown off in January, the Continental Concept's design does feel somewhat derivative depending on the angle.

Also like the Avenir, however, Lincoln's car doesn't really suffer for it. Sure, you can pick out elements that have been used before on other luxury sedans, but they pull together well all the same. The relatively high waistline, paired with meaty wheel arches and comparatively narrow side glass, give the Continental a poise that's particularly satisfying from the front three-quarters.

Meanwhile the chrome waterline running the full periphery of the car, combined with the huge wheels, are production-unlikely but eye-catching all the same. Similarly, the front grille with its illuminated Lincoln badge, and the headlamps – each segment of which is also the company logo – are detailing that mean you don't quite grasp the entire charm of the concept in the first glance.

Trigger the sleekly extruded electronic door handles, and any expectation of subdued luxury inside quickly evaporate.

First it's the color that hits you: a rich shade that's simply everywhere in the cabin. Seats – with a full 30-way power adjustment – and thick pile carpet, door and head linings, and the swathe of the dashboard all match, lifted with lashings of polish-finish chrome.

Everything is motorized. Certainly, the seats shuffle of their own accord – and you can push the front passenger seat right forward, so as to lie near-flat in the chair behind – but there's also a tray table that whirrs out of the center console running the full length of the car, and opens up to reveal a tablet dock.

What really impresses is the detailing, even more considered on the interior than the outside. The seat controls, for instance, are like jewelry; the grilles carefully micro-drilled and then given a satin finish. It's a fingerprint magnet, of course, but what your fingertips are smearing is beautifully made.

Draped over the back of each front seat, meanwhile, is a matching "Venetian leather first-class travel case" for your gold bullion and Jackie O sunglasses.

The Continental Concept's excesses won't – to be entirely honest, can't – be carried over to the production Continental next year. In fact, aside from the silhouette, the most likely contribution it'll make is its 3.0-liter V6 EcoBoost engine, along with its pair of turbochargers.

If, however, Lincoln can distill some of the care and attention it has given to its showcase to the production vehicle, it would go a long way to driving itself back into the luxury segment it so desperately wants to compete in.