Before these days of endless, shameless bling, V8 sedans of a sporting nature took their job seriously. Flat black trim outsold chrome and wood by a hefty margin. Intrusive electronic nannies, TV screens, time-wasting joysticks and promiscuous style were notable by their absence. Q-ships owners reveled in their car's ability to speak softly and carry a big stick. Fast forward a decade and the sporting sedan's standard bearers have been desecrated; tainted by electronic frippery and morphed into cartoon caricatures of their dignified selves. Even more improbably, the genre's sole survivor was made by the hand of Lincoln.
To see it is to know it. The Lincoln LS Sport's purposeful creases, beefy haunches, short over hangs, and wikkid fast C-pillars seem carefully crafted to win the hearts and minds of Bangle-aversive buyers. The car's hunky proportions and aggressive stance also make a strong case against chop-top chic, and for the design firm of Longer, Lower and Wider. Mind you, the LS' generic taillights and frumpy deck lid are reverse Viagra for anyone under 65. Luckily, squinting HID projectors, 17' chrome wheels and a timeless monotone paint treatment keep the Mitsubishi Diamante references at bay. A new front bumper with a drop-jaw intake, fog lights, and chrome accents lightly spices the plain Jane front fascia.
The LS' elegant 'approach' lamps shed unwelcome light on a different story within. Lincoln's trademark 'satin-nickel' bling-bling abominates the LS' dated interior like a chandelier in a doublewide. A farrago of trim elements fights for your attention with all the forced, misplaced charm of a Brady Bunch family reunion. There's enough walnut trim to panel an upscale rumpus room. The steering wheel places nickel, wood, and antiseptic beige polymers in inexplicable proximity. The oversize gauges look as dull and cheap as a motel lobby clock. Thankfully, mercifully, the LS' switchgear is elegant and functional.
Fight the urge to find an Audi, any Audi, and you'll discover that the LS bombards its occupants with surprise and delight. From the electric parking brake to power adjustable pedals, the LS knows the luxobarge drill: easy does it. The DVD-based navigation system offers the perfect blend of plastic and virtual buttons; it's a quick study compared to the perpendicular learning curve of I-Drive. The LS' air-conditioned thrones are a Dallas matron's best friend, though the short, thin seat bottoms will fatigue any long-legged Texans who happen aboard.
The LS' THX ICE features a trick motorized faceplate, but a choir of slowly roasting Wookies would sound more appealing (on many levels). George Lucas' crew fitted the LS' cabin with the audio equivalent of Jabba's jowels. Not to mix metaphors (much), but the woofers throw enough mud to win a mid-term senate election. De-power those drivers and have a look around. A bright greenhouse and large sideview mirrors afford excellent views of the scenery. Impressionist paintings are a mere eight cylinders away.
In case you Gen Y Botherers never clocked the whole "Hot-Rod Lincoln" thing, nail the LS' throttle. A bracing blast of torque and horsepower establish a welcome link to the brand's muscle car past. The LS' fierce intake growl adds to the drama. While there are plenty of more accelerative six-pots out there, a luxury whip with a 280-horse 3.9-liter V8 that wafts to sixty in 6.5 seconds in the great American style works for me. OK, that's almost two seconds slower than a V8-powered 5-Series, but you can console yourself with a lot of champagne with the money saved.
Or just go out and clip a few apexes. The LS V8 Sport (the only trim level) sits on the Jaguar S-Type's platform. Both the LS' chassis and its ZF steering box are ideally weighted for lateral fun. Firm but fair dampers keep body roll and understeer in check. The Select Shift auto-manual transmission keeps the power coming. Put it all together, throw the four-door into some bends and you'll soon long for more supportive chairs. Yes, sports-tuned imports can run rings around the LS through mad twisties, but the LS is no slouch and it does the cruising thing with far more comfort and class.
Old school sports sedans like this are an endangered species. The company that invented and perfected the genre has abandoned the path not Bangled. Infiniti's Straight-G sedan and the equivalently-priced Germans are off the mark by two cylinders. Lexus has yet to understand the relentless pursuit of performance. Even with infrequent and low-dollar updates over the past six years, only the Lincoln LS personifies all that was right with the last big-bore BMW sedan. Unfortunately, Ford's given-up on the LS. The almost vacant Wixom assembly plant (the brand's home since 1957) ceases LS production later this year. Meanwhile, there's a fire sale of old-school thrills down at your local Lincoln showroom.