by John Heilig
SPECIFICATIONS MODEL: Lincoln LS8 ENGINE: 3.9-liter dohc V-8 HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 252 hp @ 6,100 rpm/267 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm TRANSMISSION: Five-speed automatic with Select Shift FUEL ECONOMY: 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, 17.0 mpg test WHEELBASE: 114.5 in. LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 193.9 x 73.2 x 56.1 in. CURB WEIGHT: 3,671 lbs. FUEL CAPACITY: 18.3 gal. LUGGAGE CAPACITY: 13.5 cu. ft. TIRES: P235/50VR17 INSTRUMENTS: Speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, water temperature, digital clock, fuel management computer. EQUIPMENT: Power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, power seats, heated seats, power sunroof,cruise control, air conditioner,AM-FM stereo radio with in-dash cassette player and remote CD changer,anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes,dual front air bags. STICKER PRICE: $40,918
The automotive world has been waiting for a chance to get a look at the Lincoln LS. This is the American version of the Jaguar S-Type. Therefore, in Lincoln garb it is smaller than you'd expect from a Lincoln. It's also a little sportier than you'd expect from the standard Lincoln.
Let's go to the sportiness. The engine is a 3.9-liter V-8 with 32 valves. It's rated at more than 200 horsepower and drives the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic gearbox with a Select Shift feature. In addition, the suspension is slightly stiffer than you would expect from an average Lincoln. This results in a stiffer ride and better handling than the "normal" Lincoln.
But there is one little problem. The LS8 is a small car, probably a five-seater. You drive it to the country club and it's a "ho hum" car that evokes little reaction. You can drive it to the country club because there's room in the trunk for two sets of golf clubs. It also has the leather seating and all the other features that the guys at the country club in their Mercedes Benzes and Lexuses will have.
But it just doesn't feel like a Lincoln. If Ford had chosen to brand this car a Mercury, it might have been a better choice.
The LS8 will compete against cars like the Cadillac Catera, BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-Class and Lexus LS400. The Catera is a V-6; the Lexus a V-8. It's bigger than the 5 Series and E-Class.
Up front are leather-upholstered individual bucket seats that are very comfortable. They are power adjustable. There is a power lumbar adjustment as well, that gives you support in the lower back area.
With the sporty suspension, the LS8 is a driver's car. Most Lincolns can be considered "rider's cars," with somebody else doing the driving. But with the stiffer suspension you tend to look for winding roads, roads that will challenge you a bit. You can shift up and down with the Select Shift when you're exiting a corner without having to wait for the automatic to decide to shift.
The Lincoln LS8 is a nice package. It's compact. It's not as big as "your father's Lincoln." For example, I drove a Town Car a few weeks earlier and that's what I expect a Lincoln to be. I like the Catera, but have the same problem identifying it as a Cadillac.
And while I liked the LS8, it, like the Catera, requires a different mind set. Perhaps the big Lincolns and Cadillacs are too big and we should be considering more cars in the LS8 and Catera mode. However, at my age, it's difficult to get the mind set change. I think I might have liked the LS8 more if it had a different badge on it.