Lincoln executives and engineers are happy to extoll the elegance of the Continental concept's exterior and interior appointments, but when the conversation shifts toward powertrain, questions are deflected by coy answers and polite smirks.
Lincoln confirms that the production version of the Continental will be motivated by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine, but will not yet comment on specific output or which wheels will receive power.
Omar Odeh, a Ford product marketing manager well-versed in "engine downsizing," is not worried about potential backlash from potential buyers who might expect V-8 power under the hood.
"We're seeing a trend toward downsizing for all major luxury makers," Odeh said. "Owners care more about the overall dynamics of the product, not the number of cylinders."
"Quiet luxury" is the working theme of both the Lincoln concept car and the brand itself. The Continental concept aims to deliver torque more smoothly at a lower RPM than a conventional V-8, made possible by twin-turbochargers that work in tandem to minimize low-end lag and even out the power curve while improving fuel economy.
Not long ago, skeptics wondered if pickup buyers would accept a turbocharged V-6 engine in place of a V-8. Today, Odeh says, EcoBoost-powered F-150s make up 60 percent of the model mix. To those customers, Odeh said, all that matters is that the engine can deliver a comparable amount of power.
Ford's controversial choice to equip the GT supercar with a 600-plus horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 frames a discussion of the fate of the V-8. Engine downsizing successfully banished V-6 engines in Ford's top-trim midsize sedans and crossovers. Does the turbo four's victory over the V-6 signal a similar fate for the V-8?
"We're still seeing iterations of the V-8 that deliver more fuel economy and power," Odeh said. "Just look at the Mustang. V-8s still have a place here at Ford."
Auto World News was on the ground and covering the 2015 New York International Auto Show. Check out our up-to-the-minute coverage of all the action in New York City, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.