A Big Step Forward for a Returning Luxury Brand
With every new product Lincoln launches, I feel more confident that Ford took all the lessons from its unfortunate history about how not to ruin a luxury brand.
After the MKZ, the Fusion’s cousin, which I drove (both the Hybrid 2.0 and the 3.7 V6), pleasantly for several hundred kilometers, the MKC is another milestone that is already making a significant difference for the brand’s future.
The MKC is definitely the right product at the right time that can help Lincoln to revisit the glorious eighties. The market for compact luxury crossovers is booming and Lincoln already had a solid foundation to bring a good product in this segment: The best-selling Ford Escape, arguably Canada’s compact SUV. Very smartly, Lincoln used the mature, reliable and modern Escape platform without copying a single sheet metal or interior components.
Not only the products, but also the organization is different. Ford created the “Lincoln Motor Company” with its own design product development and sales teams for the brand’s “reasonable independence”.
Remembering the similarities between the Fusion and the MKZ, at least in the interior, the 2015 MKC is probably the first Lincoln of modern times with its own identity.
For an insider who keeps up with the market developments, it is easy to observe that Lincoln targets a not-so short list of high profile competitors like Audi Q5, BMW X3 (and X4), Mercedes GLK, Acura RDX, Range Rover Evoque and the new Lexus NX. Resemblance to the Q5’s profile is probably not a coincidence either. Interior design is cleaner and simpler with solid buttons and knobs compared to the MKZ with more dash mounted controls. Transmission gear selector has become a Lincoln design feature and continues its presence in the MKC. Like the floating centre console, it is a smart way to free up cabin room. Plenty of soft-touch plastics and real leather, wood and aluminum trim are features you expect in the luxury class and the MKC does not disappoint in this regard.
In line with a downsizing trend, the MKC offers two engine options both with four cylinders. My test vehicle had (instead of the base, 2.0 liter model) the new, 2.3L EcoBoost, turbo-four that also powers the new 2015 Ford Mustang. With 285 hp and 305 lb.-ft. of torque the MKC provides an excellent driving pleasure with no lack of power at all. This engine is mated to a six-speed automatic, with standard four wheel drive, a feature almost impossible to skip for a luxury car manufacturer in Canada. The theoretical consumption figures are 12.9 (city) and 9.2 (highway) liters respectively. After driving 748 kilometers in one week with more mileage on the highway, I came up with an average of 12 liters. A reasonable figure but not a benchmark for fuel economy.
The ride comfort meets the expectations with front suspension MacPherson struts and a rear multilink setup with gas-pressurized shocks and anti-roll bars. You can customize the ride control by choosing one of the three modes (Normal, Comfort and Sport). Lincoln Driver Control system tunes the transmission’s shifting, steering and throttle mapping accordingly. With so much software even in a mass-market vehicle today, it is quite easy to change the character of the vehicle with the push of a button. I usually chose the Sport mode and “imitated” the driving characters of a German car and this worked so well. Lincoln created a very quiet cabin with additional sound deadener, acoustic glass, felted wheel wells and active noise cancellation technology. This is how you will differentiate yourself from a Ford cousin and persuade people to pay several thousand more than a similar product with the blue oval or any mass-market vehicle.
To justify the price difference with an Escape, more amenities are required. So, the new MKC offers driver-assistance features such as Lane-Keeping System, Blind Spot Information System, collision warning and active park assist. My test vehicle had also the so called “Park Out Assist”, which unfortunately I was notable to test.
With all bells and whistles, the total MSRP of my test vehicle reaches CAD 55,920. A truly premium price for a compact CUV and a test of persuasion for Lincoln.
As Mark Fields, Ford’s new CEO stated in Detroit during NAIAS in January, one third of the profits of all manufacturers originate from the sales of the luxury brands. This is a bold statement he made during the launch of the new MKX, the bigger brother of the MKC with a strikingly similar design.
The MKX will most probably be another leap forward to establish Lincoln as a luxury brand with a bright future.
You are a potential MKC customer if you are shopping around in the crowded compact luxury crossover segment and an early explorer of a returning brand with a great heritage.
Type of vehicle All-whell drive compact SUV-CUV
Power 2.3L, 4-cylinder GTDI Ecoboost engine,
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Brakes Four-wheel disc with ABS
Price: base/as tested $39.940 / $55,920
Destination charge $1,750
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km) 12.9 city, 9.2 highway
Standard features AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, ABS (anti-lock brakes), hill start assist, power mirrors with integrated blind spot mirrors, Easy Fuel capless fuel filler, Multifunctional Message Centre with LCD screen
Options Group 102A Package $7,760 (dual power sunroof, navigation, heated and cooled front seats hands-free lifgate, cross traffic alert, heated steering wheel), Technology Package $ 2,250 (Active Park Assist, adaptive cruise control, lane assist), Ecoboost Package with 245/45R19 98V Rated Tires, 19″ PRM PNT 5 Spoke LSTR Wheels
Article: Varol McKars
Pictures: Varol McKars, Burak McKars
Test vehicle was provided by JLR Canada via BHG Media
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