Drive Away 2Day

2015 Lincoln MKC : Current Models

Forget the Continental-like, rear-drive artillery pieces for mafiosos that we all think Lincoln Motor Company should be building. They aren’t happening anytime soon, and neither are expensive, brand-exclusive platforms, à la Cadillac. So you might as well get over it. The vehicles that Lincoln is building, crossovers and cars spun from volume-brand architectures, might make you a sad panda, but the brand’s problem largely has been the execution, not the strategy—witness the VW Group, which crafts excellent, cost-effective vehicles of wildly disparate prices, sizes, and missions from the same few boxes of parts.

So, yes, the MKC shares its platform with a Ford product, or rather several of them, as it rides on the solid C1 bones that also underpin the Focus, the C-Max, and the one most closely related to this Lincoln, the Escape. But calling the MKC a rebadged Escape sells short the alterations that make it, if not a unique vehicle, somewhat more than a simple re-skin.

Will Change Do It Good?
For starters, the MKC features a wider track than the Escape. This was accomplished via changing the kingpin angles, which in turn required all-new front suspension geometry to avoid introducing bump steer and other nasties. All bushings are new, as well. The MKC’s roof is lower at all pillars than that of its Ford cousin, as measured from the floorpan, so all seats were lowered a bit. This dropped the center of gravity from the Escape’s while still maintaining the “command” seating position preferred by drivers of these pseudo wagons. The MKC’s brake rotors and calipers are its own, and it also has an electronic parking brake. Meeting the Lincoln’s styling goals dictated redesigned front and rear crash structures to accommodate both the swept-back front fascia and a shorter rear overhang. Caveats to the changes: Much was also altered in transforming the satisfying Ford Fusion into the Lincoln MKZ—we know how that turned out—and Lincoln admits this is the heaviest vehicle on the C1 platform by “a fair amount,” although we don’t yet have any numbers.

The MKC offers two turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The new one displaces 2.3 liters, so, as with the MKZ and its V-6, the MKC offers a powerplant unavailable in its correlate Ford (although a stronger version will find its way into the 2015 Mustang). Compared with the 2.0-liter base unit, it receives unique intake and exhaust plumbing, including a three-port integrated exhaust manifold (as opposed to a single port); a new radiator, condenser, and air-to-air intercooler; larger valves; and its own twin-scroll Honeywell turbocharger that pumps at 15 psi. Making 275 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque at 3000, it’s competitive with the German bogeys—namely the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes GLK, the top-deck versions of which make 272, 300, and 302 horsepower and 295, 300, and 273 lb-ft.

The entry 2.0-liter turbo four makes the same 240 horses and 270 lb-ft of torque as it does in the Escape and Fusion but does without the 2.3’s fancier respiratory equipment. Both engines spin Ford’s 6F35 six-speed automatic, although the 2.3 application uses a heavier-duty torque converter to better match that engine’s power-delivery characteristics. No fuel-economy numbers were forthcoming, but active grille shutters will help in that regard. Front-wheel drive will be standard, while all-wheel drive will be optional. Models with four driven wheels will include active damping as part of the Lincoln Drive Control (LDC) system that offers Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes for the throttle, shift mapping, and dampers. (The active setup is optional on front-drivers.) Let’s hope the suspension portion is tuned better here than in the MKZ, where the final two settings should just be called Too Stiff and Granite.

Handsomeness—It Has It
A sharp arrow in the MKC’s quiver, its handsome styling will be crucial in the battle against Lincoln’s brand perception. The discreetly upscale, compositively German aesthetic of last January’s MKC concept has carried over almost completely unchanged, with the aggressive shoulder line, re-re-reimagined split-wing grille, and Audi-style clamshell liftgate all making the cut for production. The Escape looks narrower and more upright in comparison, and moving the side mirrors from the windows on the Ford to the doors here has allowed for additional glass. About that tailgate: It’s made from a single hydroformed panel, with no cut lines to clutter its clean visuals. Like the Escape’s inset hatch, it can be operated sans hands by waving your foot under the bumper. Eighteen-, 19-, or 20-inch wheels are available.

Lincoln is also touting Approach Detection, which activates the taillights and LED front running lamps and projects cutesy “welcome mat” brand logos onto the ground when the key fob moves within nine feet of the vehicle. LEDs in the door handles also illuminate; Lincoln found that the light from these appeared inconsistent depending on exterior color, so, in a fairly impressive bit of fussiness, someone will alter their brightness at the end of the assembly line to achieve uniformity across the production run.

As with the exterior, the cabin will look familiar to anyone who saw the concept, with one major—and majorly welcome—alteration: The panel of capacitive touch controls below the main screen is gone, a lineup-wide decision made, Lincoln says, due to customer feedback. (So keep bitching about stuff. It works sometimes.) A sort of abbreviated escarpment overhanging cup holders and storage bins, the center stack is instead punctuated with a glorious mix of push buttons and whirling knobs that control HVAC, audio, and other functions. Yes, the eight-inch touch screen uses the same obstinate MyLincoln Touch software we’ve complained about in the past, but that’s code, which can always be updated.

Clean, simple visuals dominate, with thin blades of trim spearing across the dash before sweeping onto the door panels. Several varieties of real wood in finishes ranging from matte to semi-gloss will be available, or you can go with aluminum. We had a chance to sit in the MKC for a few minutes as part of a private preview, and although the materials don’t set a new standard, they seem appropriate for the class. The only missteps were a few Focus/Escape/Fusion pieces—stalks and window controls, for example—that look a bit down-market but probably won’t raise any owner eyebrows. The bank of buttons for selecting gears carries over from the MKZ, with the stop-start button relocated to the bottom for an easier reach. An S button activates a defined LDC configuration, which is programmed via the touch screen.

One Final Checkbox to Tick
The MKC will go on sale early next summer at $33,995, an apparent value relative to the Q5 (base price: $38,195), X3 ($40,725), GLK ($38,405), and Acura RDX ($35,415). But lacking a detailed price and equipment list for the Lincoln, we won’t know how it stacks up until we’re able to compare similarly equipped models. A panoramic sunroof is an extra-cost option, as is leather upholstery. Vinyl surfaces are standard. Lincoln promises several as-yet undetailed option bundles, but we do know that ultimate specification will come by way of Lincoln’s recently announced Black Label program and that pricing is likely to stretch above the $50K mark. Another feature making its Lincoln debut on the MKC is always-on connectivity, which allowed for the development of the MyLincoln Mobile app for starting, locking, and locating the vehicle, as well as pre-conditioning the interior. Owners can also check various vehicle diagnostics and program remote start times.

It seems as though Lincoln has made the most of its limited resources to deliver a compelling small luxury crossover. But the checklist isn’t complete. Most of the competition offers relatively engaging dynamics—as well as trusted luxury badges—and we have yet to drive the MKC. Lincoln pitches this crossover as a sporty thing, and the solid C1 bones are a great starting point, but the MKZ remains a prime example of what could go wrong. We’ll find out next year whether the MKC is the first Lincoln in a long time to truly escape its Ford roots.

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Sources : 2015 Lincoln MKC Photo | 2015 Lincoln MKC Article | 2015 Lincoln MKC Interior Photo | 2015 Lincoln MKC Photo 2 | 2015 Lincoln MKC Photo 3


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