Lincoln Motor Company, MKC, Reviews, Ratings, Rankings, Research, Information, Facts and Details

 

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The Lincoln MKC 

The Lincoln MKC concept crossover could be the brand’s next shot at relevance, but it likely will have to wait another year–until at least spring of 2014–to make the transition from Detroit Auto Show dream to showroom reality.

The MKC is the Ford Motor Company brand’s version of the compact crossover introduced recently for the 2013 model year. The Escape has been both widely praised for its handling and design–and noted for a series of early recalls, including two related to a fire risk with its available 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Lincoln guesses that there’s still potential in a crowded market niche that’s been created and populated heavily by established luxury brands for the better part of the past decade. More new nameplates are on the way, too. Compact to mid-size crossovers like the Audi Q5, Acura RDX and Cadillac SRX are in or approaching their second generations, while newer, smaller entries like the Buick Encore will have had a year or more head-start on the eventual production version of the MKC.

Part of the plan to mint new buyers: sell Lincoln MKCs to China, where the Ford brand will set up shop in the second half of 2014 on a limited basis.

Distinguishing the MKC from the Ford Escape takes the concept version down the same path as the larger MKX and its near-twin, the Ford Edge. It’s the same issue confronted more recently by The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy 2013, the new Ford Fusion, and the resulting spin-off Lincoln MKZ sedan. The MKC has to look different enough to command the price premium of the Lincoln nameplate, while keeping mechanical changes to a minimum.

From a styling perspective, the MKC carries on the MKX’s look, with some subtle evolution, though it’s hard to miss the generic crossover shape behind the winged grille, and in front of the thin ribbon of taillamps. With its low stance and trim grille, the MKC Concept owes as much to the Infiniti FX as it does to any of its current stablemates, especially on its concept-special 20-inch wheels. Just as in the MKZ, the MKC Concept’s cockpit is mostly notable for what’s not there: a conventional shift lever, left behind for pushbutton controls and a touchscreen-dominated interface–the place where the complex MyLincoln Touch infotainment system will live.

As for any details on performance, Lincoln declines to provide those–but if the MKZ sedan gives any clues, we’re expecting both the 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinders from the Escape to be available. While the MKZ gets a V-6 unavailable on the Fusion, it’s unlikely the Lincoln MKC will get a non-four-cylinder powertrain, but it’s feasible that the hybrid powertrain from the related 2013 Ford C-Max could bow on the production version. All-wheel drive is expected to be an option.

All those predictions are based on the assumption that the MKC Concept makes it to dealers next year. Lincoln’s sales fell last year to just 82,150 vehicles from a high of more than 200,000 vehicles a decade ago–a total about one-third of that of sales at brands like BMW and Mercedes. Lincoln attributes the 4-percent fall in 2012 to the loss of perennial fleet models like the Town Car, though other near-luxury brands watched their sales rebound. It’s banking on the MKZ sedan to begin to turn its sales numbers around, but the MKZ launch has lagged, with cars just now reaching some dealers.

It’s a safe bet the MKC will show up on a lot near you next year–but whether it can carve out a bigger niche for the brand, with entries like the Mercedes GLA and Audi Q3 on the way, isn’t nearly as clear.

 

Lincoln MKC Concept shows real promise

Lincoln MKC Concept - front three-quarter view

 

Ford’s efforts to resuscitate its moribund Lincoln luxury brand began in earnest with the introduction of its2014 MKZ sedan, a model many labeled as the marque’s make-or-break offering. Of course, one model does not a comeback make, and with the MKZ just now starting to trickle into dealers, it will be some time before America’s jury of consumers comes in with their judgment. More to the point, it’s likely to take better than a decade’s worth of products and sustained marketing effort to even begin to figure out whether Lincoln has a shot at redemption or if it will die of Mercury poisoning. After all, rival General Motors has been pouring resources into Cadillac since the late ’90s, and if the sales charts are any guidance, it’s still probably too early to declare its rebirth a success.

Lincoln MKC Concept - rear three-quarter viewCertainly, a brand with Ford’s resources, free of distractions (read: the now-defunct Premier Auto Group and various other side projects) should be able to successfully market a single luxury brand, particularly one with such a rich – if distant – history. Especially now with the Blue Oval enjoying more consumer goodwill than at any time in recent history. So let’s all give Alan Mulally and friends a little room to work, eh?

We can start by focusing on the compact crossover seen before you, the Lincoln MKC Concept. Riding atop the same global C-platform that underpins theFord C-Max, Escape and Focus, the MKC showcar here presages a production small CUV that will stick its distinctive nose into one of the auto industry’s fastest-growing segments.

Lincoln’s future hinges on first impressions as much as anything else, and to that end, the MKC Concept makes a darn good one. We’ve had the chance to spend some up-close time with this vehicle ahead of its Detroit Auto Show debut, and it’s a surprisingly handsome machine. We say “surprisingly” because, by general consensus, the Autoblog staff has been less than complementary about t 1938 Lincoln Zephyr. The MKZ sedan was the first clean-sheet Lincoln we’ve seen that incorporates this feature, and while distinctive, our team remains split on its aesthetic he brand’s new design language – mainly its split-wing grille said to hark back to the success largely because of its.

That’s why we’re so glad to see the MKC – to our eyes, the two-piece split-wing setup works beautifully here. It’s at once distinctive and harmonious, with two distinct textures lending it more nuance and richness than its sedan counterpart. The grille’s added height (or that of the headlights that buttress it on either side) may also deserve some credit here, as might the deep-draw creases on the hood, which give the design directional thrust, drawing the eye from the base of the windshield across the bonnet, through the grille and down into the lower fascia.

The side view is no less attractive, with deep-draw sheetmetal and an aggressively raked backlight. Aside from an interesting matte-chrome cutout along the rocker panels to cut visual bulk, the profile’s most interesting feature is the cutline created by the wraparound liftgate. The rear is likewise positively impacted by the hatch design, which features a beautifully uninterrupted full-width taillight treatment that’s almostPorsche Panamera Sport Turismo in execution, along with nicely detailed exhaust outlets and lower fascia.

Dimensionally, the MKC Concept isn’t far off of the Escape, thought there are some important variances. At 106.9 inches long, this Lincoln rides atop a slightly longer wheelbase than the Ford (105.9), and at 179.3 inches overall, it spans 1.2 inches longer, too. In typical showcar tradition, it’s also a fair bit wider (76.1 inches sans mirrors), where the Escape is 72.4 inches wide. Likewise typical of the exaggerated aggressiveness in the concept car genre, the MKC is 63.2 inches tall, a full 3.4 inches shorter than the Escape. Some of that is likely from a chopped-down greenhouse, but it might ride lower as well (no ground clearance figures have been released).

So we’re probably not looking at the exact Lincoln MKC production model, even if you factor in realistically sized side mirrors and add door handles and such. However, this is far from pie-in-the-sky territory; there are realistically sized wheels marking out the corners (stout 20-inch seven-spoke pieces), though we assume they’ll need to decrease the windshield rake a skosh and put frames on the windows. The big question is whether engineers will be able to keep the clamshell liftgate, a feature other models using the C-platform don’t have.

The interior is flat-out gorgeous, with a clean and modern aesthetic that doesn’t resort to a lot of showcar trickery like center-mounted floating seats and improbably shaped instrument panels in order to wow. It also avoids the trap of being too austere – there’s a warmth to this design.

With the exception of the full-length center console that makes this a four-seat vehicle, we think the production MKC’s interior could survive largely intact, even the panoramic roof (sans center rails). Strip away the leather covering every surface and you’re still left with a lot of interesting details that could see production, including air vents that mimic the vanes on the split-wing grille up front and subtle Lincoln Star-pattern detailing repeated everywhere from the stitching to the speaker grates. Even the seats are built on production frames borrowed from the MKZ. We particularly like the artful control stalks (they remind us of a saxophone’s neck and mouthpiece), though we don’t expect them to make production. The unusual reconstructed real wood trim, which is comprised of layers of compressed endgrain finished with a bit of metal flake to draw out the ridges, however, just might. Rich, labor-of-love details like this could make all the difference to potential buyers looking for a reason to splurge on a Lincoln over entrenched premium brands like BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Other showcar-like details including the pushbutton shifter and minimalist center stack with capacitive-touch switchgear is already a production reality on the MKZ, too.

Lincoln remains mum on what powers this showcar (if indeed it even has one at all), but the production model will likely arrive under four-cylinder EcoBoost motivation, skipping the Escape’s base 2.5-liter Duratec engine altogether. It is here that we hope Ford will splash out a bit – upscale design and nicer accommodations are great, but we feel strongly that luxury customers want greater power and technology underhood than what is found in their more common Blue Oval-badged counterparts. Thus far, Dearborn has yet to demonstrate that it feels the same way.

Make no mistake. Lincoln has a long, tough climb back to relevance ahead of it. Not only does it need to continue to radically renovate its product range, it must boldly recast its public image and fundamentally reinvent its dealer experience from brick and mortar to customer relations. The MKC concept isn’t radically innovative in any particular area, but it does suggest that Lincoln’s design language has legs. It also helps that the production model is poised to move into one of the industry’s fastest growing segments, one that lacks a truly dominant player. As places to reinvent a brand go, the small premium crossover segment ain’t a bad place to start.

 

Just the Facts:

  • The Lincoln MKC Concept, the brand’s first small vehicle that takes dead aim at the Acura RDX, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, debuts on Sunday ahead of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
  • Based on the Ford Escape platform, the MKC is part of Lincoln’s plan to remake its brand image and appeal to younger buyers.
  • The Lincoln MKC Concept takes its design cues from the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

 

DETROIT — The Lincoln MKC Concept, the brand’s first small vehicle that takes dead aim at the Acura RDX, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, debuts on Sunday ahead of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.

Based on the Ford Escape platform, the Lincoln MKC is part of Lincoln’s plan to remake its brand image and appeal to younger buyers.

The “small utility concept signals future Lincoln entry into the industry’s fastest-growing segment,” said Lincoln in a statement. No word yet on production plans, but a real-world version of the MKC is not expected in showrooms before calendar year 2016.

The MKC Concept rides on a 106.9-inch wheelbase and has an overall length of 179.3 inches.

The Lincoln MKC Concept takes its design cues from the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

The styling of the MKC is pure Lincoln, the first all-new vehicle from Design Chief Max Wolff since he moved to Lincoln from Cadillac in January 2011. The split-wing grille, a distinctive Lincoln feature since the Zephyr of the 1930s, and the familiar four-pointed star clearly establish the MKC’s brand identity.

But other exterior features signal Lincoln’s desire to update its image and ultimately reduce the average age of its buyers from 65 to 57. LED lighting, muscular lines and aggressive wheel arches contribute to an effect that, according to Lincoln, transcends “typical luxury automotive standards, furthering the brand’s transformation.”

Inside, observers will find the kind of appointments expected in luxury vehicles, including high-end materials, leather seating and wood accents. Lincoln has also loaded the MKC with some of the latest technical features now demanded by modern consumers. Part of what the company calls the “Lincoln Experience,” these include programmable ride control, personalized lighting, a push-button gear selector and a variety of highly customizable functions.

Just the Facts:

  • The Lincoln MKC Concept, the brand’s first small vehicle that takes dead aim at the Acura RDX, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, debuts on Sunday ahead of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
  • Based on the Ford Escape platform, the MKC is part of Lincoln’s plan to remake its brand image and appeal to younger buyers.
  • The Lincoln MKC Concept takes its design cues from the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

Based on the Ford Escape platform, the Lincoln MKC is part of Lincoln’s plan to remake its brand image and appeal to younger buyers.

The “small utility concept signals future Lincoln entry into the industry’s fastest-growing segment,” said Lincoln in a statement. No word yet on production plans, but a real-world version of the MKC is not expected in showrooms before calendar year 2016.

The MKC Concept rides on a 106.9-inch wheelbase and has an overall length of 179.3 inches.

The Lincoln MKC Concept takes its design cues from the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

The styling of the MKC is pure Lincoln, the first all-new vehicle from Design Chief Max Wolff since he moved to Lincoln from Cadillac in January 2011. The split-wing grille, a distinctive Lincoln feature since the Zephyr of the 1930s, and the familiar four-pointed star clearly establish the MKC’s brand identity.

But other exterior features signal Lincoln’s desire to update its image and ultimately reduce the average age of its buyers from 65 to 57. LED lighting, muscular lines and aggressive wheel arches contribute to an effect that, according to Lincoln, transcends “typical luxury automotive standards, furthering the brand’s transformation.”

Inside, observers will find the kind of appointments expected in luxury vehicles, including high-end materials, leather seating and wood accents. Lincoln has also loaded the MKC with some of the latest technical features now demanded by modern consumers. Part of what the company calls the “Lincoln Experience,” these include programmable ride control, personalized lighting, a push-button gear selector and a variety of highly customizable functions.