2015 Lincoln MKC first drive
You’ve never seen – or driven – a Lincoln like this before
Photo: Jeremy Sinek
Santa Barbara, Calif. -- It’s tempting to lead this review by reporting that the MKC officially marks the termination of Lincoln’s ill-starred experimentation with touch-sensitive switchgear. But while the return of conventional knobs and buttons vindicates automotive Luddites everywhere, the MKC is a much bigger story than that. Even if it is very likely the smallest vehicle Lincoln has ever produced...
The MKC doesn’t just mark Lincoln’s debut in the fast-growing, have-to-be-there market for compact luxury CUVs. Its launch also coincides with Lincoln’s entry into the equally happening market that is China. While rival Buick historically has huge awareness and presence in the world’s largest car market, Lincoln says its association with presidential limousines gives it a cachet of its own over there. That potential sales volume will hopefully help Ford sustain and grow its luxury brand, which has struggled to justify its existence in recent years.
But back to the MKC. Do not be dismayed that Lincoln is still creating its luxury vehicles on the flesh and bones – if not the actual skin – of common-or-garden Ford products. In this case, the Ford foundation is the Escape, which is a fine little SUV in its right; Ford vehicles based on the company’s C architecture, which also include the Focus and the C-Max, are among the most dynamically gifted mainstream cars available.
Lincoln now has its own design studio
Photo: Jeremy Sinek
Also, you only have to look at the MKC to understand that its exterior sheet-metal is all its very own. Even without the trademark Lincoln grille, and the unique wrap-around liftgate with its cut-lines that sashay gracefully down the sides of the car, you’ll have a hard time spotting any commonality with its working-class sibling.
The Lincoln is marginally longer and wider than Escape, but more important is that its 4,552 mm overall length places it squarely within a peer-group range that spans from the BMW X1 (4,454 mm) to the Acura RDX (4,660 mm) – albeit closer to the smaller end of that range. Interior passenger and cargo-space dimensions are likewise just on the smaller side of average for the group. Indeed, if this isn’t the teensiest vehicle ever to wear a Lincoln nameplate, I’d be curious to know what was.
Although front-wheel-drive is available in the U.S., Canadian MKCs come only with AWD and start at $39,940 with the base 240-hp, 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that is also the top engine in Escape. Unique to MKC is an available new 2.3-litre “four” that boosts horsepower to 285 hp (and torque to 305 lb.-ft. vs. the Escape’s 270).
Starts well equipped and goes up from there
Photo: Jeremy Sinek
Standard features on the base MKC do include keyless entry with push-button start, 10-way power driver’s seat, leather, rear-view camera, nine-speaker audio with subwoofer, and an eight-inch touch-screen with Sync and MyLincoln Touch.
There’s a long price walk to $49,650 for the 2.3, but you also get a raft of additional luxury, safety and convenience features that would be extra-cost options on the 2.0. Over and above that, a $2,500 Technology Package exclusive to the 2.3 adds active park assist, plus lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control with collision warning.
The latter two features stop short, however, of active intervention – which is quite appropriate, given the MKC’s ability to entertain engaged drivers to a degree rarely seen before in a Lincoln. Put another way, it was equally appropriate that about 80 percent of our 360-km drive route traced some of the curviest two-lane roads in the state of California.
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