Lincoln Motor Company, the luxury car arm of Ford Motor Co. has at long last decided to shrug off its dormant phase and get back into the game of building cars that were once the envy of the automotive world. This month we got behind the wheel of the all new and freshly updated Lincoln MKC to sample first hand the company’s attempt at breaking into the busy luxury sport crossover segment and the attempt looks promising!
Ford is seriously making effort to convert its once struggling luxury division into a desirable brand, and thankfully the MKC is a product that is leading the charge. Since the Lincoln MKC’s debut two years ago, we’ve recognised this compact crossover as more than just a rebranded Ford Escape, with which it shares its platform. The 2017 MKC is a step further in the right direction for Lincoln, thanks to its driving style and interior refinement. It sits slap bang in the centre of the compact luxury crossover market, its sophisticated, performs with verve, and wows with a luxurious cabin and plenty of technology... all for a few grand less than the equivalent models from more established luxury brands.
In design, the MKC states its purpose. It plays into the hands of standard-issue crossover styling themes, yet rises above the rest in a series of subtle design cues that show someone’s been paying attention. The front end is a slimmed-down rendition of the split-wing look that Lincoln is beginning to move away from, and the glass has been carefully framed. The most enticing view is the one from the back, where the MKC’s full-width taillights and the two-piece tailgate design are smoothly executed.
The Lincoln MKC is interesting to look at both inside and out. “Graceful athleticism” is a design theme Lincoln uses to describe the exterior, and you can see that from the side, in its stance. In profile, the MKC bears a resemblance to the Ford Escape, which doesn’t come as a surprise as it shares much of its underpinnings, with this vehicle. Yet if you look at all the personal details, this car starts to appear more individual.
The MKC has unique sheet metal, and actually has a lower roofline than the Escape. And we’d even go as far as to say that it’s a lot more voluptuous and interesting to look at. With optional 20-inch wheels and Chroma Couture paintjob, the MKC looks even more dapper. It’s one of the best-dressed crossovers out there.
Based on its in-house theme -”Elegant Artistry,” - Lincoln designers have made a strong effort to provide a lot of contrasts in the interior trims—think porous wood with bright metal, and glossy wood with matte finish. It adds up to an impression that feels like it’s borrowing equally from a Scandinavian design sense and French sophistication. Its more organic looking than computer-generated. With a center stack that slopes downward towards the driver on a plane, and corners that have been pushed forward and outward as far as possible, the front seats feel very airy.
The back-seat space could be considered a weak point, with the MKC’s tapered-down roofline and hard, upright seating not adding to a luxurious experience for adults especially if you opt for the twin-panel panoramic roof. At the center of the dash is a large infotainment screen housing Ford’s new Sync 3 system. It’s complemented by large knobs for tuning and volume, and has an array of climate-control switches on its elevated, kiosk-like center console. The vastly improved Sync 3 infotainment system replaces MyLincoln Touch, offering simpler menu structures, faster response times, more accurate voice recognition, and wireless updates. The 2017 Lincoln MKC is a luxury vehicle through and through.
Lets talk engines, two turbocharged four-cylinder engines are on offer, both paired to a six-speed automatic transmission: a 2.0-liter with 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, available with front- or all-wheel drive, and a 2.3-liter that makes an impressive 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft, available only with all-wheel drive. The MKC has proved itself a stylish, wholly respectable contender. Steering and handling are one of the over riding strengths of the MKC. It’s generously elegant and self assured, with a quiet, refined driving experience that’s also never short on responsiveness when you need it.
The car’s characteristics are controlled through an available, continuously controlled damping suspension with three modes Comfort, Normal and Sport. It can deliver a more responsive driving feel when you want, or a softer experience when you’re just cruising. In everyday driving there’s no want for more power. The digital instrument panel, controlled by two pads on the steering wheel, is crisp and clever. The MKC can accelerate from 0 to 60mph in around 7 seconds, with plenty of power for quick takeoffs and no-sweat highway passing. And it’s all very quiet and refined thanks to extra noise insulation, a balance-shaft system, and active noise cancellation.
All said, the MKC has a level of ride-and-handling refinement that’s on par with what you’ll find in the Audi Q5, BMW X3 or Mercedes GLK. The Sport setting is firmer than we might have ever expected from a Lincoln, leaving loads of grip and performance closer to that of an a European SUV. Best part about it is that everything is delivered with ease and all round comfort.
To sum it up the Lincoln MKC stands a world away from the Ford Motor Co. cars and crossovers of just a few years ago. The MKC offers reassuring bite, a solid pedal feel and no touchiness. Overall, a generous offering from Lincoln.
© COPYRIGHT ARABIA MOTORS May 2017