2015 Lincoln MKC – Quick first drive

What is a Lincoln MKC? And should you get one?

By Shahzad Sheikh

2015 Lincoln MKC – Quick first drive

Lincoln is getting serious about the Middle East. That’s what they want us to know. Trouble is, we’re all still a little unsure about what Lincoln actually is. Beyond the Lincoln Town Car (long dead) and Navigator (still going and refreshed for 2015 MY), we don’t really know much about the brand in this region. To be fair, Ford Middle East recognises that, so it’s going to be making quite a bit of noise about Lincoln over the next couple of years.

So what is Lincoln then?

Essentially the 97-year-old Lincoln marque is positioned as the luxury brand of Ford. In fact in the early 2000s Ford owned other luxury brands including Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin, which is probably why Lincoln was neglected during those years. But those brands have long since been divested, and now Ford is focussing back on its own in-house luxury nameplate.

Hence a raft of new products, filling new niches. As mentioned the Navigator remains, but there’s no new Town Car, and sadly no rebirth of the legendary Lincoln Continental. Instead there’s a range of models bearing three-letter names, the first two of which are always MK as in ‘Mark’. There is actually some reasoning behind the final third letter and which model it identifies, but even some of Lincoln’s own people weren’t quite aware of how that worked exactly.

So what you have for the Middle East market is an MKX (SUV based on Ford Edge), MKS (large saloon based on Taurus), MKT (cross between an SUV and an estate car, based on Explorer), MKZ (which I reviewed at the beginning of the year, and based on Fusion) and the MKC, which is the subject of this review.

2015 Lincoln MKC – Quick first drive

What is the MKC?

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is actually the newest offering and is the car that Matthew McConaugher has been driving around in those much-parodied adverts moodily nursing a bogey between his fingers and thinking meaningless existential thoughts.

But don’t let that put you off. It’s a compact, luxury crossover based on the Ford Escape although both its length and wheelbase have been stretched by 30mm and 25mm respectively, plus it’s 97mm lower and widened by 70mm. So really it’s not much like the Escape at all.

It’s available in a choice of 2.0-liter front-wheel drive priced at AED160,000, a 2.0-litre AWD (AED195,000) and a range-topping 2.3-litre AWD for AED210,000 – which is the one tested and pictured here. Both engines are clever Ford ‘EcoBoost’ turbo units with the 2.0 putting out 240bhp and the 2.3 managing an astonishing 285bhp – this is in fact the same new motor that’s in the 2015 Ford Mustang Ecoboost where it’s tuned for over 310bhp.

2015 Lincoln MKC – Quick first drive

How does it look in the metal?

It progresses the new Lincoln design language making great use of the Eagle-in-flight-inspired grille and incorporates a one-piece tailgate made by hydra-forming in Canada specifically for the MKC. It’s a handsome and bold design, although the overpowering grille makes it hard to discern from the, what was it again? – ah yes, the larger MKX, especially as the MKC carries a more substantial road presence than its Escape origins might lead you to imagine. This looks like a bigger car than it is.

2015 Lincoln MKC – Quick first drive

What’s it like inside?

Since it appears larger on the outside, it’s something of a surprise that I struggled to wedge my legs into the rear passenger compartment, but then I had positioned the front seat for myself too, and I’m more than a little on the long-legged side at six-foot tall. For regular adults, and certainly children, it should be absolutely fine.

What the passengers will appreciate is the nicely appointed cabin and the quality feel from the trimming – which stands it apart from ‘regular’ Fords – including (and Lincoln people were at pains to point it out) the Bridge of Weir Scottish leather upholstery, normally used in Aston Martins and Rolls-Royce motorcars.

There’s also a choice of real wood trim to delight and assure those realising they’ve paid AED70,000 more for this range-topper compared to the priciest Escape (although that gets the older Duratec 2.5-litre producing only 200bhp).

The dashboard is nicely laid out, and thankfully shies away from too many smudgy and smeary touch-control interfaces, so there’s actual buttons here, including for the six-speed automatic with paddle shifts. Not having a lever or knob to select gear takes a little getting used to, but frees up space in the centre console, not that there’s any lack of storage space in here.

2015 Lincoln MKC – Quick first drive

And how is it to drive?

No complaints about the seating position or visibility, and there’s a ton of drivers aids including active cruise control, blind spot sensors, lane-keep assist, tiredness alert and modes that affect the suspension, transmission, steering and even the engine sound (there is active noise cancellation technology that quietens the cabin on the go in comfort mode) should you feel inclined to peddle it harder.

We only drove it around a short coned course with a little gravel-tracking, so this doesn’t quite stand as a full review using the car as it should be, but the ride is well-controlled, and the car was surprisingly chuckable thanks to ‘curve control’ crushing understeer and torque vectoring on the front wheels. It’s no slouch either, but that’s hardly surprisingly with 285bhp – bodes well for the Mustang.

2015 Lincoln MKC – Quick first drive

Verdict

It’s actually a very well equipped, comfortable and desirable offering in the compact SUV segment, if you’re looking for stand-out style and a bit of spoil-yourself luxury and gadgetry. But it has to be said that for what it is, it’s a tad pricey, particularly as on the same day I drove this, Land Rover locally revealed the all-new Discover Sport which proffered the same sort of price range.

Not only that, but the baby Disco is also loosely derived from the same Ford C1 platform that the MKC utilises, and even comes with the 2.0-litre Ford Ecoboost 240bhp, though mated to a 9-speed auto here, two extra seats (at a squeeze) and theoretically the sort of off-road ability (as befits a Landy) that the MKC can’t even dream about. Plus the Land Rover brand has far greater awareness here.

However, Lincoln is not looking to break any sales records in the region, it is instead aiming to offer alternative choices for those who take a slightly tangent path to everyone else.

Lincoln is also aiming to provide a vastly different luxury car buying and owning experience compared to rivals, and to that end has hired a highly experience high-end hospitality specialist to lead the direction on how dealerships interact with existing and potential customers – the idea being to make you feel rather special from the moment you step into a Lincoln facility (going forward this could mean separate showrooms or at least clearly demarcated from Ford.

And that’s something that could go down rather well in places like the UAE. So for aspiring mavericks with young families that like contemplating contemplating, whilst driving and rubbing their fingers together, should definitely go check out the new MKC. It’s kinda classy.

2015 Lincoln MKC – The Specs

Prices:
2.0 FWD: AED160,000 ($43.6k)
2.0 AWD: AED195,000 ($53k)
2.3 AWD: AED210,000 ($57k)
Engine:
2.0: 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 240bhp @ 5500rpm, 270lb ft @ 3000rpm
3.5: 2.3-litre four-cylinder, 285bhp @ 5500rpm, 305lb ft @ 2750rpm
Performance:
2.0 AWD: 7.2secs 0-100kph, 190kph, 10.5L/100km  (est)
2.3 AWD: 6.8secs 0-100kph, 209kph, 10.7L/100km (est)
Transmission: Six-speed auto, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive
Weight:
2.0 FWD: 1720kg
2.0 AWD: 1798kg
2.3 AWD: 1809kg

Let us know what you think of the new 2015 Lincoln MKC below

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