2015 Lincoln MKC
Date Posted: March 29, 2014
By Zack Spencer
Lincoln is introducing four cars over four years, the upcoming MKC is the second in their revival plans.
When many think of a premium car brand, Lincoln might not be top of mind but, parent company, Ford has big plans for their luxury division. Back in the day, Lincoln matched Cadillac for luxury buyer's attention but with many missteps, like rebadging existing Ford products with Lincoln badges, didn't do the brand any favours. In addition, Ford also had the Mercury lineup that diverted attention away from Lincoln. The Mercury line has since been retired. Ford has big plans for their Lincoln brand and a big part of this will be the introduction of the new MKC compact crossover due here later this year.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Jim Farley, Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service for Lincoln and Ford at a recent auto show. Getting one-on-one access to such a senior executive provided insight into the direction Lincoln is going to take and the hopes they have for their new Lincoln MKC crossover.
The MKC is built off the same platform as the highly successful Ford Escape but designed and engineered separately from the Ford products. As Mr. Farley puts it'' this is a really big deal for Lincoln, this is the very first time at Ford, in a couple decades that dedicated a lot of investment in Lincoln.'' Farley went on to say, ''It's a subcompact, Escape-sized true luxury product but it has even more exclusive features compared to the Ford product than we have ever done at Lincoln before. Exclusive engine, exclusive design, the roof is much lower than the Escape.'' In describing the MKC, Farley said, ''It has all the comfort and feature-functions that you would expect from a world-class luxury brand.''
The MKC will be the first vehicle equipped with the new 2.3L turbocharged Ecoboost 4-cylinder engine. With 300hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque this should be some powerplant.
This is all good stuff but how is the Lincoln MKC going to compete against established small crossovers? Farley said, ''For the segment consumers, we would hope offering 6-cylinder performance with 4-cylinder efficiency is something unique in this segment. Most competitors have 6-cylinder with 300 lbs. of torque but no one does it with the fuel economy of that 2.3L.'' He went on to say, ''We intend to price it much lower than the Germans, so it's going to be a much better value.'' On that front the MKC price has already been announced, starting at $39,940, which is a great starting point for any small luxury crossover. One main competitor is the Acura RDX and it starts at $41,190.
The toughest challenge for Ford is making the Lincoln, as a brand, relevant, how are they going to resurrect a Luxury line that is not top of mind? Farley was quite blunt. ''All you need to know is two facts. The first fact is that we sold all of our PAG brands, (Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo and Range Rover) we have no other luxury brand. So if you want a luxury brand and you're an executive at the company, you're going to be driving a Lincoln. The second fact that you need to know about is that we have already spent the resources on the product, for fully differentiated products that the company has not done in decades. So, this is kind of the first time, in probably twenty years, that the company has really, in Lincoln, to be truly global. And the decision to go to China is very important for Canadian customers because it is the ultimate example of our commitment.''
In my interview with Mr. Farley I came away with the impression that Ford is trying to treat Lincoln the same way Volkswagen runs Audi, as a totally separate business. Ford has developed an entirely separate design studio, for the first time in the history of Lincoln, under Ford's direction. The engineering teams are separate and the management team spends a lot of time on Lincoln. As Farley puts it, ''Not just because we want to drive nice cars but there is no successful global OEM (Car company) that also doesn't have a successful luxury division.'' There seems to be a sense of pride that Ford is taking with these new products that they hope will resonate with the public.
The MKC is the second vehicle, in a four vehicle surge, from Lincoln. Last year saw the introduction of the MKZ and MKZ hybrid and this year the MKC will arrive. I suspect the next two vehicles will be a larger sedan and a larger crossover but we will have to wait and see.
I'm looking forward to driving this new MKC as many of Ford's products already handle very well and the new 2.3L 4-cylinder sounds like a dynamo. It must be a good engine; they will also use it in the all-new Mustang due later this year. Styling is combination of North American influence with a European flare, plus an interior that sleek and futuristic. It will be interesting to see how it is received. With the Ford Escape already the number one selling crossover in Canada, Jim Farley's team at Lincoln has a great head start and it would be nice to see them resurrect such a historic brand.
Power: 2.3L 4-cylinder with 300hp
Sticker price: $$39,940