Though tagged as a concept, and though it has many concept car-like features (the real metal trimmings on the seats is a dead giveaway that this is not a production-intent vehicle), make no mistake that the Lincoln MKC is coming, and most likely with the MKC name, and will be an absolutely critical launch for the Lincoln brand next year.
In the press conference for the MKC, Lincoln made quite clear its reason for dipping a toe into the compact luxury crossover segment: it’s a growth segment, big time. With 200 percent segment growth over the past few years (albeit over a very small starting point), the segment is where every automaker wants to be. BMW has the X1, Buick has the Encore, Audi has the Q3 (though not in the U.S.), and so forth.
Further, Lincoln intends to start selling cars in China within the next year or two. Selling rebodied Tauruses and Flexes (MKS and MKT) isn’t going to fly so well in a developing market, even if that market happens to be the world’s largest new-car market. Chinese consumers need a lower-priced entry point into the brand, and the MKC intends to provide that gateway drug to the Lincoln lifestyle.
Roughly equivalent to the Ford Escape in size (knowing both Ford’s historic reliance on, ahem, platform sharing with Lincoln its stated desire to reduce the number of vehicle architectures that it uses around the globe, it’s almost impossible to imagine that the MKC would not be based on the Escape, which itself is based on the Focus), the MKC delivers an upscale interpretation of a small luxury utility. It’s sometimes fun to decide which concept-car features will be removed when the realities of mass production hit the fan. Among the first to get the axe will most likely be LED headlights, hidden door handles, wood trim that’s cut from reconstructed natural wood infused with a metallic flake, and the aforementioned metal trim on the seats. Also, I’m confident that you can kiss the four-place seating arrangement goodbye, in favor of the more conventional 2+3 layout.
But what will likely stay are the pushbutton gear selector (since the production MKZ already has the same thing), the basic instrument panel and center stack design, the panoramic sunroof, and the body’s basic shape. The most likely exception to the last point is the cutout at the bottom of the doors above the rocker panel; while it certainly adds visual interest, it also would be a pain to manufacture, and would just collect dirt and grime when faced with the challenges of the real world.
Lincoln Motor Company (which I learned today was actually officially incorporated!) did not specify powertrains, but expect the MKC to get the Escape’s two turbocharged engines as options, a 1.6T (178 horsepower) or an optional 2.0T (240 horsepower). Oh, and buyers will get all the “Lincoln Experiences” they can handle. My take? It will be a tough sell to get younger buyers purchasing their first luxury vehicles to consider a Lincoln, which is a brand that most folks under 40 would not consider for a second. Plus, there’s a lot of competition coming soon looking for a slice of that same buyer demographic.