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2015 Lincoln MKC review
"By Mark EliasMonday, Jun 9th, 2014 @ 12:47 pm Santa Barbara.
The gentle-sounding name of the town on California's Central Coast just oozes luxury, which is exactly the vibe the honchos from Lincoln Motor Company want you to feel when thinking about the 2015 Lincoln MKC crossover.
Located on the Pacific coastline, it proved to be the perfect locale to set the new MKC in perspective. Read on as we discuss the latest - and littlest - Lincoln.
The MKC is a five-passenger entry-luxury CUV built upon the Ford Global C platform that is also the basis of the Blue Oval's Escape and Focus models. Looked at two ways, the 2015 MKC is targeted using the trademark bull's eye-inspired Lincoln logo and the way the brand is shooting for entry-luxury CUV shoppers. We think they are really on to something here. With the MKC, many first time buyers in the luxe segment have a new option to consider.
The MKC will also be introduced later this year in the Chinese market, where Lincoln is hoping to make significant inroads.
Huffed and Puffed
The new Lincoln MKC will be offered in North America with an EcoBoost-only powertrain lineup, including a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, as well as a new twin-scroll turbo 2.3-liter four that produces 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque. Lincoln claims the latter mill, which powered our test vehicle, packs the most horsepower-per-liter in the class. Both engines feature direct-injection and are built in the company's Valencia, Spain, facility; the 2.0-liter engine can be had in either front- or all-wheel-drive configuration, while the 2.3-liter is available exclusively as an AWD model.
All MKCs shift through a Selectshift six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for enthusiastic driving in sport mode.
The suspension is MacPherson strut-based technology with twin-tube gas-charged shocks and a stabilizer bar in front, followed by a fully independent multi-link kit with progressive-rate springs, a stabilizer bar and monotube gas-charged shocks at the rear. Our AWD version was equipped with standard continuously controlled damping (CCD), which makes on-the-fly adjustments in mere milliseconds.
Park out assist joins active park assist to help back out of tight parallel parking spaces, while adaptive cruise control uses sensors to slow down or speed up as the MKC encounters other traffic. They are joined by Lane-Keeping System for alerts and assists in staying within your own spot.
Lincoln officials are following the old musician's advice that dictates that if you want to improve your own abilities, always seek out the players you one day hope to be. As a result, the MKC includes in its competitive set, the Audi Q5, Acura's RDX, BMW's X3, the Range Rover Evoque, and the Mercedes-Benz GLK.
Although it shares a platform with Ford's Escape, the 2015 MKC features a distinct look that is a result of high-end design that include a higher beltline, a lower roofline, broad shoulders and more gently flared fenders than those found on its corporate cousins. The grille, with its aero-tuned functional shutters, is now flanked by LED running lights for an added hint of aggression. Physically, the MKC features a lower stance than seen on its cousin, the Escape, which goes further to improve handling and cornering ability.
Further refinement comes in the form of the sweptback greenhouse and hydroformed clamshell rear hatch that separates the MKC from competitors, in addition to offering a wider rear opening for cargo storage. Equipped with an automatic opening rear hatch, it is also available with the optional kick-motion feature that opens the hatch with the sweep of a foot under the rear bumper. Since we are speaking of hatches, it opens to reveal 25.2-cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, which will expand to 53.1-cubic feet with the rear seats folded forward.
Closer and Closer Still
Artists in Lincoln's interior design studios seem to come closer to cabin nirvana with each successive model. Based on the quantum leap we witnessed when comparing the interior of the MKC to the execution found in the MKZ sedan, we see they are definitely moving in the right direction. Softer, available Woolsdorf leather and real wood veneers such as open-pored rosewood now hold sway where plastic once reigned supreme. Sure, there is still an over-abundance of rubber soft touch material, especially covering the dashboard, but we are promised a full-leather covering when the highline Black Label version appears later this year.
The full-width instrument panel is once again equipped with the Lincoln push-button gear switches, which work well, in most cases. We still find the ignition pushbutton goes missing, and would be better served by a round button as found in some of the Lincoln's competitors. Speaking of going missing, the haptic slider switches which were used to turn audio volume up or down in previous Lincolns are now MIA, replaced by more traditional and easier to operate knobs.
Sync returns with its MyLincoln Touch connectivity suite for telephone, entertainment, climate and available navigation features. The 14-speaker THX II audio system offered stellar sounds with enhanced bass, while an available always-on embedded modem connects smartphones that interface with the device and the MyLincoln Mobile app, which allows remote starting, locking, fuel level checks and a vehicle locator.
Seating comfort in the two front chairs offered excellent comfort for the four hour drives we encountered during our California Central Coast cruises. Increased bolstering would certainly improve the feel, but the contoured driver's and passenger seats are still topshelf, with their "Bridge of Weir" Deepsoft branded leather. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for second row seating, which is best served in small doses. Not entirely uncomfortable, they still favor a short jaunt around town rather than a cross-country excursion.
Acceleration from the 2.3-liter was extremely brisk, which would be expected considering that this engine will also find a place in the 2015 Ford Mustang. Using all the latest techniques, including direct-injection, it is a surprising newcomer that we think will have many taking a second look at the latest in small-but-potent gasoline engines.
Lincoln Drive Control helped to change up the overall drive experience from a cruising comfort mode to a firmer, more enthusiastic feel. Using the console-mounted controls, we were able to change from Sport to Comfort to Normal modes with a corresponding change in throttle response, shift points and increased performance. Torque vectoring was standard but not overly intrusive, and seemingly did help to minimize the effects of understeer while negotiating California mountain twisties.
Pushing the center console-mounted gear selector to sport offered an impressive growl as it moved us past slower moving traffic. Press it again and it takes you to a near-manual experience for paddle-shifting driving. Steering took on a seemingly boosted feel in comfort mode but firmed up considerably in sport mode.
The low center of gravity stance of the MKC allows it to sit and corner flatly and we felt it offered all the confidence a driver could possibly desire. So too, the lane-keep assist, which alerted us with pulsing through the steering wheel to let us know we had ventured into no-man's land. The MKC is a low-riding performer, and dispenses with any sort of off-roading pretences. Offering a choice of ride settings, it was satisfying in both extremes. In fact, we can't remember a Lincoln that had displayed such confidence on the road before this one.
Finally, we found the cabin offered impressive silence thanks to the noise cancellation system inside the car. Outfitted like larger than life Bose headphones, its sensors add a negative frequency to the ambient noise that is present in the cockpit. A laminated windshield also helped and the car was exceedingly quiet except when it encountered crosswinds that surprisingly found entry gaps into the car.
Though we weren't able to measure accurately, the EPA says to expect 18 city/ 26 highway with 21 miles-per-gallon combined.
Leftlane's bottom line:
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice! Practice! Practice! Lincoln takes that lesson to heart and offers an entry-luxury crossover vehicle that learns from the attempts of the past and improves on almost every one of them. Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, the resurgent Lincoln Motor Company shan't be either. But with continued efforts like the 2015 Lincoln MKC appearing on the horizon, they will find that luxury becomes second nature.
2015 Lincoln MKC base price, $33,995; Reserve Base Price, $44,565. As tested, $50,340.
(Includes Continuously Controlled Damping, $650; Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive, $2,495; 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, $1,140; Ruby Red Metallic paint, $495; THX II Audio System, $995. Price Includes Destination and Delivery fees.