Two of the year’s most important auto shows are coming up next week in Los Angeles and Tokyo – but Lincoln is getting a jump on them both with a special preview of its own in New York City later today.
There’s good reason for it to be anxious. Ford Motor Co. is struggling to rebuild its luxury division and doesn’t want to get lost in the auto show shuffle – especially when it comes to debuting the new 2015 Lincoln MKC which will be entering one of the high-line market’s fastest-growing product segments.
Annual sales of compact luxury crossovers have grown by 200% since 2009, according to industry figures – demand rising 25% so far this year.
The production version of the MKC may strike a note of déjà vu for showgoers who got a first look at a concept version that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show last January. The production model will be toned down a bit, particularly when it comes to the over-the-top interior of the earlier show car, but it is nonetheless an aggressive design meant to press forward with the new Lincoln look first brought to market for 2013 in the form of the redesigned MKZ sedan.
Among the more distinctive features of the 2015 Lincoln MKC are the distinctive, eagle-like grille which is eventually going to replace the aging waterfall grille used on the brand’s older models. There will be a new wraparound tailgate and an optional panoramic, all-glass roof, though not the sliding glass top offered on the MKZ.
Inside, the MKC shares the sedan’s distinctive push-button transmission and boasts plenty of leather, wood and other upscale accoutrements.
(Lexus will show the latest version of its LF-NX compact crossover in Tokyo. Click Here for a closer look.)
Lincoln is confident such details as the leather-wrapped steering wheel will set the new MKC apart from the more plebian Ford Escape that shares the same underlying platform. Both the Escape and the MKC will be manufactured on the same assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky.
Technology is expected to be a critical differentiator in a compact crossover segment which appeals strongly to tech-savvy Millennials and Gen-X buyers. Among other things, the Lincoln MKC will feature a new park-assist system, as well as a distinctive approach detections system that will detect when an owner nears the vehicle, projecting “welcome mats” in the shape of the Lincoln logo on the ground alongside both front doors.
(Click Here to check out Porsche’s new Macan crossover.)
The MKC also will get the latest version of the MyLincolnTouch infotainment system. That touch and voice-activated technology has received a mix of praise and criticism, a factor in Ford’s weak corporate showing in recent quality and reliability studies. The maker insists it has been working out the bugs on the technology which, in its latest form, will provide access to a variety of smartphone apps.
The base powertrain will be Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost inline-four, making 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. That engine will be offered in either front- or all-wheel-drive configurations. The 2015 Lincoln MKC will become the Detroit maker’s first model with the new 2.3-liter EcoBoost which pumps power to 275 hp and 300 lb-ft. The bigger engine will be available only in AWD.
(Subaru to reveal Levorg and other concepts in Tokyo. Click Here for a preview.)
The luxury maker isn’t yet releasing fuel economy numbers but it has set an initial price point of $33,995 for the 2015 Lincoln MKC. That includes destination charges – and is the lower price in a crowded segment that includes such competitors as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK and others.
And the segment is expected to continue getting even more crowded. Lexus is expected to come up with a production version of the LF-NX concept it unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, while cross-town rival Cadillac is prepping a compact luxury crossover of its own.
The MKC is one of four new or completely restyled models that Lincoln has so far confirmed, starting with the MKZ sedan, though several others are widely known to be in development, including an all-new version of the aged, full-size Navigator, along with a luxury sports coupe that will share the next-generation Ford Mustang platform.
Tags: 2015 lincoln mkc, Ford Escape, auto news, car news, compact crossover, compact cuv, lincoln mkc, lincoln mkc concept, lincoln news, luxury compact crossover, luxury cuv, luxury suv, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisenstein, thedetroitbureau