Barely a day after lifting the cover’s on the new Mustang Mach-E, Ford Motor Co.’s luxury arm is showing off its own electrified offering, the Corsair Grand Touring set to become Lincoln’s second plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle.
Set to reach showrooms in summer 2021, the PHEV will be one of three powertrain options offered to Corsair customers and Lincoln is hoping that, with its improved fuel economy and 25 miles of EV range, the Grand Touring model will draw in enviro-friendly millennials and more women than the average Lincoln product.
The big question is whether the plug-in will meet those expectations or languish like some of Ford’s older battery-based models that were little more than “compliance cars,” designed to satisfy the tough emissions standards set by California regulators.
(Lincoln Corsair: A Small SUV With a Big Role to Play)
The Corsair Grand Touring model pairs a 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle inline-four gas engine driving the front axle with a modest-size electric motor mounted on the rear axle and able to punch in up to 110 pound-feet of torque when needed. That creates a through-the-road electric all-wheel-drive system.
Final numbers haven’t been locked down, but Lincoln Corsair Chief Engineer Patrick Smith said the automaker is targeting a final number of around 266 horsepower. That would position the Grand Touring version of the SUV somewhere between Corsair’s conventional gas engines, a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine making 250 hp and a 2.3-liter upgrade delivering 295 hp.
That stands in sharp contrast to the direction Lincoln took with the bigger Aviator SUV launched earlier this year. The standard version of the three-row SUV is powered by a 3.0-liter Twin-Turbo V-6 making a robust 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. But the plug-in hybrid pumps that up to 494 horsepower and 630 lb-ft – while also yielding about 20 miles of all-electric driving range.
With Corsair Grand Touring, “We’re employing performance in a different way,” said Joy Falotico, Lincoln’s president, telling TheDetroitBureau.com that the approach to electrification on the smaller crossover reflects a buyer who is less interested in performance and also less likely to be willing to pay the sort of premium the Aviator plug-in hybrid commands.
But Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst with Navigant Research, said he would be worried that Lincoln just won’t be able to make enough of a “selling proposition” to win over many buyers.
Several company insiders indicated that the approach taken on the Corsair Grand Touring reflects an older mindset at Ford, when battery-based vehicles were seen as almost a nuisance to be dealt with primarily to meet government regulations. That has changed dramatically over the last two years, ever since Jim Hackett became Ford CEO as part of a corporate management shake-up.
(First Drive: 2020 Lincoln Corsair)
Ford Chairman Bill Ford summed up the automaker’s new approach during the splashy debut of the Mustang Mach-E on Sunday night. The all-electric SUV will be able to hit 60 in under 5 seconds with its base powertrain, and in barely 3.5 seconds with the GT version set to follow in spring 2021.
In the past, Bill Ford said, “If you wanted to be green you had to give up performance, and if you wanted to be fast you had to give up being green. That doesn’t have to happen anymore.”
That’s not to say the new Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring will be slow. And it should not only deliver the best fuel economy of the three available powertrains but also squeeze out at least 25 miles of all-electric driving from its 14.4 kilowatt-hour battery.
The plug-in version of the Corsair won’t hit showrooms until mid-2020, as a 2021 model. But the initial versions of the SUV have received solidly favorable reviews, among other things for its impressive road manners.
It’s a major step up from the old Lincoln MKC it replaced, with a much more luxurious interior and an impressive array of standard and options features, including the latest Sync navigation technology, a head-up display and an array of advanced driver assistance systems.
If there’s a drawback, it’s pricing, which starts at $39,000. Fully loaded, that can push towards $60,000, making the gas-powered 2020 Lincoln Corsair one of the more expensive models in its class. By comparison, the Audi Q3 starts at $34,700, and the Acura RDX at $37,600. There are some other pluses that could enhance the CUV’s selling proposition, including the various services the brand has added, such as free pickup and delivery when it’s time for service.
(Q&A: Lincoln’s New Chief Michael Sprague)
Lincoln has yet to indicate what sort of price premium it will for the plug-in model.