First Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKC luxury cars lincoln first drives
First Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKC luxury cars lincoln first drives
First Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKC luxury cars lincoln first drives
2015 Lincoln MKC & 2015 Lincoln MKC wheel. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Santa Barbara, California – Compact luxury crossovers, also known as small premium utility vehicles, represent the fastest growing segment in the Canadian luxury vehicle market, and they’re expected to account for 6 percent of the luxury automobile market in 2015, according to Lincoln’s research.  Small crossovers like the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3 and Acura RDX are particularly popular with luxury buyers who want to downsize and new buyers who want a well-appointed but economical utility vehicle.  Understandably, Ford’s luxury division would like a piece of this action.  The new 2015 Lincoln MKC (pronounced M, K, See) is the company’s first foray into this growing and competitive class.

Ranging in price from $39,940 to $49,650, the 2015 Lincoln MKC is based on a modified version of the global compact crossover platform that underpins the Ford Escape.  Designed for an international market that includes Europe, Asia and North America, the MKC sold here is assembled in Louisville, Kentucky.  Interestingly, it is the only American-brand, American-built small luxury crossover in a predominately import-dominated segment (although its engines are built in Spain).

Other than its distinct Lincoln split-wing grille, full-width LED tail lights and a relatively large rear liftback design, the MKC is a fairly generic-looking crossover.  Simplicity has its advantages though, and its clean, uncluttered design is likely to weather the years well.

The MKC is closest in size to the Acura RDX but it is smaller than the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK, and BMW X3, all of which have longer wheelbases and wider cabins.  This is most noticeable in the MKC’s rear seat where legroom is adequate but not particularly spacious and in the cargo area where the volume is smaller than most of its competitors; though still spacious enough for most needs with 713 litres (25.2 cu-ft) behind the rear seats and 1,503 litres (53.1 cu-ft) behind the first row seats.

The MKC is offered with a choice of two turbocharged dual-overhead cam 16-valve four-cylinder engines:  Ford’s familiar 240 hp 2.0 litre Ecoboost engine and a new optional 285 hp 2.3 litre EcoBoost engine that produces a commendable 305 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm.  To maximize power, efficiency and fuel economy, the new 2.3L engine is fitted with twin-scroll turbochargers, direct fuel injection, twin independent variable valve timing and a high-flow three-port integrated exhaust manifold.  Both engines run on Regular grade 87-octane gasoline, but the above horsepower and torque figures supplied by Lincoln were attained using Premium 93 octane gasoline; horsepower and torque ratings using 87 octane fuel would be slightly lower but, unfortunately, Lincoln doesn’t provide these figures.

First Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKC luxury cars lincoln first drives First Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKC luxury cars lincoln first drives
2015 Lincoln MKC engine bay & dashboard. Click image to enlarge

Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual (paddle) shift capability. In Canada, all MKC’s will come standard with all-wheel drive, while in the USA, Europe and Asia, a front-wheel drive model is also available.

Unlike some of its competitors, the MKC is not available with a V6 engine, a diesel engine or a hybrid powertrain, although given Ford’s hybrid expertise, a hybrid MKC could be a possibility in the future.

First Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKC luxury cars lincoln first drives First Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKC luxury cars lincoln first drives
2015 Lincoln MKC. Click image to enlarge

EPA fuel economy numbers for the MKC AWD with the 2.0L engine are 12.4 L/100 km city and 9.0 highway for a combined rating of 10.7.  Equipped with the 2.3L engine and AWD, the MKC offers 13.1 /9.1/11.2 city/highway/combined. In our spirited 200-mile drive through the California countryside in the 2.3 AWD model, our trip computer was showing an average of 22 mpg US or 10.7 L/100 km.  For comparison, an Audi Q5 quattro with the 2.0L turbocharged engine and eight-speed automatic transmission consumes 11.8/8.4/10.2, according to the EPA.

In a full day of driving an MKC 2.3 AWD model in and around the mountainous countryside northeast of Santa Barbara, California, my co-driver and I were pleasantly surprised at the MKC’s nimble handling and quiet, comfortable ride.  At the risk of uttering a boorish cliché, “This ain’t no Town Car, baby!”

Connect with Autos.ca