Ford’s luxury brand Lincoln isn’t doing that well. In fact, it’s not well at all. In an environment where other automotive luxury brands are winning new buyers and expanding into new segments, sales of Lincoln vehicles are down 5% so far this year through September. So it should’t come as a surprise that Lincoln has been hard at work to bring a new model with an entirely new nameplate to its portfolio to boost sales, attract a new set of customers, and possibly change its image. That vehicle is a compact crossover based on Ford’s Global C platform (Ford Focus, C-MAX, Escape, Transit Connect) that will be called MKC, and Ford-Lincoln is fast-tracking the CUV to market. A prototype of the vehicle was recently photographed undergoing testing.
Lincoln’s new signature split-wing grille from the MKC concept that first debuted at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit seems to be destined for production, but the headlights and squinty side mirrors have been replaced with regular-sized units commonly found in production vehicles.
Enthusiasts closely following Ford news may remember that The Blue Oval revealed plans to use more physical buttons and knobs in the MyFord Touch (MFT) system after waves of customer complaints about the capacitive touch controls found in the current system. The automaker, however, never mentioned plans to bring the elements to MyLincoln Touch (MLT). Notably, the MKC Concept unveiled in Detroit in January 2013 featured a center stack with capacitive touch controls. But this round of spy photos confirms that a return to physical buttons is also in the cards for MLT, as the MKC prototype does away with capacitive touch controls typically found in the the MyFord and MyLincoln Touch infotainment systems, replacing them instead with the more traditional knobs (two of them) and physical buttons.
When it launches sometime in 2014, the MKC will battle compact luxury CUVs such as the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Infiniti EX. And given the MKC’s importance to Lincoln sales volume and brand, we expect to see Linc unveil the production variant of the MKC at an auto show sometimes in the next few months. Let’s just hope that the final product is “Lincoln enough” compared to its mechanically-identical Ford relatives.
Check out LLN here to see the spy shots.