Once moribund, Lincoln continues to release new product that impresses. The compact Corsair is the latest. Replacing the aged MKC, the Corsair starts from simple roots, but elevates them to a level worthy of the Lincoln name at its peak.
The platform and much of the mechanical bits and pieces are shared with the Ford Escape. But everywhere you look, especially inside, there is an in-your-face level of luxury you won’t find in any product wearing a Ford badge. Lincoln has an avowed strategy of bringing prestige back to the brand — and it shows.
The goal is to take the game to the recognized segment leaders — the German trio of Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC. To play in that league the development team knew it had to equip the Corsair with world-class engineering and technology. But it also knew an impressive first image would be necessary to capture the attention of consumers in that segment, or those considering moving up to it.
The Corsair’s standard equipment list is too long to get into in this space. Suffice it to say all the bases expected at the $50,000-plus point are covered. But a close look reveals there are many items that cost thousands more from the imports.
One area of standard equipment that will be appreciated by all is the tomb-like interior. The silence on the road can be attributed to a number of factors: serious amount of acoustic insulation, an insulated firewall, active noise cancellation through the audio system and sound-attenuating front side glass and windshield.
As I said above, the development team has done as excellent job of upgrading a Ford to a Lincoln. Nearly everything you see, or touch is unique to the Corsair. Soft touch surfaces abound, there is real wood trim, supple leather and plush carpets. Two-tone treatments help separate it further from the mundane. The “piano-key” transmission controls take up very little space, freeing the console and center-stack for controls and spaces used more often. A slick little button incorporated in the rim of the steering wheel where your left thumb naturally resides. A 21-cm screen is standard. A 31-cm digital cluster optional. Both run the latest iteration of Lincoln’s Sync infotainment system.
Lincoln has made a special effort to provide stand-out seating. The optional “Perfect Position” driver’s seat in the test unit could be altered 24 ways. Unfortunately, none of them fit me. I assume a svelte or normal individual would easily find nirvana. I am not exactly slim and wear a size 46/48 jacket. I could not adjust the side bolsters to a position where I was coddled by, rather than protruding from them. Try before you buy.
The Corsair is longer and wider than the old MKC so rear seat passengers get a fair shake. But this is a compact vehicle so don’t expect Lincoln limo seating back there. The rear seat slides fore and aft through a 15-cm range so you can prioritize people or cargo room. That said, the cargo space is quite commodious even with the rear seat in its rear-most position.
The Corsair comes standard with a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, producing 240-255 horsepower. The “base" ($44,200) Corsair comes with a 250-horsepower 2.0-litre engine driving the front wheels. The Germans offer a six-cylinder upgrade. The Corsair I drove had the available 295-horse, four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive and a raft of options that pushed the price to $67,725, including taxes. That’s up there, but not out of line with similarly equipped competitors.
They have eight or nine-speed automatic transmissions sending power to a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system.
The engine is a quiet partner in all situations outside of the sustained use of wide-open throttle. Thanks to the turbo there is a good amount of low-end grunt, more than adequate for getting away from the lights, joining traffic from an on-ramp and passing on uphill grades. It will move the Corsair from rest to 100 km/h in six seconds flat, a perfectly acceptable number. It is a pretty thrifty unit as well. I averaged 9.8 litres/100 km during a week of mixed city/highway driving in cold winter conditions.
The Corsair is small enough to be comfy in the city, yet it copes very well with wide open roads and long distances. The tuning of everything from the steering to the suspension is unique to Lincoln. The independent rear suspension makes a considerable contribution to the excellent dynamics. It handles rough roads almost as well as smooth ones and remains flat in all but the most aggressive cornering efforts.
The competition has the advantage of brand recognition and respect, something Lincoln is still trying to re-establish. The Corsair should go a long way in that direction. It is well built, well-equipped and laden with high-tech features and world-class luxury. Just beware the option sheet. Prices can get up there pretty quickly.
Model: 2020 Lincoln Corsair Reserve AWD
Engine: 2.3-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder, 295 horsepower, 310 lb.-ft. of torque
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 11.1 / 8.2
Length: 4,587 mm
Width: 1,935 mm
Wheelbase: 2,710 mm
Weight: 1,747 kg
Price: $50,500 base, $67,725 as tested, including freight
Competition: Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLC-class
Options on test vehicle: Pristine white metallic Tri-Coat paint $850, Equipment group 202A, $11,350. Includes heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer, Co-Pilot 360 Plus package, (automatic high beams, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, dynamic brake support, lane keep assist and alert, blind spot information system with cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop/start, lane centering, speed sign recognition; 360-degree camera with front washer, active park assist, front sensing system, evasive steer assist, reverse brake assist, Technology package, remote start, dynamic handling package, $11,350; all-weather floor liners, $175; heads-up display, $1,500; 20-in machined aluminum wheels, $1,150