Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: February 27, 2020
Lincoln has exiled the MKC moniker and in its place is the Corsair. Romantic sounding, no? Lincoln wants to charm its way back into relevance with new nameplates rather than an anonymous combination of letters and numbers that fail to speak on an emotional level. Just think if they ever got rid of the Navigator nameplate. Whether or not the new name jives with prospective customers remains to be seen, but it’s a smart step forward for the brand. The outgoing MKC was pretty much a forgettable SUV, and ditching the name severs the umbilical cord. It disappointed on many levels with poor ride control, lack of interior refinement, and material quality that hardly justified its premium price tag.
The new Corsair actually looks like a luxury item, now with snazzy 20-inch wheels, a Cayenne-like rear light bar that spans the entire width, and slimmed down Navigator and Aviator design cues. It's a handsome appearance, and it better be if it wants a slice of the pie from the Acura RDX, Infiniti QX50, and Cadillac XT4. To do that, Lincoln has flipped its interior design with upscale touches, like the photographed two-tone black and brown colour scheme and new leather multifunction steering wheel. The latter employs joystick-like buttons on the left and right spokes that illuminate certain portions based on the menu’s prompts. Like Buick and Cadillac, Lincoln also employs a great number of insulating features to keep the cabin as hush hush as possible, including active noise cancellation, a sound-attenuated windshield, dual-wall dashboard in the engine compartment that acts as a sound barrier, and a quieter tone for the signal indicator. The result is one of the quietest interiors in the luxury compact segment.
Having massaging seats in this $50,000 SUV market is almost unheard of too, and they’re not just some weak movement of the bolsters. These seats actually knead into your back, and there are a list of different massage modes with three intensities. It adds to the 24-way seat adjustability to better fit any body figure or shape. Furthermore, the Corsair is more spacious on the inside than it looks from the outside. Rear headroom is below average as my head still touches the headliner but legroom is more than ample for my six-foot figure.
We applaud the under-reliance of touchscreens, as Lincoln dedicates an actual button for all of the features including the HVAC system, all within easy reach of the driver. The buttons give a solid and sturdy positive feedback, and even the gear selector buttons have been integrated into the center stack, and shaped like piano keys for that added upscale effect. The touchscreen is a decent size, smartly mounted onto the dashboard without impeding the design’s fluidity, and is quick and easy to use. Those coming from modern Fords will find the SYNC3 system eerily familiar, and the new 14-speaker Revel audio system is impressive as well, but all these wonderfully integrated creature comforts come with a price.
The Corsair Standard starts at a reasonable $43,950 and the more well-equipped Reserve trim starts at $49,750. That’s about in line with the Acura RDX ($43,990 - $53,990), Cadillac XT4 ($38,698 - $43,298), and the Infiniti QX50 ($44,490 - $57,990) but the tempting options can push the Corsair into the uncompetitive stratosphere. Our fully loaded Corsair Reserve draped in a beautiful shade of Burgundy Velvet comes with nearly $14,000 worth of options, pushing the grand total to $63,550 before delivery and taxes. That’s a tough pill to swallow, even with all the amenities offered. It also doesn’t help that the more attractive features like the larger engine and 24-way seats need to be spec’d with the most expensive packages.
The Corsair comes to the Canadian market with a choice of two turbo-four powertrains: a 2.0-litre unit that dishes out 250 hp and 275 lb-ft, and a more powerful 2.3-litre engine delivering 295 hp and 310 lb-ft, all through an 8-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. We were pleasantly surprised by the vigour and energy from the optional 2.3-litre unit. It possesses impressive passing power and there is less delay from the turbo and gearbox than we expected. It wasn’t too bad on fuel either, averaging an easy 9.9 L/100km with a mix of both city and highway driving. We can’t comment if it's any better or any faster than the standard 2.0-litre unit as we didn’t have one to test, but the 2.3-litre remains one of the more polished engines that we’ve driven with a Lincoln badge.
The Corsair rides on the bones of a Ford Escape and its proportions might give it away but you almost couldn’t tell from the way it drives. The ride quality is focused and exceptionally comfortable for its size, especially with the Lincoln-first rear integal bush suspension. Sure the ride is isolated and it lacks any kind of sensual experience, but that’s exactly what Lincoln was aiming for. There’s no hiding its substantial weight but the optional adaptive suspension is effective at muting out unwanted vibrations and the optional 20-inch wheels ride well over broken pavement. The Corsair even comes with a few driving modes - Normal, Excite, Slippery, Deep Conditions, and Conserve - all selectable via the dedicated rotary dial in the center console, and each benefitting its appropriate situation. We mainly kept it in Normal Mode, though, as it’s where the Corsair felt the most relaxed and at home. On the down side, the brakes are the weakest spot of the Corsair.. The pedal feels more like a hybrid regenerative brake than a conventional one. It’s way too sensitive on the initial prod, and tough to modulate to a smooth stop without sending your passengers lunging forward.
The new Lincoln Corsair is a monumental leap forward from the MKC that preceded it, not only in terms of driving refinement, but with interior layout and quality. The materials are better, the sound insulation is impressive, and it no longer feels like you’re simply floating on a dead boat on the River Styx. The new Corsair injects some emotional appeal to the sheetmetal, and should give Cadillac and Infiniti a run for their money, but it all comes with a larger entrance fee. Avoid some of the wallet-gouging options and forgo some of the unnecessary creature comforts, and you might end up finding some value in the new Corsair.
Model: 2020 Lincoln Corsair Reserve
Paint Type: Burgundy Velvet
Base Price: $49,750
Price as Tested: $63,550
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,587 / 1,887 / 1,628
Curb weight (kg): 1,840
Engine: 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 295 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 11.1 / 8.1
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.9