If Ford wants to bring its Lincoln luxury brand back, it has but little choice to hit the hottest parts of the market with something that might resonate with shoppers who haven't thought about a Lincoln since the last time they rode a limo from the airport. Here's the first real salvo, the MKC Concept, the smallest Lincoln ever built, designed to launch what Ford calls "the Lincoln experience."
Aside from quasi-self-driving systems, the new approach at Lincoln puts far more emphasis on keeping the customer happy than any messy mechanical details. There was no talk from Ford executives about the engine, performance or capabilities of the MKC, and if they were trying to say buyers of small luxury SUVs don't particularly care if their car moves by horsepower or gerbil wheels, they probably have a point.
Instead, Lincoln says the MKC can win a corner of the dealership lot that has lots of competition but no strong favorite with style and personal attention. To Lincoln's credit, the MKC does wear the new grille better than other Lincolns to date; and the company vows the production version will offer massive numbers of option combinations to personalize every car.
Meanwhile, Lincoln dealers, under Ford's orders, will go through "concierge" training to turn themselves into a Lincoln buyer's most connected friend, even offering free "date nights" by giving away a restaurant visit to people who test-drive a Lincoln overnight. If they threw in babysitting, I know a hundred couples who would put a Lincoln in their driveway for a night.
Unfortunately for Lincoln, the MKC is at least a year away from production.