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The 2020 Lincoln Corsair.

Petrina Gentile

Lincoln is finally looking to shed its boring, “old man” image of the past.

“We still have a perception of being an old person’s vehicle,” admits Jim Rideout, product plans manager for Lincoln Motor Company of Canada.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “We almost skipped a generation where we didn’t invest into Lincoln,” he says. “In a way, it’s almost a benefit because we skipped an entire generation that are now looking and saying I don’t necessarily have a negative or positive connotation of what Lincoln is.

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“We have this great heritage and legacy, but you also have a generation of people who really don’t know what Lincoln is and what it wants to be when it grows up,” he adds.

So what does Lincoln want to be? Rideout says the goal is to be a cool, hip and premium brand, which they are currently working towards by collaborating with Hollywood ambassadors such as Matthew McConaughey. “My goal is when someone gets into one of our vehicles, I want them to feel refreshed or revitalized when they get out. It’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey. That’s where our competitive advantage is going to be. Hence why we spent so much time on the interior.”

A cashew set against black accents is one of several available two-tone interior colour schemes.

Petrina Gentile

The interior is definitely the focus of the Corsair, and it’s also a way for Lincoln to appeal to a younger demographic. Currently, the average age of a Lincoln buyer is between 45 and 55, but Lincoln hopes to change that.

Colour is key to attracting new customers. There are three new two-tone interiors available for the Corsair, including an elegant cashew set against black accents. Coming soon is an unexpected vibrant blue leather with white stitching – not a traditional Lincoln look, but it should be a showstopper.

“If you really want to start resonating with both youth and female buyers, we got to get out of this mindset of black-on-black [interiors]. A lot of people like the black-on-black, but it also gives a lot more flexibility and creativity and allows individuals to say, ‘This is an extension of who I am and how I feel. I don’t feel like I have to be boxed into the standard black-on-black,’” says Rideout.

The button that activates the voice-command system is conveniently located on the steering wheel.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The Corsair’s cabin is warm and inviting, with soft-touch materials and plush leather upholstery blending beautifully with modern touches such as chrome accents and an eight-inch touch screen that’s simple and straightforward to use. The layout has changed for many items in the cabin, including the new chrome piano key shifter – it’s positioned horizontally above the volume and radio-tuning dials. To switch gears, you touch the keys. It takes a bit of time getting used to the new layout and location, but it does free up extra storage space for smaller items under the semi-floating centre console. The piano-key shifter flows nicely with its surroundings and the HVAC dials and buttons below. Speaking of buttons, the one used to access the voice-command system has moved to a more intuitive spot – at 10 o’clock on the steering wheel, which is easier to reach without taking your eyes off the road.

The Corsair seats five, and the driver’s seat is an oasis with a seemingly infinite number of adjustments. In fact, you can pay extra for Lincoln’s Perfect Position Seats, which adjust 24 ways and include massage functions and extra lumbar support, for the driver and front passenger. Second-row seats slide up to six inches for extra leg room.

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Lincoln's 24-way adjustable Perfect Position Seats are available at a premium.

Petrina Gentile

Besides the interior changes, technology is key to Lincoln’s revitalization plans – a crucial factor in attracting younger, tech-savvy buyers. There’s a wireless charging pad, a WiFi hotspot that lets you connect up to 10 devices within 50 feet and a cool phone-as-a-key option, which lets you use a smartphone app to perform many functions of a traditional key fob. It enables you to unlock or lock the doors, open the liftgate, and start the vehicle with a phone – no traditional key needed. And if you’re valet parking, no need to hand over your phone. You can give them a temporary passcode to enter and drive the vehicle. Many of the tech features are optional though, so be careful adding them because it pushes the $46,800 base price up fast.

Tech specs

  • Base price: $44,700 (not including $2,100 freight and PDI)
  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged I-4 with 250 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque, or a 2.3-litre 1-4 with 295 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque
  • Transmission/Drive: 8-speed automatic transmission; AWD
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km, city and highway): 2.0-litre: 11.1 and 8.1; 2.3-litre: 11.1 and 8.2
  • Alternatives: BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, Acura RDX, Cadillac XT4, Lexus NX, Volvo XC60

Looks

Bright exterior colours add to the Corsair's distinctive styling.

Petrina Gentile

Attractive, distinctive styling. Hats off to Lincoln for reverting back to traditional names instead of the previous alphanumeric nameplates that were confusing to remember (the Corsair replaces the MKC). Bright new exterior colours, such as red and mocha, also give it extra curb appeal.

Interior

Sharp, sophisticated and serene, with a combination of well-crafted, soft-touch materials and modern high-tech features. The front seats are comfortable and infinitely adjustable. Be careful entering the rear seats, though, as the sloping rear roofline makes it easy to bang your head. A panoramic roof makes it feel airy and spacious when riding in the rear seats.

Performance

Between the two engine choices, the 2.3-litre is the better bet. The 2.0-litre feels a little unrefined, but the 2.3-litre isn’t – it’s powerful, quick, and hugs the sweeping mountain roads beautifully. Different driving modes let you shift from “normal” to “excite,” “conserve,” “slippery” and “deep” conditions. Whatever mode you choose, the cabin remains whisper quiet at all times.

Technology

Plenty of impressive safety and convenience technology, including a heads-up display that projects useful information such as navigation instructions directly onto the windshield. Lincoln Co-Pilot360, which bundles safety technologies together, is standard and includes features such as automatic high-beam headlights. Another highlight is the blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert that warns of vehicles approaching from both sides when backing out of a parking space.

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Cargo

The Corsair has excellent cargo space.

Petrina Gentile

With 963 litres of cargo space, there’s excellent room for carrying several suitcases, golf bags, or shopping bags. You can even open the liftgate with your smartphone.

The verdict

This ain’t your dad’s Lincoln anymore. The brand is growing cooler with each new vehicle, including the Corsair.

Petrina Gentile

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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