(All images: Lincoln)
With a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, a master’s in finance, and more than 25 years at Ford, John Jraiche is appropriately qualified to be the chief engineer for the 2020 Lincoln Corsair, the Lincoln Motor Company’s new model that competes in the small premium segment of the market, the vehicle that is the successor to 2015 MKC.
That is, Jraiche has worked on cars like the Ford Fusion and Mondeo (he’d been the global chief engineer for those models). He’s worked on utilities, like the Ford Explorer. And he’d had a stint at Lincoln in the early 2000s, so he knows where the brand has been and, more importantly, where it is going, and even more importantly than that, what they need to do to get there.
“We always start with our brand pillars, or tenets, around Quiet Flight,” Jraiche says, and enumerates Beauty, Gliding, Human, and Sanctuary. “It informs everything we do,” he says. In other words, Jraiche is looking at those terms in the context of engineering execution, not a Matthew McConaughey ad.
The Lincoln Corsair has a 106.7-inch wheelbase and is 180.6 inches long, 64/1 inches high, and 83 inches wide (with mirrors out). The passenger volume is 102.5-cubic feet and the cargo capacity behind the second row is 27.6-cubic feet.
For example, there’s Beauty. Which, obviously, is something that Kemal Curic, design director, and his team are responsible for. (Curic tells me that as the Lincoln design team has been re-envisioning the lineup of vehicles over the past few years they’ve gotten to the point that they’re like “an orchestra,” with each person harmoniously contributing to the whole.) That said, Jraiche points to the body side and notes that not only does the formed sheet metal provide an aesthetic aspect to the vehicle, but it also provides an aerodynamic benefit, which contributes to a reduction of cabin noise, so, in effect, here is design contributing to both Beauty and Sanctuary. Jraiche also notes that noise is minimized by a number of other counter measures, including active noise cancellation and an acoustic underbody shield (which also helps manage airflow, incidentally).
“We want to own the interior,” he says, adding, “That means creating a sanctuary for the senses. That also says that we need to deliver a quiet cabin.”
So one of the ways they’re also reducing cabin noise is through the use of a dual-wall dashboard. This is a sheet molded composite component that has an air gap between each of the walls, which serves to dampen the engine sound from coming into the cabin. Jraiche describes it as “technology usually reserved for vehicles a little larger and priced more.” But he says that in order to deliver on the “promise of Quiet Flight” they determined that it was important to isolate the engine presence from the cabin.
Note the 8-inch LCD touch screen showing the layout of the available 24-way seat that offers massage functionality.
And he makes a statement that succinctly provides a sense of where they are in terms of engineering this brand promise: “Some of our competitors want you to hear the engine. We’d rather you feel the power.”
Which brings us also to the execution of Gliding. “One of the key ingredients is the powertrain selections,” Jraiche says. There are two turbocharged engines available for the Corsair: a 2.0-liter I4 that provides 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.3-liter I4 that produces 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Each is mated to an eight-speed automatic (gear selection is performed through the use of chrome-trimmed keys in the center console), below air vents and above the audio controls—which actually have a volume and a tuning knob).
Lincoln Corsair chief engineer John Jraiche: “The technologies in the Corsair are designed to work together to provide our clients with a seamless, effortless experience.”
About the 2.3, Jraiche points out that it provides more power and torque than its key competitors, including the Acura RDX (272/280), the Lexus NX (235/258) and the Audi Q3 (228/258). “More important than the numbers,” Jraiche says, referring to the horsepower and torque, “is how we deliver the power. There is smooth acceleration.”
The vehicle is available with an intelligent all-wheel drive system that, he says, “delivers powers to the wheels when you need it,” adding that there are “pre-emptive and reactive capabilities” provided, depending on what the sensors at each wheel detects.
Another part of the Gliding approach goes to the suspension, to the way they’ve engineered the ride. “I like to describe it as ‘confident’ and ‘quiet,’” he says, pointing out that the selection of a rear integral bush suspension—which is a first deployment for Lincoln—provides both a ride and handling benefit for the vehicle. “There are conventional SLA-type suspensions,” he acknowledges, “but to stay true to the Quiet Flight promise, we went with the integral bush setup.”
Which leaves us with one more pillar: Human. Which is manifested in a number of ways in the Corsair, such as the “Lincoln Embrace,” which detects the driver approaching the vehicle at a distance of 10 feet activates a lighting signature (assuming that is it dark outside and things like the puddle lamps can be discerned on the surface of the pavement); at three feet the doors are automatically unlocked; one the driver is in position, the vehicle can be started. The Corsair is fitted with 11 antennas which helps the detection.
What is worth noting is that all of this can occur without the key fob in one’s purse on one’s person: there is an optional feature called “Phone As A Key” that can be accessed through the Lincoln Way app. Once a phone is setup it is paired with the vehicle and the communication between the phone and the Corsair occurs via low-energy Bluetooth; a cellular connection isn’t required. Phone As a Key not only allows the vehicle to be started without the fob, but it provides remote access of the vehicle (to do things like locking the doors or opening or closing the liftgate), but it also allows personalized settings. . .which leads to another Human element, which is the available 24-way “Perfect Position” driver and front passenger seat (the standard is 10-way), which includes a massage function that Jraiche recommends. . . as he does one of the five available drive settings: Excite, which he says adjusts the engine mapping, throttle, steering, and suspension setup. (The other four settings are: Normal, Conserve, Slippery, and Deep).
The Lincoln “Vision” steering wheel features a push-to-talk button at the 10 o’clock position. Four-way joysticks at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions provide infotainment control. The cruise control is activated by touch levers in the lower quadrants of the center of the steering wheel; the specific controls are illuminated only when the cruise is turned on, thereby minimizing visual clutter.
And Human protection includes the standard Lincoln Co-Pilot360 system, which includes pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind-spot information system, lane keeping assist, rear backup camera, and auto high-beam lighting. (For those who want more, there is available Co-Pilot360 Plus, which adds adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, which provides such things as lane-centering and speed sign recognition, with the former taking advantage of the electric power steering system and the latter camera; evasive steering assist, which boosts the steering should a collision be imminent; reverse brake assist that activates the brakes should the rear sensors detect an object and the driver isn’t getting on the pedal sufficiently; and active park assist, which parks the vehicle without the driver having to steer, shift, brake, or accelerate.)
Seems like Jraiche and his Lincoln colleagues made good on their promise with the Corsair.
Once the playground of exotic car makers, the definition of a niche vehicle has expanded to include image vehicles for mainstream OEMs, and specialist models produced on high-volume platforms.
Hyundai enters the American market with a new parallel hybrid system that uses lithium-polymer batteries and the same six-speed automatic found in non-hybrid versions of the 2011 Sonata.
A Vietnamese start-up auto company is doing what it name implies: VinFast Manufacturing and Trading Company Limited is going exceedingly fast in vehicle development.