Debuting at this week’s New York Auto Show is Lincoln‘s small luxury SUV entry, the Corsair. With a S-shaped design, the Corsair is a tightly packaged offering with fine details and extras galore. Its accentuated edges and corners catch the light with purpose—rendering it a different shape and size altogether when in movement, versus when sitting still (or even when sitting still in a different light). Inside there’s plenty of room for all of the top-tier tech and features, five passengers and luggage.
The two-row SUV feels more agile—boasting a slighter frame, 280 horsepower, an eight-speed “selectshift” automatic transmission and a new rear-suspension that absorbs bumps locally. Though the interior space is smaller, the car offers plenty of luxurious elements.
“Phone as a Key” technology allows drivers gain entry and full driving capabilities without a key—and four phones can be registered to one car on the brand’s app. Other convenient features include another set of six unique symphonic chimes from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a dual-walled dashboard to keep the cabin quiet (something usually reserved for bigger vehicles with bigger engines), optional massaging driver’s and front passenger’s seats, WiFi throughout, a wireless charging tray in the center stack, 24-way adjustable front seats and six inches of forward and back mobility for the back row.
The addition completes Lincoln’s SUV line, which offers the Navigator at the larger end and now the Corsair on the smaller side. While they’re certainly vastly different vehicles, the Corsair feels like an iteration carved from the brand’s other models. It’s tighter, more compact and arguably more considered. Perhaps surprisingly, virtual reality is to thank for the vehicle’s conciseness.
“We can do many more iterations digitally. You can see any design from anywhere as if we were anywhere,” Robert Gelardi (Lincoln’s design manager) explains to us. “We’re sitting in Manhattan, but you’re looking at designs from around the world, from different studios. We can look at a design as if it’s out in our California studio—in the California sunshine.”
By seeing the design in simulated lights, the team can make hundreds—if not thousands—of tweaks before they take it to designers for clay and production modeling. The virtual reality tools the brand uses affords views from all angles—from outside, as you approach it, and inside.
“That really helps us be able to take ideas that are very abstract and see them and then continue on the iterative and development process. We’ll go from sketch to 3D to evaluating it in virtual reality and then back through the process. It allows us to see things as if we were in a much more finished stage much earlier,” Gelardi says. “The first thing we’ll do is evaluate the forms without any materials. We’ll do that by putting any one of our interiors into any one of the exteriors. Now we’re able to bring together the interior and exterior much earlier in the process. I was always fond of saying, ‘I can put any kind of furniture into a colonial, but I can’t turn it into a ranch.'”
Plus, by outfitting vehicles with personal profiles, the driver can customize around 80 preset features ranging from seat and pedal positions to music and climate options. The Corsair is accessible luxury, now with more consistency, from Lincoln.
Vehicles will be available in dealerships fall 2019.