By on April 17, 2019

By now, you’ve all had a chance to digest Lincoln’s new take on a compact CUV. Underpinned by a platform shared with the equally new 2020 Ford Escape and boasting a model-specific rear multi-link type setup (“integral bush suspension” in Lincoln parlance), the 2020 Corsair is the brand’s latest attempt to restore Lincoln’s faded lustre.

“We are American luxury,” said brand boss Joy Falotico during the model’s New York Auto Show debut. Surely, the Corsair embodies this mantra better than its MKC predecessor, with a stronger commitment to interior trappings and exterior style. But what of the plug-in variant that wasn’t a part of today’s debut?

It’s a fact that the Corsair will be offered with a gas-electric powertrain, but the only two powerplants mentioned on Wednesday were the familiar 2.0-liter and 2.3-liter turbo fours carried over from the MKC. Power figures are slightly altered for 2020.

According to Automotive News, the PHEV model will not be present at the model’s launch this fall, with Lincoln representatives staying mum on specific details of that powertrain option. We know from VIN decoder documents that the Corsair PHEV, offered only in all-wheel drive form, will borrow Ford’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder for the gasoline half of the equation, but just how far the variant can travel on electric power alone, as well as the system’s combined output, remains a mystery.

The Corsair’s bigger Aviator brother positions its plug-in variant as something of a hot rod, with horsepower and torque figures well in excess of the stock model (and a price range reaching into the stratosphere). All-electric driving is simply a bonus with that model.

After speaking with Falotico, The Detroit Bureau reports that the PHEV version will appear “about a year” after the Corsair’s introduction, though the model’s chief engineer, John Jraiche, claims the introduction will be “very soon.” This could mean a mid-year 2020 launch rather than a 2021MY debut.

On the heels of the PHEV, Falotico said Lincoln hopes to offer an all-electric version of the Corsair, with Jraische’s team reportedly hard at work on it.

While a Corsair EV would allow Lincoln to go head to head with compact electric CUV offerings from Germany, the biggest appeal for such a model would be in Chinese sales. The Corsair stands to become the first Lincoln model produced in that country when assembly kicks off late this year. Falotico’s introductory speech may have conjured up traditional images of Americana — businessmen making it big and settling into a more relaxed pace of life, new Lincoln as a reward — but the brand remains very bullish on China.

Having both a plug-in and electric Corsair would help sweeten the pot in a highly polluted country that, in general, places American luxury brands on a higher pedestal than Americans.

Despite an auto slump that began in the middle of 2018, the Lincoln brand managed to improve its annual sales tally in the Chinese market last year. It’s easy to see how a small, domestically produced CUV that ups the luxury quotient and offers electrified powertrains could be the vehicle Lincoln needs to retain momentum in a faltering economy.

[Images: Tim Healey/TTAC, Lincoln Motor Company]

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