It's been years since Lincoln had a credible performance option, but if recent rumblings are true, the situation could be rectified soon.

Nearly every luxury automaker has some kind of branded performance line, be it BMW's M, Mercedes' AMG, Lexus' F or Audi's S and RS models. To compete in that rarified air, Lincoln needs to join the fold. But what form could it take?

With Lincoln buyers snatching up all-wheel-drive models in droves and turbocharged EcoBoost engines beginning to proliferate throughout the line-up, these two technologies could be leveraged to give Lincoln a much-needed injection of excitement. Crank the boost on the turbocharged MKS – something to the tune of the 365-hp engine found in the Taurus SHO – fit a rear-bias AWD system and Lincoln could have a serious sports sedan offering on its hands. Do the same to the MKZ fitted with the EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder and maybe a revamped dual-clutch gearbox, and Lincoln's off to the races with a fun and fuel-efficient four-door.

But would it find favor with performance-minded buyers?

One Lincoln spokesperson we contacted wouldn't confirm or deny plans to enter the fray, only saying that the automaker is "fully committed to making Lincoln a world-class luxury brand" and that it is "studying the luxury automotive market very closely in defining Lincoln's future." Wishy-washy as that might be, if Lincoln wants to compete with the Bimmers and Benzes of the world while pulling itself away from an aging customer base, making a play for the performance set should be part of the plan. And we suspect we'll hear something more solid by year's end.

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