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Both models will share technology with Lynk & Co’s fellow Geely-owned brand Volvo, including a range of engines. There will initially be a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine and a four-cylinder petrol, with hybrid and EV powertrains in the pipeline. The 01 will go on sale in China later in 2017, extending to Europe and the US thereafter. The premium SUV will spearhead the firm's entry into the global market, having been previewed in concept form last year. It was spotted by our spy photographers winter testing in 2016, and has even been sighted on UK roads ahead of its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show. The lightweight but tech-heavy newcomer is being hailed as the most connected car ever, and is based on the Compact Model Architecture which will be used by fellow Geely brand Volvo to underpin future models, including the new V40 hatch, S40 saloon and XC40 SUV. As will be the case with all LYNK & CO’s cars, the 01 has been designed in Sweden – under the eye of Brit Peter Horbury – and engineered there, too. Inside, there’s a 10.1-inch central touchscreen and telematics systems that are constantly connected to the Internet. Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink are supported, as is Android Auto in selected markets. A shareable ‘digital key’ allows owners to provide access to others, while the car can be controlled by smartphone via the LYNK & CO app. The firm is working with Ericsson to create what is described as an “advanced car connectivity cloud”. Andreas Nilsson, head of design at the new company, explained: “The design brief for LYNK & CO was simple: the cars should stand out from the crowd and appeal to a truly global audience. Plus we wanted to acknowledge that our users are extremely tech-savvy – a smartphone is an integral part of their lives and our interior design reflects that.”
Set to arrive in Europe in 2020, we’ve been for an early drive in the Lynk & Co 02 SUV, here’s a chance you may not have heard of Lynk & Co. The brand only appeared at the end of 2016, but in that short space of time it has come a relatively long way. Two models are already on sale in China, with a third in the pipeline. Think of the company as Volvo’s more adventurous younger brother, and you’ll be on the right lines. It’ll be a few years until Lynk & Co appears in the UK with right-hand drive models, but the brand is coming, and the 02 – driven here for the first time – has been designed with a European market in mind. The company’s rapid growth has been made possible by the power of its parent company, Geely, one of China’s largest car makers. When Lynk & Co arrives it will be positioned as a more affordable alternative to Volvo; just as Skoda is to Volkswagen. But being cheaper doesn’t mean a sacrifice when it comes to design or tech; the 02 is essentially a Volvo XC40 in a new designer suit. Visually, it’s a welcome antidote to the current tidal wave of mundane and conservative SUVs - the 02’s more daring shape and design cues giving it real kerb appeal. It’s a similar story inside; the cabin is trimmed with a mix of leather, aluminium and textured plastics. A 10.2-inch display sits flush in the centre console and is controlled by touch or voice commands. In testament to how intuitive the infotainment system is to use, even in our Chinese spec test car the menus and sub menus were simple enough to navigate. The driving position is low, there’s lots of adjustment in the steering wheel and build quality is first rate. Our car rolled out of Lynk & Co’s brand new £1.4 billion state-of-the-art factory in Zhangjakou, on the outskirts of Beijing – and on this evidence, it looks like the negative connotations associated with being ‘Made in China’ will soon be a thing of the past. In Europe, every Lynk & Co model will be electrified, which means the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine we’re driving here won’t be offered. It will, however, form a basis of the plug-in hybrid version. In our car, the trademark three-cylinder thrum was well muted. Refinement has been a particular focus point in the car’s development, and that becomes more apparent as you begin to make progress. The light steering, cushioned ride and smooth seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox makes it a composed and civilized crossover to drive. It also packs a punch, developing 178bhp and 245Nm of torque. Power delivery is far smoother than the boosty and frantic nature many three-cylinder engines are known for; suiting the car’s more mature and refined character. At motorway speeds there was some noticeable wind noise around the A-Pillar, while the ride felt a little more unsettled – fidgeting over surfaces that seemed perfectly smooth to the naked eye. European cars will get a slightly tweaked suspension set-up, however. Our test route around the roads of the Zhangjakou plant didn’t give us the opportunity to fully assess the car’s handling, but it’s clear the car’s softer and more comfort-focused setup is unlikely to win favour with keener drivers. Despite it being relatively compact, the 02 is rather practical; there’s enough space for two six footers in the back with knee and headroom to spare. There are no boot measurements just yet but it’s clear the space is pretty standard for this type of vehicle. What’s not so standard is the way Lynk & Co will sell its vehicles. Buyers can pay for them outright – our top spec test car costing around 200,000 RMB in China (£23,000) – or pay one monthly fixed fee to cover all vehicle costs. It’s too early for any initial figures, but the complexity and hassle that monthly fee will remove from the car buying process will surely appeal to the younger customers Lynk & Co is targeting.
Chinese-owned mobility company Lynk & Co is doubling down with fellow Geely-subsidiary Volvo on technology to launch a new plug-in hybrid version of its 01 SUV at the Beijing International Auto Show.
The Lynk & Co 01 made its official debut last year at the Shanghai Motor Show with initial plans to offer it with both three-cylinder and four-cylinder gasoline engines, mated to either a manual or automatic gearbox. This PHEV variant will be the first Lynk & Co to be sold outside of China, with European production to begin next year and sales slated to start in 2020.
"Our European strategy has always been based on new technology powertrain, and the announcements here in Beijing today confirm that vision," said Alain Visser, senior vice president of Lynk & Co. "There will be no diesel, no manual and no ICE Lynk & Co derivatives in Europe. When we commence production in 2019, and sales starting from 2020, in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels and London, our range will be all about new energy. From these hubs in key cities we will also launch our pop-up stores offline tours, reaching 95% of Europe's urban population with a formidable, efficient and connected range of products based on industry-leading technologies such as Drive-E and more."
The Euro version of the 01 will be built in Ghent, Belgium alongside Volvo's new CMA-platformed XC40. According to previous statements, Lynk & Co does plan on bringing its vehicles to the United States, but it's unclear if that will also happen in 2020 or if its planned assault on the European market will push that timeline back.