The design tries harder from the front than other angles and certainly won’t be all tastes – apparently the Chinese appreciate a car that makes a grand entrance. The elongated light units mounted on the top of the front wings give the 01 hints of the Nissan Juke, or a more angular take on the Porsche Macan, although the actual headlights are mounted lower. From side and rear it looks handsome if slightly generic; but then, if you launch an all-new brand no one knows what it is supposed to look like. At 4512mm long it’s pretty much exactly on the segment average, and just 87mm longer than its XC40 cousin. The wheelbases of the two cars are similar, with the 01’s 2735mm a 33mm stretch over the Volvo. The shared platform and Volvo’s safety expertise also means that Lynk’s engineering team are confident the 01 will perform extremely well in all major comparative crash tests.
Despite having only two engines from launch, Geely has taken the unusual decision to launch the 01 in China with three different gearboxes: a basic six-speed manual and two autos – a six-speed torque converter box and a more advanced seven-speed twin-clutch version. The conventional slusher isn’t intended to be part of the mix for long and will only be available with front-wheel drive, so it won't come to Europe. The twin-clutch we drove comes with all-wheel drive through a part-time Haldex-style rear axle. The hybrid that will eventually make it to Europe will use this gearbox, with the innovative feature of an electric motor powering one of its input shafts and the internal combustion engine turning the other. Lynk execs also confirm there won’t be a diesel version.
What's it like?
Although Lynk produces cars in China, it wants to be seen as a global brand and is keen to emphasise that design and engineering is thoroughly European. As boss Alain Visser puts it “we’re as Chinese as Volvo is”, with the brand wanting to be compared to established players. That’s a high bar to jump.
Our drive took place at Geely’s privately owned Ningbo circuit, which is about four hours from Shanghai. While most manufacturers’ proving grounds are bleak and desolate places, Geely’s is a proper 2.6-mile long racetrack that has been built to FIA standards and which regularly hosts motorsport. It is not, however, the most appropriate place to experience an SUV for the first time.
No matter, the 01 coped well with the unlikely challenge. The cabin impresses on initial acquaintance, but starts to feel less upmarket after you’ve explored it thoroughly. Design is good with lots of emphasis on technology, including what will be a standard 10.2-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard as well as a full digital instrument display. Materials look expensive, but many turn out to be considerably more humble when inspected. The dashboard top looks like stitched leather but is actually a moulding; most of the interior’s shinier finishes were plastic rather than real metal. Space is reasonable in the front, although the bulbous contours of the dashboard cut down on knee room, and the back feels roomier than the segment norm.