Exclusive: On the road in Lynk & Co 01
IT’S two years away from launch, but Auto Express was invited to Lynk & Co’s home town of Gothenburg in Sweden to take an exclusive ride in the brand’s first model – the 01 SUV.
This isn’t only our first on-road experience of a Lynk & Co model, it’s also our first experience of a car using the new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform, which has been jointly developed with Volvo and both firms’ Chinese parent company, Geely.
At 4,530mm long, the 01 sits somewhere between the Audi Q3 and Q5 in terms of size, but interior space is closer to the latter. A six-foot rear passenger can sit behind a similarly sized driver with room to spare.
And before the car has even moved a wheel, the Audi comparisons don’t stop there. The quality of the early car we’re in is particularly impressive. The 01 will be built in China in a factory owned by Volvo, while the material quality of Lynk & Co’s first model seems on a par with its Swedish cousin, and close to that of Audi’s SUVS.
The dash is fairly upright and topped by squishy plastics, while the standard 10-inch touchscreen dominates the cabin as much as connectivity dominates the whole Lynk & Co story. The front seats with their integral headrests are trimmed in leather in our car and feel Volvo comfy, while ahead of the driver is a TFT driver display.
Driver for our ride is Ola Hermansson, Lynk & Co’s vice-president of vehicles and architecture who’s led the 01 engineering project. “We wanted to give the car a sporty feel,” Hermansson told us. “We’ve prioritised handling and a fun to drive feeling, but with the very low levels of NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness). Chinese customers are very NVH driven,” he explained. “But it’s difficult to get that balance of being sporty and being quiet.”
Sure enough, our car is being used to test road noise, even though the first models are due to be built in just eight weeks. On the motorway, the engine is eerily silent, while there’s a faint rumble from the tyres but a more noticeable whoosh of wind noise from the oversized door mirrors.
As far as a sporty ride is concerned, the Macpherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension give a ride that’s certainly firm, but it feels more connected than harsh – at least on the Swedish roads around Lynk & Co’s Gothenburg sites. There doesn’t seem to be much body roll through corners, although Hermansson isn’t throwing the car around. “It’s still an SUV,” he reminded us, “so it won’t feel like a sports car”.
Performance from our car’s 188bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol seems brisk enough, but Hermansson admitted that there’s not too much difference between that and the all-new 178bhp three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine. A hybrid version, he says, will produce around 222bhp, while the new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in our car seems to be both responsive and smooth.
As well as testing the car at Volvo’s proving ground in Sweden and further north in the Arctic Circle, British firm Ricardo has been involved in the development of the 01 at its base in Shoreham-by-sea, West Sussex and at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. Hopefully that will bode well for how the 01 behaves on British roads when it arrives in 2019.
“We wanted to give the 01 a sporty feel, so we’ve prioritised handling and a fun drive” OLA HERMANSSON Lynk & Co vice-president Exclusive ride in 01 SUV Swede design, made in China
“A Lynk & Co is a very sporty car. We also want it to feel young in terms of design; young without being flashy” ALAIN VISSER Lynk & Co senior vice-president P13 Visser on future plans, plus 02 exclusive image
SMOOTH As Lynk & Co vice-president Ola Hermansson drove us around, the quiet engine and minimal road noise in 01 impressed
SPACE STAR Clever packaging means there’s as much room in the back of the 01 as you’ll find in the larger Audi Q5. Material quality is first-rate, too
DESIGN LED Lynk & Co stylists have tried to give the 01 a distinctive look, while the interior design focuses on connectivity as well as passenger space