Lynk & Co is a Chinese mobility company owned by Geely (the same parent company to Volvo), and the simply named 01 is its first production vehicle. It’s a high-riding crossover that shares its platform and drivetrain with the Volvo XC40 - they both use the Swedish manufacturer’s modular CMA chassis architecture.

The 01 has been on sale in China for over a year now, and the company’s initial plan was to start selling it in Europe as of next year. But European automotive journos have had a chance to drive the 01 in production form, and first impressions were very positive.

It looks interesting and distinctive in person, according to first impressions from those who’ve driven it, and the level of fit and finish quality is also high. The driving experience is also rated as good, showing its link to the excellent XC40.

Its designer is actually the same person who penned some of the newest Volvo models, Peter Horbury, and his team. The 01 is definitely a bit strange to behold for European and American tastes, but still familiar enough to not be considered ugly. In other words, its design is much more in tune with Chinese tastes in automotive design, than it is with what Europeans or Americans want, but we wouldn’t call it ugly.

However, the really unique part of the Lynk & Co proposal is the subscription-based way you will be able to get behind the wheel. They will not sell you the car, but instead, present you with a choice of cars in different specs that’ll you’ll subscribe to from month to month. According to the company, this is said to eliminate the stress associated with car ownership (maintenance, servicing and insurance) all of which will be taken care of by Lynk & Co.

The system is currently being tested in China, and if it proves successful, it will be adopted once Lynk & Co hits Europe. You will be able to buy one outright, but the company expects that 70 percent of its customers will opt for the subscription, arguing that people will appreciate the flexibility of being able to return the car at the end of the month, instead of when a conventional lease is concluded.

The plan is to introduce it in Europe in 2019, but there are no guarantees that they will be able to stick to it.

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Exterior

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Exterior
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Both the 01 crossover and the 03 sedan share the same design language that includes a unique front-end design with hints of Nissan Juke DNA.

It does look more serious and grown-up than the Juke, though, with fewer swoops and creases to distract the eye.

Its daytime running lights are comprised of two LED blades and are placed high, in front of the hood, on the corners of the car. The main headlight clusters are located below, and their design is integrated into the simple grille that runs from side to side and connects them.

Further down there’s another grille that houses two small, circular fog lights. On cars with colored body accents, there’s a horizontal line that runs across the upper part of the grille and the same trim material is used for the side intake ornament that is integrated into the front fender, as well as the trim that follows the upper contour of the side windows.

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Exterior
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The 01 crossover doesn’t look similar to the XC40, not even from the side, where vehicles that share a platform usually betray the fact that they are related, even if they have different fascias and details.

From the rear, the 01 again carves its own visual path, with light clusters that don’t look like they are borrowed from any car currently available - they are a distinctive design trait of the 01.

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Interior

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Interior
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Those who have experienced the 01 first hand say there’s little to fault about its interior which looks very modern and feels quite premium. There are some more obvious Volvo giveaways like some of the switches and buttons, the shape of the gear selector and steering wheel, as well as the structure, look, and feel of the infotainment system.

But just like a Volvo, it all feels very well built and materials are reportedly on par with its Swedish counterpart.

The infotainment screen itself is different, though, with its landscape instead of portrait orientation.

Space and comfort levels are very good too, and there’s even space in the rear for taller adults. It’s definitely one of the best cars to come out of China to date and, on first impression, it’s definitely on par with what Europe has to offer.

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Drivetrain

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Drivetrain
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In China, Lynk & Co sells the 01 crossover with either a 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo engine with 178 horsepower or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo with 188 horsepower.

Front-wheel drive is standard, as is a six-speed manual gearbox, but all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic are offered as options.

Reviews of Chinese-spec cars report that power delivery and performance are both adequate and that it is only in terms of refinement and noise intrusion into the cabin does the 01 lag behind the best vehicles in the class.

The larger-engined 01, with front-wheel drive and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic sprints from naught to 100 km/h or 62 mph in 7.3 seconds and tops out at 212 km/h or 132 mph.

However, for all markets outside of China, these powerplants won’t matter since Lynk & Co only intends to sell hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully-electric versions of the car.

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Drivetrain
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The driving experience itself is supposed to be sportier compared to Volvo vehicles.

Suspension is tuned to be stiffer and there’s less roll through the corners compared to the mechanically related Volvo XC40.

Reviewers say its steering is actually surprisingly accurate and positive. But only being sportier than a Volvo isn’t saying much, and there are other similar vehicles out there with even more emphasis on (and generally better) handling.

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Pricing

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Exterior
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In China, the 01 crossover is priced from 158,000 yuan, which equates to nearly $23,000 or just over €20,000. Once the vehicle reaches European shores, though, it will be more expensive due to import taxes as well as being made available only in (more expensive) electrified and electric forms.

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Competition

Volvo XC40

2018 Volvo XC40 Exterior High Resolution
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Since the Volvo XC40 is very similar to the Lynk & Co 01, it has to be compared against it. It has more conventional styling than the 01, but it’s still distinctive and unique to look at, and I think it’s the best looking high-riding Volvo you can buy.

Its interior is better than that of the 01 thanks to great materials used all throughout, wide spectrum for customization and just the minimalist look that is so characteristic of Volvo models. It will probably be more expensive than the 01, especially the top XC40 T5 Twin-Engine plug-in hybrid model that will probably cost in excess of €40,000 when its official pricing information is finally announced.

Read our full review on the 2018 Volvo XC40

BMW X1

2016 BMW X1 High Resolution Exterior
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BMW was caught testing an prototype plug-in hybrid version of its new front-wheel drive-biased X1, so such a model is definitely on its way. It will use the same powertrain as in the 225xe I tested not long ago, but in a higher, more SUV-like package.

It will be one of the sportier and more focused potential rivals for the 01 crossover, but since nobody’s actually tested one back to back against the X1, it’s hard to tell how much better it’s going to be - remember, this latest X1 is based on BMW’s transverse engine modular platform, so it’s more closely related to a MINI than to the larger and excellent driving X3.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW X1

Conclusion

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Exterior
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Lynk & Co lacks any and all brand awareness outside of China, and even on its home market it is still establishing itself and testing the water. Its plan to offer a subscription-based ownership experience sounds intriguing and many potential buyers will see the benefit of somebody else taking care of all the unwanted extra steps to car ownership (insuring it, servicing it, and fixing it when it breaks).

The company is confident that most buyers will choose this means to get behind the wheel of a 01, but there will still be those who will want to actually own it, especially in the more traditional and conservative parts of Europe and America where ride sharing is still seen with skepticism.

But first reviews of the Chinese version of the 01 are very promising and the car has apparently no major flaws that are worth reporting.

It’s not class leading, but it’s by no means bad and its European success will be down to keen pricing and clever marketing.

Some may buy it simply because it is an uncommon shape made by an unknown manufacturer and they may appreciate the Volvo connection, but if its asking price is the same as that of competing models, it will be hard for it to gain popularity.

The plan is to bring it to Europe solely as a hybrid or electric vehicle, and it is a wise decision in current context of the market to launch the crossover model first, then the sedan. But it needs a combination of factors to line up in order for it to become a common sight on local roads.

  • Leave it
    • New brand with zero track record
    • Planned subscription model could backfire

Further Reading

2018 Lynk & Co 01 Exterior
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Read more about the 2017 Lynk & Co 01.

Lynk & Co Pulls the Sheets Off of the 02 Premium Crossover Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Lynk & Co 02.

Discover What The Potentially Awesome Lynk & Co Car Subscription Service Is All About
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Read more about the 2018 Lynk & Co 03.

2019 Lynk & Co 04 Hatchback
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Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Lynk & Co 04.

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