Is China finally taking Europe by storm?

Lynk & Co 03 is the Chinese company’s third production model. Previewed by a concept car in 2017, it became a production vehicle in 2018. The sedan made its debut in China, but it will soon be sold in Europe, and maybe even in the United States in the future.

The 03 joins the 01 and 03 SUVs to form a three-vehicle lineup only two years since the brand was established. Owned by Geely, the same company that purchased Volvo in 2010, Lynk & Co is positioned between those of the Geely brand and the Swedish carmaker. The 03 rides on the Compact Modular Architecture platform that also underpins the Volvo XC40 and will underpin the next-generation S40 sedan. Unfortunately, the 03 had a rather quiet release, and we don’t know much about the European version.

Continue reading to learn more about the Lynk & Co 03.

2019 Lynk & Co 03 Exterior

  • Compact-sized sedan
  • Sleek overall design
  • Three-tier front end
  • Juke-style headlamp arrangement
  • Aggressive bumpers
  • Thick C-pillar
  • Race-inspired diffuser
2019 Lynk & Co 03
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Lynk & Co didn’t reveal any dimensions for the car, but it definitely looks like a compact. It has short overhangs, short rear doors, and a somewhat short decklid.

However, it looks pretty sporty and sleek for a sedan this size. What's more, the 03 boasts quite the unique design language.

The front fascia features a three-tier layout. Most automobile front ends are split into two section: an upper area with the grille and the headlamps and a bumper for vents and aero elements. The 03 has both, but it also sports an extra pair of lights on the fenders. It’s a bit like the Nissan Juke, but more modern, more stylish, and definitely more aggressive.

The upper lights are placed at the top of the fascia and extend toward the top of front fenders in a swept-back fashion. Two LED strips emphasize their dominant position above everything else. Down below, there’s a thin and wide opening that houses the main grille flanked by big headlamps. None of them are particularly special, but the really thin vent under the grille and the shape of the headlamps give the front end an aggressive look.

2019 Lynk & Co 03
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The bumper is almost rectangular, a rather awkward choice on a modern car. However, the black blades at the corners and the trapezoidal shape of the lower intake add a bit of character. Overall, the front fascia looks a bit weird, but it’s definitely sporty and unique.

For the most part, the 03’s profile is rather simple. This isn’t unusual in this segment though, with very few models going past the familiar clean design with mild beltlines and detailing.

However, the 03 has surprisingly muscular rear haunches and protruding side skirts.

It also has unusually wide C-pillars and the upper window trim extends above it into the rear window. Needless to say, these details make the 03 look elegant. The way the rear fender descends toward the rear fascia reminds me of the Maserati 3200GT, which is really cool.

The 03 becomes even sportier around back. The two-element taillights grow larger and extend toward the bottom of the rear fenders, while the inner lights are connected by an almost transparent stripe bearing "Lynk & Co" lettering. The black spoiler on the trunk lid adds sportiness.

2019 Lynk & Co 03
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The bumper is aggressive too and sports an interestingly shaped diffuser.

Obviously inspired by racing, it has two distinct elements with vertical fins, while the upper section features some sort of intake with a trapezoidal extension in the middle. The black element extends onto the sides to incorporate big exhaust pipes and vertical red lights.

All told, while Chinese firms may have a bad reputation when it comes to car design, the Lynk & Co 03 is arguably one of the best looking compact cars I’ve seen in a very long time.

2019 Lynk & Co 03 Interior

  • Clean and modern
  • Leather upholstery
  • Premium looking trim
  • Big infotainment screen
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Roomy rear compartment
2019 Lynk & Co 03
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Although it's supposed to slot under the upcoming Volvo S40, the Lynk & Co 03 looks surprisingly good inside the cabin.

The layout is clean and simple, but the design feels modern thanks to the multi-layered, organic looking dash. The center stack is as clean as they get, with a big display, a few controls below, and two A/C vents above. The vents are unusually big, but the infotainment display is also larger than most premium compact cars.

The center console is also neat and clean, with only a gear selector, a couple of buttons, and a knob for the infotainment system standing between the driver and the front passenger. The digital instrument cluster is fairly big and displays extra information between the speed and the rev counter.

2019 Lynk & Co 03
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Some of the materials seem to be of the premium variety as well. There’s perforated leather on the steering wheel, the leather on the center console and seats, and the red stitching visible almost everywhere. The plastic on the dashboard and the door panels looks interesting too, far better than the material used in most non-premium compacts. The polished aluminum trim and the honeycomb detailing on the dash and doors round off the upscale look.

The front seats have solid side bolstering and look as if they could provide proper lateral support.

The rear compartment offers room for three people and legroom looks very generous for a compact sedan. This isn’t surprising though given that the four-door was developed for the Chinese market.

There isn’t much to talk about tech-wise as of this writing, but the 03 could share many features with the Volvo XC40. Although the infotainment display is radically different, the technology behind it could be very similar. It should feature voice-activated control, satellite navigation, real-time traffic information, and smartphone integration for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The sedan should also come with some driving assist technology.

2019 Lynk & Co 03
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On the other hand, since it's supposed to compete under the upcoming Volvo S40, the less expensive models won't have that many standard features.

The version shown here is definitely some sort of range-topping model, so expect to find cloth upholstery and not so impressive trim on the entry-level 03.

2019 Lynk & Co 03 Drivetrain

  • Volvo engines
  • Gas and diesel
  • Hybrid too
  • Up to 250 horsepower
  • Up to 300 pound-feet
2019 Lynk & Co 03
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The 03 rides on the same Compact Modular Architecture that underpins various Volvo vehicles, including the XC40 crossover and the upcoming S40 sedan. Co-developed by Geely and Volvo, the platform is suitable for a wide range of gasoline and diesel engines.

European specs aren’t yet available but we already know that the 03 will share drivetrains with the XC40.

That said, the gasoline range should begin with the 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine known as the T3.

This unit cranks out 154 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque in the XC40.

A variant of Volvo T4 should also make it into the 03. This is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that generates 187 horsepower and 220 pound-feet. Should Lynk & Co offer a higher performance setup to go with the aggressive design seen here, expect it to draw juice from the T5, rated at 249 horsepower and 260 pound-feet in its most potent configuration.

2019 Lynk & Co 03
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In Europe, it would makes sense for the 03 to become available with diesel powertrains as well. Fortunately, Volvo offers a couple of oil burners in the XC40, and both are suitable for this sedan. The least expensive diesel should feature the D3, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s good for 148 horsepower and 240 pound-feet in the crossover. If you want more power, Lynk & Co should also offer the D4, rated at 187 horses and 300 pound-feet.

The really big news here is that in addition to the above, the 03 will also feature a hybrid drivetrain.

And unlike the S60, which comes with two hybrids that include four-cylinder engine, the 03 will feature a combo that brings together the T3 three-cylinder and an electric motor. There’s no word on power yet, but it should deliver around 190 horsepower and well in excess of 250 pound-feet of torque.

2019 Lynk & Co 03 Prices

2019 Lynk & Co 03
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Pricing information for the European market isn’t yet available, but given that the 01 SUV costs less than $30,000 in China, the sedan could have a very competitive sticker given its design, performance and features. I’m pretty sure the 03 will cost far less than German premium compacts like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, but offer similar amenities in range-topping trim. It would make sense for Lynk & Co to aim the 03 at vehicles like the Mazda3 Fastback, so pricing could range between £22,000 and £28,000 in the United Kingdom.

But unlike the competition, the 03 will be sold online only. Lynk & Co’s aims to innovate by selling its cars online only and the 03 could kick off this strategy for the Chinese firm in Europe. A subscription strategy similar to Volvo’s will also be available.

2019 Lynk & Co 03 Competition

Mazda3 Fastback

2016 - 2018 Mazda3 High Resolution Exterior
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Five years old as of 2018, the Mazda3 is a bit long in the tooth, but it can still hold its own against the competition. The sleek and sporty exterior is far from dated, while the interior bridges the gap between the affordable and premium models in this market. It also comes with a wide selection of engines, starting a 1.5-liter four-banger rated at 99 horsepower and 110 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a 2.0-liter with either 120 or 163 horses and 150 pound-feet, and a 2.2-liter diesel that cranks out 150 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. The fourth-generation Mazda3 will make its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2018, but the sedan version won’t be out until 2019. Meanwhile, you can buy the current model from around £21,000 in the United Kingdom.

Read our review for the Mazda3 Fastback (Sedan).

Volvo S40

2008 Volvo S40
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2008 Volvo S40

Granted, the new Volvo S40 is still at least a year away, but when it arrives, it will definitely cross swords with the 03. Although Geely’s strategy is to make the S40 the fancier, more expensive compact and keep the 03 as a more affordable option, certain trims will cannibalize each other. For instance, a well-equipped 03 will probably have what it takes to compete against an entry-level S40. The big issue here is that we don’t know much about the upcoming S40 other than the fact that the two will share underpinnings and engines. However, the S40 will probably borrow design cues from the larger S60. The compact sedan will return to the market after a six-year hiatus. The second-generation model was discontinued in 2012 when Volvo stopped selling the sedan. Since then, only the V40 hatchback was offered.

Conclusion

2019 Lynk & Co 03
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Of all of Lynk & Co’s new and upcoming models, I’m most excited about the 03 sedan. It’s probably not going to sell as well as its SUV counterparts, but it’s still going to be an intriguing choice given the segment it belongs in. For what its worth, the company’s quirky design language is most natural in the 03, almost as if the design was meant to look like it. The interior looks top-shelf, too, and the engine options will give European buyers enough options to consider. If it ends up being priced the way I think it will be, the 03 is going to be a much more appealing model.

  • Leave it
    • Lack of brand reliability
    • Is it still a niche model?
    • No specific timetable yet

Further reading

Fastest Selling Car in History is.... the 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 more about the 2018 Lynk & Co 02.

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

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