Lynk & Co 02 SUV review

Set to arrive in Europe in 2020, we’ve been for an early drive in the Lynk & Co 02 SUV

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

Our initial experience with the 02 was far from in-depth, but even this early drive suggests it’ll tick all the necessary boxes when it comes to practicality, safety and comfort. Lynk & Co is a brand with ambition and has a new way of thinking about modern day car ownership; its monthly subscription service will simplify the car buying process for a lot of people. It may take a few years for the company to arrive in the UK, but based on what we’ve seen it’ll be worth the wait.

There’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.

Best SUVs on sale 2018

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.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring - front
Porsche 911

New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling

The optional Touring package aims to bring a few creature comforts to the track-focused Porsche 911 GT3
15 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'
Opinion Genesis Hyundai Ioniq
Opinion

'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'

Steve Fowler is impressed by Hyundai's electric cars, its N division and now its luxury Genesis brand
16 Jun 2021
New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power
SsangYong Korando EV
Electric cars

New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power

The new SsangYong Korando compact electric SUV will be on sale later in 2021, says the financially stricken South Korean manufacturer
15 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021