Europe-bound Chinese SUV introduces clever three-cylinder hybrid powertrain we expected to first test in the Volvo XC40
  • First Drive

    Lynk&Co 01 PHEV 2019 review

    Europe-bound Chinese SUV introduces clever three-cylinder hybrid powertrain we expected to first test in the Volvo XC40
  • First Drive

    Lynk&Co 01 prototype review

    Geely's sub-brand Lynk & Co's first attempt at an SUV destined for the European market shows plenty of promise, but remains rough around the edges
1 May 2019

What is it?

The globalised nature of the car industry throws up some strange anomalies.

Back in May 2016, Volvo previewed the XC40 at an event in Gothenburg, Sweden, telling us that it planned to offer the production version of the car with a very clever three-cylinder plug-in hybrid powertrain. Nearly three years on, we're still waiting to experience that car, but we have finally had the chance to sample the new powertrain in a very different environment: the test track of Geely's Hangzhou Bay R&D centre in China, and fitted to the Lynk&Co 01.

Lynk&Co is the Geely brand using the same Compact Modular Architecture that underpins the 40-series Volvos. Its first three products are already on sale in China, and we've previously driven the 01 and lower 02 SUVs, but the 01 PHEV is the first we've experienced that is destined for sale in Europe, albeit on what we're promised will be more dynamic chassis settings.

The powertrain is compellingly clever. Currently front-drive-only, as it will be in its Volvo applications, it uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox to integrate the efforts of the petrol and electric sides of its powertrain. So while the 177bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine can turn either of the gearbox's two shafts, the 80bhp electric motor is connected only to the one that does second, fourth, sixth and reverse gears.

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The e-motor sits downstream of the clutch pack, meaning the 01 can be driven purely electrically with the engine switched off, or the motor can add assistance and, sometimes, will be in two gears at once, with one shaft turned by combustion and the other by flowing ions. The motor can also vary levels of regenerative braking by switching between different gears.

What's it like?

While the Hangzhou Bay track has only slow-speed corners, it features two straights long enough to test the 01 PHEV's acceleration. With aggressive starts, our test car launched itself electrically, with the engine then cutting in as the car started to roll. Under hard use, integration between the two sides of the powertrain definitely wasn't seamless, with a noticeable pause before the three-pot started to really pull.

It sounds muscular under harder use, and the gearbox's responses are certainly snappier than the slurring common to CVT hybrids such as the Toyota Prius. The car feels quick, too; barring the slow getaway, Lynk&Co's claimed 7.3sec 0-62mph time seems entirely achievable.

Under the sort of lower-intensity duty the 01 is designed for, the petrol and electric power sources played far nicer together, with the default hybrid mode allowing the motor to add its assistance unobtrusively. There is an electric-only mode, although one we only experienced briefly, because of a mostly depleted battery pack. Acceleration is limited but almost entirely silent. Lynk&Co claims a 31.7-mile electric-only range from the 9kWh battery, although that's calculated under the generally optimistic NEDC protocol.

Even on a smooth test track, the 01's suspension settings felt soft, with the front axle struggling to digest the combined torque output on the hairpin bends. While better resolved than the very soft chassis of the Geometry A saloon we drove at the same event, the 01 had lots of body roll under even moderate cornering loads. We're promised the suspension settings for European versions will be better disciplined.

Should I buy one?

Although Lynk&Co's conventional models are selling well in China, alongside the 01 PHEV, the brand will be electrified-only in Europe. Firstly with the 01 PHEV, which will be launched in some markets next year, then shortly afterwards with an electric model based on Geely's new, EV-specific PMA architecture.

We still have some significant unanswered questions about Lynk&Co's plans for what will primarily be a subscription-based distribution model in Europe, but the brand's products continue to impress.

Lynk&Co 01 PHEV specification

Where Hangzhou, China Price RMB 262,800 (£29,755) before subsidies On sale Now (China), 2020 (Europe) Engine 3cyls, 1477cc, turbocharged, petrol, plus electric motor Power 257bhp (combined) Torque 195lb ft at 4000rpm (engine), 118lb ft (motor) Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1769kg Top speed 130mph 0-62mph 7.3sec Fuel economy tbc (WLTP) CO2 tbc (WLTP) Rivals Mini Countryman S E, Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine, Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid

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Comments
33

15 March 2019

What Subsidies? I don't think there will be any as they're only expected to have an electric range of 30 miles.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

15 March 2019
It says so clearly. It even gives the price in Chinese currency.

15 March 2019

I just saw the sterling price and 'before subsidies' line. 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

15 March 2019

I m making over $10k multi month working low maintenance. I continued hearing other individuals disclose to me how much cash they can make on the web so I chose to investigate it. All things considered, it was all valid and has completely transformed me...  ℂashverity.ℂom

 

nalixecama@

15 March 2019
nalixecama wrote:

I m making over $10k multi month working low maintenance. I continued hearing other individuals disclose to me how much cash they can make on the web so I chose to investigate it. All things considered, it was all valid and has completely transformed me...  ℂashverity.ℂom

 

Are you Cantonese? Your ad seems Chinese to me.

15 March 2019

The initial images looked promising but the finished product is a letdown, being far too elaborate especially the back and the awful C-pillar treatment.

15 March 2019

Why would someone be in the market for a ‘non premium’ plug in SUV?

If you have decided this is the car format for you, surely you would then just want the best available in your budget?

This use of the term ‘premium’ is increasingly a nonsense, and looks at the market from an industry point of view, not the customer.

15 March 2019

I much prefer Volvo's styling.  The interior looks like they've nicked Volvo's air vents and swivelled them 90 degrees!

15 March 2019

A non-premium hybrid car that'll probably be more expensive than the premium car it's based on.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

15 March 2019

I see you're now asking me to whitelist your ads and not use an adblocker (thank you, Opera!).  If your ads didn't slow my internet connection down so much then there wouldn't be a necessity to use an ad blocker in the first place!  Just run 'ordinary' ads down the sides of the website which don't use up so much of my PC's ability to cope (and funnily enough, my adblocker lets them through, so I don't even need to turn it off).  When are website owners going to learn?

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