Lynk & Co 01: For those not ready for EVs

The Lynk & Co 01 PHEV is an intriguing entrant in the automotive world, born from the innovative collaboration between Chinese automaker Geely and Swedish icon Volvo. This Chinese-Swedish brand aims to carve out a niche as an “almost-premium” offering within the Geely Auto family.

What started as a startup venture in the past decade has blossomed into a global brand, with the 01 “Zero-One” as its inaugural model. This plug-in hybrid crossover was introduced in 2016 and has undergone several facelifts, the latest iteration of which I had the pleasure of testing. As a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), the 01 is ideal for those hesitant about fully committing to an electric vehicle (EV) lifestyle.

The Lynk & Co 01 doesn’t scream for attention, yet it effortlessly draws curious glances because it’s refreshingly new. Its blue accents are tastefully subtle, ensuring the vehicle stands out without being garish. Sized similarly to the popular Geely Coolray, the 01 has a compact yet assertive presence. Despite being on the market since 2016, it doesn’t look dated. It competes well with contemporary models, maintaining a unique identity while subtly echoing the design philosophy of Peter Horbury, Geely’s head designer.

I particularly appreciate the design of the 20-inch wheels, though I have mixed feelings about the omnipresent blue accents. The lights are impressively bright, making night driving a breeze. Overall, the 01’s dimensions are perfect for me, offering a balanced blend of agility and presence.

The 01 PHEV has a minimalist interior that feels premium and sophisticated. While the sparse labeling on buttons might not be entirely idiot-proof, it enhances the cabin’s upscale ambiance. It’s evident that Lynk & Co have borrowed liberally from Volvo’s parts bin, a move that pays off in terms of perceived quality. The materials used throughout the cabin exude luxury, although the blue-tinged bucket seats, despite their comfort, feel a tad out of place.

Space is ample for a small family, with numerous cubbyholes to stash essentials. However, the cupholders are disappointingly small. The interior size strikes a good balance, providing enough room without feeling overly bulky.

The Lynk & Co 01 is well-equipped with modern technology and safety features. It boasts wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless charging, although the latter offers low amperage, barely keeping your device charged. Connectivity is seamless, and I had no issues during my tests. The adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping aids, while in need of refinement, are perfectly usable with vigilant attention to driving.

The 10-speaker Harman Infinity Audio System delivers impressive sound quality, enhancing the overall driving experience. The touchscreen, however, is a bit laggy and takes some time to get used to. On the safety front, the emergency braking with pedestrian detection is commendable. It kicked in promptly when a skyway enforcer unexpectedly crossed in front of the vehicle at a tollgate, showcasing its effectiveness in real-world scenarios.

Under the hood, the Lynk & Co 01 features a turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline engine paired with a plug-in hybrid system. This combination produces a total output of 262 hp and 265 Nm of torque. While these numbers aren’t groundbreaking, they provide a balanced performance that’s neither sluggish nor overly punchy. The 7-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission, however, isn’t as smooth as I’d like, particularly during deceleration. It responds quickly at speed but could use a bit more refinement.

The transition from electric to internal combustion power is an area that could be smoother. The brakes feel like they need some adjustment, and the handling is a bit too loose for my liking, lacking the feedback that makes for a truly engaging drive. That said, the suspension is tuned for comfort, effectively absorbing road impacts and providing a smooth ride, though the vehicle can feel a bit floaty at times.

In terms of fuel efficiency, the 01 managed 9.1 km/L over a total of 300 kilometers of mixed city and highway driving. This is respectable for a vehicle of its class and setup.

Charging the 01 from zero to around 90% in a mall (for free, if I may add) takes about an hour, providing roughly 65 kilometers of pure electric driving. This is sufficient for most daily commutes and errands, making it a convenient option for those looking to dip their toes into electrified mobility without the range anxiety associated with full EVs.

Priced at P2,338,000, the Lynk & Co 01 PHEV sits at the boundary between mainstream and luxury vehicles. Given its features, design, and overall performance, this pricing is justified. It offers a compelling package for those seeking an electrified driving experience without fully committing to an EV.

Overall, the Lynk & Co 01 PHEV isn’t a driver’s car in the traditional sense, but it makes a strong case as a practical and stylish small family crossover. It’s an excellent starting point for those looking to transition to electrified mobility while retaining the familiarity of a gasoline engine and the benefits of EVs (number coding exempted). With its blend of modern design, tech-savvy features, and reasonable performance, the 01 is a noteworthy contender in the growing PHEV market.

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