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Lynk&Co 01 review: XC40-based SUV driven

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This is the first time anyone has officially driven a Lynk&Co 01 outside of China, or indeed on a public road, and it’s in Sweden, with the weather looking decidedly noir. There’s a depthless nothing of cloud wrapped around the horizon, the temperature is moderate-to-cold, and I’m stood on a beach next to a pier wondering what to make of it. It’s not actively ugly, but it does appear to have influences from across the board – in fact, cover up the badges and you’d be hard-pressed to decide where on earth it came from.

There are some nice details, but overall it’s a little… generic – a small, five-seat SUV with a front end that looks like a cross between a Ferrari 599 and Chevy Camaro, one stacked on top of the other. Those top lights, by the way, aren’t the main headlights – they sit in the horizontal bar in the midsection. The proportions are mini-Cayenne, the rear lights another broad horizontal graphic, featuring strange, interesting little segmented features. Inside, it’s comfy, dominated by a huge central screen and otherwise inoffensive, with decent quality and plenty of kit, even though this car is an early import from the Chinese launch operation.

Suffice to say, it hasn’t got the same clean, crisp vibe of its sister car, the Volvo XC40, missing the Scandinavian visual twang  – inside and outside – that might suit the situation better. Still, it drives nicely enough, humming along A- and B-roads. Its 188bhp, 2.0-litre petrol and 7spd auto are a bit coarse under its admittedly limited accelerative urge, pitched somewhere on the firmer side of the Volvo median. It’s not a sports car, and it’s not particularly satisfying to drive, which makes you feel like it might have been better pitched at the soothing side of things.

The steering is light but ever-so-slightly vague, and the same could also be said of the other control surfaces, handling and general demeanour – it’s a car that treads a line somewhere in the back of the mind, trying not to capture your attention with anything in particular. Which, I guess, is the point.

The much prettier 02 has already been previewed, and a saloon is coming, though neither will be particularly sporty. But again, this isn’t the point; the Lynk&Co cars are, for the moment, simply carriers of technology and experience – the expansive flatscreen telly through which you enjoy other forms of entertainment.

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