New car brands don't pop up often, and it can be seriously difficult for them to carve a niche when they do. Say what you will about the big manufacturers, but they sure know how to plug a gap in the market. Undeterred, Lynk & Co has set about building the "most connected car[s]" in the world. Having started with the 01 SUV, the Chinese company has expanded its lineup to include the 03 sedan.

The Lynk & Co name might not ring many bells, but it's backed by a couple of much bigger players. The company is owned by Geely, which also owns Volvo. When it launches, the 03 will be built around a modular platform shared with everything from the Volvo XC90 to the upcoming Volvo V40 hatch, which means it will be compatible with a range of gasoline, diesel and hybrid powertrains.

You can also expect it to be compatible with the latest in active safety technology, but details about which safety features and powertrains will be available at launch are still thin on the ground. There's likely to be a range of 1.5 and 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines, hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Given the brand is aimed at young buyers, and lots of young buyers wouldn't know what a clutch pedal looks like, don't hold your breath for a stick shift option.

When it launched the 01 SUV, the engineering team at Lynk & Co was keen to highlight the stiff body, which should contribute to sharp handling and a smooth, quiet ride inside. If new Volvos are anything to go by, that isn't too unbelievable.

Beyond the car itself, perhaps the most significant element of the new Lynk & Co model is the way the company plans to sell the car. Like fellow upstart Tesla, it wants to sell direct to customers, either through an online store or physical retail-style locations. Buying the cars outright will be an option, but there will also be a set of subscription and sharing options.

This focus on sharing is reflected in the standard equipment. Like the 01, the 03 should be sold with digital locks ready to let drivers share the car with family, friends or business partners for a set period of time via a smartphone app. This business model, should it get off the ground, has the potential to really shake things up in the industry. After all, no-one really likes car dealerships, but they're a necessary evil at the moment.

We can see one thing that might hold people back, and that's the styling. The rear end is fairly generic, and the froggy front end won't win any beauty contests, but at least it stands out and will get you from A to B.

The 03 will initially hit roads in China, before expanding to other markets, so it's no surprise the car will be on show at Auto Shanghai, which kicks off on April 21.

Source: Lynk & Co

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