The Chinese cars you've not seen before – driven

There is one extra treat from Zeekr: a 1265bhp, all-wheel-drive super-saloon version of the 001 called the FR. Yes, 1265bhp. It had far, far too much power for the chassis and felt like an old-school muscle car albeit without a throttle that could be modulated reliably enough to balance it around corners. Even so, it will stick with me: the acceleration was like nothing I have ever experienced.

It can get from 0-62mph in just two seconds, and on the circuit’s back straight the office building windows adjacent to the gap-ridden perimeter fence suddenly felt very close, with only a thin strip of weed-infused gravel separating us. I backed off to deliver it, and myself, back to the pits in one piece.

Before Zeekr, the Lynk&Co brand had a similar brief and matching global aspirations, yet its only presence in Europe is on limited fleet offerings in select markets. I drove the 07 saloon and 08 SUV hybrids, neither of which left much of an impression.

If the brand’s name sounds like a coffee shop, then the cars are very much Nescafé – and the boggo ‘Original’ stuff, not Gold Blend. While still smart inside, they’re not at Zeekr’s level of tech, materials or perceived quality, but that’s reflective of Lynk&Co’s place in the Geely hierarchy.

Yet hold on, what’s this? Lynk&Co has its own Zeekr 001 FR moment with the 03++. If the concept of a 1265bhp super-saloon seemed far-fetched, then a 345bhp stripped-out hot hatch with a roll-cage in place of rear seats, harness belts for the front buckets and Alcantara galore somehow feels even more so.

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