Driven: ZEEKR 001 EV Is a Bargain Among Full-Size Luxury Vehicles

ZEEKR 001 33 photos
Photo: Petter Berg/ZEEKR
When I first saw the pictures of the Lynk & Co Zero Concept three years ago, I thought the car was stunning. It was obvious that it deserved to reach production lines, which it did in a rather surprising way. When I learned I would have the chance to drive it at the ZEEKR X European premiere, I did not want to miss the opportunity. Although that cut my time with the electric SUV in half, it seemed like a good deal to tell my readers how the Zero Concept drives, even if we now call it ZEEKR 001.
This battery electric vehicle (BEV) did not reach production by chance. In fact, we can say that it was its winning style that made Geely create a new brand to turn it into something palpable. This is what made a quick spin on this vehicle something even more relevant. I expected that the 001 would teach me what led Geely to make that move instead of just calling it a Lynk & Co. It would have been much easier that way. Yet, ZEEKR is among us, which it owes to this extended hatchback that the brand calls a shooting brake. This is probably the most controversial aspect of this vehicle: its body classification.

Design Evaluation

What do you think a Porsche Panamera is? A hatchback? A shooting brake? A fastback? A liftback? Some even call it a sedan, such as Porsche Beachwood. The ZEEKR 001 resembles the German competitor and competes in the same market segment with pretty similar dimensions.

The Panamera is 5.05 meters (198.8 inches) long, 1.94 m (76.3 in) wide, 1.42 m (56.0 in) tall, and has a wheelbase of 2.95 m (116.1 in). The 001 is 4.96 m (195.3 in) long, 2 m (78.7 in) wide, 1.56 m (61.4 in) tall, and has a wheelbase of 3 m (118.1 in). Surprisingly, the 100-kWh battery pack does not make it that much heavier than the Porsche – especially considering the derivatives that weigh more. While the German competitor has a curb weight that ranges from 1,815 kilograms (4,001 pounds) to 2,310 kg (5,093 lb), the ZEEKR goes from 2,200 kg (4,850 lb) to 2,350 kg (5,181 lb).

Photo: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
Whatever you decide to classify the 001, its distinctive daytime running lights (DRLs) can still be seen in Lynk & Co products. Even the Lynk & Co badge was recycled for the new brand. That could make it sound like the 001 has no personality, but that would be highly unfair. Very few people ignored the car while it was parked in front of the hotel where ZEEKR made the X presentation. It also turned some heads on the roads where I got to drive it.

As a brand that still needs to be recognized, ZEEKR made sure to put its name in several areas of the 001 body: door sills, taillight sides, the tag in the rear seat armrest, and between the taillights are some examples. The logo does not help: it looks just like the one Lynk & Co still uses. Geely urgently needs to either separate the markets in which it sells each brand or give ZEEKR a unique brand identity.

Interior Assessment

Approach the 001 with the electronic key in your pocket. The rear-view mirrors will unfold, and the door handles will pop out. That grants access to an interior that looks much better than that in the X. It has nothing to do with the materials or construction care – which are very similar in both cars – but rather with what the interiors offer. The 001 cabin feels more elaborate, having things such as a proper gear selector instead of everything concentrated on a lever behind the steering wheel.

Another similarity between the two cars is the Easter Egg on the basis of the windscreen. In the ZEEKR X, there's a whale, while you can see Paris monuments on the 001. The car's connection with the French capital is not clear.

Photo: Petter Berg/ZEEKR
At times, the ZEEKR seems to be trying too hard to be luxurious. One example is the interior door handles. They have a metal finish that either looks like anodized aluminum or like copper. The same material is present all over the cabin, including on the border of the niches behind the front seats. It's a bit over the top.

The generous wheelbase gives plenty of legroom to all occupants. Only really tall people may miss headroom, but people up to 6'1" (1.85 meters) will not have anything to complain about in that regard. The 001 is a very comfortable machine both to drive or just to be taken places. Leave the car with the electronic key and walk a few steps. The door handles will retract, and the side mirrors will fold. But we have to take it for a spin before that happens.

Driving Take

ZEEKR made the 001 in three versions: Long Range RWD, Performance AWD, and Privilege AWD. All of them have permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSM), which makes it impossible for the car to coast. Its single-ratio epicyclic transmission does not decouple the motor from the wheels, which would be a way to allow them to spin with no resistance. As I discussed a while ago, that may also make BEVs more prone to aquaplaning because the wheels will always face deceleration. It has to do with the permanent magnetic fields. Whenever PMSMs spin freely, they generate electricity. In other words, you will always have some level of regenerative braking.

Photo: ZEEKR
The main difference between the 001 and the X in that aspect is that the hatchback does not seem to use that feature as aggressively as the SUV. Perhaps being heavier makes it less evident. The bottom line is that the 001 appears to move effortlessly, at least in the Privilege AWD that I got to drive. Instead of the 315 kW (422 hp) that the X AWD offers, the 001 AWD delivers 400 kW (536 hp). The Long Range RWD derivatives count on 200 kW (268 hp) regardless of the vehicle.
Both ZEEKRs have head-up displays, but the one on the X is much better. This is probably the only advantage the electric SUV has over its older sibling. While the information reflected on the 001's windscreen is small, X drivers have larger letters and more resources, such as animated signs for the navigation system.

The hatchback's suspension coped well with the few uneven surfaces I found while driving it. At high speed, it also seemed very composed. Overall, the best word to describe the car's handling is "solid," but it would be wise to confirm that impression. More time with it in a familiar environment would allow me to write a deeper review, but this was what was possible under the test drive's circumstances.

Everyday Living

Just like I wrote about the ZEEKR X, there is no way to say how the 001 will behave in a routine without submitting it to daily use – at least for a few days. Anyway, my short contact with the company's first BEV allowed me to reach a few conclusions.

The ZEEKR 001 is not only a long car. It is also very wide. Using it on highways was fairly easy, but things got more complicated on local roads, especially those narrow ones where you think only one car can cross. Driving it to supermarkets or shopping malls with thin parking spots will certainly be a challenge.

Photo: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
The natural environment for the 001 is road trips. Its large trunk of 539 liters (19 cubic feet) can carry the luggage of a family with no worries. The frunk is rather small and can only transport smaller items. In places where crime rates are high, it would be the ideal spot for protecting valuable cargo. Like the ZEEKR X, the 12V battery and the brake fluid reservoir are hidden under a plastic cover. The washer fluid reservoir is also not visible but is clearly identified under another cover. The problem is that the 001 is not exactly fast to charge.

While the Porsche Taycan uses an 800V architecture and has a charging speed of 225 kW, ZEEKR's flagship can take 200 kW with its 400V system. That allows it to charge from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes. The Taycan does that in 21 minutes with its 93.4-kWh battery pack. As I already mentioned, the 001 has 100 kWh of gross capacity in its high-voltage accumulator. Depending on the version, the ZEEKR can run from 580 km (360 mi) to up to 620 km (385 mi) under the WLTP cycle. The Taycan's best WLTP range is 505 km (314 mi). It will be interesting to check the 001 with the Qilin battery pack, which promises more than 1,000 km (621 mi) of range. It may take longer to charge, but it will also drive much further.

Test Drive Roundup

The ZEEKR 001 will be the sort of vehicle for people who like to stand out from the crowd – at least initially. It drives a lot of attention and looks great in any parking lot. The Long Range RWD starts at €59,490, while the most affordable Performance AWD is sold for €62,490. The Privilege AWD is the most expensive version of the car, beginning at €67,490.

Photo: ZEEKR
Since I compared the ZEEKR with the Panamera, you should know Porsche charges €98,022 for the most affordable one in Germany. The Taycan is slightly less expensive: €93,139, but it is a much smaller vehicle than the 001. That makes this Geely look like a genuine bargain for those willing to buy an E-segment car powered by a battery pack.

Did the short drive clarify why ZEEKR exists? Not really. My best guess is that Geely wanted a BEV-only brand, while Lynk & Co deals with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). At the same time, the test drive did not elucidate some crucial questions. Will it be reliable? Will ZEEKR prove to be a good brand? This is what the brave consumers willing to be early adopters of this machine will answer in a few years.

  • Pricing
  • Roominess
  • Styling

  • Head-up display inferior to that on the ZEEKR X
  • It may be too big for most European roads
  • It could charge a bit faster
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Editor's note: ZEEKR invited the journalist to the ZEEKR X presentation in Stockholm and covered all expenses.

About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
Gustavo Henrique Ruffo profile photo

Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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