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A prototype believed to be the upcoming Lynk & Co 04 hatchback has been spied during cold weather testing in Europe, indicating the Chinese brand is well along the path of developing its fourth model.

Following the 01 and 02 SUVs, along with the 03 sedan, the 04 is said to be the brand’s twin to the upcoming Volvo V40, which should also be on its way within the next 12 months.

Like its Volvo-badged cousin, the 04 will go toe-to-toe with everything from the Volkswagen Golf and Hyundai i30 to the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

Key differentiators between the 04 and its rivals will be the availability of electrified powertrains – potentially at a much more affordable price than the rumoured plug-in hybrid version of the Benz – which will also be shared with its Volvo sibling.

The heavily-disguised prototype doesn’t lend much detail in terms of its design, though we can see the signature front and rear treatments that adorn Lynk & Co’s current models, which includes a Porsche-like front end with a two-tier headlight layout.

Despite being a small hatchback in concept, the 04 appears to have quite a chunky body and a slightly raised ride height, not quite to SUV levels but somewhere in between – likely appealing to those who may like the SUV shape but in a slightly more compact package.

The two large tail pipes at the rear also suggest this is one of the more powerful models, though we’re unsure just which powertrains will be offered at this stage.

Considering Lynk & Co’s plans to penetrate the European market, the 04 could be one of its most important models largely due to Europe’s strong sales of compact hatchbacks – top three sellers there last year were the Volkswagen Golf, then Renault Clio, then Volkswagen Polo.

We’re not sure at this stage when the 04 will be officially revealed, so stay tuned to CarAdvice for updates.

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