The Polestar 1 is like nothing else on the road
Meet the performance coupé that Volvo never dared to produce.
I never thought this car would ever happen, but here it is! We finally have a high-performance Volvo, well sort of. It's called the Polestar 1, and it is Volvo's spin-off brand's first ever car. While everybody thought that Polestars would only be electric, the "PS1" wants to be the shocker PHEV that mixes sustainability and performance thanks to state-of-the-art components and technology. The result is a car that would make absolutely no sense in Volvo's lineup, but we sure are happy that it finally reached production.
Still, you probably won't ever see this car on the road. Polestar only built 1'500 units of its "1", and it serves only as a halo car to bring some light on the new brand. It wants to show what the company is capable of in terms of design and know-how, but we probably won't see another Polestar like that anytime soon. In fact, the manufacturer quickly released its second model, the Polestar 2 that is more in line with Polestar's long-term strategy of building full-electric vehicles. Because that's the thing, the Polestar 1 is not an electric car but a 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid coupé that is like nothing else on the road today.
First of all, the Polestar 1 drags a lot of attention, and it's mainly due to its exterior design. Even though there are some elements here and there that are unmistakably Volvo, it is in my opinion one of the coolest and most gorgeous modern I've seen in a long time. There I said it! It looks like a concept car, and again that's because it's closely based on the Volvo Coupe Concept from 2013, and that's not a bad inspiration. There are also some reminders from the beautiful P1800 from the '60s, which is arguably one of the coolest Volvos ever. The Polestar 1 ends up having a purified and elegant design that has a lot of presence on the road, and that will arguably stand the test of time.
Not only does the Polestar 1 look good, but it's also packed with high technology and high-end components. As mentioned above, the car is a plug-in hybrid that picks up the same 2.0 4-cylinder engine that can be found in Volvos like the XC90, or V90. On the other hand, it's also equipped with a 34 kWh battery that can do up to 124 km (77 miles) on a single charge. This is totally unseen in the PHEV world where most cars will only do around 40 km (25 miles) in full electric. This big battery allows reaching a total power output of 600 horsepower... in a Volvo! The rest of the specs aren't too shabby either with a 0 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds and a limited top speed of 250 km/h. With this technology, the Polestar 1 gathers the best of both worlds with a more than decent electric range and internal combustion engine that doesn't need to recharge. The only downside would be the weight, and it's quite significant. Despite the extensive use of carbon fibre for the body and structure, we end up with 2'350 kg on the scale, which is still heavier than an XC60 T8 Recharge. Thankfully, this isn't something you feel when you drive it. Thanks to a stiff chassis, some rather excellent Ohlins dampers, and smart torque vectoring, the Polestar 1 is surprisingly focused. While you can drive it in hybrid mode where all the engines work seamlessly to bring comfort and efficiency, you can also drive it fast. Very fast. The Polestar 1 feels very connected to the road and you can basically drive it like a true sports car. Seems that Polestar's expertise in racing came in quite handy. That makes this car rather interesting as it bridges the gap between grand tourers and high-performance vehicles like nothing else we have experienced.
So the driving is excellent, but how is it to live with? Well, you jump inside and it seems all very... Volvo. However, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Recent Volvo interiors have been some of the best we have seen, so it only makes sense that it finds its way inside the flagship PS1. Therefore, the steering wheel, the seats, and the infotainment system can be found in other Volvos. Even though the cabin may feel a tad outdated compared to the likes of the Polestar 2, it's still a refined place to sit in, and there are even some carbon fibre details to remind us of how fast it can go. Carbon fibre or not, at the end of the day, the Polestar 1 is a grand tourer and the interior does its job perfectly with its fine leather, excellent audio system, and comfortable seats. On the other hand, the space in the trunk is limited and even a simple weekend getaway will become a logistical headache. That's mainly because of the large battery, so I guess the Polestar team had to make concessions.
Yet, this is one of the only concessions that Polestar had to make. The beauty of the "1" is that it seems that no compromises have been made. It's a healthy mix of comfort, performance, electricity, luxury, and beauty. We never thought Volvo was capable of doing it, so it really is a nice and welcome surprise. On the other hand, this surprise costs a whopping CHF 165'000.- (£139'000 in the UK)! For this price, you get exclusivity (only 1'500 units), an interesting car that raises many questions, high technology, and a Volvo steering-wheel. Joke aside, the Polestar 1 sits in a class of its own, and even if the price is hefty, at least it stands out. We just wish Volvo would have continued to propose us exciting performance cars, but guess it will happen in another life.
I would like to thank Polestar Switzerland for providing us with this beautiful Polestar 1 for one week. Without them, this article would have never been possible. Also, a huge thank you goes to the team in Geneva who perfectly coordinated the test drive, and provided us with all the information we could ever wish for.