We’re happy to report they’re taking this very seriously.
Polestar, the nascent performance brand by Volvo, has quite the product in the Polestar 1. With 441kW and 1,000Nm on tap, it’s easy to assume it to be a high-performance grand-tourer, made to cross continents in as little drama (or indeed CO2) as possible. But Polestar is a performance brand and to them, in addition to the core values of safety & sustainability that they inherited from Volvo, driver involvement is another very critical tenet.
Polestar CEO says that the way the 1 feels ‘to drive & live with’ is critical, particularly so with this, their first-ever stand-alone model. Safety & aerodynamic evaluations were completed earlier this year, and now it’s time for the fun part: Dynamics.
The latest tests focus on things like steering responsiveness, calibration of the torque-vectoring system, as well as chassis and suspension tuning. This is key for them, as their chief test-driver explains.
"Whenever you drive Polestar 1, you should immediately feel like you are in control and the car is ready to respond to your input, no matter what you want to do. This is a GT that needs to be easy to drive and comfortable in everyday use with its smooth, quiet hybrid powertrain. But, also ready to deliver its thrilling [441kW] and 1,000Nm performance whenever the driver wants it.” — Joakim Rydholm, Chief Test Driver, Polestar
The Polestar 1 not only sets the pace for the company going forward, but it also serves as a platform to highlight the synergy between itself and its parent company, as this car’s DNA is plain to see. Its design is heavily-influenced by the Volvo Concept Coupe that we first clapped eyes on way back in 2013 (which subsequently led the design revolution for Volvo), and retains characteristic design traits from the parent company while adding its own distinct signatures to the mix. This is the first Polestar product that is entirely bereft of Volvo ‘Iron Mark’ badging, and retains just 50% of the Scalable Product Architecture that underpins Volvo’s latest crop of cars.
“Polestar 1 is the first car to carry the Polestar on the bonnet. A beautiful GT with amazing technology packed into it - a great start for our new Polestar brand. All future cars from Polestar will feature a fully electric drivetrain, delivering on our brand vision of being the new standalone electric performance brand.” — Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer, Polestar
The drivetrain beneath the Polestar 1 is a heavily-reworked version of the T8 TwinEngine setup currently found in the Volvo S90 and XC90, though it’s been uptuned in this application. As mentioned earlier, the petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain has been engineered further and now produces an astonishing 441kW of power and 1000Nm of twist, which Polestar promises will rocket the car from rest to 96km/h (60mph) in less than 4-seconds.
The potency of the Polestar 1 is hampered somewhat by its 2-tonne weight, a penalty of packing a 34kWh battery (split into two positions in the car for better weight distribution) and two electric motors at the rear, but is offset by the carbon-fibre construction that is a first for the Volvo Group. Amazingly, this hybrid rocket ship will also pander to the environmentally-conscious motorist too, as its relatively-lightweight construction and efficient use of power means that it can travel on battery power alone for as far as 150km on a single charge, the greatest range of any combustion-electric hybrid vehicle in the world.
Because of the extensive use of carbon-fibre, Polestar sought the expertise of fellow Swedish carmaker Koenigsegg in the early stages of the project. The composite top-half is then bound to the platform beneath both adhesively and mechanically to the steel frame of the Polestar 1, which improved structural rigidity by some 45% and reduced weight by 230kg, aided further by the shortening of the S90’s SPA wheelbase by 650mm. The strict adherence to perfect weight distribution means that the mass of the car is split 48:52 front-rear, which should make for a truly engaging drive.
While Volvo maintains existing production facilities in Sweden, Malaysia, and China (the former two the only locations that presently manufacture the complex T8 petrol-electric drivetrain), a brand-new facility will be built to produce the Polestar 1 in Chengdu. Polestar is aiming for an annual production figure between 500 to 1000 cars (limited by the time-intensive carbon-fibre construction), with sales expected to come from new ‘Polestar Space’ retail facilities (that, they underline, will be stand-alone locations that have no relation to existing Volvo dealerships). Sales themselves will be fulfilled 100% online, though the Polestar Spaces will act as a medium with which customers can engage with the products and the brand before committing to purchase.