The Polestar 1 is a 619-horsepower grand touring coupe. It goes further on a charge than any other plug-in hybrid and got 45 mpg in not-exactly leisurely driving. It blitzes corners like a metaphor and is comfortable enough to drive your mother to Kohl’s. It’s meticulously crafted and looks like hot, sophisticated sex. It’s basically everything one could ever hope for in an awesome car with an environmental conscience.
And too bad, you can’t have one. Effectively. Only 500 per year will be sold globally with a price tag of $156,000, so although it’s certainly possible, you’ll need all that cash and a strong elbow to work past that guy from Oslo ahead of you in line. And judging by the reaction to the car during the press launch, the line might be long. Rarely has a car caused so many heads to swivel and bystanders stop to ask, “What kind of car is that?” It’s understandable – it looks the way it does, but there’s also an intrigue to the Polestar that goes beyond what you’d get driving an electric green Lamborghini through town. It’s the unknown element that piques curiosity, and owning something that causes such a reaction is bound to swell that annual queue past 500.
The structure is derived from Volvo’s SPA platform that underpins the 60 and 90 series cars, but it’s effectively sliced, shortened and spliced back together with a carbon fiber cross member dubbed the “dragonfly” that increases structural rigidity by 60%. Then things really get exotic. Most of the outer and inner body panels are carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, which increases total torsional stiffness by 45% and makes producing that concept car look possible in the first place.
Oversteer is then mitigated by the front axle, which draws its power from Volvo’s turbo- and supercharged 2.0-liter inline-four that produces 326 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. Volvo’s familiar eight-speed automatic is aboard, too, but there’s an integrated electric starter-generator that adds a dollop of extra power itself.
In the end, though, the car itself matters less than what it represents and the direction it points toward. It’s indeed a halo car, the aspirational model, the Beckhamian kick to get the ball rolling down the hill. Its goal is to make the name Polestar visible and desirable enough so that a great many more people will form a line for the Polestar 2 coming in July 2020 that’ll eventually have a price range between $40,000 and $65,000. The Polestar 3 SUV-ish model is set to be shown next March in Geneva. Those and every other future Polestar will be 100% electric, making the Polestar 1 the brand’s first and last plug-in hybrid. At least it’s a great one.