2021 Polestar 1: A New Look At Hybrid Luxury
If you look up Polestar, you’ll likely see one of two things: a definition of the word, indicating that it means North Star or Guiding Light. More likely, you will see the new car company, Polestar, defined as a Sino-Swedish automotive brand jointly owned by the Swedish car company, Volvo, and the Chinese car company, Geely (which also owns Volvo). After spending time with the Polestar 1, I can tell you that this is the best idea since someone combined Swedish meatballs with hoisin sauce.
The concept here was to bring the high-tech offerings of a Chinese electric car company to the safety, reliability and styling of a Swedish car company with a portfolio of three different models:
- Polestar 1, the electric performance hybrid GT
- Polestar 2, the all-electric performance fastback
- Polestar 3, the all-electric performance SUV
Polestar 1s and 2s are out now while the Polestar 3 is under development.
Polestar 1 is the halo car for the company. It’s not meant to be a big seller, as only 500 of them will be made each year for three years (with 150 of each year’s allocation sent to North America). Aside from the relative rarity, it’s also more expensive than most hybrids, with a base price of about $155,000. But the 1 is far from the hybrids which most people know already.
- Carbon fiber body
- Roof almost entirely of glass
- 21” wheels
- Aluminum monobloc brake calipers
- Crystal gearshift knob
- Sports seats with Napa leather
- 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound
Of course, all of that technology, luxury and performance come at a price. The good news is the base is pretty much the top price as the only option once can buy is matte paint, for $5,000 more. What do you get for that price aside from the niceties set out above?
Now is where this car shines! It has a double-electric rear axle, with two 85KW motors, giving the Polestar 1 some 232HP if only driving on the battery (pure battery range is a healthy 60 miles. The double-electric real axle provides a major benefit for handling – each rear wheel can be separately accelerated or slowed, allowing for some excellent torque vectoring (for added stability when cornering). But wait (actually, no waiting!), there’s more! There’s also another electric motor that puts out 68 more horsepower plus a turbocharged and supercharged two-liter gasoline motor which provides yet more ponies, some 326HP. Therefore, when your right foot meets floor-well, you have 619HP (you read that right – a Volvo-Geely car with well over 600HP!) and 738 pound-feet of torque. The third electric motor also serves as the gas motor’s starter motor, a clever trick used by some other exotics as well.
The Polestar 1 also boasts an impressive array of carbon fiber, which is used extensively in the construction of this car, to strengthen the chassis as well as the roof, inner-body and outer-body side panels, doors, front fenders, hood, trunk and even the rear parcel shelf. This leads to less weight, more body stiffness and a lower center of gravity which, when coupled with the 1’s terrific 48/52% front/back weight distribution (thanks in large part of having two locations for the batteries), sophisticated powertrain and custom Öhlins shock absorbers, all combine to provide for excellent handling, especially for a car weighing 5,181 pounds.
Attention to detail is apparent everywhere one looks on this car. From the front grille (which Polestar calls the “grid”), with its semi-closed design and special mesh, to the interior switchgear, the vertical air-conditioning vents, the luxurious tooled leather seating and more, the Polestar 1 exudes luxury. The fact that it can run for miles and miles on electricity alone, and can get up a boogie with the big boys (0-60 in four seconds and a top speed of about 155MPH) and go out for an elegant, black-tie night on the town are added benefits. This is one car that truly can do it all.
My wife, Gail, called the Polestar 1 a “Zen car” as it was so smooth, comfortable and luxurious that it was like taking a ride in our comfy living room. (Then again, she didn’t ride with me when I put it through its paces, which was lucky for both of us.) I love a car that can behave appropriately to its mission – be it a cruise, sprint or a slalom – and the Polestar 1 fit the bill perfectly.