Review: Polestar 1

26th November 2019
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

Polestar started life as a performance arm of Volvo, and if you’ve ever seen bright blue Volvos with silver wing mirrors, you’ve been looking at a Polestar version of a Volvo. Then, in 2017, Polestar separated from its parent and became an electric performance brand, utilising Volvo underpinnings, design and interiors for its first car: the 600-horsepower hybrid super GT, the Polestar 1, which made its global dynamic debut on the Hill at last year’s Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard.


The smaller, more mass-market pure-EV Polestar 2 will be along soon enough, but the Polestar 1 will be delivered to customers first, in early 2020. Today we’ve been behind the wheel for the very first time.

A few startling facts about Polestar 1 before we delve into the detail. It costs £139,000, just 1,500 will be sold globally and it will not be built in right-hand-drive. It uses a 2.0-litre super- and turbocharged engine driving the front wheels combined with electric motors for the rear. That means it’s a hybrid, which seems a strange way to launch a pure-electric brand…

However, the battery is good for 78 miles on electric power only, at motorway speed, making this a peculiar hybrid which is unique in being genuinely useable as an electric car. Then again, it uses a design which launched the new face of Volvo a few years ago; some at first glance might mistake this £139k super GT for a two-door S60, which you really wouldn’t want.


In summary, it’s a collector’s item, with some amazing details. Take the interior. Up front, it’s a Volvo: you have the same large touchscreen with options for Spotify, satnav, radio, USB, temperature and the usual, and same knobs, starter switch and steering wheel. But the cabin is beautifully appointed: everything is black apart from two cream leather seats, with yellow seat belts. The small rear-seat head rests are surrounded by polished chrome. There is a white LED strip running along the doors, frameless wing mirrors and a glass coupe roof.

The back wall of the boot has a glass window running its width with the orange wiring for electric propulsion on display, and backlit at night.


Under the bonnet, there are beautiful gold metal knobs for manually stiffening the dampers on the mechanical suspension; the rear suspension is accessed under the wheel arches.

The silver “Drive mode” rocker switches the powertrain between hybrid, electric only and engine always on.


Electric propulsion suits this unusual GT. For a start, it gives out 1,000Nm (740lb ft) of torque off the start line. That’s enough to dig to Australia. Silent driving enhances the sense of the futuristic and luxury elements, which this car needs to feel sufficiently worth the price tag. We didn’t mess around through the foothills outside Florence, or on the autostrada, and comfortably covered 90 miles before the engine kicked in and the digital graph showed the battery depleted. Put your foot down and the car just keeps gaining speed with no pause for breath, the two induction aids smoothing over any gaps in the delivery.


The steering is beautiful, with positive torque vectoring sharpening the drive through corners. The cut-glass crystal transmission selector feels satisfying in your hand. That mechanical suspension is a brave move in a car that is meant to float over continents, and it thuds through broken surfaces, but feels pliant at speed.

It’s a very strange car, the Polestar 1, out there now no doubt to get the ball rolling for the brand and garner some much needed profit, by sharing parts with Volvo, to spearhead the arrival of Polestar 2, which will be the proper hello from this impressive start-up.


Polestar 1 Specifications

From: £139,000 (only one trim)

Powertrain: 2.0-litre, turbo- and supercharged four-cylinder petrol, plus two electric motors

Engine power/torque: 309bhp @ 6,000rpm/435Nm (322lb ft) 2,600-4,200rpm

Electric motors power/torque: 170kW (232bhp)/480Nm (354lb ft)

C-ISG (Crank-Integrated Starter Generator) power/torque: 52kW (68bhp)/161Nm (119lb ft)

Combined power/torque: 609bhp/1,000Nm (738lb ft)

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive

0-62mph: 4.2 seconds

Top speed: 155mph

Combined economy: 403mpg (*preliminary figure)

Kerb weight: 2,350kg

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