2020 Polestar 1: review

Rory White
November 28, 2019

The Polestar 1 looks superb, has a genuinely brilliant hybrid system and is great to drive. It’s pricey, though, especially when lots of its parts are found in much cheaper Volvos.

  • Driven

    20202 Polestar 1 hybrid coupe

  • Specs include

    2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine and dual electric motors, altogether capable of 600hp

  • Price and release date

    £140,000; 2020

Pros

  • Big performance
  • Comfy to drive
  • Decent electric-only range

Cons

  • Steep price tag
  • Rear space
  • Volvo bits inside 

Overall verdict

Wowscore: 8/10

Like a grandad throwing on a tracksuit, escaping the nursing home and heading to a rave, Polestar is Volvo let off the leash. Through superb design, Volvo has already made a transition from boxy, safe and stuffy to sleek and stylish, but the Polestar 1 is grandad in the mosh pit. 

The Polestar 1 is a £140,000, left-hand-drive only, carbon-fibre bodied, performance plug-in-hybrid coupe GT. Niche, then. It’s intended to showcase what Polestar is capable of before it focuses solely on EVs. The closest fast coupe competition is from the likes of the Bentley Continental GT and BMW 8 Series, although neither is a hybrid designed to be mean as well as green.

The 1 is pretty unique, then, and you certainly won’t miss it on the road. It looks stunning, with a low, sleek roofline, slimline door mirrors and a bold grille. Sure, there’s more than a hint of Volvo about the place, but, as new Volvo’s are a paragon of style and sophistication, this matters not a jot on the outside.

Inside, though, things are maybe a little too Volvo. You’re faced with what is essentially an S90 saloons’ dashboard, which given its lovely materials and solid build isn’t an issue until you remember the S90 costs a fraction of the price. Still, there’s enough additional carbon fibre, chrome trim and mood lighting to ensure the Polestar 1 feels special.

But uh-oh… the 1’s infotainment system is straight from the Volvo parts bin too. It’s portrait in style, has sharp, bright graphics and is responsive to touch, although there are a few too many small icons to navigate when driving. Volvo’s digital dials are also looking a little behind the curve these days next to the best on sale. 

The Polestar 1 is what’s known as a 2+2. Two adults will have no problems getting comfortable in the front electric seats and the driver enjoys a fantastic driving position, but the rear seats are very tight on space. In reality, they’re only good for small children or a couple of bags. 

You might need them for bags, too, because the Polestar 1’s boot is largely taken up by its batteries, leaving enough space for two or three weekend bags. Still, the 1’s electrical gubbins displayed beautifully behind a see-through panel in the boot will help take your mind off the fact. 

On the subject of electrical gubbins, the Polestar 1 is a technical tour de force. It has a 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine driving its front wheels, plus an electric motor on each rear wheel and a 34kWh battery pack in the middle. Altogether it produces 609hp and cracks 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, despite weighing a mighty 2.3 tonnes.

It isn’t just quick – the Polestar 1 is also good to drive both on country and town roads. It has quick, accurate steering, lots of grip and a clever torque vectoring system helps defy the 1’s weight and make it feel really quite agile. It’s comfortable too – on the firm side, but never uncomfortable over dodgy high streets.

Of course, you can also drive on electricity alone. The 1 will go up to 100mph in EV mode and has a 78-mile range, meaning you could quite happily charge it each night (which takes 40mins on a fast charge) and use it as an electric car most of the time – slashing your running costs. 

It’s the Polestar 1’s breadth of talent that makes it so impressive. It’s a great electric car that also has an engine and thus the range to make it a proper long-distance GT. You’ll need to put up with some Volvo parts-bin bits and pieces and only 1500 are being built, but the 1 ultimately feels worth its hefty price tag. 

Interior

The Polestar 1’s interior is good quality and looks beautiful, although it’s the same you’ll find in much cheaper Volvos and the same goes for its infotainment.

Style

Inside the Polestar 1 you’re faced with what is essentially an S90’s dashboard, which given its lovely materials and solid build isn’t an issue until you remember the S90 costs a fraction of the price.

Still, there’s enough additional carbon fibre, chrome trim and mood lighting to ensure the 1 feels special. You’re also treated to yellow seat belts and Volvo’s highest-grade Bowers and Wilkins sound system that brings with it lovely metal speaker designs. Oh, and the gear selector is made from crystal, which you’ll find in higher-end Volvo models too.

There are no trim levels when buying the 1 – all models come with lovely leather, electric sports seats. However, you do get a choice of two seat colours.

Infotainment

Like its dashboard, the 1’s infotainment system is straight from the Volvo parts bin. It’s portrait in style, has sharp, bright graphics and is responsive to touch, although there are a few too many small icons to hit when driving. 

However, it has all the required kit, including DAB radio, Bluetooth, built-in sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In fact, you’ll end up using your smartphone’s navigation app more than Volvo’s as they’ll be easier to follow and have much better traffic information. 

Volvo’s digital dials are also looking a little behind the curve these days in terms of design next to the best on sale. The display information clearly enough, but aren’t as visually impressive nor configurable as the dials from Mercedes or Audi. 

Practicality

GT cars aren’t supposed to be spacious, but the Polestar is tighter inside than most. Two adults will be fine in the front, but the rear seat and boot space is at a premium.

The Polestar 1 is what’s known as a 2+2. Two adults will have no problems getting comfortable in the front electric seats and the driver enjoys a fantastic driving position, but the rear seats are very tight on space. In reality, they’re only good for small children or a couple of bags.

Practicality storage space

Two adults won’t be searching high and low for somewhere to stick their belongings inside the Polestar 1. Each door comes with a decent door bin that’ll take a 1.5-litre bottle of water and there’s a large cubby beneath the central armrest. 

In front of that are a couple of cup holders beneath a sliding lid that’ll take even the largest frappucino, but you’ll struggle to fit much in the glovebox besides the car’s manual. Same goes for the back seats, where there isn’t any storage at all. 

Practicality boot space

The Polestar 1’s boot largely taken up by its batteries, leaving enough space for two or three weekend bags. Still, the 1’s electrical gubbins displayed beautifully behind a see-through panel in the boot will help take your mind off the fact. 

Driving

The Polestar 1 is two cars in one: a genuinely entertaining sporty coupe and a comfortable, quiet long-distance GT. It’s just a shame it doesn’t sound a bit better in its sporty modes. 

Performance and economy

The Polestar 1 is a technical tour de force. It has a 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine driving its front wheels, plus an electric motor on each rear wheel and 34kWh battery pack in the middle. Altogether it produces 609hp and cracks 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, despite weighing a mighty 2.3 tonnes. Thank the batteries for the weight. 

It’s very quick, then, but if there’s just one complaint, it’s that it doesn’t sound particularly thrilling when you accelerate hard. 

Of course, the 1 can also be driven using just its batteries and electric motors, and in its Pure driving mode, it’ll cover 78 miles on a full charge. It’s not quite as quick in EV mode in a sprint, but it still feels extremely punchy. The fact that it’ll do 100mph on battery power alone is impressive too. 

In its WLTP economy test the 1 managed more than 400mpg, but in the real world, if the engine is in anyway way involved you’ll never see that figure on the dials. However, with that electric range, it’d be quite possible to charge the 1 every night and use it as an electric car most of the time, leaving the engine to help out on longer trips at the weekend.

Comfort and handling

It isn’t just quick – the Polestar 1 is also good to drive both on country and town roads. It has quick, accurate steering, lots of grip and a clever torque vectoring system helps defy the 1’s weight and make it feel really quite agile. Its Power driving mode offers up the combined power of the engine and motors and generally makes the 1 feel the most responsive. 

It’s comfortable too – on the firm side, but never uncomfortable over dodgy-surfaced high streets. Polestar has fitted expensive suspension to the 1 that instead of being adjustable from a button inside, is manually adjustable in each corner by twisting metal knobs instead. There are a total of 22 settings per corner, but Polestar has three suggested ones it thinks are best. Phew.

On the motorway, the 1 is capable of running on EV power only in its Pure mode or letting its petrol engine join in in Hybrid mode. In either mode the 1 is a great motorway car, proving stable and easily capable of stretching its legs when needed. There’s little tyre or wind noise, either – the only real noise is a whine from the electric motors.

Keep reading below for all the buildup to the launch of the Polestar 1. 

2020 Polestar 1 price and release date

The 2020 Polestar 1 costs from £135,500. Sadly, the first 500 cars, which are due for delivery this year, are sold out. This means that, if you want to get your hands on one, you will have to wait for the next batch, likely to go on sale in 2020.

2020 Polestar 1 styling

Polestar is the performance-orientated subsidiary of Volvo, so the 2020 Polestar 1 maintains the cool, minimalist exterior design of its parent company’s cars. The front end is quintessentially Volvo, flaunting that large, rounded-rectangular grille and the same ‘Thor’s hammer’ (yes, that is what they’re called) daytime running lights that you would find on the latest Volvo S90 saloon and Volvo XC90 SUV. Furthermore, underneath, those pentagonal air vents look eerily similar to those on the Volvo V60.

The 2020 Polestar 1 is 4.5m long – about the same length as a Mercedes C-Class Coupe. It has the classic long-bonnet-and-short-rear proportions of a GT car, which is appropriate when you consider the Polestar’s vicious performance.

2020 Polestar 1 engine and performance

The 2020 Polestar 1 is a petrol-electric hybrid, powered by a front-mounted petrol engine and a pair of rear-mounted electric motors. By itself, the engine is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit, capable of putting out 380hp. Meanwhile, the electric motors produce 218hp and an uprated starter motor has also been fitted, providing a small dose of extra oomph. Altogether, this makes for a total output orbiting 600hp.

Even more insane is the 2020 Polestar 1’s pulling power: 1,000Nm. Because of this, you should expect lightning-fast acceleration and a 0-62mph time below four seconds, living up to the car’s marketing as an “electric performance hybrid”. This performance is also helped by the use of lightweight carbon fibre for the bodywork, saving over 200kg compared to if the car was built out of steel. That said, Polestar has yet to reveal the car’s official weight. All of that hybrid technology means that the 1 will have a fair amount of additional heaviness to overcome.

The 2020 Polestar 1 is able to be powered solely by its electric motors, cutting out the engine entirely. If you do opt for some all-electric driving, Polestar claims that the car has a range of up to 93 miles – impressive, considering that most hybrids on sale struggle to go further than 30 miles.

2020 Polestar 1 specs

Under the skin, the 2020 Polestar 1 has active suspension that you can configure into different driving modes. Failing that, you can let the car just choose the best setting by itself instead. Polestar claims that the 1’s suspension can adjust to different roads and terrains in under two milliseconds.

2020 Polestar 1 interior

While the exterior of the 2020 Polestar 1 has a number of similarities to Volvo design choices, the interior… is exactly the same, actually. Its cabin has the styling of a compressed Volvo S90 however, this is certainly not a bad thing. After all, Volvos are renowned for their minimalist and well-made interiors. The layout of the Polestar’s dashboard is simplistic, to say the least, centred around a portrait infotainment screen, with only a select handful of physical buttons.

As a 2+2 coupe, the front seats of the 2020 Polestar 1 promise that you will have no complaints when it comes to space, while the rear bench should be enough to take two children. Behind them, the boot should be able to fit a couple of larger suitcases.

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