Polestar 1 review
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.
What's not so good
Polestar 1: what would you like to read next?
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 plug-in hybrid 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 alternatives are the likes of the Bentley Continental GT and BMW 8 Series, although the Polestar has hybrid technology up its sleeve.
It’s pretty limited in numbers, too. Polestar hasn’t said how many examples of the car it’s making exactly, but the factory is capable of producing up to 500 a year with plans for a three year production run.
The Polestar 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 ooze 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 more or less the dashboard from an S90 saloon which, given its lovely materials and impressive level of quality, 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 Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid’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. Android Auto only displays on a small segment on the phone too, like watching a YouTube video on your phone in portrait mode. Volvo’s digital dials are also looking a little behind the curve these days next to the best on sale.
It may look the part, but the Polestar 1 fails to deliver on the practicality and driving experience GT cars are known for. You’d be better off with a Bentley Continental GT.
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 there’s no chance of adults getting comfy in the back. It’s not perfect up front, though — you can only get it in left-hand drive.
The low roofline means you’ll have bob your head forward like a duck going in for a stale bit of bread at the park. There are Isofix points, though, so you should be able to get kids in the back rather easily.
You may need that space for bags, tough because the Polestar 1’s boot is largely taken up by its batteries — meaning there’s only 147 litres of usable space, which is reduced even further if you’re carrying the charging cables. For comparison, a Bentley Continental GT will swallow up 358 litres of luggage.
Still, the 1’s electrical gubbins displayed beautifully behind a see-through panel in the boot might help take your mind off the fact. It’s not quite the same as looking at a Ferrari V8 through glass, though.
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’s impressive on paper, but rather lackluster in reality. That power isn’t delivered all that smoothly — it’s as if the engine and electric motor are shouting “are you on mute?” to each other via a Zoom meeting. Steering is good but you aren’t given much in the way of feedback, plus the soundtrack is just a bit rubbish for a big GT car. It’s not even that comfortable, with the suspension crashing hard over pretty much every bump.
At least 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.
Just like you would a grandad in the mosh pit, you should steer clear of the Polestar 1 if you’re in the market for a big GT car. It’s fantastic to look at, sure, and does have the added benefit of electric-only capabilities but there’s so much better driving, better feeling and more practical options at this price point — like the Bentley Continental GT or Aston Martin DB11 V8.