Polestar breaks away from Volvo; 0-400-0km/h wars
GOODBYE smurf blue turbocharged sedans and dalliances in Supercars. Hello electrification and a bold new plan to make Volvo’s sub-brand Polestar a major global player in the performance car market. Three models are under development, including a Tesla-fighting mid-sizer due by the end of 2019 and an SUV. But the first cab off the rank is the Polestar 1, a high-performance twoplus-two grand tourer, scheduled to start production in mid-2019.
Volvo badges are conspicuous by their absence, as the ‘1’ will be the first car to be exclusively branded Polestar. However, it uses plenty of its parent company’s tech under the skin. It’s built on Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture, which underpins all its latest models including the XC90, S90 and XC60, but with 320mm cut from the wheelbase and a further 200mm from the rear compared to Volvo’s flagship four-door sedan.
Powering the Polestar’s front wheels is a high-performance version of Volvo’s 2.0-litre twincharged four-cylinder, aided by dual electric motors at the rear adding 160kW. The two rear motors are connected by planetary gears and allow the Polestar 1 to operate as a rear-wheel drive electric performance car with a range of up to 150km while also providing true torque vectoring. With all power sources operating, Polestar claims 441kW/1000Nm, but as we went to press no performance figures had been provided.
Suspending the Polestar 1 is the world’s first application of Öhlins’ new Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi for short). Each damper is fitted with an electronic valve that is able to constantly monitor driver input and road conditions, reacting in just two milliseconds, while also allowing the driver to change suspension settings on the fly. Brakes consist of 400mm discs and six-piston calipers supplied by Akebono, who provided the system for the McLaren P1.
The use of carbon fibre sheds 230kg, increases the body’s torsional rigidity by 45 per cent and lowers the centre of gravity, with weight distributed 48:52 front-to-rear. Polestar claims the handling and driveability of its new coupe is just as important as its outright performance. “Most electric cars are fast, that’s a product of the attributes of an electric motor,” says Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath, “However, for Polestar, performance is far more holistic than just straight-line speed. It’s about acceleration, but also about cornering, braking, suspension control, chassis feedback and steering feel.”
In addition to the forward-thinking mechanical specification, Polestar intends to revolutionise the buying process. In fact, cars won’t be bought at all but rented courtesy of a monthly ‘subscription’ fee which includes servicing (including pick-up and delivery), insurance and a concierge service, including the ability to supply, fit and remove accessories on demand (roof racks, for instance) and the use of other Volvos should the need arise. Each subscription is for a fixed term of two to three years and any extra costs will be added to the monthly invoice. There will also be the ability to use any Android or Apple device as a virtual car key.
As the halo model of the Polestar brand, a maximum of 500 1s per year will be built in a brand-new production facility in China. The factory and development of Polestar’s models are funded by a joint venture between Volvo and two investment companies within its parent company, Zhejiang Geely Holding, which has raised €640m (AUD$959m) in capital. The facility is scheduled for completion mid-2018 and will be the first ‘Polestar Space’, including a circuit for on-limit test drives.
Massive 400mm discs and sixpiston calipers provided by Akebono
Don’t call it a Volvo – Polestar’s first production car promises scalding acceleration and engaging dynamics