Polestar 1 hybrid GT unveiled in Shanghai

17 October 2017 | by Michael Gooderham

Volvo’s Polestar performance brand has unveiled its first of three upcoming bespoke electric cars, to establish them as a separate EV-focused entity from the veteran Swedish brand. Order books are open now and the car will enter production in the middle of next year.

Based on a 50% new version of Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture, the Polestar 1 is an extended-range electric sports GT car whose design is based heavily on the 2013 Volvo Concept Coupe by Thomas Ingenlath. He said of the original concept, “The way the lines are treated creates a certain calmness; a car that is really resting in itself. People always say that a car has to be already on the jump. I think this is exactly what we are not doing. When the car is standing, it’s standing.”

“Think about the powerful calmness of a lion. He doesn’t have to prowl to radiate respect. Even lying down he shows very clearly what he is capable of.”

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“Polestar will not have a grille, it will have a grid.” – Thomas Ingenlath

Compared to the concept, the production Polestar features refreshed graphics including an interesting arrangement of small rectangular panels where the grille used to be, held in place by dark metal bracket-shaped pieces. This ‘grid’ houses a whole host of sensors. The corner grilles below the headlights feature closely-spaced vertical slats instead of mesh.

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Also available in black

The side profile is again nigh-on identical to the Concept Coupe, meaning that it’s the new 21-inch wheels with four asymmetrical V-shaped spokes which stand out instead, along with the yellow brake callipers behind them. That said, it is a handsome and well-balanced silhouette. There is a full-length glass roof which is only interrupted by blacked-out panel joins.

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There are only minor evolutionary changes from the 2013 Concept Coupe

The rear end doesn’t have the tailfins we were quietly hoping for, but amongst the more refined surfacing there is a small pop-up spoiler atop the rear deck, only as wide as the main surface and not dropping down on to the shoulder.

Despite all the talk of electric power, optionally-chromed twin exhaust tailpipes for the range-extender engine (of unknown specification) are mounted low and far apart, either side of a simple rear diffuser whose shape copies the surface above it.

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Forget Alpine views or Californian beaches, cranes are what’s hip

Speaking of exhausts and diffusers, the engine and motors will provide a combined 600 horsepower and 1000Nm (737lb/ft) of torque, with two electric motors sending up to 215hp to the the rear wheels (with torque vectoring) and a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder sending up to 377hp to the front. This setup allows a benchmark-setting electric-only range of 150km before the engine needs to wake up and provide extra power.

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Don't worry, it’s not a kit car

The Polestar 1 also boasts an all-new ‘Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension’ system by Öhlins to keep the chassis in check, while a carbonfibre body offsets some of the battery’s weight, as it cuts out a full 230kg and improves torsional stiffness over a like-for-like metal body by 45%.

Meanwhile, the interior essentially carries over from the S90 saloon, featuring the same dash, IP, vertical centre infotainment screen, centre tunnel and door panels. Token rear seats have been squeezed in as well.

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Look familiar? To be fair, it’s a great interior whatever it’s in

500 copies of the Polestar 1 will be produced in a new purpose-built facility in Chengdu, China which will be ready in mid-2018. The factory is a result of Volvo and parent Geely together investing €640million into getting Polestar off the ground as a separately functioning entity within the group.

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Rendering of Chengdu production facility

The car will not go on sale as such, instead being available through a zero-deposit subscription scheme comprising two or three years of monthly payments that cover servicing, insurance, a ‘Phone-as-Key’ system via a mobile app, and access to other Volvo cars.

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The optional gold calipers come with a colour-matched Thomas Ingenlath. Not really

Customers can order theirs online without ever seeing in real life, if they’re feeling brave, or else they can visit ‘Polestar Spaces’ being built in locations separate from any Volvo dealer. Order books are open now.

In the near future, Polestar will make a Tesla Model 3 rival called Polestar 2, as well as an SUV called (can you guess?) Polestar 3.