cNet posted their Polestar 1 review, a first drive that revealed issues with the transmission and traction control. Overall they like it.
2020 Polestar 1 first drive review: Powering the future
This is the first production model from fledgling electric sports car manufacturer Polestar, and while its Volvo DNA is evident throughout, this car is unlike anything that’s come before.
When launching a new brand, it's important to immediately define what sets you apart from the competition -- to lay out your USP, your Unique Selling Proposition, as clearly and as quickly as possible. That's especially important in the modern automotive world, where nearly every car is so good that a purchase decision may come down to whichever brand message better resonates with the buyer.
That makes the Polestar 1 a somewhat curious proposition. While the Polestar brand is already reasonably known among enthusiasts, surging into the hearts and minds of many in 2010 thanks to the outrageous C30 Polestar Concept, it's the Polestar 1 that must similarly enlighten the rest of the world. No longer just a label signifying a higher state of tune of a Volvo, Polestar must establish itself as something truly different.
And so it's interesting that this Polestar 1 is thoroughly a Volvo, yet also so much more.
The origin of the Polestar 1 fascinatingly dates back to the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, where Volvo rolled out something called the Concept Coupé. Nearly every person at the show, and many watching from afar, were smitten by the stately, sophisticated thing that did a remarkably good job of integrating styling cues from Volvos of yore (most noticeably the P1800) while also pointing toward a strong future.
This car would preview many of the styling cues we've come to know and love in the modern Volvo, starting with the 2015 XC90. Those Thor's Hammer headlights, the Sensus infotainment system in its vertical display and even the big, chunky volume knob beneath. But while the Coupé provided an abstract, Nostradamus-style sneak peek of things to come for Volvo, for Polestar it served as a template for the company's first production model.
Few cars have made the transition from concept to reality more directly, and as such the Polestar 1 is something to behold when sitting among real cars on real streets.
The Polestar 1 is basically the Concept Coupé made real. Few cars have made the transition from concept to reality more directly, and as such the Polestar 1 is something to behold when sitting among real cars on real streets.
Conversely, what's most striking about the Polestar 1 is how understated it is -- or, at least, how understated it will be once it sheds the over-abundance of decals seen on this preproduction car. You'd never know this was a 600-horsepower luxury coupe with one of the most advanced hybrid systems on the market if it didn't literally say so on the doors. There are plenty of performance cars available for those who feel an innate need to advertise the nature of their possessions. For those who'd rather take the quieter path, content in the knowledge of the abilities of their chosen car, there's the Polestar 1.
That's not to say the Polestar 1 isn't a looker. Those Thor's Hammer headlights look more purposeful here than in any Volvo, while the sharp lines on the rear fenders look so good you'll look forward to those quiet Sunday morning bathing sessions in the driveway, just for the excuse to run your hand along the creased carbon fiber reinforced polymer that forms the basis of this car's bodywork. It's a surface that Polestar says saves 400 pounds, but don't let that make you think this is a featherweight. This is a car that weighs a whopping 5,180 pounds -- that's roughly 200 pounds more than a Bentley Continental GT.
Powering toward the future
Polestar is meant to be an electric car company, pointing toward the future of performance, and yet the majority of Polestar 1's power comes from a more traditional source. It's a 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder engine that's both turbocharged and supercharged to put down 326 horsepower, then augmented by a 68-horsepower electric motor. If that configuration sounds familiar, that's because it's again borrowed from Volvo. It's effectively the T8 lump, mildly tuned and breathing through a fancy, carbon fiber intake.
The rest of the car's power, and much of the Polestar 1's magic, lies at the rear axle. There, two more electric motors provide a combined 226 horsepower. Paired with a 34-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the Polestar 1 will offer up to 150 kilometers of all-electric driving on the NEDC cycle. (That's about 93 miles, but expect it to be rated closer to 65 under the EPA cycle in the US.) More impressive, though, is how it works with the powerplant up front.
The combined 626 horsepower helps the car sprint to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, which is impressive for a car this heavy. That split between the rear motors allows torque vectoring, sending more power to one wheel or the other in the goal of making this big coupe handle like something far smaller. Goal achieved? That you can only tell from the driver's seat.
The test drive
My travels to Sweden were nearly blocked by a massive rain storm that had most of the flights into and out of New York running on modified schedules, if they were running at all. Imagine my joy to find the weather in Gothenburg equally damp and even more blustery. Not ideal conditions for filming video, but honestly quite nice for feeling out the nuances of an advanced all-wheel drive system.
I quickly felt comfortable coming up to speed in the Polestar 1 on the wet, twisty, narrow roads, including a closed, hilly circuit at Volvo's Hällered proving grounds. My first task? To see how easy it would be to induce understeer. With a car this heavy putting nearly two-thirds of its power through the front wheels, I expected it to push at the slightest inclination of my right foot on the accelerator.
That wasn't the case. The car eagerly reacted to more steering input, even when I could feel the front tires beginning to slip. It never wallowed into the sort of throttle-induced push that many AWD cars are prone to. In fact, the way it reacted to mid-corner power isn't all that dissimilar to the way the Acura NSX pulls itself around using a hybrid system that is conceptually very similar to the Polestar 1's -- albeit flipped 180 degrees.
full review: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/2020-polestar-1-first-drive-review/