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Test drive: The super electrifying Polestar 1

LLM motoring editor Lisa Curtiss reviews the premium performance hybrid.

By Lisa Curtiss  |  October 15, 2021
The Super Electrifying Polestar 1

If you’re one of the few left thinking Tesla is the only manufacturer creating excellent electric cars, let us introduce you to Polestar, the Scandi-born superstar that’s busy stealing sales and headlines.

We reviewed the highly acclaimed Polestar 2 earlier this year and had high expectations for this more expensive, more luxe model from the marque, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We’re not alone in our praise – it’s been busy notching up awards since launch including Autocar Magazine’s Game Changer accolade thanks to the car’s unique combination of cutting-edge drivetrain, driver-focused dynamics and concept car looks, which redefine the modern grand tourer.

The magazine’s review team described the car as “an extraordinarily confident product, and a mission-statement on wheels.” As well as recognising the focus and flexibility the drivetrain delivers: “…never is it dull to drive – far from it – and it’s an ability to travel meaningful distances on electric power alone that makes it unique in the class.” Out on our test it’s a revelation to drive – electric-creds aside, it’s a true driver’s car, delivering an exciting combination of pace and poise.

The Super Electrifying Polestar 1

World leading electric-only range

This carbon fibre-bodied car has an electric-first hybrid drivetrain combining a double electric rear axle with a two-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine to add both range and performance. With a total combined output of 609 hp and hefty 1,000 Nm (738 lb-ft) of torque, and genuine torque vectoring on the rear wheels, the car engages and thrills. The 0-62 sprint is tackled in a mere 4.2 seconds. Practicalities-wise, a 34 kWh battery ensures the Polestar 1 offers up to 124 km (77 miles) of electric-only range on the WLTP cycle – which is well above average daily driving requirements and the longest of any hybrid car in the world.

The ultimate modern GT

“With Polestar 1 we set out to redefine what you could expect from a modern GT,” comments Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar. “From the minimalist and sharp carbon fibre body to the unique drivetrain, this is a vehicle that is as at home in a city centre zero-emissions zone as it is on your dream coastal road.”

The Polestar 1 is the only hybrid the company will actually build. The company’s future is fully-electric and parent company Volvo is promising that half of its vehicles will be EVs by 2025.

The Super Electrifying Polestar 1 rear view

Out on the road

Out on our test it’s a revelation to drive – electric-creds and range aside, it’s a true driver’s car, delivering an exciting combination of pace and poise. The model’s wide track, low centre of gravity give a kart-like feel, and the huge helping of torque and precise steering make every journey a rewarding delight.

You can set the car up for an even more sporting drive should you wish, thanks to Ohlins adjustable dampers, but it’s good to know you can opt for more of a comfort drive perhaps when ferrying family around during at the weekend. It’s a cracking motorway cruiser yet equally at home tackling the tight and twisties.

Something you might not realise is the Polestar 1 is left hand drive only. But as we discovered, it doesn’t take long to adjust.

Ample kerb appeal

The Polestar 1 is a much more striking car than anything from rivals Tesla. It’s large, low, broad and muscular, more than hinting of power within, but rather refined and elegant too. It’s eye-catchingly different and certainly gets passers-by wondering what model it is.

Slip inside and it’s rather Volvo in terms of no silly superfluous frills and fancies, and rather minimalist in design. That is apart from Polestar’s trademark neon yellow seatbelts which give a zesty zing to what’s otherwise quite a dark coloured interior. The build quality and finish are excellent throughout as you’d expect.

It’s a comfortable and quiet place to be. There’s ample space in the front, although the rear a little tight for larger/taller adults, and the panoramic sunroof makes the cabin feel light and airy. One thing that might concern a few prospective owners is the boot size, which is a little small – although perfectly adequate for normal daily family or work use.

The Super Electrifying Polestar 1 interior

Exclusive and expensive

Only 500 Polestar 1’s will be built each year, making it certainly one of the more exclusive cars you can buy. Priced at just under £140,000, it’s out of reach of many, but this just adds to its ample appeal.

If you desire a luxury electric car with serious eco-creds, that’s exceptionally well built, a thrilling and rewarding drive – and suitable for daily family use, this could just be the car for you.