Polestar 1 prototype review

We drive a prototype version of the new Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid coupe ahead of its debut later in 2019

With its concept-car looks, 599bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain and an asking price of £139,000, the Polestar 1 is one heck of an opening statement for what is, let’s remember, the Volvo spin-off’s first car as a standalone brand It'll be a unique venture, too, as every model the company makes after this – starting with the forthcoming Polestar 2 – will have an all-electric powertrain.

The exterior design closely follows that of the Volvo Concept Coupe, revealed all the way back in 2013. The heritage from its Swedish parent brand is clear to see, although there’s some extra bulk over the rear wheelarches for a more aggressive look.

It’s a similar story inside: the steering wheel is lifted straight from the Volvo XC40 (with the exception of the badge) and features like the portrait infotainment screen and climate controls also bring about their fare share of deja vu.

There are elements that make the Polestar 1 stand out, however: the connectors for the 2+2 coupe's electric system are proudly displayed behind a screen in the boot, while the Ohlins dampers can be altered manually using dials above each wheel.

On our test drive of a late prototype in Sweden, the dampers were placed somewhere in the middle of the nine available states of stiffness: this will be presented to buyers as the ‘Sport’ setting when deliveries begin later in 2019. Even on the 21-inch wheels that come as standard on the Polestar 1, the ride felt comfortable and settled leaving Gothenburg in search of quieter country roads.

At 2.3 tonnes, the Polestar 1 is very heavy, with the carbon-fibre bodywork unable to make up for the weight of the 34kWh battery pack. Still, the four-cylinder turbo engine – assisted by a 67bhp starter generator and two electric motors producing another 228bhp – has enough power to hit 0-62mph in just over four seconds.

Wet conditions on our test run meant we couldn’t reproduce the on-paper figures, but with 1,000Nm of torque at the 1’s disposal, the numbers aren’t hard to believe. Buyers shouldn’t expect the kind of acceleration achieved by the Tesla Model S, but clever torque vectoring and four-wheel drive means you can push the car hard on a test track without increased speed leading to understeer in corners.

In much the same way as the Jaguar I-Pace, the Polestar 1 hides its weight supremely well when you turn the wheel. The steering wheel is precise but short on feel, it has to be said, while the brakes are consistent, too. On country roads, there don’t appear to be huge drawbacks as a result of this on-track ability.

Some tyre noise from those huge wheels is evident, and the ride is a little firm at low speeds, but all things considered, it’s perfectly acceptable for a mid-sized GT. In ‘Pure’ all-electric mode, the Polestar 1 can run for around 80 miles at a motorway cruise, and there’s not a lot of noise regardless of whether the engine is running or not.

Those preferring a better soundtrack would be better off saving thousands of pounds by opting for a Mercedes-AMG S 63 or Aston Martin Vantage instead. Buyers won’t be disappointed with what is, after all, such a well-executed car. But they may be left wondering why the Polestar 1's drivetrain has no future given how good a job of it the new brand has done with it.