You are here

Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Polestar 1

Overall verdict
An interesting car to drive and more dynamic than we’re used to from the Swedes. It may not be the most relaxed car in its class, but its alternative way of doing things is actually rather beguiling.


An interesting and rather beguiling take on a luxury GT


LHD-only, £139,000, sensitive brakes


What is it?

The first car from Volvo’s future-tech/luxury off-shoot, Polestar. Not to mention owner of the most straightforward name imaginable. The 1, likely to be the most expensive car the firm will ever build, and the only hybrid (the 2 and beyond will all be exclusively electric) is a Super GT. So far, so simple.

But Polestar is equally keen to do things a bit differently. Given its price (£139,000), power (600bhp), weight (2350kg) and exclusivity (only 1500 will be sold globally), you might be thinking Bentley Continental GT, Mercedes S-Class Coupe or BMW 8-Series. I was. But this bucks the trend for air suspension or adaptive dampers. It sends more power to the front wheels than the rears. The brakes are from Akebono, the same people who made the McLaren P1’s stoppers. Aside from the bumpers, the whole body is carbon, and so is the car’s upper structure. And the dampers it does have are manually adjustable, via knobs on the damper turrets.

Part GT, part racer, then? Nope, a GT, but differently done. It’s based on a shortened version of the Volvo S90s SPA platform, but with roughly 200mm chopped out of the wheelbase and a further 200mm removed from behind the rear wheels. To make up for that additional carbon bracing has been used, boosting overall chassis stiffness by 45 per cent. Underneath the bonnet sits a 2.0-litre four-cylinder that’s both turbo and supercharged. That’s borrowed from the XC90 T8, and delivers 308bhp (unless you’re in America, where lucky owners have 326bhp). It drives the front wheels alone, boosted by a 68bhp electric motor on the crankshaft to act as starter motor, torque fill for gearchanges and the like.

The rear wheels are driven by a pair of electric motors, each with their own planetary gearset, permitting complete torque vectoring. Together they develop a further 232bhp, drawing power from a 34kwh, 342kg battery pack mounted in a T-shape down the car’s centre line and across behind the rear seats.

Maximum system outputs are 600bhp and 737lb ft, and on pure electric Polestar claims a 93-mile (150km) range. This car is a late development prototype, built in Sweden, while production versions will be built at Polestar’s own Chengdu facility in China. As yet Polestar has made no performance or overall fuel economy claims.

The carbon bodywork allows the creation of edges twice as sharp as steel, and Polestar has deliberately given the One cues from the iconic Volvo P1800 (notice the downward curve of the shoulder line at the rear?). It’s designed to be an attention-grabbing, flag-waving, standard-bearer for the Polestar brand (the mainstream Two electric SUV arrives next year), just done in a typically understated Swedish way.

Continue: Driving