Polestar deserves much better than becoming a meaningless EV name – Car Dealer Magazine

I’ve spent the past two weeks driving one of the rarest cars in the UK.

No, it’s not one of the Ferrari specials sanctioned from Maranello that you can only buy if your name ends in Clapton, or one of those Porsches that even if you sell your spleen and both kidneys you can’t afford, but a Polestar 1.

The Polestar 1 is one of those cars that risks being entirely forgotten about.

While the relatively new performance brand flexes its muscles and launches a series of its own cars, the company’s first one was a plug-in hybrid that was originally going to be a Volvo.

I remember being at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show when then-Volvo styling chief Thomas Ingenlath (now Polestar’s big cheese) revealed the Concept Coupe and the assembled journalists practically gasped.

Bathed in light, the car looked gorgeous and the message was clear – after around a decade of so-so styling and mismanagement by Ford, Volvo was back in the room.


We were told that the eventual car, dubbed the C90 by journos, would arrive by 2020 and would probably be powered by a selection of 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines.

But then something odd happened. Geely – Volvo’s Chinese parent – ​​decided to spin off Polestar as a separate brand.

Until that point, Polestar was a tuning firm that successfully campaigned Volvos in a variety of motorsports and, to quote that cliché, Polestar was to Volvo what AMG is to Mercedes.

Perhaps the high point was the absolutely bonkers Volvo C30 Polestar, or the slightly less unhinged – but still fabulously off-beat – V60 Polestar with its turbocharged 3.0-litre six-pot engine.

Polestar’s performance credentials were pukka then, so it was turned into a brand in itself in 2017.

We can only assume the C90, or whatever the Volvo Coupe was to become, was hastily repackaged as Polestar’s first car, and with Geely’s intention for Polestar to become a premium brand, the Concept Coupe gave it the upmarket image it needed.

Being based on the same platform as the S90 and XC90, a fully electric version wasn’t possible though, so Polestar took Volvo’s ‘T8 Twin Engine’ powertrain consisting of a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged engine and an electric motor, and its engineers set to work.

Instead of one electric motor powering the rear axle, two were fitted, meaning this all-wheel-drive coupe had more than 600bhp.

Six hundred big ones with CO2 emissions of 13g/km!

And because of the large 34kWh battery, a pure-electric range of 77 miles was possible. No plug-in hybrid has ever bettered that.

It was on sale for three short years and was a fabulous flop in the UK.

It was on sale for three short years and it was a fabulous flop in the UK. Around a handful were ever registered here, almost entirely down to the £139,000 asking price and how it only came in left-hand drive and looked and felt like a Volvo.

To be brutally honest, to drive it feels like a very wide (it’s almost the size of a Range Rover in width), very fast but also quite numb Volvo S90, but that’s not important. It’s a sure-fire future classic, though – an oddity that once every so often comes along, that despite its foibles is a very special car.

I was also present at the world debut of the new Polestar 3. It’s an important car because it’s the first one Polestar has styled itself.

Yes, there are still elements of Volvo in the design, the safety kit is nicked from Volvo and the platform will be used by the new Volvo EX90 (the electric XC90), but the 3 is evidence that Polestar is trying to go at it alone .

Future models like the glamorous four-door Polestar 5 and 2+2 Polestar 6 will push the brand further away from Volvo, which in theory is a good thing.

But is it?

Geely is building itself a very nice portfolio of carmakers, with its performance brands consisting of Lotus and Polestar.

The Chinese powerhouse has even recently invested in Aston Martin.

It has proven itself to be the master of giving the brands that it owns the cash they badly need while also giving them the space to flourish.

But I fear that Polestar could be pushed into a direction where, even with fantastic design and quality on its side, it becomes just another name in an electric world of meaningless brand names.

The Polestar 1 is important because it aligns the brand to something credible. Being Volvo’s performance brand is nothing to be ashamed of.

This column appears in the current edition of Car Dealer – issue 176 – along with news, reviews, interviews, features and much more! Click here to read and download it for free!

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