After one of those annoying slow-revealing image launch campaigns, today we saw the final reveal of the new Polestar 1, the first car from Volvo’s new brand dedicated to electric cars. However, despite its stunning looks and an exciting combination of existing technology and bespoke components, the model’s launch has me questioning whether the brand is off to the best possible start with the 1.
Whoa there, what are you talking about? This car is an absolute stunner!
Credit where it is due – there is a lot that the Polestar 1 gets right. For starters, the car looks amazing – low and wide, with an aggressive front, a chopped-off Kamm-style tail, and beautiful alloy wheels which may be the sexiest thing this side of a Lamborghini. The technology is very promising – Polestar 1 employs a development of Volvo’s T8 TwinEngine system, with electric engines driving the rear wheels and an ICE unit driving the fronts, for a combined total of 600HP. Add to that a carbon-fiber-intensive construction that lops off 230kg off the Volvo S90’s weight and the Polestar 1 is starting to look like a pretty awesome super-GT.
OK, so where is the “but”?
There are a few areas where the 1 does not quite deliver the knock-out punch you’d hope from a model meant to anchor a whole new brand. First, and maybe it’s a matter of expectations, but if I was going to shell out the equivalent of $150,000, I’d hope for my car to look a bit more special than like a Volvo S90 Coupe (which, the CEO of Polestar is honest enough to admit, the 1 started off as). Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an objectively great-looking car that channels the spirit of classic Volvos such as the Bertone-designed 262 Coupe and 480 Coupe, and it would make an amazing C90 in Volvo’s current line-up. However, if you’re looking to build a new brand you might want your first car to have more of a unique character than the 1 possess.
You seem to be focusing a lot on this whole brand-building…
Yes, because ultimately this is of most interest to us here at CarSalesBase – where is the new Polestar brand heading? There are promises of fully-electric Tesla Model 3 and large SUV cars coming down the pipeline next, tentatively known as Polestar 2 and 3, but for now all we have to judge the brand on is the 1. And for a brand to promises to be properly stand-alone, the 1 is not very promising – it is very clearly based on an existing Volvo model, taking the front and interior of the S90 pretty much wholesale, and it is powered by an existing hybrid drivetrain which, despite being turned up to 11, still relies for almost two-thirds of its power on the ICE unit. Sure, others have aimed to establish new brands in a similar manner, not least Citroen by having its DS cars be unique body-styles of existing cars, but the truly successful launches of the past few decades (Lexus, Tesla) were built around a revolutionary model that flattened its competition. And the Polestar 1 simply does not seem to be that car…