So what’s the complete first-drive verdict?
Awesome, awesome, and more awesome!
I’ll do a proper review of the Polestar 1 next year, when I can sample the car for a week. But in a few hours, I definitely formed a favorable impression.
Maybe “favorable” isn’t a strong enough word. I’ve driven a few made-in-China vehicles and have found them to be competitive with products from Japan, South Korea, the US, and Germany.
But Polestar 1 is something else entirely.
What we have here is a ferociously good grand-touring car that reminded me of the Lexus LC500h and the BMW i8. Of course, the LC 500h, while wonderful, is completely outclassed by the Polestar 1 on power: 354 hp vs 619 hp (the LC500 with a big V8 is a different story — but it still manages just 417 hp).
For the record, 619hp is supercar territory. The Polestar runs with the Corvette Z06, the Ferrari F8 Tributo, the Lamborghini Huracán, the McLaren 650S, the Porsche 911 Turbo S, and the Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350R.
For what it’s worth, the mega GTs of the world — the Mercedes AMG GT and Aston Martin DB11 — also have something to think about.
Yes, this comes at a supercar price. The Polestar 1, at $156,500, is Audi R8-esque on the sticker (as well as on the spec sheet).
The Polestar 1 platform, to simplify, is a front-wheel-drive, gas-powered machine that’s not overly stunning on paper; add the batteries and the dual-electric motors to produce rear-wheel-drive and AWD in concert and you get provocative bliss. In all-electric Pure mode, the Polestar 1 is quiet, quick, and torque-y, doing a passable impression of a Tesla Model S. Switch to fun mode, however, and you get the bold petrol-fueled dynamics mated to electric boost.
In summary, the driving is thrilling, engaging, precise, never less than joyful and at times rapturous. I went into the Polestar 1 with a blank slate and left with a ledger filled with “OOHS!”, “AHHS!”, “ZOWIES!”, “BIFFS!”, and “POWS!” I half-expected Adam West to show up and dance the Batusi.
The handling rides a continuum between docile and posh in hybrid mode to downright track-worthy in power mode. I felt confident to throw the car around a bit — and I had to be ever mindful of how fast the Polestar 1 is, as it rocketed to the legal speed limit without a single bead of sweat forming on its chic Scandinavian brow.
The Volvo-Geely deal has long been one of the most interesting in the car business. It’s already created a lineup of first-class SUVs and has elevated Volvo from mid-luxury to a sort of thinking person’s alternative to BMW and Mercedes.
With Polestar 1, that deal has become A LOT more interesting. This is easily the coolest set of wheels Volvo has produced in decades. And it’s the best car China has ever built.