The Polestar 1 Is a Powerful Throwback Treat—Like Licorice

Provided you don’t spit it out after a few seconds, to pop a turkisk peppar into your mouth is to commit yourself to a beguiling sensory journey. The candy’s elements—licorice, salt, and, no joke, ammonium chloride—hit your tongue, throat, and nose in various combinations as the black morsel dissolves in your mouth over the course of a minute or two. It’s very much like eating a bouillon cube produced at a superfund site, and a little bit like driving the Polestar 1. That is to say, it’s unsettling and Scandinavian. And after it’s done, you want to do it again.

As its name indicates, the grand touring coupe is the first vehicle from a revived Polestar. The company used to build race-ready cars for Volvo; the Swedish automaker revamped it two years ago to focus on making performance-oriented electric cars. But its debut product is something of an oddball.

First off, the Polestar 1 is a plug-in hybrid. Historically, plug-in hybrids have been stepping-stone cars, half-measure predecessors to cars that ditch the internal combustion engine altogether. These days, they’re passé: Batteries are cheap enough that most automakers are focusing on fully electric rides. Moreover, the Polestar 1 is a funky plug-in, with an unusually big battery for the setup (34 kWh, good for nearly 80 miles of range). And its 2-liter engine comes with both a supercharger and a turbocharger, a rare combination (though one not unfamiliar to Volvo).

The interior is a sophisticated example of Scandinavian design, all a light gray, punctuated by the burnt orange seat belts.
Courtesy of Polestar
Then there’s the $155,000 base price, which calls to mind Tesla’s approach: Start your fledgling brand by building expensive vehicles in small numbers before moving to cheaper, mass market offerings. Moreover, it’s not a new design—Polestar pulled Volvo’s 2013 Concept Coupe out from the crypt to be the basis for this car.

The real weird thing about the old-timey powertrain, high price, and old design, though, is that they’re unnecessary. Polestar didn’t need to make its first car a plug-in hybrid that sold for six figures to get its business off the ground. Just look at the Polestar 2, which will follow this car into the market next year. The 2, a nearly finished product, is an all-new, fully electric hatchback. It’s good for nearly 300 miles of range at a $63,000 base price (with a $45,000 version to follow), and a potentially compelling alternative to the Tesla Model 3.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired