While Volvo has taken several steps in recent years to reinvent itself as an upscale and technological automaker, its newly created Polestar brand is about to show off how performance and electrification will work together in the future. The Polestar 1, shown Tuesday at an event in Shanghai, will go on sale in mid-2019 as a limited production sports coupe that will be the first of three new cars dedicated to Volvo’s new performance division.
But the Polestar 1 is about what’s under the skin. Volvo pledged to introduce only electrified vehicles from 2019, and that also includes the Polestar models. Therefore, the Polestar 1 has up to 600 horsepower through its gasoline-hybrid powertrain. Two electric motors at the back make a combined 218 horsepower with an estimated range of 93 miles on a charge. For more performance, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine up front teams with those electric motors for the full 600. Polestar says this car has the longest range of any hybrid on the market.
The performance aspect of the Polestar 1, however, is not limited to the engine, as it features a new Öhlins Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension that allows the driver to change suspension settings from inside the car for better ride or handling, depending on conditions.
Despite using the same platform as the 90-series cars, Polestar officials said the new car shares only half of its parts with the Volvo models. The new coupe makes substantial use of carbon fiber to reduce weight and lower the center of gravity, the company said.
It’s also more than two feet shorter than an S90 sedan, resulting in the Polestar 1 having tiny back seats and a much smaller trunk — both of which also allow it to look more like a sports car. The parts sharing becomes more obvious inside, where aside from bespoke details, the Polestar 1’s dashboard looks like it could come from any recent Volvo. That’s not a bad thing at all, since we’ve found Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system to be a snap to use.
The Polestar 1 also gets a “phone-as-key” system through an app on Apple or Android devices, allowing the driver to get into the car without a key. It also lets the driver authorize third parties to get into the vehicle for reasons such as servicing the car, fueling or charging it, or using one of the concierge services that parent Volvo is trying to set up.
Polestar cars will be assembled at a new facility in Chengdu, China; Volvo and Polestar being owned by China’s Geely. A second Polestar model, which will be a full EV, is said to go into production by the end of 2019, followed by a third model that will be an SUV-style EV. You can order one of the 500 Polestar 1s made per year starting today for an undisclosed price. But like the new Volvo XC40, Polestar says it will offer a subscription model for payment on its vehicles that will include things such as maintenance and insurance.
While Polestar may be taking a different route compared to BMW’s M division or Mercedes’ AMG line in terms of making performance cars, it looks like it could do a good job highlighting Volvo’s ambitions when it comes to envisioning what an electrified performance future will look like.
Update October 17th, 11:09AM ET: Post has been updated to clarify that Polestar’s subscription service is currently only way to pay for the Polestar 1 when it goes on sale in 2019.