The new Polestar 4 is the Swedish EV brand’s first crossover coupe, slotting between the compact and midsize segment. It features the quickest acceleration yet from a Polestar vehicle, a completely new Google-based infotainment system, lots of fresh designs, and the lowest carbon impact of any Polestar. But by far the most controversial feature is the Polestar 4’s lack of a rear window.
Instead, the 4 uses a roof-mounted camera system that projects its view to the digital rearview mirror, which is positioned in the normal place in the cabin. This has been decried by many as being dangerous and silly, especially coming from such a safety-forward brand, with naysayers saying Polestar is needlessly sacrificing visibility for the sake of style and attention-grabbing headlines. After riding in the 4 at the Polestar Day event in Santa Monica this week and experiencing its radical setup for myself, I think it’s better for it.
Now, this isn’t a totally new concept. Many cars on sale already offer digital rearview mirrors, which can toggle between a rear-mounted camera feed and an actual mirror that looks through the rear glass.
The Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato and Ferrari 812 Competizione both use a camera setup instead of a rear window, but both are hugely expensive and limited-run vehicles. There are a few high-end cars in China that also use a camera instead of a window, plus a handful of concepts and prototypes from different brands, but the Polestar 4 is the first mainstream production passenger car to ditch the rear window.
The main reason for this setup is to improve visibility, which may seem counterintuitive, but let me explain. The cameras offer a 120-degree field of view, which is much larger than what you’d get with a traditional window and mirror — the rear windows in crossover coupes are typically tiny and useless to begin with. You also don’t need to worry about dirt, rain, or snow obscuring your view, as the cameras’ shroud has been designed for optimal airflow and the lenses are dustproof and waterproof. (Most crossover coupes don’t have rear wipers anyway, either.)
At night, you don’t need to worry about headlight glare, and brightness and overall visibility are much better with a camera. Having a back seat full of passengers also doesn’t block the view out, but if you do want to look at what’s happening in the rear seat, you can flip a switch to turn the display off and use it as an actual mirror.
Now, none of that actually matters if the camera feed itself is badly executed. Luckily, the 4’s setup is easily the best I’ve ever experienced. The display is high definition and has an extremely quick refresh rate with no visual lag, and you can adjust the vertical angle and brightness. It’s especially impressive when the car is in motion.
I’ve driven lots of cars that have digital rearview mirrors (and regular rear windows), ranging from the Toyota Prius hatchback to the Land Rover Defender SUV and the Pininfarina Battista hypercar, and in every instance, I’ve preferred to use the camera feed the entire time. Some people have valid complaints about eye strain or difficulties adjusting to looking at a screen, but I’ve never had those issues. To my eyes, the 4’s setup and visibility are far superior to what it would be like if it had a regular rear window.
This isn’t going to be a one-off fluke for the Polestar brand, either. The upcoming Polestar 5 sedan also doesn’t have a rear window, boasting the same camera setup and added benefits as the 4, and it’s going on sale in 2025. The larger Polestar 3 SUV, which goes on sale next year, does have a regular (albeit small) rear window, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a digital rearview mirror added to the options list in the future.
In addition to the increased visibility, chucking out the rear window has a number of other legitimate benefits. The roof’s rear structural crossbeam has been pushed further back on the body, improving the 4’s stiffness and overall safety while allowing for the lower roofline. This also means the standard panoramic sunroof could be stretched behind the rear occupants’ heads much further than it would in a traditional crossover.
Despite that sunroof and the sloping roof, the 4 has vastly more headroom than any of its contemporaries, another advantage of the reimagined rear setup. Because the sunroof goes further back, the headliner starts much further back, too, so even the tallest passengers shouldn’t be in danger of smacking into it. I’m five feet, nine inches tall and seemed to have about half a foot of empty space between my head and the sunroof when sitting in the back seat, with tons of shoulder room and leg room as well.
Beyond just the headroom, the rear seat of the Polestar 4 is a seriously nice place to be. The seats have sculpted bolsters that hug you in place and headrests with adjustable support wings like what you get on an airplane, and the seatbacks are powered and can recline up to 45 degrees.
In addition to the added light coming through the huge sunroof (which comes with an optional electrochromic finish), Polestar makes up for the lack of sunlight coming from behind your head with soft ambient lighting, and the side quarter windows are perfectly positioned to be able to look out of them without craning your neck. Folding the center armrest down reveals a wireless charging pad, pop-out cupholders, and controls for the seatbacks. The back of the center console has air vents, a pair of USB-C ports (including one powerful 60W port), and a slim touchscreen that can adjust the rear climate, seat settings, and sound system.
While exact specifications haven’t been given, the 4’s cargo area is spacious, especially when viewed against the competition and Polestar’s own 2 hatchback. A vertical parcel shelf separates the cabin from the cargo area; it can be flipped down to create a pass-through or removed completely. The seats fold down almost completely, and there’s an adjustable load floor. Another perk of the rearview camera setup: you don’t need to worry about a full cargo hold obscuring the view through your back window. The Polestar 4 also has a frunk, but it’s tiny and really only good for holding charge cables.
There are tons of interesting design elements inside the Polestar 4 that have nothing to do with the no-window setup. The door panels have cool floating trim elements that can be finished in contrasting trims and colors, and they are backlit by dozens of tiny LED dots illuminated at different brightness levels. You can option a fabulous tailored knit upholstery that’s made from 100 percent recycled polyester, and some of the harder touchpoints are made from a knit textile created using recycled PET. The speaker grilles are a pleasing square shape, and there are plenty of trim accents made from real metal. Nappa leather is optional, and the 4 can be had with ventilated and massaging front seats with speakers integrated into the headrests.
Standing in the center of the dashboard is a 15.4-inch touchscreen running a new version of the Android Automotive OS system, which is snappy and features excellent graphics. My favorite detail is the ambient lighting schemes, which are themed to match the planets of our Solar System and selected by swiping through space. A slim 10.2-inch screen sits in front of the driver to show speed, range, and other driving info, and there’s a 14.7-inch head-up display as well. Hard buttons are kept to an absolute minimum, the only real physical control being a volume knob in the floating center console. Unlike the Polestar 2, the 4 has a real set of cupholders and tons of storage space up front.
I love how the 4 looks from the outside, too. At 190.5 inches long, it’s about five inches longer than the Ford Mustang Mach-E and BMW X3 and nearly a foot longer than the Polestar 2. The proportions are kind of funky, as the 4’s roofline really is unlike any other car on sale, but short overhangs, wide fenders, and crisp surfacing give the 4 a really nice stance. The split headlights and rear light bar are distinctive, and you can option the black lower cladding to be body color.
Every Polestar 4 will have a 102kWh battery pack that can be fast-charged at up to 200kW, with a heat pump, bidirectional charging, and V2L capability all coming as standard. The rear-wheel drive single-motor Polestar 4 makes 272 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, with Polestar targeting a 300-mile EPA range, while the all-wheel drive dual-motor model makes 544hp and 506 lb-ft and can hit 60mph in under 3.8 seconds. One single-motor car I saw showed an indicated 235 miles of range with a 75 percent charge, which bodes well for the 4’s ability to meet that EPA estimate.
The 4 that I got to ride in was a single-motor car equipped with 21-inch wheels. (Twenty- and 22-inch wheels will also be available.) On the rough roads around Santa Monica airport, the 4 provides ride quality that’s supple yet firm, with minimal body roll and no crashiness over bad pavement, and even without dual-pane glass, the cabin is super quiet. Dual-motor cars will get semi-active suspension, which should further improve the ride. Like with the Polestar 2, the 4 has extremely strong regenerative braking that offers smooth and easy one-pedal driving. While the ride-along was sadly brief, it left a strong first impression.
In keeping with parent company Volvo’s focus on safety, the Polestar 4 comes standard with a total of 12 cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a radar sensor that make up Mobileye’s SuperVision driver-assist system. After launch, the 4 will be the first production car to offer Mobileye’s advanced Chauffeur platform. That will pair three EyeQ6 processors and a front-facing imaging radar from Mobileye with Luminar’s next-gen front-facing lidar, allowing for hands-free, eyes-off driving.
The Polestar 4 will go on sale in the US in 2024, likely in the latter half of the year. Full pricing has yet to be announced, but Polestar says the 4 will start at around $60,000, placing it between the $51,300 Polestar 2 and the $85,300 Polestar 3. Production is set to begin in Hangzhou Bay, China, at the end of 2023, but at Polestar Day, the brand announced that the 4 will also be built in South Korea starting in the second half of 2025 at Renault Korea Motors’ plant in Busan. From that point on, all Polestar 4 models that come to the US will be built in South Korea, which will help the company avoid the 25 percent tariff on China-built vehicles.
This is definitely not a car for everyone. Some people might find the rear passenger area to be too claustrophobic or dark, some people will never get used to the digital rearview mirror, and others just won’t like the look. If you’ve got a dog that normally sits in the cargo area, you probably won’t consider the Polestar 4 at all. But for customers who want a design-forward EV that feels truly special, the Polestar 4 is a fabulous new entry into the market.
Photography by Daniel Golson for The Verge