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Polestar breaks out 447kW super coupe

Stand alone: All Polestar vehicles, including the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1 high-performance coupe, will be made in China in a factory now being built by Volvo parent company Geely.

Volvo’s Polestar steps out with own-badged high-performance plug-in Polestar 1


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18 Oct 2017

VOLVO’S performance arm, Polestar, has unveiled its first stand-alone model in the form of a Chinese-built plug-in hybrid grand tourer with an impressive 447kW of power and 1000Nm of torque from its petrol-electric all-wheel-drive powertrain.

Due to go into production in early 2019, the large two-door 2+2 coupe dubbed Polestar 1 will be the first of three electrified Polestar models, with the other two – a smaller Tesla 3-style sedan and a large SUV – to be powered by full-electric powertrains.

Polestar 1 will only be available in left-hand drive, precluding any Australian sales of the flagship coupe, but the other, more mass-produced Polestar models are destined for right-hand markets.

The Polestar 1 closely resembles the Volvo Concept Coupe shown by the Chinese-owned Swedish company in 2013, although Volvo’s traditional iron-mark badge on the grille has made way for a discreet Polestar badge on the bonnet.

Polestar’s new dedicated factory – currently being built by parent company Geely in China’s Chengdu province – will build just 500 Polestar 1s a year, with each offered to customers around the world on a two- or three-year subscription with a set monthly fee.

Customers can only order the cars online, but they will be able to view them in a series of dedicated showrooms, called Polestar Spaces, to be established away from Volvo dealerships.

The flat monthly fee will include pick-up and return servicing at Volvo dealerships and a number of car rental days for alternative models, among other freebies.

No specific acceleration, top-speed or fuel-economy figures have been released, but Volvo reportedly says the car will be capable of a sub-four- second 0-100km/h dash.

It will be able to travel up to 150km on battery power – the longest full-electric range of any hybrid car to date – before the turbo four-cylinder petrol engine kicks in.

Polestar chief executive officer Thomas Ingenlath, who penned the new model while Volvo senior vice-president of design, described Polestar 1 “a beautiful GT with amazing technology packed into it - a great start for our new Polestar brand”.

“All future cars from Polestar will feature a fully electric drivetrain, delivering on our brand vision of being the new standalone electric performance brand," he said.

Although the Polestar 1 sits on Volvo’s scalable platform architecture shared with models such as the S90, about 50 per cent is new.

The coupe is 4500mm long – 650mm shorter than Volvo’s S90, losing 320mm from the wheelbase and 200mm from the rear overhang. The body is said to make extensive use of carbon-fibre to reduce weight by a claimed 230kg over conventional metal construction methods. However, no official kerb weight has been disclosed, and reports suggest it will top 2000kg.

Polestar says carbon-fibre construction also increases torsional stiffness of the body by 45 per cent while also lowering the centre of gravity.

Twin electric motors with combined power of 162kW drive the rear wheels in what Volvo says is an all-new system. Together with the petrol engine driving the front wheels, combined peak power of 447kW and 1000Nm is squarely in the supercar class.

This compares with all-electric Tesla’s 310kW and 830Nm in its flagship P100D variants.

Mr Ingenlath said that while most electric cars are fast, Polestar was aiming for a more holistic approach than straight-line speed.

“It’s about acceleration, of course, but it’s also about cornering, braking, suspension control, chassis feedback and steering feel,” he said.

The two electric motors on the rear axle are connected by planetary gears that allow the torque delivered to each wheel to be separated in a form of torque vectoring for enhanced cornering under power.

Polestar – once an independent Volvo race team that dabbled in Volvo road car performance enhancement in an arrangement similar to Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) – has continued its association with suspension manufacturer Ohlins which will supply its first active shock absorbers for Polestar 1.

The world-first dampers have an electronically controlled valve that can react in milliseconds to change suspension settings according to driving conditions or driver choice.

Braking is via big 400mm front discs gripped by six-pot callipers from Akebono.

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