The 2021 Polestar 1 is not only one of the prettiest plug-in hybrids to ever recharge a battery, the elegant 2+2 coupe is also both expensive and exclusive. As the halo car for Volvo’s performance-EV subsidiary, Polestar, it costs more than a $150,000, and only 150 copies are available for purchase each year. While the sleek PHEV has an impressive all-electric driving range of 52 miles and a combined system output of 619 horsepower, its synthetic steering feel and firm ride diminish the driving experience. The packaging required for its electrified powertrain and large battery pack also compromise the coupe’s passenger-and-trunk space. Although its interior design and materials match Volvo’s signature style and richness, a car this expensive should have power adjusters for both the steering column position and seat-cushion thigh extensions. And it’s lack of a sun shade for the huge glass roof is especially irksome. Still, the 2021 Polestar 1 is a special plug-in hybrid.
What’s New for 2021?
Polestar sends the 1 into 2021 without any changes whatsoever. Even its starting price is the same as the previous model year’s.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Unlike the Porsche 911, the Polestar 1 offers few options. Which isn’t all that surprising, given that the brand intends to produce only 1500 examples for the world. Buyers can have their choice of wheels and exterior and interior colors. That’s it.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Up front, the Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid has a turbo- and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor to make a combined 375 horsepower and drive the front wheels. Out back, a pair of electric motors, each producing 114 horsepower, drives the rear wheels. This combination provides all-wheel drive and develops a total system output of 619 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. That said, in EV mode, the 1 relies solely on the rear wheels, and in gas-only mode, the fronts take control. The engine is coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission. What’s more, this Polestar comes with ultra-sticky 21-inch Pirelli P Zero tires, an electronically controlled suspension, a torque-vectoring rear differential, and big Akebono-sourced brakes. When we drove the 1, its performance attributes were on full display, the car espousing agility without a hint of understeer. Owners can adjust the damper settings, but they’ll need to pop the hood and jack up the rear end to do so. And even then, the dampers struggle to soften the 1’s firm ride.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA has given the Polestar 1 a fuel efficiency city/highway combined rating of 58 MPGe and an estimated electric-only range of 52 miles. That range figure is fairly high for the plug-in-hybrid class. When we have a chance to run the Polestar 1 on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, we can evaluate its real-world mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The interior of the Polestar 1 is clean and sophisticated and shares many components with its Volvo counterparts, the Volvo S90 sedan and V90 station wagon. The sleek dashboard screams luxury with its a mix of carbon-fiber and chrome trim. Leather is, of course, standard. The front seats—available in black or light gray—are comfortable but firm. There’s room enough for two passengers, but beyond that, you’re pushing it. The back seat reminds us of the 911’s tiny rear compartment; its lack of legroom and the sloping roofline overhead make the space feel confined. And the trunk, which can hold a mere four cubic feet of stuff, is smaller than the luggage compartment in the little Mazda MX-5 Miata sports car.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Polestar 1 comes with virtually every piece of technology that a modern car could have, including the ubiquitous touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The vertically oriented screen is angled toward the driver for ease of use. Physical switches and buttons are scarce. In front of the driver sits a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster as well as a head-up display. There are two USB ports in the front row, and Bowers & Wilkins provides the audio system. The brand’s app, called Polestar Connect, allows you to use your phone as a key. You can also adjust the cabin climate and lock and unlock the car from anywhere using the app.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Polestar 1 hasn’t been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Still, it comes equipped with various driver-assistance technology, including an advanced system called Pilot Assist. Borrowed from Volvo, this system engages the adaptive cruise control and the lane-centering technology to make highway driving easier. The Polestar 1 also has blind-spot detection, a 360-degree camera to help you navigate tight parking spaces, and rear- and front-park assist. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous drive mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Polestar offers industry-standard warranty coverage. Unlike the Volvos on which it’s based and rivals from BMW, the 1 does not come with any complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Hybrid components covered for eight years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance