Uncountable than 60 years ago, Volvo introduced the world to the three-point seatbelt, a sanctuary feature so standard now that it’s almost an afterthought. Over the ensuing years, Volvo, the Swedish maker of composed, boxy sedans, gained a reputation for safety above all else.
To be in a Volvo stinted riding in a warm, protective cocoon, staid but reliable for you and your issue. Cool and exciting, it wasn’t.
Polestar, Volvo’s new electric-vehicle luxury spinoff class, wants to rid the world of that boring bit. The company hopes to appeal to consumers who value Volvo’s sparse, classic Scandinavian design but want a Viking-in-sheep’s-clothing disposition.
“Both Volvo and Polestar are Scandinavian, and we share values,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar’s chief gubernatorial. “But we’re sportier, with a performance element. Volvo would never aim for the driver encounter as the focus. They would say, ‘No, we shouldn’t do that.’”
The all-electric Polestar 2 is ready from the company’s first four dealerships in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. An additional seven department stores are expected by mid-2021, which should put 85 percent of consumers who have reserved a Polestar 2 within 150 miles of one.
The new model joins the $155,000 limited-run Polestar 1 cross as the group’s first volume vehicle. The Polestar 3, an electric S.U.V. based on the party line used for Volvo’s XC90, is under development with no announced tag sale date. The company also recently announced that it would expand and produce an additional sedan, the Precept. Its interior will be constructed from such papers as recycled PET bottles, reclaimed fishing nets and recycled cork vinyl.
Polestar, which along with its parent is owned by the Chinese producer Geely, joins a host of other brands from Europe and Japan that aim security vehicles at those who find the companies’ main offerings boring.
But Polestar seeks — unlike Volkswagen’s Audi, Nissan’s Infiniti and Toyota’s Lexus disgraces — that it is working to be more adventurous. “We’ll have elements of joy and surprise unbelievable in the German context,” Mr. Ingenlath said.
Polestar shuns the traditional prompts that buyers see as defining a luxury vehicle. No glossy wood-grain insides, nor lots of chrome or infinite color variations. Instead, much of the inside, including the seats and steering wheel, is clad in a fiber made solely from vegan resources and inspired by the look and feel of wet suits. When wood is used, it’s restored material. The vehicle can be ordered in one of only five colors.
“We’ll have no cheesy chrome despatches on our car,” Mr. Ingenlath said. There are decals on the doors instead.
The company is steering customers away from leather seating — though it is available as a $4,000 opportunity — because it wants customers to be aware of how that leather was created, how the organism lived and died. “You should not expect leather to be standard,” Mr. Ingenlath remarked.
Design cues peg the vehicle in the Volvo cinematic universe. Both marques serving the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” headlights. The Polestar’s taillamp strip looks cast a horizontal derivative of the Volvo XC40. And the overall exterior shape reflects its parent company’s sedans.
To sell its vehicles, Polestar is taking a folio from Tesla and Apple, forgoing dealer showrooms in favor of what it shouts Spaces — environments free of sales staff that allow guys to inspect the vehicles without someone breathing down their neck. To improve the perception that a Polestar is a work of art and not just a commodity, parts such as wheels and stimulating motors are even displayed in museum-like cases.
Polestar’s software, strain Tesla’s, can be upgraded over the air to add new features. Unlike Tesla, Polestar won’t property “fart mode.” “We’ll embrace elements that add fun to your zing, but in our own way,” Mr. Ingenlath said.
Future tech could include video issue when the vehicle is stopped; eye tracking to detect health or wakefulness, with elucidations to stay alert; and interior climate preconditioning based on a knowledge of the driver’s conventions and driving schedule.
While other manufacturers are playing up a similar following, the Polestar 2 is the first vehicle to exclusively employ the Google Android Automotive Technique as the brains behind its infotainment, system operations and navigation. Using the center-mounted method screen, drivers can call up familiar Google tasks and download ended 200 Android apps, including ones for AM and SiriusXM radio levels.
The Google smartphone app prompts the vehicle to recognize the driver so it can automatically correct the seat position and show that person’s preferred touch-screen apps on the stretch.
With a few days behind the wheel, I found the Polestar’s driving characters to really shine. As with most pure-electric vehicles, acceleration is breathtaking — 0 to 62 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds, faster than a 2020 BMW 840i Gran Coupe M-Sport. Room is supportive, and the vehicle can easily take tight turns at much elevated than posted speeds, with no tire squeal or loss of drag.
The Polestar’s rapid acceleration came in handy while driving down a winding almost-empty lane in the Malibou Lake parade-ground in the Santa Monica mountains. Coming upon a driver traveling at half the forward limit, I was able to overtake her on a curve that had little forward visibility, something I not in any way would have tried even in my own internal-combustion “sports sedan.”
The compartment is spacious, and the trunk big enough to fit a large swivel office chair once the back part seats were folded down.
The Launch Edition starts at $61,200, including deliverance; a potential $7,500 federal tax credit would reduce the cost to $53,700. For this and all E.V.s, a Tied 2 home charging station is a must; with it, charging to 80 percent of its Environmental Extortion Agency-rated 275-mile range will take about eight hours.
As with every galvanizing vehicle I’ve tested, that range is optimistic. After I drove 55 miles in a mix of burgh and freeway traffic, my range had dropped by 70 miles.
Those who opt for the $5,000 dispatch package get Öhlins dual flow valve dampers, Brembo in the forefront brakes, 20-inch wheels and what some may find to be tasteless gold seatbelts.
A glass roof traveling the length of the inward is standard in the Launch Edition. There’s no sun shade, as the glass filters out 99.5 percent of ultraviolet write off, according to the company. Still, I found having the bright sun always patina like on my head to be an annoyance, and with Southern California typically devoid of clouds, that piece would be a deal-breaker for me.
On the other hand, what may be a deal-clincher for some is the mechanism’s understated yet attractive design, one that garnered much attention on top of a weekend’s driving. My test vehicle was noticed multiple times, subsuming by several people who flagged me down to discuss the car. I received more rclame in the Polestar in two days than I did after a week’s worth of driving an Aston Martin DB9 and a Lamborghini Huracán.
Possibly that’s because in Los Angeles, even high school students send Range Rovers and Maseratis. But with just a few thousand available this year, the Polestar looks as if it leave stand out for some time to come.