2020 Polestar 1 first drive: Not your grandpa’s Volvo, but still an homage to the classic coupe

Program manager Axel Stenberg says the Polestar 1’s design is “a synthesis of Swedish and American car culture,” informed by Volvo’s seminal P1800 coupe and Sweden’s broad penchant for vintage Detroit iron. In profile it resembles a cleaned-up American 2+2, though its back seat is a bit more functional. It’s finished with a hidden, active rear spoiler that deploys at 62 mph.
Underneath is Volvo’s steel SPA platform, with the wheelbase shrunk to 107.9 inches (eight to ten inches less than a Volvo V90 or XC90). There’s a T-shaped carbon-fiber cross member under the floor pan that improves Polestar 1’s torsional rigidity 46 percent compared to any Volvo ever, and the body is built up entirely from carbon fiber. That delivers several advantages, according to Stenberg: some of the P1’s sharper creases and more complex curves, the low, light greenhouse with no reduction in crash protection, and weight savings of about 500 pounds compared to conventional steel. Good thing on the weight savings, because the battery-heavy Polestar 1 rolls at 5,170 pounds. And if that seems extra hefty for a car of its relatively compact dimensions, please note: It weighs about 220 pounds (or one healthy passenger) more than a Tesla Model S, which doesn’t carry 16 gallons of fuel or a full internal-combustion powertrain.