600-hp, $155K Polestar 1 is the alluring Volvo coupe you’ve been waiting for

Volvo has been teasing us with the prospect of a sexy, high-performance coupe since it introduced the Concept Coupe during the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show. The design study is finally on track toward production with an interesting twist in the plot: it’s set to become Polestar’s first-ever standalone model. The first pre-production prototypes have started testing in real-world conditions.

If you liked the Concept Coupe, you’ll love the Polestar 1. All of the defining styling cues that made the concept a smash hit are accounted for, including a long hood with an upright grille, a gently sloping roof line that creates a fastback-like design, and C-shaped tail lights. Its body is made entirely out of carbon fiber in order to keep weight in check, and Polestar promises handling is enhanced by a continuously controlled electronic suspension designed by Öhlins. Making the 1 quick is significant, but Polestar wants to ensure the coupe shows a high level of dynamism when it goes around a bend. Its engineers are currently testing the responsiveness of the steering and calibrating the torque vectoring system.

“Whenever you drive Polestar 1, you should immediately feel like you are in control and that the car is ready to respond to your input, no matter what you want to do. This is a GT that needs to be easy to drive and comfortable in everyday use with its smooth and quiet hybrid drivetrain – but also ready to deliver its thrilling 600 hp and 1,000 Nm performance whenever the driver wants it,” explained Joakim Rydholm, Polestar’s chief test driver.

We’re told the Polestar 1 will be a true driver’s car, one easily capable of fending off rivals in the ultra-competitive sports car segment, but technical specifications are still vague. All we know at this point is that power comes from a 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain made up of a gasoline engine that primarily functions as a range extender, a lithium-ion battery pack, and at least two electric motors. The coupe has a range of a little under 100 miles on electric power alone. Polestar is still keeping performance numbers under wraps.

The curvaceous carbon fiber skin hides Volvo’s modular SPA platform, which also underpins the V90 Cross Country and the XC60. Using off-the-shelf components helps keep development costs in check; developing a coupe from scratch is immensely expensive, and it’s difficult to justify because the segment isn’t exactly booming right now. We speculate the gasoline engine also comes from the Volvo parts bin. It’s the same formula rivals like Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport have used successfully for decades.

This time around, the coupe isn’t merely a concept car or a wild design study built to turn heads on the auto show circuit. The Polestar 1 is scheduled to enter production in 2019 in a brand-new facility currently under construction in Chengdu, China. Pre-production will start in early 2019. The Polestar 1 will be sold online and — much like a phone — offered on a two- or three-year subscription basis. Polestar is still keeping details on the subscription service to itself, but the U.S. retail price of the Polestar 1 will be $155,000.

The Polestar 1 will be sold initially in the United States, China, Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, and Volvo’s home country of Sweden. Each country was chosen because of high customer demand, Polestar said, and sales will gradually expand to other countries. Polestar will open “Polestar Spaces” in the launch markets in order to familiarize customers with the brand, not unlike what Tesla has done with its company-owned mall stores.

What’s next?

The Polestar 1 will sit at the very top of the company’s burgeoning lineup. The company explains the coupe will be joined by two additional models, including a smaller car named Polestar 2 that’s scheduled to debut later in 2019. Unlike the 1, the 2 will be a battery-electric model that won’t require a drop of gasoline to turn its wheels. It will be aimed squarely at the Tesla Model 3, according to Polestar. The Polestar 3 will be a larger, all-electric SUV.

Updated on December 6, 2018: Added the latest about the 1’s development process

Cars

Kia is bringing a bionic-looking electric concept car to the Geneva Auto Show

Kia wants to hog the spotlight at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show by revealing a head-turning electric concept car. The yet-unnamed model reaffirms the brand's commitment to electrification, while taking design and performance to new levels.
Cars

Who needs a Crown Vic? Check out the coolest police cars from around the world

Not every police department opts for either a Dodge Charger or Ford Explorer. Some law enforcement agencies, including those located in Dubai and Japan, run a different kind of fleet. Here, we've gathered some of the coolest cruisers in…
Cars

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.
Cars

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.
Cars

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.
Cars

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.
Cars

Lyft’s Shared Saver service offers cheaper rides, but you’ll have to walk a little

Lyft has launched a new ride option called Shared Saver that offers cheaper rides if you're willing to walk a little. Shared Saver designates a nearby pick-up point and drops you off a short distance from your final destination.
Cars

Has Apple rebooted its self-driving car program to develop autonomous vans?

The on-again, off-again Apple car is back on track, but it's not a sedan or a hatchback. It will arrive as an electric, autonomous passenger-carrying van, according to a recent report.
Cars

Waymo’s self-driving prototype obeys a traffic cop’s hand signals

One of Waymo's self-driving prototypes successfully navigated a situation that leaves even some human drivers confused: An intersection whose traffic lights are down. It waited for the traffic cop to wave it on.