From £139,0008
Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

The 1 is really as fast as you’re likely to want a 601bhp grand tourer to be in outright terms, but its performance isn’t at all typical of the fast continent-crossing GT breed.

Moreover, neither the car’s outright pace nor its richness turns out to be what is most appealing about the way it covers ground; that’s actually how adaptable and wide-ranging its character is and how different it can feel from one minute, and one journey, to the next.

The Polestar attacks fast bends in an imperturbable manner that may be too restrained for some tastes, but its 70-mile electric range should find favour with the majority.

Departing with fully charged batteries, you can choose from Pure, Hybrid, AWD, Power and Individual driving modes. Pure is for electric- only running, while Hybrid blends in the combustion engine when you get into the accelerator deeply enough; and both Power and AWD burn hydrocarbons almost continually but with different objectives.

Select Power, simply bury the accelerator pedal from rest and the car will hit 60mph in 4.3sec. It’s just a little bit shy of the outright potential of the latest two-door Bentleys, Ferraris and Aston Martins on that score, and also from 30-70mph through the gears. Accelerating from low speeds, at least, it still feels really muscular and responsive, although the seamlessness of that muscularity is conditional on managing the combustion engine a little – rousing the engine and selecting a low gear using the car’s shift paddles before flexing your toe, basically.

Oddly enough, your rate of acceleration from low speeds doesn’t really depend on selected gear much at all. The influence of the car’s electric rear axle can clearly be seen in our in-gear acceleration figures. Getting from 40-60mph takes the 1 around two seconds in third gear – and about the same time in fourth, fifth and sixth.

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As for the drawbacks of using single-speed electric motors for this car and only a 306bhp combustion engine driving through the front wheels, there are a few, but we might label the first one ‘autobahn clout’. To get from 70-120mph, after those rear motors have long since passed peak torque, the 1 needs 9.0sec; that’s nearer Toyota GR Supra than Aston Martin DB11 V12 pace.

The second one is refinement, because while this car is very pleasing indeed to drive in electric mode, it gets much thrashier and less couth when that engine starts and knuckles down. The four-cylinder unit never sounds smooth or at all soulful in full flight. It has more appealing moments under load at lower revs, when you can just make out the whine of a supercharger from the barely audible high-pitched whizz of electric motors. Even so, and even today, a £139,000 car probably ought to sound richer and better.