From £139,0008
Steering, suspension and comfort

You might not be quite sure what to expect here: the handling of a cutting-edge electrified sports car with instant vectored-torque-per-corner dynamism or of a 2.3-tonne lump with a Volvo chassis that still needs to look to its front axle for the lion’s share of traction at speed. Both characterisations describe this car accurately, up to a point; and yet, in practice, neither does.

The 1 certainly doesn’t handle like such a heavy car – or, at least, like cars this heavy used to handle. We tested it with those adjustable Öhlins dampers in their factory settings, and while there is just a hint of softness and laziness about the way it turns into corners and rotates through them, it’s nothing that doesn’t suit a modern GT car.

There’s plenty to like about several of the drive modes. The default Hybrid mode works well; it blends power sources on part-throttle much more smoothly than the sportier settings.

Lateral and vertical body control are generally very good, and so if you do feel minded to manually adjust the suspension (it’s a wheels-off job at the rear axle made much easier with a vehicle lift or pit), it’s more likely to be with a view to improving the low-speed ride.

When driven through a fast bend, the 1 commits to a cornering line very securely and smartly enough, but it only seems to use its torque-vectoring capacities to remain steady and true, and to stick to the path you’ve chosen for it. Pour on as much power as you like; the car neither oversteers nor understeers and keeps tabs on body roll even as lateral forces build. It’s easy to drive quickly, then, but not quite as poised-feeling or as much fun as you might have hoped.

Back to top

The steering has that lightness and slightly woolly, compliant feel that quicker Volvos also share and could therefore communicate both lateral load or contact patch feel slightly better – although it’s far from a turn-off.

The 1 may not feel quite as alert and agile as some big, fast GT cars, but it will probably leave you quite taken with its on-limit handling capabilities, in any case. Polestar talks in terms of ‘purity’ about its handling; you could likewise use words like ‘honesty’, ‘simplicity’ and ‘naturalness’ to describe how the car responds to being hurried along. The 1 doesn’t seem to use driveline or suspension trickery to manipulate its mass but still can be driven surprisingly hard and enjoyed at pace.

The car handles in very straightforward terms on the margin of grip; it’s predictable to the last and quite well balanced but resolutely non-adjustable with power. You can imagine that asymmetrical torque vectoring may be used to more striking effect by other brands, but if Polestar’s ambition for it here was just to make this car seem fast, assured, controlled and composed, it has succeeded.

Comfort and Isolation

The 1 is a very comfortable, calming and pleasant car to drive, in spite of some quite particular shortcomings.

So slick, quiet and drivable is it under electric power and so settled is its ride at a high-speed, ground-covering gait that you might barely notice its cabin sealing could have been more attentive; or that its low-speed ride is a little fussy and more recalcitrant than it would have been if Polestar had followed class norms and fitted more versatile air springs.

Sitting on the gutter side of the car as it negotiates UK roads puts you right in the firing line as twice as many lumps and bumps pass under your backside than might have otherwise, of course. But since the 1’s ride composure improves markedly out of town and its dampers can be adjusted, we won’t penalise it too hard for its low-speed jitters. They’re present but not too bothersome.

Disappointing window sealing seems an equally minor quibble, but it’s less easy to forgive. Having laminated the car’s side windows, it’s odd that Polestar didn’t manage to tune out the wind noise that clearly flutters in around the edge of the side window just behind your head.

Back to top

Hopefully that’s something that can be cured as production rolls on, because the car’s enveloping, inviting cabin is definitely worthy of the effort.