Stylish looking newcomer will rival Tesla for performance and undercut the American brand on price, but some corners have been cut.
Volvo built its reputation on world-class safety credentials but its electric car spin-off takes a different approach.
Cut-throat prices for the new Polestar 2 electric car come with surprising omissions from its standard features list.
The new sub-brand of the Swedish maker will arrive in Australia later this year, taking on the likes of Tesla’s Model 3 with a combination of Scandinavian style and impressive electric performance.
The $59,900 “standard range, single motor” version has a 64kWh battery with up to 440km of range, linked to a 165kW/330Nm electric motor driving the front wheels.
Customers can upgrade to a “long range, single motor” variant with 170kW/330Nm power and a 78kWh battery adding an extra 100 kilometres of travel for an extra $5000.
A dual-motor version with all-wheel-drive, 300kW/660Nm peaks and up to 480km of range from a 78kWh battery costs $69,900 plus on-road costs.
While Volvo models are stuffed with standard safety gear, Polestar will charge customers $5000 for blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and other features standard on far cheaper models such as the Toyota Yaris hatchback sold for less than half its price.
They are also standard on Volvo’s XC40 electric.
A “plus” pack adds heated seats and a sunroof – both standard on the cheapest Tesla – as well as a premium stereo, driver memory adjustment and more for $6000.
Polestar Australia managing director Samantha Johnson said the tiered system with optional extras was a global strategy for the brand.
“It’s about giving customers the opportunity to make the choice,” she said.
“They can choose to come in at the lower level and have the base car as it is, or they can pay that additional price.”
Making some features optional helps customers take advantage of government rebates, such as a $3000 cash back deal in NSW that only applies to cars sold for less than $68,750.
Customers who want a fully-loaded Polestar can add a performance pack to the 300kW version, bringing Brembo brakes and manually adjustable Ohlins shocks along with 20-inch wheels and gold-coloured trim for $8000.
One with the lot represents an investment of $88,900 plus on-road costs, a touch more than the $86,425 of the similarly loaded Tesla Model 3 Performance.
Polestar’s new model is built in China, just like the Tesla Model 3, and BMW’s upcoming iX electric car.
Our European correspondent, John Carey, tested the Polestar in 2020.
He was impressed by “a very Scandinavian feel that beats the Tesla for design class and material quality”, plus “seriously quick” performance from the all-wheel-drive model.
Polestar will join the broader trend selling cars directly to customers (as opposed to the conventional dealership model), combining a small number of showrooms with digital-only transactions.
Maintenance take place through Volvo showrooms, where customers can take advantage of a five-year warranty and five years of free servicing.