It’s an intriguing thing, the Polestar 1. Its lines are undoubtedly sharp and handsome, but are they too, well, Volvo? Its focus on reducing the ‘burden’ of ownership is undoubtedly interesting, but will it work in reality? And its hybrid set-up is undoubtedly excellent, but will it appear too compromised in the maker’s pure-EV future?
That powertrain consists of twin electric motors - generating 232hp and 354lb ft of torque - on the rear axle, plus a 2.0-litre turbo and supercharged petrol engine up front contributing 309hp and 321lb ft. It’s enough to propel the 2,350kg(!) coupe from 0-62 in just 4.2 seconds, and lay down a green gauntlet in the face of more traditionally powered rivals.
But there’s more than one way for performance enthusiasts to be eco-friendly(ish). And while a hybrid may represent a greener choice for those who absolutely must have a brand new model, buying a used car - into the creation of which a good deal of resources have already been ploughed - is still a decent bet for the rest of us. So what can compare?
“The [Polestar’s] blistering pace, innovative powertrain, luxury GT looks and lofty price tag make natural rivals difficult to conjure up,” concluded last week's review. Sam and Matt had better find something magic, then.
Rules of Engagement
Price: sub -£160,000
Driven wheels: Any
Engine position: Front
Engine output: 500hp+
While the Polestar appears to present a compelling combination of both sporting and luxury talents, as well as a unique powertrain, it isn't completely devoid of rivals. One just needs to think a little... laterally.
Because for those who want presence, a sense of occasion inside and out, monumental performance, surprisingly good handling and an opulent customer experience from their two-door coupe, what about a Rolls-Royce Wraith? Of course it represents the old way of doing things in this duel (everything would), what with its enormous combustion engine, though Rolls-Royce tradition would surely ensure serene, unruffled progress not far off the calm of a hybrid. The verdict on its last review? "For all its bulk and monumental thrust, the Wraith is actually a thing of real subtlety."
This Wraith looks like a perfectly decadent alternative to the cool and clean Polestar, having shed tens of thousands in just three years and 7,500 miles. The spec is contemporary, restrained and stylish, and that's not even the best bit; it's for sale at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars London, at Berkeley Square House. Bet that experience surpasses even a Polestar Space... (MB)
A purely selfish one, because it's not really a valid rival. But I want my front-engined, 500hp+ super GT to be more exciting than either a Rolls or Polestar, and nobody makes more exciting cars than Ferrari. This F12 is Rosso Corsa with Crema, has done less than 2,500 miles a year and looks way better than an 812. And most other cars, actually. One to treasure forever.
To me, the latest Bentley Continental GT is the benchmark grand tourer. Yes, it uses shared VW Group parts, but Crewe was at the helm from the platform’s embryonic stage. So when provided with 635hp of W12 thrust the GT represents the greatest blend of traditional luxury and modern performance on wheels today. The Polestar 1’s powertrain is brilliant, I'm sure, but hybrid power already feels dated. You either go fully electric or don’t. The W12 GT has no designs on the future, instead providing the very best fruits of yesteryear in a package to satisfy the demands of the present. And what a package it is.
There are a million reasons why you should opt for the V8, but for those less concerned with weight distribution and more interested in feeling the invincibility provided by a 664lb ft W12, the GT cannot be beaten. Comparing its 6.0-litre to the Polestar’s electrified four-pot feels akin to deciding between a royal suite at the Savoy and a last-minute Airbnb.
Where the Polestar feels clean and crisp like a new iPhone in your palm, the GT is like slipping into your favourite pair of slippers. It’s the quintessential grand tourer, but thanks to the talents of that chassis, it can also morph into a fairly convincing sports car, capable of hauling its 2.2 tonnes around bends and even entertaining with a rear-biased power balance. A Polestar 1 fan might call it a modern take on a dying formula; I call it the culmination of a century of engineering evolution. (SS)
Keeping up the 12-cylinder theme, this 20k-mile-old Vanquish S adds an extra dose of Britishness into the equation, largely because of the 007 connection but also thanks to all that charm. The Polestar 1 is handsome, but the Aston exudes V12 muscle like little else…
Finding a genuine rival to a car looking to break such new ground was always going to be a challenge, so it’s no surprise to see two of the most consummate mile-munchers available rearing their heads.
That such relatively new, low-mileage offerings from Rolls-Royce and Bentley were within budget rather says it all about just how pricey the Polestar is for a car that many will still identify as a Volvo.
At this end of the market there are no bad choices, but while the Bentley is a phenomenal GT car, some consideration does have to be given to its eye-straining combination of Dragon Red paint and Cricket Ball leather. Perhaps the reason why it’s previous keeper managed just 1,000 miles behind the wheel?
Victory belongs to the Rolls, then, which in its spec could well be claimed to be about as subtle as the marque gets, making it an even worthier alternative to the minimalist Polestar. In reality, though, you'd almost certainly find us calculating the Man Maths to make it into that Ferrari.
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