Polestar: ‘We have a Rolls-Royce attitude to horsepower’

By topgear, 08 July 2022

Polestar: ‘We have a Rolls-Royce attitude to horsepower’

Despite announcing a bespoke electric drivetrain packing enough power that’d keep a McLaren P1 hypercar honest, it won’t be the defining feature for future Polestars.

Following news that the Polestar 5’s dual-motor setup will deliver a whopping 872bhp, CEO Thomas Ingenlath told TG that while that’s an “insane” number, it won’t be outstanding.

“Because Tesla can do that. Everybody can do that,” he said. “The question then is how that thing drives, and I’m 100 per cent sure the guys in the UK team and our tuning specialists in Gothenburg will make [the Polestar 5] an enjoyable car for drivers. That it really handles, how precisely it settles, how precise it is in the steering.”

In terms of horsepower, it’s not something he’s chasing for the sake of it, then. “There we have a Rolls-Royce attitude. We have enough power. If you are a tenth of a second faster, so be it.

“My comparison there is, if you look into how flipping fast a Tesla Model X can be, it’s actually not appropriate that a car looks and feels like an MPV. The effect is it actually scares you. The car doesn’t tell you, ‘I can do that’, it doesn’t give you the feeling as you sit in it. It is a surprise and scary. A mismatch.”

Handling too, isn’t the be all and end all. “I struggle with that. It’s not the core of the company to be ‘the best drivers’ car’. It’s like we are a famous restaurant, making a great dish, and it’s about the composition, [handling] is one ingredient which is super important, but it is not overwhelming to other things.

“So yes, where BMW might have that as its core dish, and you say ‘yes, that was the best driving dish ever’, great. Good for them. It would not be enough for us, because we have a different scope and a different emphasis, and it is one way of getting there.”

He points towards the company’s HMI as an important factor in what makes a Polestar a Polestar, but when TG pushes him on hosting everything in the touchscreen to the detriment of useful buttons, Ingenlath points to the importance of voice recognition advancements.

“Of course, it is a highly safety relevant question, you not having to go into sub menus. That’s a big challenge for the designers, and to really make voice recognition possible. I personally have a doubt about head-up displays. I’m more into driver displays. I think for us this is a big differentiator, the opportunity to split the information and have somebody working with the central display, while you, the driver, always have the map in front of you.

“Clearly that will be very interesting in 2025 when we have highway piloting and you can really switch off,” he adds.

Before the 5 arrives, there’s the small matter of bringing the Polestar 3 and Polestar 4 into the world. Isn’t there a danger of confusing customers by having two cars closely matched in size?

“They’re not as different in size as they are in character,” he tells TG. “Very often you have a company portfolio where you have ‘big car’, ‘middle car’, ‘small car’, and the difference was the size and the money. But they all looked the same, just scaled. That is crap.

“Let’s face it, just because you have less money, you don’t want to have less space. To me that doesn’t make sense that because you pay less for a car you get less space.” He says while the Polestar 3 will be a ‘high-end’ SUV, the 4 is one that ‘still offers a hell of a lot of space, just in a different price band and with a different visual language.

Both cars will sit on different platforms, Ingenlath confirmed, platforms “that are part of the group portfolio”.

And when Polestar’s planned portfolio is complete? “About the question of the O2 [Roadster concept being built], as much as I like that car and want to have it, you have to respect that this current product plan is already quite a ramp up, and we have to give a bit of space for that to settle.”

TEXT Vijay Pattni

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