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Road tests

New Polestar 4 prototype review: the brand’s new superstar

It's still not the finished project, but the Polestar 4 is already a seriously impressive electric car

Verdict

Now that Polestar has got its finances in order, its upward trajectory is back on track, and the new Polestar 4 is unquestionably its new superstar. As sharp to drive as it is great to look at – or just be in – the 4 is a seriously good all-round car, one that can stand comparison with the very best rivals from Germany, not to mention Tesla. Do not buy a sporting EV until you’ve tried this one.

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Polestar is a car company that’s very much in the ascendancy right now, and the new Polestar 4 coupé SUV is about to become its biggest-selling model. Potentially it will be the main driver in trebling Polestar’s global sales by the end of next year. On the evidence of our drive in all but production-ready prototypes of both versions that will reach the UK, it deserves all the success it is surely about to achieve.

Not only is the Polestar 4 a great-looking car in the flesh, featuring all sorts of innovative new design touches inside and out (including the total absence of a rear window, more on which in a bit), it’s also a cracking good car to drive, with an unusually strong emphasis on serious driver appeal. Not just for an electric car but for any kind of family-orientated car, full stop. 

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The fact that it can seat five people in luxuriant comfort and comes with a plethora of innovative new on-board tech is merely part of the overall package. An impressively desirable and fresh-feeling package it is, too – one that will cost £59,990 in Long Range Single Motor guise or £66,990 in Long Range Dual Motor specification. 

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Both models are powered by a 100kWh lithium-ion battery. The single motor version produces 268bhp and 343Nm of torque, and is rear wheel-drive. The dual motor model produces exactly twice this (537bhp and 686Nm) and is four wheel-drive. 

Charging times are good, though not class leading. At a fast charge DC point it takes 30min to refill from 10 to 80 per cent. Fortunately, however, the range is great on both models. The single-motor version can do 375 miles on a charge, the dual-motor 355 miles, so you shouldn’t be needing to top up either model each and every day. 

Both versions have a strong, overtly refined blend of performance, the dual-motor version producing some major thrust when pushed hard. It can hit 62mph in just 3.8 secoonds, says Polestar, and feels properly fast where it counts, says Auto Express. The less potent single-motor model does feel more sedate but can still reach 62mph in 7.1 seconds. 

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Both models top out at the same 124mph. The single-motor model weighs 2,230kg, the dual 2,355kg, but neither version feels anything like this weighty on the move, thanks to fine damping and a fundamentally low centre of gravity.

Polestar is a company that’s led unashamedly by its design and engineering values, and in both cases, the results here are admirably close to the cutting edge. The 4’s chassis and drivetrain have been honed by a small team of endearingly obsessive enthusiasts (call them car guys), and their exhaustive work has produced a car that rides, steers, handles, stops and drives with a precision that few others at this level can match, be they ICE or EV propelled. 

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In everything it does dynamically, the 4 feels like a finely tuned instrument, its steering and damping in particular bordering on the miraculous at times. The pricier dual-range model also benefits from three-way adaptive dampers that add even more polish to the standard version’s already-fine chassis.

Yet if anything the Polestar 4’s cleverly packaged interior and its exquisite build quality are arguably its most defining qualities. Visually, qualitatively (and dynamically),, this is a car that oscillates with attention to detail. In automotive terms, it feels like a genuine piece of high-end design, not least because it has one of the smartest, most intriguing cabins of any new car on sale right now. 

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By losing the rear window entirely and replacing it with an intelligent new rear-view camera (which works a treat, by the way), Polestar’s designers have seemingly been able to achieve the impossible: they’ve created a shape that looks sleek and seductive from the outside, especially around the hind quarters, while providing the rear seats with more head and legroom than any other car in this class, and by a fair stretch vertically. Yet despite not boasting a rear window, the 4 doesn’t feel in the least bit claustrophobic in its back seats, thanks partially to the use of new smart lighting.

Instead, it feels like a junior limousine in the back, with supremely comfortable, hugely adjustable electric seats, separate climate controls and acres of space in all directions. And up front, it feels much more like the sporting coupé it actually is.

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There you’ll find a 10.2in screen for the driver alongside a new 15.4-inch central touchscreen that’s powered by the latest Android Automotive OS, and which works more intuitively than most. There are still just about enough conventional stalks and buttons for it not to feel like the entire car is run from the touchscreen – sufficient to keep the Euro NCAP testers happy, at least. 

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But as a whole the cabin just works, and that’s before you even mention the wide-ranging use of desirable and sustainable new materials inside, many of which have been influenced by the fashion industry. Naturally there’s enough on-board tech throughout to warrant the attention of even the most ambivalent of teenagers, including Google built in, Apple CarPlay, fully integrated 5G connectivity on the move, and a dash-cam system, all as standard. 

Quality is also top drawer, on the evidence of these pre-production cars. There wasn’t so much as a hint of a squeak from any of the new interior materials. The driving position is also spot on, the main instruments as clear to read as they are attractive to look at, and visibility to the rear and sides is also better than many in this class.

If it sounds like Polestar’s creatives and engineers appear to have thought of almost everything in this instance, it’s meant to, because they pretty much have. The Polestar 4 is a hugely impressive new EV that’s actually hard to find fault with – so long as you approve broadly of the way it looks. And even if you don’t, the rest of it is so well resolved, so cleverly thought out, and so fundamentally good to drive that it's hard not to be quietly blown away by this car overall. Even at more than 60 grand.

No question, if all EVs end up being this good, we’re in for a treat. All we need now is for the charging infrastructure to catch up, which is beginning to happen but is still nowhere near the place it needs to be to match a car as good – no, as brilliant – as this.

Model:Polestar 4 Long Range Single Motor
Price:£59,990
Drivetrain:100kw battery + single electric motor
Power:268bhp
Torque:343Nm
Transmission:Single-speed, two-wheel-drive
0-62mph:7.1 seconds
Top speed:124mph
Range:375miles
On sale:Summer 2024
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