More power, greater agility highlight this one-off EV.
“Push it, push, push, you don’t need to brake, trust the car,” says Joakim Rydholm, Polestar’s chief chassis engineer. We’re at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in a Polestar 2 Experimental, it’s damp, and I know this is a tricky corner. Rydholm’s right, but then again he’s been up the hill eight times already today, and he’s somewhat familiar with the Polestar 2 Experimental we’re in.
The car here was built for this, too, Rydholm admits. The company wanted to do something fun for Goodwood, and the Polestar 2 Experimental was the one that top brass wanted to see. Indeed, Polestar’s CEO, Thomas Ingenlath, thought after driving another Polestar 2 concept, nicknamed The Beast, around Polestar’s Gothenburg campus that the company should make something special for a run up the Duke of Richmond’s famous driveway.
A Simple Hypothesis
Dubbed “Experimental,” this car is not likely to reach production. However, engineers learn things when pushing boundaries, and these lessons are more often than not adopted in future models. Of course, power is up, with the long-range, dual-motor configuration now producing a combined output of 476 horsepower. The motor hardware, admits Rydholm, is identical, with the increase over the standard 408-hp model all done via software changes. The experimental elements of this car, then, are more based around the chassis changes, and that’s where Rydholm comes in.
“I made a call to Ohlins and specified some unique dampers,” Ryndholm says. The ability to do that underlines Polestar’s commitment to the project, the engineer adds, and that if he did it at any other car firm he’d quickly be shown the door. Such is the expense of those bespoke specification dampers. They are three-way adjustable, allowing low-speed compression, high-speed compression, and rebound characteristics to be altered. You need to do so manually, lifting the bonnet to reveal the front damper remote reservoirs and manual controls. These, like everything Polestar, aren’t just about function – they look sensational, too.
Dubbed “Experimental,” this car is not likely to reach production.
They’re the headline act in the chassis revisions, backed by a drop in ride height of 30 millimeters and a wider track – 20 mm front and rear – while the six-piston Akebono brakes from the Polestar 1 and larger 21-inch alloy wheels are also fitted. Pirelli PZero Rosso tires (275/30/R21 on all four corners) are huge, per Rydholm, and there are larger wheel arches to house those bigger, wider wheels and tires. Correspondingly, the front and rear bumpers are reshaped as well, with the face featuring appropriately aggressive tweaks.
Spring rates have changed substantially, too, with the front springs being 80 percent stiffer and the rears 40 percent, compared to the standard car. That’s not all Polestar did to get the suspension dialed in for Goodwood, says Rydholm. The effervescent engineer describes the strut braces as “rally bars,” the one between the front suspension turrets borrowed from the Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered, except Volvo’s performance arm has covered it in four layers of carbon fiber for added stiffness. Rydholm says his team had gone as far as trying 12 layers: “I had to do my homework.”
Dexterity And Reflexes
The collective result of all these chassis revisions is a car that’s far more immediate in its responses, the way the front axle responds being a highlight. The steering remains light, but you’re aware of the quicker response and accuracy, as well as the greater amount of grip on offer and the significantly enhanced body and wheel control.
Traction is improved, too, with the Polestar 2 Experimental feeling incredible through that tightening left-hander that Rydholm’s encouraging me to keep my foot pinned for. The quick direction change after the corner is also ably managed, the heightened agility being clear. That’s also true of the brakes, which offer mighty stopping power and plenty of feel via the pedal, over and above the already strong regeneration when driving the car in Sport mode.
What isn’t particularly notable is the extra power. That said, the not insignificant 68-hp increase in output, as well as the greater contact patch of those tires, should certainly shave at least a couple of tenths off the 4.7 seconds Polestar quotes for the standard car in a 0-60 mph acceleration run. This car is quick off the line, certainly, but it’s the acceleration while already moving that’s so impressive. When that’s backed with a stronger focus on handling, there’s greater speed just about everywhere.
Speed, or correctly, performance, isn’t all about the usual EV party-trick of neck-snapping acceleration. Instead, Polestar is carving its own niche and focusing on agility. That’s commendable, as well as impressive and relevant. It bodes well for future models even with more modest outputs, including the company’s next proposed model, the Polestar 3 SUV.
That dynamics are among the cornerstones of the young brand’s core principles, along with tech and design, is impressive. That’s perhaps not surprising given Rydholm’s unerring enthusiasm and energy for it and what he does outside work, having rallied successfully for over 19 years – his first rallycross car was a Mazda RX-3 that he built when he was just 15 years old. I raised the idea of him campaigning a Polestar 2 as a rally car and he laughed, saying it would be difficult because there are no real classes for electric cars. However, he did say that the keeps his ear to the ground...
Gallery: Polestar 2 Experimental: First Drive
Polestar 2 Experimental