Most automotive executives are not morons. They are, generally speaking, smart folks. The people at Polestar certainly are. They knew that if they took a driver like me, put me in a new model with ample power and spirited handling, and matched that car to the perfect road chosen to highlight the vehicle’s specific strengths, they’d end up with a positive review. Which is what you’re reading right now. But…there is more to this story. Much more.
It starts on a stretch of Highway 84 in rural California, south of the Bay Area. Polestar has me in their new 2 BST edition 270. I am on a road shaped like a never-ending rollercoaster ride, with dips and bends and camber idiosyncrasies. Almost no traffic. Warm air, windows down. Shafts of sunlight pierce the tree canopy, making sections of the road appear golden. This all-electric vehicle is adjustable in countless ways, and right now, the regenerative feedback is tuned to standard. What that means is, I can put tons of power to the pavement while constantly adjusting my speed, without ever touching the brake pedal. Smooth acceleration slingshots me through bends and into short straights. Then it’s off the throttle and the car brakes itself while charging its battery as the next turn approaches. Then, boom! Back on the throttle. It feels not so much like driving the car, but dancing with it.
The feeling is transcendent, and doesn’t end when I step out to snap photos at an opening in the woody hills that leads down to the Pacific. What car doesn’t look beautiful when it’s sitting in front of crashing ocean waves? Still, this one adds nuance to a sort of standard sport sedan packaging—at least to my eyes. I find it pretty, in an understated way, especially how the black forged wheels wink at the black sideview mirrors against the Snow white paint.
What exactly is the point of this car? The BST edition 270 represents how much performance Polestar is able to engineer into its mainstream Polestar 2 sedan. “This is our interpretation of how sporty this car can get,” says JP Canton, Polestar’s head of communications.
Polestar is, of course, Volvo’s venture into electric vehicles. The stand-alone nameplate originates from the Swedish touring car racing championship team. The company launched in 2017 with the Polestar 1—an all carbon-fiber bodywork EV claiming the longest range of any plug-in on the market, at that time. Only 1,500 were built, at roughly $150,000 apiece. Then came the mass-market Polestar 2 (base price $48,400 for the single motor front wheel drive version, $3,500 more for the dual motor all-wheel drive), in 2019, which is the model you have probably seen on the road. The new BST edition 270—listed at $75,500—is the hot-rodded iteration of the Polestar 2 dual motor AWD.
It was built by “engineers who love doing things above the ordinary,” says Christian Samson, a lead brain on the car who speaks with a Swedish accent so thick, it’s a constant reminder that Polestar was developed under the Volvo umbrella. The company built the BST iteration as an experiment, “to push the boundaries of electric performance.”
“We handed the car out to our CEO, you know, and said, ‘You should try this car. You know, back and forth to your meetings,’” Samson says. “And he loved it. He said, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ So we did.”
Polestar lowered the body by 25 millimeters from the stock Polestar 2, and reengineered the suspension to keep the ride supple with that lower center of gravity. Ohlin two-way adjustable dampers can be manually configured for stiffness, as can the McPherson struts. An added steel brace connects the front strut towers. Spring rates were raised 80 percent in front and 40 percent in the rear. New 21-inch lightweight wheels replace the standard Polestar 2’s 20-inchers. Tire widths are the same but wheel widths are eight inches in front and nine in the rear, to optimize the contact patch during acceleration and the kind of hard cornering this vehicle invites. Pirelli developed bespoke 245/35R21 P Zeros for all four corners.
Naturally, there’s ample added power. The BST edition 270 sports the same 78-kWh battery as the Polestar 2 Dual motor, but the engineers tweaked the software to get 476 hp (up about 16 percent) and 502 lb-ft of torque (up about 3 percent) out of the setup. Zero to 60: 4.3 seconds. Top speed: 127 mph. Sixty to zero braking: 105 feet, thanks to the upgraded cross-drilled rotors and four-piston Brembos all around. Overall weight: 4658 pounds, 51 percent of which is up front, 49 percent in back. The car will only come in two color choices: Snow White or Thunder metallic gray.
When I jump in the cockpit, the interior feels…well…Swedish. Even if it is assembled at the Polestar plant in China. The cabin is clean, functional, uncluttered, with no gaudy trim. The touchscreen interface draws you into your driving preference modes. Set the steering and power to sport, naturally. Then you select your regeneration mode. Standard means you lift off the throttle and 0.3 G’s of pullback slows the car as the battery juices. Or, you can set the ride to cruise mode and the car will behave more like an internal-combustion vehicle, with no automatic regenerative braking unless you actually step on the brake pedal. The Polestar guys take noticeable pride in their infotainment interface. As I am set to drive off, one of them leans in and tells the car, “Play the Ramones on Spotify.” The drums and guitars kick in and I’m off, accelerating into traffic with the volume cranked. Blitzkrieg bop indeed.
Any decent electric vehicle is going to impress on open highway, with bursts of torque that makes passing cars a breeze. But when the nav system leads me off the interstate and onto the backroads, the vehicle really begins to sparkle. As promised by the Polestar guys, the lowered center of gravity adds cornering agility without making the ride uncomfortable. The stiffness can be set from a level zero (racetrack ready) up to twenty-two (for boulevardiers), and currently, it’s set at seven. For a sports sedan, it provides all the fun you’d expect at this price.
It delivers the goods without range anxiety, too. The official EPA rating is 247 miles on a full charge, which is just about what the dashboard read when I climbed in. At the end of my drive—just over two hours of twisties and 100-miles of electric motoring at an aggressive public-road pace—I still had 140 miles left to go. Which means this is a killer choice for a spirited driver for just about any commute.
All cars should be considered by what they can do—their performative capabilities in terms of power and steering, as computer platforms, and as expressions of style and comfort. But also, by what they mean in the larger context of innovation and human mobility. That is where this car shines, but also, where we can shine a spotlight on its most noticeable weakness. It combines zero-emission electric-driving with real performance and sharp looks. It also illuminates what an exciting time we are living in, as car fans; not since the early days of Henry Ford and the Dodge Brothers over a century ago have we seen so much new automotive wizardry in such a short time. And today, we can experience this wizardry while feeling morally noble, doing our part to better the planet’s future.
The downside? The 270 in this model’s name stands for the 270 examples the company will build, all of which have already been purchased. Which means you can’t buy one, even if you’re willing to cough up well over the $75,500 list. Why tease us like that? Good branding? Good publicity? Okay. Guess it worked.
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