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Polestar will soon have a vehicle it hopes will take the electric performance fight to the Porsche Taycan, with the brand confirming its skunk-works-developed Polestar 5 will go into production next year.
The brand's first entirely in-house vehicle – as in, not based on an existing platform shared with Volvo or its Geely parent company – is being developed not in Sweden, but in the UK, and is a project being overseen by former Lotus, Mini and F1 engineers.
More than just a vehicle, the UK team has been tasked with developing an entirely new manufacturing process for the brand, debuting a bonded aluminium space-frame chassis which allowed the engineers complete freedom in creating what they call Polestar's "manifesto vehicle".
"We wanted to be able to truly pursue the vision of what the brand is about, our manifesto car. We needed to have a blank piece of paper, more than you would have if you were doing platform sharing," said Steve Swift, Head of Vehicle Engineering at Polestar UK.
"If you want the Polestar with no compromises, this is the one."
While some details are still under wraps, the Polestar 5 is expected to debut with an 800-volt architecture and will be equipped with a circa-100kWh lithium-ion battery that should deliver a range of around 600km.
There will also be dual-motor and single-motor (driving the rear wheels) variants, the latter of which produces around 400kW in pre-production guise, suggesting the AWD version would produce in excess of 500kW.
The bonded aluminium chassis delivers "supercar levels" of stiffness, while also reducing weight when compared to a steel frame. The P5 is so stiff, in fact, that it will allow Polestar to "chop the roof off without losing structural integrity", which allows the Polestar 5 to feed the incoming Polestar 6 roadster with minimal changes to the chassis.
"This is a very stiff vehicle, even despite its size," said Pete Allen, Polestar's Deputy Chief Technical Officer and Head of UK R&D.
"It's numbers are well up there. It goes back to the business of this being a manifesto car. It was one of the first things that we wanted to do – to make a stiff structure."
So then, the car. So far, we've only seen the Polestar 5 wearing camouflage – and sat in the passenger seat as dynamics engineer Chris Baguley let rip plenty of big, smokey and effortless drifts around a handling circuit.
We can report that it feels fast, and ferociously well-balanced in the hands of an expert driver. But also surprisingly compliant, comfortable even, suggesting this will be a Porsche-style Jekyll and Hyde, calm and considered one moment, unhinged the next.
The Polestar 5 was previewed in the Precept concept, and the under-wraps prototype vehicles look like they almost exactly share the shape and styling of that model - low, wide and swept backwards.
It's big (more than five metres) but also very low, complemented by small windows and a super-low driving position.
It feels most natural as a four-seater, but there is a wide armrest in the back that can be pushed upward, creating space for the fifth passenger. There is a lot of room in the back, too, creating what Polestar calls a "VIP experience".
The wrapped prototype looks sporty and sensible at the same time, and depending on the angle, like it’s shifting in the light.
From the rear, not its best angle, it looks a little Lamborghini, with is flowing glass roof, massive and squared off rear light signature, a rear diffuser treatment that’s turned up at the edges, almost as though it’s smiling at it you.
From the side, its sensible side steps up, with four regular-hinges doors (anything cooler wouldn’t have passed safety regs, apparently). Then from the front, it’s a Euro performance GT all day long, with a road-kissing front spoiler and endless bonnet.
The price? That remains a mystery for now. But we would expect the Polestar 5 to start at around $200,000 plus on-road costs. The when? Production will begin in 2024, with a launch in Australia either late that year or early the next.