LONDON - You don’t have to be a saint - or even The Saint from the Sixties cult TV series - to drive the scintillating first electrified car from new marque Polestar.
With acceleration from rest to 100km/h in just 4.2 seconds and a restricted top speed of 250km/h, this sportily svelte two-door 2+2 seater is a smooth operator with a hint of menace.
But there is a link to the late Roger Moore’s small-screen role as Simon Templar: this car takes its styling cues from the Volvo Concept Coupe - a star of the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2013 - which was, in turn, a nod to The Saint’s Volvo P1800 coupe.
It’s being launched, fittingly enough, as a ‘halo’ car to herald and distinguish the brand (the Saint’s trademark was a halo).
Polestar, once the sporting and racing arm of Volvo, has been spun off as a stand-alone electric car company by Volvo’s Chinese parent company, Geely.
However, the new Polestar 1 is not pure electric, rather a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid. Only 1500 will be built, all left-hand drive - which excludes the possibility of it being launched in South Africa.
Fun on the road, the car looks eye-catchingly different and turns heads. A vast panoramic glass roof lets light flood in.
It’s a long-legged, relaxing GT cruiser on highways and motorways with good manners around town, but comes into its own on twisting mountain roads, with a gripping four-wheel-drive system that feels sharp and reassuring. This cool 447kW Swede exudes precision. A rear spoiler pops up at speeds from 62 mph.
A two-litre inline four-cylinder 441kW supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine is linked to two 85kW electric motors on the rear axle.
Add to that a so-called ‘crank integrated starter generator (ISG)’, which develops 51.4kW, acts as a starter motor and gives additional electric torque. Polestar 1 can be driven in fully electric mode up to 160km/h and has an electric-only range of 125km.
Charging time with a fast-charger takes from one to three hours, depending on the system.
To follow next summer is the smaller and more mass-market, all-electric Polestar 2 fastback in both right and left-hand drive, priced from £49 900 in the UK, which is around R775 000. Polestar is also planning an SUV.