As the marshal waves us on, I feel a powerful kick up the arse as this Polestar 2 bolts off the line and whips between the Goodwood hill climb’s hay bales. With 395bhp, a stock 2 is already pretty brisk off the line, but this one’s far from standard.
First up, it produces 469bhp. No physical changes were necessary - it’s only had a software tweak. The two motors are capable of more, with the limiting point here being the battery inverter. In any case, this 2’s power advantage feels bigger, given the aggressiveness of the delivery.
There are plenty of other alterations, too. It’s been given the 21-inch wheels you’d normally find on a Polestar 1 but used for all four corners here. This sees the tyre diameter go up by an inch, while the width grows from 235 to 275mm. Under those new rims are brakes pinched from the same car, featuring Six-piston monoblock Akebono calipers at the front squeezing 400mm discs.
Wider wheels and tyres meant the bodywork had to change, sprouting neat wheel arch extensions. And last but certainly not least, Polestar added bespoke, three-way adjustable Öhlins dampers based on the fellow Swedish company’s Road & Track shocks. Lift the bonnet, and you’ll see some lovely remote reservoirs proudly gleaming in the signature shade of gold.
The new suspension setup drops the 2 by a whopping 30mm, while also slightly increasing the negative camber. Oh, and everything’s stiffer: the springs by 80 per cent at the front and 40 per cent at the rear, and the new dampers by 30 per cent.
All of this allows chief chassis engineer Joakim Rydholm, who’s taking me on a quick blat up the hill, to take far more liberties with this than a regular 2. This is still a 2.1-tonne car, but with the way it confidently changes direction with absolute neutrality, you really wouldn’t know it.
Goodwood’s hill climb course, essentially the Duke of Richmond’s driveway, isn’t much over a mile. So, with the speed we’re carrying, the run is over awfully quickly. Thankfully, I get a little time afterwards to pick Rydholm’s brain. Inevitably, what we want to know is ‘why?’
The official answer is that this 2 is “just for fun”. Pressing Polestar’s UK PR chief before my chat with Rydholm, we were merely told the car was a concept made to show off at Goodwood, and that we were “free to speculate” regarding any future production plans. So, speculate we will, albeit using a dash of engineering insight.
First off, we ask what elements of the show car are too extreme for the road. Much of that revolves around the suspension, including the toe out angle, the purpose of which is to make the car more nimble at Goodwood. “If you drove it on a public road, the car would be a bit nervous,” Rydholm explains.
The suspension drop would also be an issue on the road. “It’s too low,” he says, adding, “You need to have more wheel travel for the compression side (of things). If you speak to designers, they love it!” The dampers themselves are also a little too exotic for a production car. They were used here partly due to the adjustable spring seats making it easier to customise the setup.
Around 20mm would be a more sensible drop, Rydholm reckons, and he confirms that there’s enough bandwidth on the optional Ohlins dampers found on the 2 Performance Pack for a less extreme version of the concept’s setup. Any production car wouldn’t have the giant brakes, either. “They fit the car, they work with the ABS, [but] they are huge.”
Dialled back a bit on the chassis front, a showroom-ready version of this car should still be pretty interesting to drive. As for the power output, that seems like a bit of a no-brainer, considered all that’s needed is a software tweak.
Time will tell if Polestar pulls the trigger on something like this. With pokier versions of regular-ish mid-range EVs pretty much a given right now (see also the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT and Tesla Model 3 Performance among others), we’d be amazed if Volvo‘s plug-in offshoot doesn’t go down this route too.