Polestar 4 from the passenger seat

Polestar 4 is fast, fun to drive, and finally available to order in Europe and Australia. This is the story of how years of development culminate in that one special drive. The Golden Ride.

Experiencing Polestar 4

I’m a writer, working from the Polestar HQ. Naturally, most of my days are spent at a desk. But ahead of the Polestar 4 release, an opportunity arose that would get me out of my chair and into a seat. I got the chance to be in the Polestar 4 launch film. The film team needed a reporter for a segment. They didn’t have to ask twice.

My first-ever ride-along in Polestar 4 was caught on tape and the video speaks at least a thousand words about driving pleasure. However, because of the G-forces and intense giggles, I forgot to fulfil my brief (sorry team). So, this is an attempt to right those wrongs. Here’s what Joakim told me about hitting the brief, special moments, cooking, and craziness. (And yes, this is all related to Polestar 4’s performance.)

Behind-the-scenes shots of camera rigging.
Rigging camera on Polestar 4.
This car is for people that like to drive. People that will appreciate a well-tuned, yet spacious and environmentally conscious car.
Joakim Rydholm, Head of Chassis Development
Developing Polestar 4

With a low centre of gravity, balanced weight distribution, structural stiffness, and carefully tuned suspension components, Polestar 4 has one of our most confidence-inspiring chassis and the sharpest steering response of any Polestar to date. The team responsible for such harmony is the Vehicle Dynamics team led by Joakim Rydholm, our Head of Chassis Development.

The work that Joakim and the team do can be summarised in many ways, but what really stood out to me is their dedication (almost obsessiveness) to creating perfect harmony.

Performance is about so much more than just speed. It’s about steering, handling, braking, accelerating, and all their subcategories. And in the end, what creates that unique Polestar driving experience is making sure all components operate in perfect harmony. For Polestar 4, that means turning up the dial on comfort, while maintaining our unique driving pleasure.

When asked who this car is designed and tuned for, Joakim is both broad and specific. “This car is for people that like to drive. People that will appreciate a well-tuned, yet spacious and environmentally conscious car.”

Camera rigg at Hällered race track.
In the end, it's all about expectations

Joakim emphasises that the end product is a direct result of team effort and cross-functional collaboration. Even departments like Design, which are not directly associated with the Vehicle Dynamics department, will have had an impact on Polestar’s 4 performance.

Like so much in life, it all boils down to expectations. Speaking in strictly objective terms (of course), Polestar 4 is a head-turner. There are no two ways about it. The car’s got looks – and gets looks wherever it goes. Its sleek design comes with a set of expectations on what it feels like to drive. The Vehicle Dynamics team’s task is to make sure the car’s performance is on par with what is expected from it.  

“A lot of it is about expectations and holding yourself to these high standards. When I take the Polestar 4 for a spin on public roads, those that get a glimpse of this car will have expectations on how it performs,” Joakim explains. “It’s our job to make sure the vehicle’s driving capabilities match up with what the car’s design is signalling to its viewers.”

As Maximilian Missoni, Polestar’s Head of Design, explained at a recent event, Polestar 4 is a new breed of SUV coupé. But it’s still a Polestar. “This is a Polestar, so of course, it’s a driver’s EV with the sports car dynamics you expect from us.”

Front end of Polestar 4.
Polstar 4 front view.
When I’m driving, it’s like I’m the chef, the person sitting next to me is the sous chef who knows exactly what I need, and someone who’ll also tell me when I’ve gone a bit too crazy.
Joakim Rydholm, Head of Chassis Development
The perfecting process

Although Joakim has several decades of experience dealing with all things car chassis related, developing a new car on a new platform is still a learning experience with a lot of trial and error. Despite the challenges, this is something that Joakim and team are more than excited about. Tuning, testing, and tuning again is part of the job.

“Countless hours go into perfecting the steering characteristics of the car. And when we’re happy with how it feels in a certain setting, at a certain speed, for all different modes, then comes cold weather testing and the process continues,” explains Joakim. “It’s a massive job, but a fun one.”

And it shows. Joakim speaks so passionately about the cars, the team and the work they do, that I start wondering if I should change career path...

I eventually snap out of this daydream when he starts talking about the number of decisions the team makes each day. The big-and-small, this-or-that, type of decisions. The “we-need-to-make-a-call-on-this-ASAP”-type of things. Decisions that will, in the end, decide if that perfect harmony is achieved or not.

That’s too much pressure for me. I’m more of a let’s-sleep-on-it type of gal. I decided to put that idea to rest.

Special moments with Polestar 4

A big part of Joakim’s work has to do with “driving pleasure.” Based on that description alone, you know it’s not going to be a boring gig. Joakim expands:   

“The most fun thing about my job is working together with t team. We’re very in tune with each other. You might compare it to working in a kitchen. When I’m driving, it’s like I’m the chef, the person sitting next to me is the sous chef who knows exactly what I need, and someone who’ll also tell me when I’ve gone a bit too crazy,” he laughs. “And we’re all working towards the same goal – making a car that’s fun to drive.”

And I can assure you that it was. That first lap in Polestar 4 was pure joy. And so was the second. But as most of you will agree, there is something special about “firsts.”

For each car that Joakim has helped develop (including all Polestar-badged cars since the original Volvo C30 Polestar concept from 2010), he has that one special moment in which he feels the components sing in harmony. Internally, this is what they call the “Golden Ride”, Joakim tells me.

“That’s the moment we all work towards. When we can say ‘this is it’ – and know that our work is done.”

Happy faces after riding Polestar 4.
The verdict

My brief wasn’t to review the Polestar 4’s performance, but then again, the brief went out the window the same second Joakim put his foot down. I figured it was the least I could do. Here it goes.

First of all, I expected the car to be fast, but at take-off, it felt more like a spaceship than a car. It just launched in a way that I couldn’t have prepared for. I could not get a word out through the laughing. Vocabulary gone.

Beyond its word-eliminatingly good acceleration, the car felt very secure. The ride-along took place at the beginning of January on summer tyres, and the car was glued to the track, despite icy spots and sharp turns.

I also expected it to be fun. The experience exceeded my expectations tenfold. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve laughed in cars before, at jokes and podcasts, but not purely from the thrill of the experience. Not like that.

In summary, I’m hooked on Polestar 4. Knowing about all the work that went into making it a driver’s EV, I cannot wait to drive the car myself.

Stay tuned.

Words by Nicole DeLay

Nicole is a writer and creative based out of the Polestar HQ in Gothenburg, Sweden. With a focus on lifestyle, ideas, and sustainability, she looks at automotive in a broader sense than just cars. With more than three years at Polestar, Nicole is a senior contributor to the Polestar editorial site.

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