NUNEATON, ENGLAND—Any day is a good day to visit a proving ground, even if it’s a two-hour drive fresh off a transatlantic flight. And this was a good day: a visit to Polestar’s research and development center in the UK, located at the Motor Industry Research Association’s proving ground outside Coventry, England, to find out how one of its next electric vehicles, a purposeful-looking performance saloon called the Polestar 5, is doing.
Until now, the Polestar EVs we’ve seen have used platforms shared by other brands within the Geely group. The Polestar 2 fastback sedan uses the same CMA platform as the Volvo XC40, and next year’s Polestar 3 SUV, to be built in South Carolina, will use the group’s SPA2 platform.
However, that comes with some compromises; those platforms are designed to be built in high volumes, with attributes such as ride comfort taking precedence over ride skill. That’s fine for, say, a luxury SUV, even a sporty one. But if you’re a brand looking to build a competitor to the Porsche Taycan, you might want to start from scratch.
What Polestar has done for the Polestar 5. It is a production version of the 2020 Precept concept and uses a bonded and extruded aluminum chassis similar in concept to that of a Lotus or Aston Martin. As an approximation, it is better suited to lower volume than a steel chassis, and the end result is usually extremely stiff thanks to the size of the bonded joints, which are much larger (and therefore much stronger) than would be possible with welding.
Much more is also new. “You have to have a suspension system that allows you to have a nose that is so low, and these nice lines, but that contributes not only to your spirited driving dynamics performance, but also to comfort. And when you can only travel very short, that becomes difficult,” explains Pete Allan, Head of Polestar UK R&D.
That would have been impossible with the Geely group’s SPA2 platform, but the all-new front suspension allowed Polestar designer Max Missoni to keep the front of the 5 low while still fitting large 21-inch wheels. They look good, but I still can’t help but mourn the days when 18-inch wheels were considered big. The size here may be in part to contain the rather massive brake discs lurking behind the spokes of the wheels, which work in tandem with regenerative braking to slow this EV down quickly.