Polestar enters the sideways world of rallying

06 February 2022

Premium electrically-chargeable vehicle (EV) maker Polestar has taken the intensity of its cold weather testing up a notch. The Swedish company is approaching the midpoint of its scheduled 15-week winter programme, where its equipment is pushed to the limit in temperatures touching minus 40 degrees Celsius.

Polestar’s winter testing regime takes place within the Arctic Circle, and Joakim Rydholm, chief chassis engineer has used this extreme terrain to shake up the rather sober image of the all-electric marque. Rydholm has been a key member of Polestar’s engineering development for over a decade,  combining his professional duties and knowhow with a personal motorsport-related passion to change perceptions of what EVs can do. 

Winter rally inspiration

In his spare time, Rydholm competes as a rally driver, and this hobby has facilitated the creation of the Polestar 2 ‘Arctic Circle’, a ‘one-off’ modified car, equipped to take on the frozen Arctic north, bringing ‘winter rally inspiration’ to the brand.

The Arctic Circle takes the carmaker’s Polestar 2 long-range dual-motor with performance pack as its base, and is heavily modified in terms of both motor and chassis setup. The car’s ride height and torque output have both been tweaked and raised, complete with softer dampers and standard Brembo brakes. It is shod with four custom-made 19-inch tyres featuring 4mm metal studs, amounting to some 490 per tyre. The modified vehicle is also fitted with a new prototype launch control system, operated via steering wheel-mounted paddles.

‘I wanted to have more fun than usual with this car – really being able to push it in terms of performance and handling in a winter environment like a frozen lake,’ confirmed Rydholm ‘The balance and predictability we have achieved with the raised ride height and specialised tyres are particularly noticeable when you enter a bend completely sideways, with a bigger-than-usual smile on your face, and in total control.’

Carbon fibre shovel

On the outside, the modified Polestar 2 echoes elements from rallying’s glory days with four Quad Pro LED lights bolted to the front, and to underpin this, the interior is fitted with custom-upholstered Recaro bucket seats in the front, resplendent in charcoal with Swedish gold branding. There’s even a carbon fibre shovel in the boot and a recovery strap should you need to dig your way out of any snowbanks.

Unsurprisingly, the Polestar 2 Arctic Circle is a one-off creation and will not be available to buy. However, as well as providing an eye-catching marketing opportunity for Polestar, the modifications and testing procedure have very definite real-world benefits.

‘Tuning a chassis on snow and ice allows us to develop our cars in what feels like slow motion and with better accuracy,’ added Rydholm. ‘With such low levels of grip, we can feel and analyse the dynamics at a much slower pace than on tarmac, which means we can really fine-tune the way our cars behave, down to the smallest details. This is my absolute favourite place to develop cars.’

Using motorsport to test and update automotive technologies is not a new concept, and as the industry continues to adapt to new challenges, the arena could provide crucial information in the years ahead.