As I settled behind the wheel of a Polestar 3 prototype, my co-pilot, Joakim Rydholm, Polestar's head of chassis development, asked me if I’d ever driven on a frozen lake before. No, I told him. And with that, he began to grin ear to ear and simply said, “Excellent." 

Few driving experiences rival the thrill of pushing a cutting-edge vehicle to its limits on a sheet of ice. Enter the Polestar 3, a Nordic beast designed to dance effortlessly on frozen terrain, blending innovation with exhilaration in a symphony of torque, traction, and tenacity.

What better way to see what a car is made of than this? 

Quick Specs Polestar 3
Output:  Dual Motor - Performance 489 HP / 620 lb-ft  -  517 HP / 671 lb-ft
Motor: Dual Permanent Magnet-Synchronous 
Battery: 111-Kilowatt-Hour Lithium-Ion (107 kWH Usable)
EPA Range:   Dual Motor - Performance 315 Miles (Est)  -  279 Miles (Est)
DC Fast Charging: 10% - 80% in 30 Minutes / 250 kW Max Speed
Base Price:   Dual Motor  -  Performance $73,400  - $79,400

(Full Disclosure: Polestar provided flights and lodging for this Arctic Circle winter driving event.)

Driving the Polestar 3 on a frozen lake

Two Polestar 3 sitting on a frozen lake in Jokkomm, Sweden

Ice, Ice, Baby

While this was technically a “first drive” event for me, simply because I've never driven a Polestar 3, it wasn’t really one. I was driving a pre-production Polestar 3 and some of the systems, like the advanced driver assistance systems, were not operational yet. However, the suspension and traction control systems were fully baked, as I was about to learn. The purpose of this event was purely focused on demonstrating how well the 3 can handle snow-covered, icy roads.

Polestar set up a track on a frozen lake just inside the Arctic Circle, in Jokkmokk, Sweden. It’s located in the Lappland region of Northern Sweden, where both Volvo and Polestar conduct cold weather testing and temperatures get as low as -50° Fahrenheit. And no, it wasn’t nearly that cold when I was there.

After a few practice laps, Rydholm encouraged me to push the vehicle beyond what I believed it could safely handle and, unsurprisingly, I was happy to oblige. 

Polestar 3 ice test track

Polestar 3 ice test track in Jokkmokk, Sweden

With each lap, I was driving progressively faster, and I quickly realized the 3 was just as home driving on a frozen lake with uneven surfaces as many vehicles I’ve driven are on pavement. Of course, the vehicle was fitted with studded Michelin tires, but they were not special tires, they were the standard original equipment studded tires offered by Polestar. 

After about a half an hour into the drive, I would have best summarized the 3’s performance as akin to stepping onto a dance floor with a seasoned partner.

The Polestar 3's all-wheel-drive system, coupled with its unique torque vectoring technology, transformed the ice into its playground—and suddenly I felt like I was driving like a pro—which admittedly, on the ice I am not. The 3 did all the work, I nearly needed to control the accelerator and simply steer. 

Driving the Polestar 3 on a frozen lake

Torque Vectoring: The Maestro's Baton

If torque vectoring were a symphony conductor, the Polestar 3 would undoubtedly be its virtuoso. This innovative dual-clutch system needs milliseconds to adjust and send the proper amount of the rear motor's 361 lb-ft of torque to each rear wheel accordingly while monitoring and reducing or eliminating slippage.

The system orchestrates the distribution of power to each wheel, seamlessly adjusting in real-time to the nuances of whatever surface the vehicle is on. As I navigated tight corners of the course, I could feel the 3's stability control system working, subtly shifting power to the outer wheels to propel me through the icy labyrinth.

It was an exceptional display of balance and finesse, much to the credit of Rydholm's team and the thousands of hours they spent (as he explained to me) tuning the system. 

If it works in -30 degrees, it works everywhere. If we have a problem with squeaks or rattles, we easily find it at -30 degrees. - Joakim Rydholm, Polestar's Head of Chassis Development

In addition to fine-tuning the electronic stability control and dual-chamber active air suspension, Rydholm explained that extreme cold weather is also perfect for finding squeaks and rattles before going to production. 

Gallery: Polestar 3 on a frozen lake in the Arctic Circle

Suspension System: Riding on a Cloud

But what good is a virtuoso without a sturdy stage? Enter the 3's dual-chamber Active Air suspension, the unsung hero of my icy escapade. The system replaces conventional dampers, improving handling and comfort by reacting to the vehicle’s movements 500 times per second. The system also provides different settings, such as off-road and loading modes, and automatically lowers the ride height at high speed to optimize aerodynamics.

Even as I pushed the 3 to its limits at the urging of Rydholm, testing the boundaries of the studded tires and gravity, the suspension system remained steadfast, providing a plush and controlled ride that belied the harshness of our wintry environment. 

Charging the Polestar 3

While charging wasn't on the agenda for this trip, I asked the Polestar team to allow me to visit an Ionity charging station and charge the 3 for a while. I think they expected that request from me since I always ask for some time to charge the vehicle on every press invite, and they obliged. 

The 3 will come equipped with an 11 kW onboard charger for AC charging and should charge from 0 to 100% in 10 to 11 hours. However, the standard supplied charging equipment is a 40-amp dual voltage portable charger, and when using that, you'll need about 12 hours to completely replenish a fully depleted battery.

Since you can access a high percentage of the battery pack, 107 kWh out of the 111 kWh total capacity, Polestar recommends charging to 90% for daily use and to only charge to 100% when you need the extra range for a road trip.

Driving the Polestar 3 on a frozen lake

As for DC fast charging, the 3 has a peak charging rate of 250 kW and can charge from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes. While not class-leading, it's certainly fast enough to make the 3 a good choice for long road trips, provided you have high-speed chargers along the route. 

And speaking of DC fast chargers, Polestar is expected to gain access to more than 15,000 Superchargers in North America on the Tesla Supercharger network sometime in the next few weeks. Polestar 3 owners will however, need to use a NACS to CCS1 adapter because when the vehicle launches this summer, it will not have a native NACS charging inlet, as Polestar was too far along in development when it agreed to switch charging standards to incorporate the new inlet on the 3. 

Driving the Polestar 3 on a frozen lake

Anxiously Awaiting Pavement Time

Polestar is known as a performance brand, and the 3 will do nothing but solidify that reputation if it performs as well on pavement as it does on ice—and I have no reason to believe it won't. But I still need to experience that before I'm convinced. I also know that most drivers don't need a vehicle, much less a family-hauling SUV, to perform like it's on rails while driving on a frozen lake. 

However, what they do want is a vehicle that does all the work for them automatically and instantly when they encounter black ice on a turn at 40 mph. After spending an afternoon in the 3, I'm confident many drivers won't even realize they hit ice, because of how well this system works.

I had to turn off the electronic stability control (which still doesn't turn it off completely) in order to have any kind of fun. The system works that well. I was buzzing around the track, taking turns at 45-50 mph that I wouldn't take on the pavement in most vehicles and the 3 wasn't even breaking a sweat. 

Driving the Polestar 3 on a frozen lake

Polestar is building the 3 at Volvo's Ridgeville, South Carolina plant which will make it qualify for $3,750 of the Federal tax credit if you purchase it. However, due to the "leasing loophole", if you lease one, you can take advantage of the full $7,500 tax credit and apply it to the lease as a capital cost reduction. 

Polestar recently announced it was lowering the starting MSRP of all Polestar 3 models by up to $10,500. The Long Range Dual Motor trim which was expected to start at $83,900 will now have a base price of $73,400 (plus $1,400 DST) and the Long Range Dual Motor Performance Pack 3 was dropped from $89,900 to $83,900, plus DST.

The lower pricing will definitely help, but it's still going to be an expensive option that's out of reach for most Americans. That's too bad because the 3 is probably the most sports car-like SUV I've driven yet.

However, I still haven't driven the electric Porsche Macan, so...

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