I remember cutting my teeth as a teenager without a driver’s license on internet message boards and then-new comments sections of websites like Motor Trend and Car and Driver. It was the mid-2000s. Chrysler’s first LX-platform cars had gone on sale in the form of the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler 300. Big-bodied with gunslit windows, the Ralph Gilles-designed sedans were striking; ushering in a new era of good-looking cars with not-so-good visibility. Suddenly, it was in vogue for every modern car to have a high beltline with tiny windows.

Love it or hate it, the trend of smaller-than-usual windows has continued on, and now we’re here at its logical end, where some designers have decided to remove windows entirely. Polestar’s designers insisted that the rear windshield of a modern SUV or Crossovers doesn’t do all that much for visibility anyway, so it wouldn’t be missed if it was removed and replaced with a camera.

Polestar invited me to call them on that bluff, by flying me out to Madrid, Spain, and encouraging me to flog its latest crossover-coupe in the land of Iberico Ham. Would I miss the rear window?

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(Full Disclosure: Polestar flew me to Madrid to test the Polestar 4. The brand provided flights and lodging.)

What is it?

The Polestar 4 is a big deal for the brand, arguably more important than the traditional-at-heart Polestar 3 crossover. Polestar calls this model a D-segment SUV coupe, aiming not just for EVs like the Genesis GV60 or Tesla Model Y, but also ICE models like the BMW X4. 

Still, it’s no secret that this Sino-Swedish brand has struggled to generate profits, partially because of its limited product lineup. While other EV brands have focused on SUVs, Polestar has soldiered on with a now somewhat aged high-riding sedan as its lone product in showrooms. But, now it seems like Polestar’s trying to push past its “just a Volvo with a weird badge” identity with new bespoke products, as well as carve out a niche among parent company Geely’s many brands. The Polestar 2 may have just been a rebranded version of the Volvo 40.2 concept, and the Polestar 3 could be considered to be a sporty version of the forthcoming Volvo EX90 crossover, but the Polestar 4 aims to be different. 

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For starters, it uses the SEA platform (Sustainable Experience Architecture) popularized by Geely and Zeekr models in China, rather than the mostly Volvo-developed CMA or SPA2 platforms that the Polestar 2 and Polestar 3 use, respectively. Also, it’s got that weird roofline, and no rear window. It’s a weird sell.

Now that Volvo has relinquished some of its stake in Polestar, and Geely has increased its share, this car seems like it could be a make-or-break model for the brand. It’s got to prove itself to the market, a tall order for an unusual product from a relatively unknown brand. It’s got some interesting styling quirks, with odd concessions to create them. It rides on a platform primarily used on Chinese cars from a brand most Americans and Europeans don’t know about. But it’s also notably cheaper than the slightly overpriced Polestar 3, increasing its appeal, and hopefully getting more buyers behind the wheel. Getting people interested in the Polestar 4 could be a test of the brand’s worth within Geely itself. The company’s own Zeekr brand offers superior stock performance products and outsells Polestar at a nearly two-to-one ratio. 

Polestar needs a winner. A lot is riding on this weird little car.

What are the Specs of the Polestar 4?

Once again, the Polestar 4 shares a lot in common with the Zeekr 001; both cars use the same SEA platform, (pronounced like the singer Sia), specifically the SEA-1 variant. While I was in China, I saw early China-market production Polestar 4s going down the same line as the 001 at the Zeekr Intelligent Factory in Ningbo. The SEA platform was initially developed largely by Zeekr, with the 001 crossover coupe being the first vehicle on the platform. (U.S. market Polestar 4’s are expected to come from a new plant in South Korea. )

So, because of this, the Polestar 4 has similar mechanical specifications as the Zeekr 001. It is offered in either single-motor rear-wheel-drive or dual-motor all-wheel-drive form, with 272 horsepower or 544 hp, respectively. Those motors are fed by a 94 kWh usable (100 kWh gross) battery, good for 300 miles in RWD form, or 270 miles in AWD form.

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Despite being made on the same line as the newly refreshed Zeekr 001, the Polestar 4 isn’t mechanically identical. Instead of air suspension, it has magnetic-style active dampers, and only on the dual-motor AWD models. The Polestar 4 doesn’t get the Zeekr’s megacast single-unit rear chassis section, nor its 800-volt-class architecture, either. The Polestar 4 still uses a less-sophisticated 400-volt-class architecture. 

Like the Polestar 3, however, the Polestar 4 is also meant to be a sporty option in the segment. It may not have the same trick differentials as the Polestar 3, but the Performance Pack adds some driver-oriented goodies, like Brembo brakes and an adjustable suspension. 

Perhaps my sense of price and value has been skewed in this day and age, but the car is a relative bargain. At a base price of $56,300, it’s actually not all that much more expensive than the $51,300, smaller Polestar 2 sedan.

What is it like to drive?

The Polestar 4 also feels like more than just a rebranded Zeekr or Geely, although I’d be lying if I said it didn’t remind me of the pre-facelift drive of the Zeekr 001 I did in New York. All of the units available for testing were top-of-the-line dual-motor examples equipped with the Performance Pack. The Polestar 4 is an agile car that corners relatively flat, a testament to the prowess of the SEA platform. There’s plenty of grip, and you’d never know this is a crossover from the driver's seat. The Polestar 4 feels low-slung and slinky, despite physically not being all that small or light. One downside is that magnetic dampers transmit a bit more road imperfections to the cabin compared to the air setup on the Zeekr cars I’ve driven. 

Still, that doesn’t mean that the Polestar 4 has an unacceptable ride. No, it's still remarkably composed and refined. The crossover is smooth and supple, without being overly bouncy or overmatched by its heft. It’s the most expensive-feeling car in Polestar’s lineup. It certainly felt like it was the quietest car, too, even compared to the pricier Polestar 3. 

Like all EVs with astronomical horsepower figures, the Polestar 4 feels like it has every bit of its 544 hp available whenever. Full-throttle pulls will snap the car to 60 MPH in as little as 3.7 seconds, and it’ll pull hard to illegal speeds faster than you’ve realized you’re way over the limit. Unfortunately, the excellent powertrain was paired with a fairly vague brake pedal that dampened some of my backroads fun.

So did the visibility. On the streets of Madrid, the Polestar 4 felt like a large, wide car. That alone isn’t a bad thing, but at times maneuvering the car around felt frustrating due to the car’s lack of rear window. That was especially true in the city, where I’d constantly turn my head and check my mirrors for pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. I drive defensively and try to predict and stay ready for what others could do at any given time, and I just felt like I was missing a key piece of information from the rearview mirror for no good reason. The replacement video stream fed to the rearview mirror lacked a sense of depth. It felt like the car had a larger-than-normal bubble, as I couldn’t get a strong grasp of its physical dimensions. That’s not a great feeling to have in a crowded European city. 

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What’s Good? 

There’s a lot to like about the Polestar 4, starting with its sumptuous, spacious interior. There’s generous leg and hip room for both rows of passengers. The seats themselves are comfortable and highly adjustable. Unless you’re unusually tall, I don’t anticipate any driver ever finding issues with being uncomfortable behind the wheel of the Polestar 4. 

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The interior itself is well finished, arguably better finished than the Polestar 3. Fit and finish is excellent, and materials feel high quality, with high-traffic surfaces finished in soft-touch plastic wherever appropriate. For example, the Polestar 4’s lower dash area, specifically where the glovebox is located, is soft and cushy. In the Polestar 3, that piece is hard plastic. Considering the price difference, it seems like that should be the other way around.

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The Polestar 4 uses the same Google Android-based car infotainment setup as the Polestar 3. It’s the most appealing interface in the business. But, while the Polestar 3’s screen is portrait-style, I feel like the Polestar 4’s landscape screen orientation makes the design stand out more. The icons are bigger, and the sense of hierarchy for the icons on the screen feels better resolved. Whereas I had some complaints with the Polestar 3’s interface while on the move, the Polestar 4 feels easier to use.

The car’s orange and white branding, consistent typeface and specially designed icons create a strong visual identity and user experience that is seldom seen at other brands. The solar-system-themed ambient lighting genuinely feels like a fun, unique touch that gives the car a personality beyond just “electric coupe crossover.” It’s a snappy, good-looking interface. 

What’s Not So Good?

See, Polestar’s designers insist that in keeping with the whole coupe-crossover thing, they needed to make the roofline as low as possible. Yet, they didn’t want to compromise the interior space or headroom, so they moved some structural members rearward, allowing them drop the roofline. The rear windshield was a casualty, but Polestar says it wouldn’t have done much anyway, and the camera system it’s been replaced with is a superior alternative. Polestar also says that means all of the cargo area is able to be used, since there’s no window that a driver would need to account for and ensure outside visibility.

Yeah, I’m not convinced. 

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For starters, the car is not even all that low-slung. Compared to its mechanical cousin made on the exact same assembly line, the Zeekr 001, it is six-tenths of an inch lower. If we want to be actual-factual here, sure, the Polestar 4 is a lower-slung car than the Zeekr 001, but the Zeekr 001 has a normal rear windshield. It’s even got a rear wiper, rare in the EV world these days. I suppose the Polestar 4 is lower than competitors like the Tesla Model Y, but it seems like there was a lot of work done on the platform for it to not be all that much lower than a similar car made in the same factory. We had to lose the rear window for not even an inch of height?

And that rear windshield, even if it’s fairly small on the Zeekr or any crossover in this era, goes a long way for two things: light in the cabin, and depth perception of other drivers, two things that the Polestar 4 is lacking. The concerns I raised at Polestar Day during a ride-along are still pertinent here, there’s an awkward bulkhead behind the rear passenger’s heads and the cabin back there feels claustrophobic when it shouldn’t be. The trunk can be filled to the brim, but the trunk itself isn’t all that big, at 18.57 cubic feet. About as big as a BMW X4, but way smaller than the Model Y’s more than 30 cubes behind the second row. 

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Although the 2.5 megapixel camera sends a very clear image to the rearview mirror-turned-camera in the middle of the car, there are serious issues with determining depth. In Spain, where drivers are more aggressive and tend to tailgate, I found myself annoyed because I had such a poor idea of how close other drivers were to my back bumper based on the image I saw in the video stream fed to the rearview mirror.

As a person who remembers from driving school to constantly check their mirrors while on the move or when stopped, I felt like the Polestar 4 had removed a piece of information I was used to, and replaced it with a solution that didn’t work anywhere near as well. 

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I think for some buyers, this could straight up be a dealbreaker. Which for a brand really hurting for sales, is really, really, bad.

Also, like the Polestar 3, the infotainment interface is pretty and snappy but has at least one too many menus for some functions. I got used to it the more I worked with it, but I just question if Polestar’s UX designers have actually used their final product on the move.

How Is It As An EV?

My time with the Polestar 4 was limited to about two hours around the greater Madrid area. Not much care was given to economical driving. The official rating of 270 miles of range from 94 kWh would shake out at roughly 2.8 ish kWh per mile. Not great, not terrible. Charging speeds are generally admirable, with the Polestar 4 able to do a 10-80% sprint in 30 minutes at a max speed of 200 kW. The Polestar 4 supports Level 2 charging speeds of up to 22 kW.

Interestingly enough, the Polestar’s platform mates, the Zeekr 001 and 007, both use an 800-volt architecture, allowing for world record-holding DC fast charge times. The 2024 Zeekr 001 can zip from 10-80% in under 12 minutes, peaking at 546 kW. If the Polestar 4 had this, it would be the fastest-charging car on sale in the United States or Europe.

But it doesn’t. That feels like a missed opportunity.

Early Verdict

I hesitate to call the Polestar 4 a fumble. It isn’t. There is plenty to like about the sleekly styled if slightly odd-looking vehicle. It just seems like there are a few deal-breaking caveats that are holding the Polestar 4 back from being its best self.

The lack of a rear window could be a real dealbreaker for some buyers, in a market where buyers are desperately looking for well-executed, normal (ish) premium EV shapes. It a reason for shoppers to cross the car off their shopping lists for no real benefit. It’s not like the car is all that low-slung or exceptionally good-looking. I mean, it looks alright, I guess, but I don’t think it’s worth dealing with a new user experience because of the lack of a rear window.

Gallery: 2025 Polestar 4 First Drive

Then, if we zoom out and consider the Polestar 4’s position globally, I can’t help but worry that at least on paper it’s a little behind its Geely and Zeekr brethren. In China, the Zeekr 001 has a cheaper base price, charges quicker and arguably drives better partially because of its updated suspension and ultra-rigid mega-cast chassis. The sedan-shaped Zeekr 007 is even cheaper and is a sharper driving car.

True, the Zeekr 001 and 007’s abilities are less relevant to us here in the United States, but it is relevant to the overall performance of Polestar, which needs to really start moving units inside and outside of China. I’m worried that the Polestar 4 won’t make a strong enough case for itself in markets where it and Zeekr’s SEA-based cars exist. 

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And Polestar really needs sales in every market where it competes.

Still, there’s a lot to like about the existing Polestar 4. It's an agile, smooth, spacious, well-finished and surprisingly reasonably priced car. If you can live with the lack of rear window, it’s a solid option for going electric. If Polestar manages to give it the Zeekr’s 800-volt architecture and excellent air suspension for its next update, it’ll be even better.

Contact the author: kevin.williams@insideevs.com

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