Polestar engineers evaluate the dynamics of their vehicles in extreme conditions around the world, from the blistering heat of Arizona to somewhere closer to home for the Swedish EV manufacturer: the bitter cold of the Arctic Circle at over 66-degrees north, which can see temperatures dip to -35°C.
Polestar’s engineers push vehicle prototypes to the limit during their winter testing programme, which runs for 15 weeks from December to March every year. The brutal conditions are uncomfortable for the development team, but great for testing the durability of mechanical components, and how the dynamic setup performs in such cold and low-traction conditions.
One plucky member of the Polestar team is Joakim Rydholm, chief chassis engineer, who has led the dynamic development of Polestar vehicles for over a decade and believes there are great benefits of performing vehicle tuning in the harsh Arctic environment.
“Tuning a chassis on snow and ice allows us to develop our cars in what feels like slow motion and with better accuracy,” says 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.”
Many of his contemporaries would perhaps prefer the warmth of a proving ground in Spain, but Rydholm is fond of a low-traction environment, being a trophy-winning rally driver in his spare time. Indeed he has now led a team to develop a one-off special version of the Polestar 2, the ‘Arctic Circle’ model, with winter rallying as its inspiration.
The team began with a Polestar 2 Long range Dual motor with Performance Pack as the base vehicle. The Arctic theme is expressed through tweaks intended to make the car faster and more agile on snow and ice, including a raised ride height (+30mm), increased power and torque output (350kW and 680Nm) and custom-made 19in studded winter tyres (245/35 R19) with 4mm metal studs (490 per tyre).
In combination with 30%-softer springs, the three-way performance Öhlins dampers, specially designed and tuned for the Arctic Circle model, are set to nine clicks front and rear and feature auxiliary adjustment chambers. Strut braces have been fitted front and rear to increase torsional rigidity and steering responsiveness, and a prototype launch control system has been integrated via steering wheel-mounted paddles. The team decided the Polestar 2’s standard four-piston Brembo front brakes were up to the job.
The mechanical setup may be Arctic ready, but the team also wanted to have a little fun with the look of the car, especially with a rally driver in charge of its dynamics, so 19in OZ Racing rally wheels were added, as well as a front bumper with a carbon fibre skid plate for additional under-body protection, and a snow shovel (carbon fibre naturally) and recovery strap mounted in the rear. The effect is completed with four Stedi Quad Pro LED front lights, a wintry matte grey and white paint scheme, and Recaro front bucket seats.
“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. 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,” enthuses Rydholm.
Sadly the Polestar 2 Arctic Circle is a one-off project and will not be put into production.