Polestar is making the rear window obsolete with its new crossover coupe

Polestar is making the rear window obsolete with its new crossover coupe

The new Polestar 4 is the Swedish EV brand’s first crossover coupe, falling between the compact and midsize segments. It has the quickest acceleration yet of a Polestar, an all-new Google-based infotainment system, plenty of new designs, and the lowest carbon footprint of any Polestar. But by far the most controversial feature is the Polestar 4’s lack of a rear window.

Instead, the 4 uses a roof-mounted camera system that projects its view onto the digital rearview mirror, which is positioned naturally in the cabin. Many have denounced this as dangerous and ridiculous, especially coming from a safety-conscious brand, with naysayers saying Polestar is needlessly sacrificing vision for style and attention-grabbing headlines. After riding in Race 4 at the Polestar Day event in Santa Monica this week and experiencing its radical setup myself, I think it’s for the best.

Now, this isn’t a completely new concept. Many cars for sale already offer digital rearview mirrors, which can switch between the rear-mounted camera feed and the actual mirror looking through the rear window.

The Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato and Ferrari 812 Competizione both use a camera setup instead of a rear window, but both are very expensive and limited in operation. There are a few high-end cars in China that also use a camera instead of a window, as well as a few concepts and prototypes from different brands, but the Polestar 4 is the first production passenger car to ditch the rear window.

The main reason for this setup is to improve visibility, which may seem counter-intuitive, but let me explain. The cameras offer a 120-degree field of view, which is much larger than you’d get with a traditional window and mirror — the rear windows on coupe-crossovers are typically small and initially useless. You also don’t have to worry about dirt, rain or snow obscuring your view, as the cameras housing is designed to provide optimal airflow and the lenses are dustproof and waterproof. (Most coupe-crossovers don’t have rear wipers anyway, either.)

At night, you don’t have to worry about headlight glare, and the brightness and overall visibility are much better with the camera. Having a back seat full of passengers also doesn’t obstruct the view, but if you want to take a look at what’s going on in the back seat, you can flip the switch to turn off the screen and use it as an actual mirror.

Now, none of this actually matters if the camera feed itself is poorly implemented. Fortunately, the 4 setting is the best I’ve ever tried. The screen is high definition and has a very fast refresh rate without any visual lag, and you can adjust the vertical angle and brightness. It’s especially impressive when the car is moving.

I’ve driven plenty of cars with digital rear mirrors (and regular rear windows), from the Toyota Prius hatchback to the Land Rover Defender SUV and the Pininfarina Battista supercar, and in every case, I preferred to use the camera feed all the time. Some people have valid complaints about eye strain or difficulties adjusting when looking at a screen, but I’ve never had these issues. In my opinion, the fitment and visibility of the 4 is much better than it would be if it had a regular rear window.

This won’t just be a one-time fluke for the Polestar brand, either. The upcoming Polestar 5 sedan also has no rear window, features the same camera setup and extra features as the 4, and will go on sale in 2025. The larger Polestar 3 SUV, which goes on sale next year, has a regular rear window ( Albeit a small one), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a digital rearview mirror added to the options list in the future.

In addition to increased visibility, eliminating the rear window has a number of other legitimate benefits. The roof’s rear structural crossbeam was pushed back onto the body, improving the four-wheeler’s rigidity and overall safety while allowing for a lower roofline. This also means that the standard panoramic sunroof can be extended behind the heads of rear passengers much further than in conventional crossovers.

Despite the sunroof and sloping roof, the 4 has significantly more headroom than any of its contemporaries, another advantage of the reimagined rear setup. Since the sunroof goes back, the headliner starts at the back as well, so even the tallest passengers shouldn’t be in danger of bumping into it. I’m five feet nine inches tall and I seem to have about half a foot of free space between my head and the sunroof when sitting in the back seat, with plenty of shoulder and leg room as well.

Beyond just headroom, the Polestar 4’s back seat is a very nice place to be. The seats have sculpted bolsters that cradle you in place and headrests with adjustable support wings like the ones you get on a plane, and the seatbacks are turned and can recline up to 45 degrees.

In addition to the extra light that comes in through the huge sunroof (which comes with an optional electric finish), the Polestar makes up for the lack of sunlight coming from behind your head with soft ambient lighting, and the side quarter windows are perfectly placed to be able to look out of them without craning your neck. . Folding down the center armrest reveals a wireless charging pad, pop-out cup holders, and seatback controls. The back of the center console houses air vents, a pair of USB-C ports (including a powerful 60-watt one), and a slim touchscreen that can adjust the rear climate, seat settings, and audio system.

Although exact specifications haven’t been revealed, the 4’s cargo area is spacious, especially when viewed against the competition and my Polestar hatchback. A vertical parcel shelf separates the cabin from the cargo area. It can be flipped down to create a pass or removed completely. The seats fold almost completely, and there is an adjustable load floor. Another advantage of setting up a rearview camera: You don’t have to worry about the entire payload blocking the view through your rear window. The Polestar 4 also has a box, but it’s very small and only serves to hold charging cables.

There are a lot of interesting design elements inside the Polestar 4 that have nothing to do with the windowless setup. The door panels feature impressive floating decorative elements that can be finished in contrasting textures and colours, and are backlit by dozens of small LED dots illuminated at different brightness levels. You can choose gorgeous custom-designed upholstery made from 100% recycled polyester, and some of the more solid touch points are made from knitted fabric created using recycled PET. The speaker grilles are a nice square shape, and there are plenty of decorative accents made from real metal. Nappa leather is optional, and the four-seater can be had with ventilated and massaging front seats with speakers built into the headrests.

In the center of the dashboard is a 15.4-inch touchscreen that runs a new version of Android Automotive OS, which is fast and has excellent graphics. My favorite detail is the ambient lighting systems, which are designed to match the planets of our solar system and are selected by scrolling through space. There’s a slim 10.2-inch screen in front of the driver to show speed, range and other driving information, and there’s a 14.7-inch head-up display as well. Hard buttons have been kept to an absolute minimum, and the only physical control is the volume knob on the floating center console. Unlike the Polestar 2, the 4 has a real set of cupholders and plenty of storage space up front.

I like how the number 4 looks from the outside too. At 190.5 inches long, it’s about five inches longer than the Ford Mustang Mach-E and BMW X3 and about a foot longer than the Polestar 2. The proportions are somewhat unconventional, as the 4’s roofline is unlike any other car on sale. But the short overhangs, wide fenders and pronounced surfaces give the four a truly impressive stance. The split headlights and rear light bar are distinctive, and you can choose black lower cladding as the body colour.

Each Polestar 4 will have a 102kWh battery pack that can be charged at up to 200kW, with a heat pump, bi-directional charging and V2L capability all coming as standard. The rear-drive Polestar 4-motor produces 272 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque, with Polestar targeting an EPA range of 300 miles, while the all-wheel-drive dual-motor model produces 544 hp and 506 lb-ft and can reach 60 mph in less From 3.8 seconds. One single-engine car I saw showed a stated range of 235 miles on a 75 percent charge, which bodes well for the four’s ability to meet the EPA estimate.

The four-wheeler I rode was a single-engine car equipped with 21-inch wheels. (20- and 22-inch wheels will also be available.) On rough roads around the Santa Monica Airport, the 4 delivers a supple but firm ride quality, with minimal body roll and no bumping on bad pavement, even without the twin panels. Glass, the cabin is very quiet. The dual-motor cars will get semi-active suspension, further improving the ride. As with the Polestar 2, the 4 has extremely powerful regenerative brakes that provide a smooth, easy one-pedal ride. Although the trip was unfortunately short, it made a strong first impression.

In keeping with parent company Volvo’s focus on safety, the Polestar 4 comes standard with a total of 12 cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a radar sensor that make up Mobileye’s SuperVision driver assistance system. Following launch, the 4 will be the first production car to offer the advanced Mobileye platform for drivers. This will pair three EyeQ6 processors and Mobileye’s forward-facing imaging radar with Luminar’s next-generation forward-facing lidar, allowing for hands-free driving.

The Polestar 4 will go on sale in the US in 2024, likely in the latter half of the year. Full pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but Polestar says the 4 will start at around $60,000, putting it between the $51,300 Polestar 2 and the $85,300 Polestar 3. Production is scheduled to begin in Hangzhou Bay, China, at the end of 2023, but At Polestar Day, the brand announced that the 4 will also be manufactured in South Korea starting in the second half of 2025 at Renault Korea Motors’ plant in Busan. From that point on, all Polestar 4 models coming to the United States will be manufactured in South Korea, which will help the company avoid the 25 percent tariff on vehicles made in China.

This is definitely not a car for everyone. Some people may find the rear passenger area too claustrophobic or dark, some will never get used to a digital rearview mirror, and others won’t like the look. If you have a dog who usually sits in the cargo area, you probably won’t think about the Polestar 4 at all. But for customers who want a cutting-edge electric car that really looks special, the Polestar 4 is a great new entry into the market.

Photography by Daniel Jolson for The Verge

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