Concept Cars

Polestar preaches sustainability as a distraction during social isolation, debuts Precept

Polestar's new concept car gives a glimpse at the future of the brand.

Photo county of Polestar

Polestar used to be known as a performance brand before Geely, the parent company of Volvo and Polestar, designated it as a high-end performance electric vehicle brand in 2017. Now, the company is laser focused on next-gen innovation that not only carries the Polestar badging but also that of Volvo in America where Polestar trimmed models are still sold.

In an effort to showcase that innovation, Polestar has debuted a series of concept models. Their 2020 plans were derailed a bit when the Geneva International Motor Show was cancelled in March. Now, in a virtual debut via video, we're getting our first peek at the Polestar Precept concept.

Polestar Precept concept car 2020 The car was to have debuted in March at the now-cancelled Geneva International Motor Show.Photo county of Polestar

The model showcases "sophisticated, high-tech minimalism that redefines beauty for the sustainable age," says Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar, at the beginning YouTube video as he leans up against the car, which sits in front of a wall of stacked flax.

Cue the auto show reveal music.

The cover comes off (though we've already seen the vehicle driving in the montage leading up to this point).

Starting with the front of the car, the Precept has a new take on Volvo's signature Thor's hammer headlights with sold body structure separating headlights and fog lamps.

Polestar Precept concept car 2020 Designers took a stab reinventing Volvo's Thor's hammer headlights for this concept.Photo county of Polestar

In place of a grille, traditionally designed for cooling internal combustion engines, is the "smart zone", a gathering place for technology. This is similar to what is found in the Nissan Ariya Concept. This zone, says Ingenlath, causes the car to "go from breathing to seeing."

"Strength and endurance" define the exterior aesthetics of the Precept, according to Ingenlath, who also says that the, "skin of the Polestar Precept radiates power without posing." In the age of COVID-19, it seems gimmicky jargon still has a place in society.

Many automakers are focusing on recycled materials and waste cut-downs in their concept vehicles. Bentley showed off an interior made of grape skins leftover from the wine making process last year. Ford has been talking about soy in seats and tomato skins in the trunk of the Mustang for the better part of a decade.

Polestar Precept concept car 2020 The interior of the concept car features sustainable materials.Photo county of Polestar

Leather, wood, and chrome are left behind in favor of high-tech solutions. The interior of the Precept features materials woven from flax, like that behind the model in the video. The interior door panels feature the material, which is 50-percent lighter than traditional inserts and contains 80-percent less plastic. Its seats feature a 3D knit material that is made of 100-percent recycled yarn that has its origins with PET bottles and that is cut from a single thread to exactly to fit the seats with no waste.

The car can also act like Big Brother, waring the driver and slowing the vehicle down if its technology detects that the driver isn't looking at the road enough. Similar technology (including frequent beeping alerts) is already available on the Subaru Outback and Forester.

Polestar Precept concept car 2020 The model features computer systems that run on Google's Android platform.Photo county of Polestar

Between the driver and passenger is a 15.5-inch touch screen interface has Google's Android system running in the background and features a clean aesthetic in fitting with the design of the car. It is on this screen that Ingenlath suggests watching streaming services as your car sits at the charging station refueling.

Cue to the auto show music (again).

Polestar Precept out.

Polestar Precept www.youtube.com

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The AWD ID.4 model is on its way.

Volkswagen

There was a lot of buzz when VW introduced its 2021 ID.4 all-electric crossover with rear-wheel drive earlier this year, but there's plenty more now that the Wolfsburg automaker has added an all-wheel-drive version. The 2021 VW ID.4 AWD gets another motor onboard this compact SUV that brings all-wheel-drive traction. The SUV appeals to buyers in the snow belt states but will also tickle the fancy of performance enthusiasts. Now with motors on both the front and rear axle, there is nearly fifty percent more power, with impressive gains to horsepower and torque as well as the added battery-electric boost to that scoots the 5-seater from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds (the RWD model took 7.5 seconds to achieve the same).

2021 VW ID.4 AWD An extra motor brings AWD to the ID.4.Volkswagen

On sale now, the 2021 VW ID.4 AWD Pro starts at $44,870, before federal or other incentives; this is a $3,680 premium over the rear-drive model. The AWD Pro S starts at $49,370; both models are eligible for $7,500 income-tax credits. It's worth noting that current delivery estimates for the AWD Pro are running into 2022. The AWD Pro trim has been rated by the EPA at 249 miles (only 11 miles less than the Pro RWD) while the AWD Pro S has been validated at 240 miles (as compared to 250 miles). The AWD Pro has been rated at 102 MPGe for city driving/90 highway/97 combined; the Pro S gets 93/98/88. Both are rated at 2,700 towing. Competitors include the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y.

While the AWD and RWD look the same outside, one exterior badge designates the newest variant with an "AWD" badge, plus it gets 0.6 inches of added ground clearance, slightly bigger brakes and sway bars. From the front, the electric SUV has smoothed jelly-bean styling that is highlighted by standard LED headlights and standard black roof rails that sit atop the body-colored roof. From the rear, it wears hatchback-like looks.

2021 VW ID.4 AWD The ID.4's cabin is tidy and upscale, no matter the model.Volkswagen

We drove both the Pro and Pro S versions, with different premium interior trims and found the Gradient Package ($1500) visually upscale and appealing. It brings a black roof with silver rails, along with 20-inch wheels and the availability of King's Red Metallic paint, as a $395 option. The Pro is well-equipped with attractive trim elements and an impressive collection of communication and infotainment technologies. Pro S comes with a glass roof with an electrically-retractable shade and front seats with leatherette upholstery and 12-way power adjustments (including four-way lumbar support and a massage system).

We drove the new ID.4 AWD over a course of 160 miles along a variety of roads to sample its handling and ergonomics. The interior has a clean and open feel with good visibility. Controls and gauges are well-placed and the seatbelts are height-adjustable, while a configurable console holds different drink sizes and has removable cupholders. A futuristic LED "Light" strip with 10 different ambient lighting selections extends across the dashboard and pulses with directional signals, incoming phone calls, navigation prompts and other in-cabin inputs (optional is 30-color lighting selection on the Pro S). Driving is also a bit futuristic with no stop/start button; the vehicle senses the approaching key and can start climate control, unfold side mirrors, unlock doors and illuminate door handles at night, among a number of other high-tech features. There is 30.3 cubic feet of stowage behind the rear seats and up to 64.2 cubic feet with the second row folded. Under the floor storage holds the charging cable and small items. Pro S has an adjustable trunk floor that can be raised and lowered and a ski passthrough.

Pushing the brake pedal triggers the ID.4 to begin motoring, with the option of a "D" mode for typical driving or "B" for a more regenerative driving experience. Travel Assist brings semi-autonomous driving. Notable is the fun and responsive torque-on-tap, well-balanced direct steering and a suspension system that allows the small compact to maneuver well through traffic and along twisty roadways, as well as an impressive turning radius. The vehicle dynamics control system is integrated with the stability control system and an electronic differential to seamlessly engage the front axle, when needed. Volkswagen has added a different asynchronous motor to the front with a permanent-magnetic synchronous motor at the back for a combined 295 hp. and 339 lb.-ft. of torque.

2021 VW ID.4 AWD The ID.4 AWD will start shipping in early 2022.Volkswagen

Carried over are 82-kWh battery packs and the 5 to 80 percent fast-charging time of 38 minutes, when using 125kW fast-charging. VW says it can add 62 miles of range in 10 minutes; home charging on a Level 2 charger is projected to take approximately 7.5 hours for a full charge.

Of note: VW includes three years of complimentary charging up to 125 kW, with any ID.4 purchase or lease; VW Group's Electrify America charging network has over 650 stations and more than 2,700 fast chargers.

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Owners of 2020 and 2021 model year Infiniti vehicles will be eligible.

Infiniti

Apple CarPlay is a great feature that can add maps, streaming audio, and voice controls to even base model vehicles that would otherwise lack such technology. It also offers a standardized interface that works similarly to a smartphone's built-in software, so there's no confusion about how to operate the system. Until recently, users had to have their phones physically tethered to the vehicle with a wired connection, but many automakers have begun offering wireless connectivity. Infiniti is one of them, but in an unusual step, the company says that it will upgrade older model year vehicles with the technology at no cost.

Infiniti Wireless Apple CarPlay The upgrades will be free for owners.Infiniti

This means that if you own a 2020 or 2021 Q50, Q60, QX50, or QX80, you are eligible for the upgrade. Wireless Apple CarPlay became available for Infiniti vehicles starting with the 2022 model year, so it's a new feature for the automaker. The first model to support the feature was the 2022 QX55 and the new 2022 QX80 will offer the tech with its 12.3-inch touchscreen system. The 2022 Q50 and Q60 will both leave the factory with the feature, as will the upcoming QX60.

It's unclear how or if the upgrade will affect other vehicle systems, but it's a worthy move for anyone who owns a 2020 or 2021 Infiniti vehicle, if only to boost resale value down the road. Cars such as the 2021 Q50 came standard with a dual-screen infotainment system and wired Apple CarPlay, so the ability to go wireless would be a big bonus for some drivers.

Infiniti Wireless Apple CarPlay Owners have until March 31, 2022 to complete the upgrade.Infiniti

If you own a 2020 or 2021 Infiniti model, you have until March 31, 2022, to complete the upgrade. Infiniti says its dealers will perform the update at no cost to owners, so make your appointments now. The automaker has not announced plans to offer wireless Android Auto.

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