The all-electric Polestar 2 offers an official 292-mile electric range, good performance, excellent traction, and it feels like a premium product.
Polestar is a new brand – although its links with Volvo are evident in many areas – and the Polestar 2 is looking to challenge cars such as the Tesla Model 3. So how does the first all-electric offering from the new brand measure up?
The Polestar 2 has a 78kWh battery and two electric motors producing 408hp and 660 Nm of torque; thankfully this is translated to the road via all-wheel drive, which can deliver up to a 50/50 torque split front to rear.
The Polestar’s visual appearance is a combination of a saloon, coupe and crossover (Polestar calls it a ‘fastback’). Volvo design influences are clear with the exterior, as they are in the interior – including the minimalistic dashboard approach. The cabin is spacious, there’s a good-sized boot, with extra storage space underneath it, and there’s also an additional compartment under the bonnet which can accommodate the charging cables, which is really useful to free up space in the boot.
If you jump into a Polestar 2 after a week in a Honda e, as we did, you may be disappointed to only find one cup holder, whereas the small Honda could accommodate four drinks containers, however one more cup holder can be found hidden away under the Polestar’s central armrest.
If you’re not a fan of the ‘Thunder’ grey of our test car, other colours are available – although they’re all mostly variations on the theme of white, grey and black.
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As is becoming fashionable with electric cars, there’s no on or off button in the Polestar 2, it instead switches itself on when you get in the car (one of seemingly many Tesla influences).
Finding a comfortable driving position should be easy, and then with a press of the accelerator you’re off, with the normal silence, refinement and instantly-available torque that characterises so many electric cars.
The Polestar 2 posts a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds (which is particularly impressive for a car that weighs over two tonnes), so performance is very good, but when you set off from standstill there’s no instant ferocious push-in-your-back sensation that you’ll find in a Tesla, instead it feels like a fairly laid-back affair at first. However once you’re underway, if you need to get past a slow moving vehicle on a B-road, then there’s huge acceleration.
And if the road happens to be wet, then you’ll enjoy one of the car’s best selling points – there’s massive traction from the all-wheel drive system, which is particularly evident – and useful – when negotiating situations such as wet roundabouts in the rain.
There are no drive mode options in the Polestar 2, although the ability to choose Comfort or Sport would actually be useful, in case you do want a more responsive pick-up from standstill. And unusually, you can’t select a ‘B’ setting for increased brake regeneration using the gear selector.
Driving the Polestar 2 is mostly a very comfortable experience. Ride comfort is generally good, although the suspension feels slightly over-firm on bumpy roads, and the combination of low profile tyres and a substantial 2,123 kg weight means that you can feel it falling into pot holes. And a very corrugated section of the A50 near Uttoxeter resulted in the Polestar’s ride becoming very jittery.
Life at motorway speeds is very quiet and refined, adding to the premium driving experience. The Polestar 2 feels like it’s been benchmarked for premium feel, including the weights of its controls and its chassis, against a BMW rather than a Tesla.
However because the Polestar 2 is heavy, the car doesn’t feel as agile as a traditional sports saloon. But the Polestar isn’t alone in this – this is true for virtually all electric cars with ranges of around 300 miles because of the size of their batteries.
The interior features a dashboard which follows the fashion for car interiors to be minimalistic. This of course means that most controls are accessed via the large central touchscreen, where there are various menus and sub-menus. You end up pressing the ‘home’ button at the bottom of the screen very frequently. There are quite a few useful controls buried in the touchscreen, such as the ability to adjust the level of brake regeneration. We’d instead prefer to adjust the brake regen via paddles behind the steering wheel.
Overall, although there are hardly any buttons on the dashboard, there is too much button-pressing on the touchscreen to get to the controls that you want. This is an issue with many of the latest cars. It would be useful to have key shortcut buttons on the dashboard or on the screen. And we couldn’t find a USB socket.
Polestar shouts about this being the first car with ‘Google built in’, including apps and services on the infotainment system such as Google Play, Google Maps and Google Assistant integrating directly with the car – which should help with, for example, finding charge points. Google Assistant should mean that features can be accessed via voice control.
If you need to use the key at night, then good luck, as it’s basically the same as a Volvo key, with very little to differentiate the lock and unlock buttons, but the Polestar key buttons are even more impossible to see because the entire key and buttons were black.
If you have long legs then you’re likely to find that, because the central console area around the gear selector is so wide, the trim digs into your left leg when you’re driving.
The Polestar 2’s official combined WLTP range is 292 miles, and WLTP city range is 348 miles. Did we manage 292 miles in the real-world? No. We averaged between 220-260 miles from a full charge (the range is displayed in 10 mile increments above 100 miles, and in 5 mile increments below 100 miles).
The car can be charged using AC up to 11kW, which means that you can charge at home using a 7kW charger, or you can get a faster charge using a workplace three-phase electricity supply. The on-board DC charger can use a rapid charger up to 150kW, when the charging time for 0-80% is 40 minutes.
Our test car certainly charged very quickly using rapid chargers, but it charged more slowly than it should have done using a 7kW home charger.
Electric cars do not charge at their maximum charge rate for an entire charging session – their charge rate typically starts off high with a battery with a low state of charge, then the charge rate decreases as the battery charge increases. See the charge curve for the Polestar 2 from Fastned:
The Polestar 2 costs £49,900, minus the £3,000 UK government plug-in car grant. Our test car had optional equipment of Performance Pack (£5,000), tow bar (£1,000) and metallic paint (£900), taking the price as tested to £56,800.
Running costs will be low, and as with all pure EVs, a big selling point is the zero benefit in kind tax rate for 2020/21.
The Polestar 2 is a welcome new choice for people wanting to buy an electric car. It offers lots of performance, with the traction to use the performance in all weathers. It also has a comfortable ride on most road surfaces, and it’s evidently been engineered to offer a premium feel.
The official electric driving range of 292 miles is good, although our real-world range between 220 and 260 miles fell short of this.
Like virtually all electric cars with this size of battery, it feels like a heavy car rather than an agile car.
Although the interior is stylish, in our opinion, there’s too much button-pressing on the touchscreen.
The Polestar 2 gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.