This is the Polestar 2. Obvious follow up questions include, what is Polestar? and what happened to Polestar 1? Well Polestar is jointly owned by Volvo and Geely and is tasked with delivering design focused electric performance models. The joint ownership is evidenced by the HQ being in Gothenburg with the state of the art production plant residing in Chengdu, China.
If you thought it was just a badge on quick Volvo’s that is because originally Polestar Racing delivered multiple championship winning cars and then worked with Volvo to turn its know-how to road going variants. In 2015 Volvo bought the Polestar name and in 2017 established Polestar as a new road car brand. This in turn led to Polestar Racing rebranding as Cyan. Keeping up? The first product was Polestar 1 which is a fantastic looking performance plug-in hybrid coupe built (by intention) in tiny numbers so the first Polestar that you are ever likely to see on the road is ‘2’.
Right, so with introductions duly made what is the Polestar 2 actually like? Firstly we think it looks great, with a very clear Scandinavian influence to the design it looks unique, cool and sophisticated. That applies inside and out with an equally confident and well thought through interior, and is more than skin deep. The Polestar feels very well put together, has high quality materials throughout the cabin, and the tight shut lines that the European market is used to. It absolutely nails the premium positioning and means that the price tag feels totally appropriate.
Based on the Volvo CMA platform it has close ties with the XC40 which means that rather than packaging all of the batteries under the floor, they also occupy a central ‘transmission’ tunnel. This makes the Polestar 2 feel familiar but also means that you don’t get the space benefits of a flat floor.
There are many upside to using the Volvo platform, but one disadvantage is a portly kerb weight. This has two impacts. Firstly it does take the edge off ultimate agility, and secondly it makes the official range of 321 miles more challenging to hit. This is compounded by the performance that is available and the very unusual absence of drive modes. Without an Eco or Sport setting it is entirely up to the driver to demonstrate self restraint. 225 – 290 miles is still easy to achieve but restraint is required to get close to 321 miles.
The Standard Range 69 kWh battery pack delivers very good range but if you want more you have two options. Firstly you can opt for the 82 kWh Long Range battery which allows a class leading 406 miles of range with a small performance gain, or if you want more go you can pair the 82 kWh battery pack with two motors, one for the front axle and one for the rear, providing four wheel drive. Each motor has the same output providing a combined 546 lb ft of torque and just over 400 bhp split equally between the front and back. This translates into a sub 5 second 0-62 mph dash which is plenty fast enough, but reduces the official range to 367 miles. If that still isn’t enough the ‘performance pack’ delivers a robust 469 bhp, hitting 60 mph in 4 seconds dead and delivering 352 miles on the official test.
Whilst the high performance models may catch the eye, it has always been the entry level single motor variant that delivers very good range and great value. However Polestar have further strengthened the case by moving the single motor from the front to the back; yes the ‘2’ is now rear wheel drive. Whilst this hasn’t been done to improve driving dynamics it certainly doesn’t hurt, and it has allowed extra performance and intriguingly also boosted efficiency.
If you do have to access public charging facilities it is good to know that the ‘2’ is able to make use of 150 kW Ultra Rapid chargers which can deliver a 10% – 80% charge in 34 minutes. AC charging is taken care of via an 11 kW on board charger as standard.
Polestar is very proud of being the first manufacturer to embed Android Automotive OS. This means that you get Google Assistant, Google Maps and the Google Play Store which is great. What is less great is the (now common) lack of physical buttons to supplement voice control which results in regular trawls through on screen menus. However we have to say that overall the interior is a great place to be and lack of buttons aside, is very well thought through.
The Polestar 2 is the first family EV to deliver the premium offering that European markets are used to. It looks great, has ample performance, good range, can tow 1,500 kg, is very refined and comfortable and is capable of 150 kW Ultra Rapid charging. It handles neatly and offers supreme traction, but if we are being picky it doesn’t deliver the final 10% of driver engagement that we would like.
Overall it is a great package mixing the best elements of Scandinavian design, Volvo safety and quality, and Chinese EV expertise.
Estimated real world range: 225 – 321 miles
Official range: 321 miles
Official electricity consumption: 171 Wh/km
Battery pack: 69 kWh (gross) lithium ion; 8 year / 100,000 mile warranty
Recharge time: 7 kW charge approx 11 hours; 11 kW charge approx 7 hours; Rapid CCS 50 kW approx 1 hour 10 minutes (10 – 80%); Ultra Rapid CCS 135 kW 34 minutes (10 – 80%)
Please note that CO2 emissions quoted for electric cars are not directly comparable to diesel and petrol cars. This is because CO2 emissions quoted are calculated by Green Car Guide and include the emissions created at the power station turning fuel (e.g. gas etc) into electricity and in transmitting and distributing the electricity to an end user. They do not include the actual production of the fuel (e.g. gas extraction and refinery emissions). Petrol and diesel emissions are supplied by car manufacturers and are based solely on the fuel burnt in the engine (tailpipe emissions) and do not include the production of the fuel or distribution to a fuel station. In practice this means that electric car emissions are over-estimated relative to petrol and diesel. For instance if an electric car, a petrol car, and a diesel car are all reported to emit 100 g/km CO2, the electric car actually has lower emissions.