Polestar 2 - First Drive Review
You may not be familiar with the Polestar name, but that is all about to change. In the not so distant past, Polestar was the performance branch of Volvo, breathing a little magic on their top-flight offerings.
You can still buy Polestar engineered versions of S60, V60 and XC60 models. For the keen driver, the chassis improvements and subsequent driving pleasure are likely to be worth the additional expense.
Polestar is now a standalone brand, sitting with Volvo under the umbrella of parent company Geely. Its modus operandi is to produce a range of performance electric cars for the discerning motorist.
What is it?
In 2019 the Polestar 2 was unveiled and is the company’s first fully electric high-volume car. They call it an electric performance fastback, which sums it up rather well. All-wheel drive, a powerful 78kWh battery and a certified WLTP range approaching 300 miles are the highlights.
Manufactured in China, on sale in the UK now with prices starting at £49,900.
I recently had the pleasure of a week behind the wheel.
Price from £49,900
Performance Pack - £5,000
0-60mph in less than 5 seconds
300kW long range dual motor
WLTP range 292 miles
3 years vehicle servicing included
Seamless power, and plenty of it. The two electric motors endow the Polestar 2 with sportscar performance, with instant power available at the merest twitch of the right foot. It is quite addictive, accompanied as it is by the sound of silence.
With a motor situated over each axle, the all-wheel drive system allows all that firepower to be deployed safely, whatever the weather. My test week was one of the coldest of the winter and traction was never in doubt, even in freezing conditions.
There is of course a caveat, and one that is applicable to all electric cars, if you drive it like you stole it, then you will not get anywhere near the quoted range of 292 miles.
It is also worth noting that winter weather has an effect on battery performance as I was to find out on a late night 130-mile trip. Setting off with 250 miles of range indicated, I arrived at journey’s end with just 30 miles of range left. More than half the journey was at a cruise-controlled 70mph on the motorway.
My test car came fitted with the optional Performance Pack (£5,000). You get rather smart 20-inch forged alloy wheels, Brembo front brakes with gold callipers, and adjustable Ohlin dampers which offer 22 different suspension settings.
There is no doubting the Polestar 2 can be hustled along a favourite B-road at a fair old lick, but I would stop short of saying that it is fun. The battery pack helps keep the centre of gravity low, but the steering is a tad lifeless.
There is further bad news with regards to the ride quality. Overly firm, brittle at times would best sum it up. Yes, the dampers can be adjusted, but not by an onboard switch. I would be inclined to leave the pack alone and put the saving into some other choice extras.
I now have a 7kW home charger which took a lengthy 12 hours + to fully charge the Polestar. The company’s own 11kW box claims to do the job in a little over 5 hours.
Not able to find any 100kW rapid chargers which are now starting to appear, I did manage one 50kW boost courtesy of Osprey. An hour and a quarter immobile, saw the range rise from 38 to 94% and cost £18.13.
There are 3 levels of regenerative braking, which helps put a little back into the battery in everyday driving. In the strongest setting, my default choice, you can generally drive the car without using the brake pedal at all, capable as the system is to bring the car to a complete halt. All EVs should have this facility as it takes a lot of the stress out of driving, especially in stop/start city traffic.
Polestar clearly wish to demonstrate their green credentials, so standard fit materials are vegan-friendly. Wood on the dashboard and a comfortable weave on the seats are the order of the day, though leather upholstery can be specified for an extra £4,000.
The front seats proved to be supremely comfortable and accommodating even after many long hours behind the wheel.
Two rear seat passengers will be comfortable, though a third occupant will have to deal with a transmission tunnel.
The panoramic sunroof bathes the cabin with natural light, though it does eat into the headroom. The glass is tinted to avoid glare, but there is no blind fitted.
Saloon car looks, fastback practicality, the electric tailgate gives access to a 405-litre boot. Up front is a smaller compartment, ideal for storing the charging cables and a few other bits and pieces.
Polestar owners need only to have the key about their person to gain entry and set off. Climb aboard, belt up and select ‘Drive’ and you are off.
The large central screen controls most of the car’s functions. The minimalistic design gives a clean and uncluttered look, but simple functions such as turning the heating up or down do require a few stabs at the screen, with eyes off the road for seconds.
Fitted with an intuitive Android operating system, most functions can be access by voice control. My photographer took great delight in asking Google to tell us jokes as we drove to various scenic locations. Apple CarPlay is due to be fitted in the near future.
Puzzled looks greeted me on my travels as car types tried to work out what I was driving. Parked up, I watched from a distance as most passers-by paused for a look. I suspect most were none the wiser as the Polestar badge is not yet a familiar sight.
Will that change? I think it just might as there is no doubt the Polestar 2 has the looks and the ability to stand out from the crowd.
The car is quick, refined and brimming with all the latest safety kit, as is the company’s way. I would gauge the real-world range at nearer to 200 miles than 292 as quoted, but this is broadly similar to all the Polestar’s rivals. It is unlikely to be a deal breaker, especially as fast chargers are now springing up on our road network.
So, Tesla Model 3 or Polestar 2? A choice many will likely be making. It is extremely easy. Polestar 2 stands head and shoulders above its American rival in terms of quality, style and kerb appeal. So why not pop on to the online configurator and take an in-depth look for yourself?
Photography by Will Larmour. To contact him email email@example.com