Polestar is a performance-led electric car manufacturer that has very strong ties to Volvo and Geely. The Polestar 2 is an affordable, long-range, powerful five-door fastback that is very big on style and performance. It is also the first car in the world to feature an infotainment system powered by Android.
The goodStyling, handling, range and price
The badLong charging times and cheap, plastic key
Polestar 2 – First Drive (2020)
A new big hitter has arrived on the EV scene and it’s all fired up to take on rivals in the performance sector. It’s called Polestar and while the name may be new to many it has a long-established history in developing fast cars.
Polestar was previously involved with the racing-led side of Volvo, but now it’s a fully-fledged stand-alone manufacturer owned by the Swedish car maker and, in turn by Volvo’s parent company, Geely in China.
The first model launched was the highly-exclusive, limited-edition Polestar 1 which carried a £140k price-tag. But the Polestar 2 is far more reasonably priced and will be a real-life challenger to Tesla – namely the Tesla 3.
The Polestar 2 is a five-door, four-wheel-drive fastback model that boasts an impressive driving range between charges and costs from £49,900.
Powering the car is a large 78kWh lithium-ion battery that develops 402bhp and a whopping 660Nm of torque. When it comes to performance that translates into a 0-62mph sprint time of just 4.7 seconds and top speed of 127mph. But maybe the crucial figures are the range which is a claimed 292 miles combined or 348 miles of city driving where more energy can be captured during regenerative braking in stop start traffic.
There’s no denying that from a design point of view the Polestar 2 is a head turner. It stretches 4.6 metres in length with smooth streamlining, along with tinted rear windows, pixel LED headlights, active bending headlights with cornering function, a full panoramic roof, a powered tailgate and frameless side mirrors.
The interior is a classy place to sit and shares some of its parts with Volvo models. In addition, Polestar 2 is packed with kit with a large upright touchscreen that is the main focal point and the nerve centre for accessing the on-board systems. It operates a new Google-based Android infotainment centre and works very smoothly. The navigation system features Google maps and conveniently highlights charging stations along the set route.
Creature comforts include powered front seats with memory settings, a 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, DAB radio, a heated steering wheel, a wireless charging pad and lots more. Our car also featured Barley Nappa leather seats that could be ventilated at an extra charge of £4,000.
So, onto the performance of this dynamic-looking newcomer. If you’re not pre-warned you could spend the first five minutes or so looking pretty perplexed as you search for a start button. That’s because there isn’t one! Instead, you simply move the neatly designed hexagonally-shaped gear selector with illuminated Polestar symbol into the drive or reverse position and the car glides smoothly away.
The acceleration out of the starting blocks is instant and blisteringly quick with a seemingly-limitless supply of power at your disposal. The road holding is ultra-grippy meaning bends can be attacked with confidence and there is no sign of body sway whatsoever.
Our car was sitting on upgraded 20-inch wheels (19-inch are the standard fit) that added a further £900 to the final cost and they perfectly suited the car whether it was firing down twisting country lanes or cruising effortlessly at 70mph on a stretch of motorway.
The Polestar 2 weighs in at a chunky 2.1 tonnes so it feels very planted without feeling cumbersome in any way. The steering is nicely weighted and there are driving modes called Light, Standard and Firm that alter the steering feel, along with ways to adjust the levels of regenerative braking with a Creep setting that makes one-pedal driving possible.
Despite the weight, the Polestar 2 is agile in city surroundings easily weaving its way through the traffic, and there are all manner of sensors and cameras to assist when parking.
The comfort levels are generally very high with heated front and rear seats and there is ample space for a trio of passengers to sit in the back of the car. Storage options are good with a boot capacity that ranges from 405 litres to 1,095 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. There is a pull-up partition in the boot along with a net and elasticated grip to prevent items rolling around. Elsewhere, there’s a glovebox, door bins, cup holders, storage pockets each side of the centre console and a deep central cubby box.
And safety levels are comprehensive too – as one would expect from a company that has anything to do with Volvo. On-board systems include blind spot warning, pilot assist for semi-autonomous driving, adaptive cruise control, cross traffic alert, rear collision warning, run off road mitigation, forward collision warning, driver alert, all-wheel drive and plenty more besides.
It may all sound like this Polestar 2 is a little too good to be true, but I did have a few concerns after a week behind the wheel. Firstly the charging. That large battery seemed to take forever to boost. I have a 7kWh wallbox and even when charged for a good 12 hours overnight the battery percentage had only reached just over 55 per cent. Obviously, this time would be dramatically reduced by using a fast charger. And if you plan on driving the Polestar 2 in the manner that its looks deserve, that range will plummet quite dramatically.
Secondly, the front central armrest became more annoying as the week progressed. Its edges are angled and it is positioned just too far back to be really comfortable meaning you are constantly hitting your funny bone which is anything but a laughing matter.
Finally, the key. It may sound like I’m being picky here, but this is not a cheap car. However, for an outlay of £50k-plus (with options) you are given the tackiest, plastic key ever. Thankfully you can keep it away from view as the car has keyless entry!
But all in all, the Polestar 2 is a very impressive newcomer on the EV scene. And with the promise of a model featuring a smaller battery and lower asking price in the near future, it’s appeal will grow and grow.