Polestar 2 review

Polestar’s all-electric ethos comes to fruition with the fantastic 2 luxury fastback that is targeted squarely at the Tesla Model 3.

What's this?

A Polestar 2, the numeral indicating it is the second vehicle from what was once Volvo’s performance/racing arm, but which will henceforth be its luxury electric arm instead. The Polestar 1 that preceded the 2 was a stunning vehicle in many regards, but as a machine approaching almost €200,000 and built only in left-hand drive, with numbers of 1,500 units in total globally, it was a headline-grabbing act designed to put Polestar on the map. It was also a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with a 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine onboard, something that will not feature in any further Polestars from the 2 onwards. At the moment, the Polestar 2 is operating in a weird micro-niche of EVs between the everyday likes of the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Kia e-Niro and then the big luxury electric SUVs that have started to arrive, such as the Mercedes EQC and Audi e-tron. This means that the Polestar 2’s key rival is the Tesla Model 3. To that end, the Polestar 2 launches with a twin-motor set-up and a 78kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It has 408hp and 660Nm, good enough for a 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds, but it can also go 470km on a single charge of its batteries. Speaking of which, on a 7kW home connection it will charge fully in 11 hours and on a rapid 50kW hook-up, you can achieve 80 per cent of the battery’s capacity in just 30 minutes.

How is it to drive?

It is exceptional to drive, although our test vehicle had the optional Performance Pack with a set of adjustable Öhlins dampers. These are not adjustable in the car, though, as you have to be outside the vehicle and using the top mounts to do it. That means the ‘out-of-the-factory’ setting of the dampers is a little too firm for our liking, introducing a slightly uncomfortable low-speed ride. You don’t have to have the Performance Pack, however, so we’d advocate trying the 2 without the Öhlins.

Other than that, it is a delight to drive. Its keyless entry-and-go system works to such a brilliant extent that there is no start/stop button in the Polestar 2 – you simply sit in the driver’s seat, put your belt on, engage ‘D’ with the attractive little ‘hooped’ lever and the car glides off. Similarly, park it up, press ‘P’ and open the door, and the Polestar powers off. Once you are on the move, you’ll hear nothing from the twin electric motors – one on the front axle and one on the rear, blessing the 2 with all-wheel drive – and tyre chatter is kept to the barest minimum, so the only real noise you can hear in the cabin is a slight rustling of wind around the incredibly pretty frameless door mirrors.

The ride quality improves significantly as speeds build, which isn’t a hard thing to do because the instant-hit of 660Nm through an all-wheel-drive set-up and the slick reduction gear transmission means the Polestar 2 feels very rapid indeed. It’s perhaps not as thumpingly hard-hitting for acceleration as a Model 3, but then it feels a far better-resolved product all round, with distinguished controls allowing for smooth low-speed manoeuvring. The battery pack mounted low in the car reduces body roll to a negligible level in something that is fairly tall, physically speaking, and there’s lots of grip and good steering to work with.

The final joy is the one-pedal braking effect: this can be dialled through Off, Low and Standard, the latter of which is so strong that when you lift off the throttle, it feels like an invisible foot is pressing the brake pedal quite hard. It takes a little time to adjust to, but once you do, it makes the Polestar 2 even more effortless to drive in a wide variety of situations. Even the Low regenerative braking allows for almost total control of the car’s speed with the throttle pedal alone.

When is it coming to Ireland?

We do not know as yet. Polestar hasn’t confirmed a presence in Ireland for the foreseeable, although it is obviously already selling cars in our neighbouring country of the UK – so right-hand-drive 2s are already in production. We are hopeful that the Polestar 2 will arrive here sooner rather than later and with its zero-emission output and reasonable list price in other markets (given it sits on the same platform as a Volvo XC40, keeping costs down), it could retail for around €65,000; a very acceptable price for such an excellent car.

Any juicy technology?

In-car infotainment often takes a bashing from critics for not being as intuitive to use as a good smartphone – it’s why so many car companies are now abandoning their own proprietary systems and simply offering vehicles with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, to which people link up their phones. Polestar, however, has gone one better and used Google’s software as the power behind the 2’s infotainment system. It’s a genius move – the Google operating system and pre-loaded Google Maps makes the 11-inch portrait touchscreen a wonderful, crisp and hugely responsive and intuitive centrepiece of the pared-back interior. This is the first in-car infotainment system that will not be improved by the connection of either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Carzone.ie rating: 5/5

Polestar is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the EV world of the future. This 2 is a gorgeous-looking car on the outside, it has one of the best interiors of any vehicle sub-€100,000 going, the remarkably clever in-car technology works perfectly, and the infotainment is industry-leading. Factor in a practical cabin and 440 litres of boot space (split front and rear) and also a range approaching 500km, and you can see why the Polestar 2 is wholly deserving of full marks. It is a quite brilliant machine, electric or otherwise.

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