The first Polestar 2 electric cars have not yet been delivered to customers, but production versions are being made available to the motoring press, so we now have an impressions of the Polestar 2 we can share with you.
Polestar is owned by Geely, which also owns Volvo Cars, Lotus, and the London Electric Vehicle Company. You might think Polestar is the electric car division of Volvo, but its first offering, the Polestar 1, is a plug-in hybrid, albeit a very potent one. It combines a turbocharged and supercharged 4 cylinder gasoline engine with two electric motors — one for each rear wheel — for a combined 619 horsepower and 737 lb-ft of torque. Kyle Field wrote about the Polestar 1 recently and pronounced it “an electrified wonder.”
This week, Forbes contributor Alistair Charlton reviewed the Polestar 2, the first fully electric car from the brand. His conclusion? “This is the way electric cars should be.” Why is that? Because he says the Polestar 2 seems to be a fully sorted electric car with excellent power and range and attractive styling that is modern without being too futuristic.
The Polestar 2 comes with a 78kWh battery and dual motors that combine for 408 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque. 0 to 60 sprints take 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 127 mph. Oddly, the battery is not mounted flat underneath the floor but is a T shaped affair packed into the center tunnel and under the rear seats. Some may remember this is how Chevrolet packaged the battery in the Volt. Charlton says the arrangement makes the center tunnel higher than normal but makes a perfect place to rest an elbow while operating the center touchscreen.
Range is 292 miles using the WLTP test cycle (275 miles EPA). In comparison, the standard Tesla Model 3 manages 254 miles (WLTP) while the Long Range version extends this to 348 miles. So the Model 3 Long Range has a range advantage. It also has a price advantage, listing in the US for $46,990 versus $63,000 for the Polestar 2.
Charlton feels the Polestar 2 has all the performance and range most buyers will ever need. But in case they need to recharge away from home, an RFID in the key fob connects them to over 200,000 chargers in the UK and Europe via the PlugSurfing network. He was most impressed with the large touchscreen mounted in the portrait position in the center of the dashboard. The Polestar 2 is the first production car to feature Android Automotive. Charlton gives it high marks for ease of use, particularly the voice command function built in. Apple CarPlay is coming soon. Like most modern electric cars, the Polestar 2 can be updated wirelessly over the air.
One curiosity is a performance package that features larger Brembo brakes and Ohlins dampers with 22 possible settings, from extra firm to ultra plush. The only problem is, the dampers need to be adjusted manually from outside the car, a chore most owners won’t be inclined to do often, if ever.
Charlton sums up his driving experience this way: “Polestar’s first attempt at a mass-production car — and an all-electric one at that — is something the company should be immensely proud of. Although subjective, I think the design is among the best on sale today, across any category, while the interior is cleverly designed, and the Android infotainment system is a lesson for the entire industry to follow. The car has all the performance you’ll ever realistically need, with sufficient range, plentiful seating for four (three in the back might be a squeeze), and ample storage.”
He takes a swipe at Tesla, offering his opinion that “Driving a Tesla can sometimes feel like beta testing a future product. With their constantly evolving Autopilot, numerous apps, and regularly updated software, they feel like an early preview of what the future of the car might be.
“For some drivers, and technology fans especially, that is exactly what they want. But for everyone else, the Polestar 2 offers a finished product. There are no video games and gimmicks, no emphasis on a work-in-progress autonomous driving system, and no sense that the driver is being forced to comply with a single-minded view of what the future should look like. By which I mean, the wipers aren’t inexplicably controlled by a touchscreen like they are in the Model 3.”
In his review, Charlton makes no mention of an autonomous driving system, but Engadget reported recently that the Polestar 2 will come with Volvo’s Pilot Assist system which can control “acceleration, braking, and steering when driving at up to 81 miles per hour. The exact mechanisms that will help aid in driver and passenger safety aren’t clear, but the technology should at least help prevent collisions on highways, and help drivers stop short if they don’t see a road hazard.” Hmmm….sure doesn’t seem like the equal of Autopilot, at least not yet.
Still, Volvo has a well deserved reputation for building super safe automobiles with a fit and finish equal to the best luxury vehicles. Choosing between a Polestar 2 and a Tesla may not be easy, but that’s why the ice cream industry makes chocolate and vanilla. People like choices and for that reason alone, the Polestar 2 should be a success in the marketplace.