Polestar 2 review
The Polestar 2 is here to rival the Tesla Model 3. It looks great, drives nicely and has a superb interior, but a Tesla Model 3 is more affordable and can go further on a charge.
What's not so good
Polestar 2: what would you like to read next?
The Polestar 2 is a five-door hatchback electric car capable of almost 300 miles on a charge. Polestar is an EV-focused offshoot of Volvo, and this is its first serious attempt at giving Tesla something to worry about as the Polestar 2 is going head-to-head with the Tesla Model 3.
But while the Model 3 is strutting around like a peacock with its whoopee-cushion seats, the Polestar 2 is eagle-like: cool, understated but with more than enough power in reserve to thrill should you need it too.
That Scandinavian chic is evident outside, where the 2 has simple but bold lines, including its Volvo-style Thor-hammer LED daytime running lights at the front and its rear light bar borrowed from RoboCop. It looks taller than a typical hatchback, thanks to a black strip that runs along its sills and over its wheelarches.
If you’d missed it outside, Polestar’s ties with Volvo are more evident inside. The steering wheel and some switches are shared, but the 2 does have its own unique feel and importantly the quality you come to expect from Volvo is very much intact. Here, the Polestar has Tesla beaten – it feels like it’ll last longer.
The star of the show is that iPad-like screen propped up against the dash. It controls everything from the stereo to the heating and the navigation and is nicer to use than Volvo’s system, with cleaner graphics. It’s snappy in operation and is easy to follow, although Apple CarPlay won’t be available until after the car’s launch, so it’s just Android Auto from now.
Don't expect your Polestar 2 to come with gimmicks like a Tesla Model 3, it's cooler than that. It costs more, though, and has a shorter range.
Volvo knows a thing or two about great seats and Polestar has borrowed a wonderfully supportive set in the front. Space is generous upfront too and that also goes for the back, where a couple of adults will have no trouble getting comfy as long as they aren’t freakishly tall. That said, three adults of any size will struggle to side-by-side in comfort.
The Polestar 2’s boot has decent access with its hatch boot lid, but the bottom line is that you’ll get slightly more stuff in a Tesla Model 3. There’s also a small storage area at the front, but again, the Tesla’s one is slightly bigger.
The Tesla Model 3 is a quicker electric car and also has a better range than the Polestar’s 292 miles. Still, the Polestar 2 is hardly slow – it’ll still crack the sprint to 62mph in just 4.7 seconds and feels extremely fast in and out of town. It even handles pretty sharply, too, feeling quite agile for such a heavy car.
However, the ride isn’t as good as some of the most comfortable electric cars, like the Jaguar I-Pace. Models equipped with the Performance Pack get adjustable Ohlins dampers, but they’re set up to make the ride quite harsh from the off, and it never becomes soft even by adjusting them. Better to opt for a standard car without the Performance Pack, as the ride is a fair bit more comfortable over bumps and it doesn’t sacrifice too much in the corners.
Charging a Polestar 2 takes as little at 40mins, but you’ll need a public 150kw charger for that. Via a typical home wall box it’ll take more like 8hrs at a cost of around £11. That’s some £20 cheaper than fuelling the average petrol car over the same distance.
So, the Polestar 2 doesn’t have quite the headline figures or driving experience of the Tesla Model 3, and it costs more to buy, but it’s still a seriously credible electric car that manages to be classier inside and out.
The Polestar 2 is spacious inside and access is decent, but a Tesla Model 3 has a bigger boot
There’s lots of room in the front of the Polestar, with plenty of adjustment in the comfy seats and a nice armrest in the centre console. In the back there’s more than enough knee room for adults, and you can stretch out under the front seat.
The seats are well placed and there’s good thigh support. Unlike in some EVs there’s a lump in the middle of the floor that makes the middle seat only suitable for small children, and sadly headroom isn’t a strong point in the back of the Polestar 2 either. A Tesla Model 3 has more, but the Polestar is still roomy enough for most families.
There’s a centre armrest that folds out from the centre seat, plus Isofix slots in the back seats as well as the front passenger seat, so plenty of room for child seats. There are also two USB-C charging points for the front and two for the rear seats, perfect for topping phone batteries up on a long trip.
The Polestar 2 has a central armrest with a cubby for a few items, plus a large cupholder in front – though that restricts use of the armrest if you use it for a bottle or cup. The glovebox is of an average size, and it includes a cloth for cleaning fingerprints off the infotainment screen.
You can just about fit a big water bottle in the front door bins, and there are even some extra cubbies in the sides of the centre console, which are useful for some small items. You can just about squeeze the big bottle into the rear bins, but it’s tight.
The Polestar 2 comes with a hands-free boot opening function as standard – just wave your foot under the rear bumper and it should pop open. Once it’s open, there’s 405 litres of space available there, which is less than a Tesla Model 3 has, but still a decent amount.
The hatchback tailgate means the opening is nice and big, so it’s easier to load stuff in and take heavy items out. Storage nets and straps help secure items, and there’s a fold-up divider for the luggage space too. There’s a ski-hatch for long items as well.
You can fold the seats down for a long, flat low load area totalling 1,095 litres. There’s also a front boot, or frunk, but it’s rather small, only about 35 litres – which is enough for the charging cables but not much else.
The Polestar 2 is rapid and sharp to drive, but it’s a little firm over bumps especially if you add the Performance Pack option
There are two electric motors in the Polestar 2, which means it’s four-wheel drive. These motors produce 408hp and 660Nm of torque. That means it can do 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds, which isn’t close to a Tesla Model 3 Performance – yet it’s still rapid and feels very fast on the road. The Polestar is somewhere between the Model 3 Performance and Long Range models in terms of straight-line pace.
All that torque makes overtaking, but doing this will use a lot of energy. There’s a claimed range of 292 miles from the batteries on board, but during our real-world test we worked out that it should take you about 222 miles on a single charge.
In town, the Polestar 2 is really easy to drive. In fact, the regenerative braking system means you don’t have to use the brake pedal much at all. Lift off the accelerator and it automatically starts to put energy back into the battery, slowing you down as it does so.
You can alter how forceful the regeneration is, and dial it up so that you can actually bring the car to a standstill without really touching the brake pedal at all. Or, you can have it switched off completely. The Polestar is sharp to drive but not all that fun.
There are two versions when it comes to suspension – the standard version or models with the Performance Pack, which adds Ohlins suspension that’s adjustable. Both are firm, but the latter is worse and not worth opting for as it can be quite uncomfortable in the stiffer settings. The normal version is more comfortable all-round.
Visibility isn’t very good but there’s a 360-degree camera that is a huge help for parking. You can also change the gearbox setting to have the car creep forward when you’re not on the brakes – like a regular automatic car would; or you can make it sit still until you tap the throttle pedal.
On the motorway the Polestar 2 is far more relaxing and comfortable. It’s quiet inside and there’s only a bit of wind noise. Cruise control works really well and it even auto steers to keep you in your lane.
The Polestar 2’s interior is upmarket and high quality, with a minimalist feel similar to Volvo models and loads of hi-tech equipment