Polestar 2 review (2021): The all-electric muscle car

The Polestar 2 is an all-electric five-door saloon that takes aim at the Tesla Model 3; it’s stylish, has excellent safety credentials, offers autonomous driving, has a quoted range of 292 miles and is rapid, where it’ll get to 62mph from a standstill in a quoted 4.7 seconds.

For those unaware, Polestar is a subsidiary of the Volvo brand. Its history can be traced back to 1996, where it operated under the name of Flash Engineering. The racing team then got sold to Volvo in 2005 and was renamed to Polestar Racing. It then underwent another name change in 2015 and now operates under Cyan Racing. This is of relevance as Christian Dahl, the team principal owner, also sold the Polestar road decision to Volvo when his racing team got renamed in 2015.

Volvo in itself has also undergone different ownership, wherein 2010 it was sold to Chinese automotive manufacturing company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd (ZGH); also known as Geely. Indeed, both Volvo and Polestar brands are in-part or wholly manufactured in China, where there’s a large demand for premium all-electric vehicles.

Polestar was often seen as the ‘performance’ line within Volvo’s fleet, and while this remains true to the present day, it became its own brand in 2017, which spawned the creation of the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1, and the fully electric Polestar 2, which is on review.

If you’d prefer to watch a review of the Polestar 2, head on over to our YouTube channel.

Polestar 2 price & competition

At the time of writing, the Polestar 2 qualifies for the UK Government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PICG), where it knocks £3,000 off the asking price as the car retails for under £50,000. These are narrow margins, as in the UK, the Polestar 2 costs £49,900 and with the PICG lowers this figure to £46,900.

Despite the welcome reduction, the Polestar 2 remains one of the most expensive all-electric saloons in its category. By comparison, the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (278 miles) starts from £40,490, while the Long Range (360 miles) variant costs £46,990. Equally, the VW ID.3 Pro Performance Tour (336 miles) costs £39,290, where the ID.3 Life Pro, which offers less range (263 miles) and has lower power output, can be found for just £28,670.

Polestar 2 review

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Elsewhere, there’s the sporty BMW i3 at £39,690; the Hyundai Ioniq Electric at £30,950; the spacious Renault Zoe from £26,995; the comfy Nissan Leaf at £26,845; the tech-focused Honda e at £26,660; the familiar-looking Vauxhall Corsa-e at £26,640; the stylish Mini Electric at £24,900; the bite-sized Volkswagen e-up! starts from £20,555 with its near-identical sibling, the Seat Mii Electric, coming in at £19,800; and the cheapest and most compact EV on the market, the Smart fortwo coupé, will set you back £17,550.

Polestar 2 customisation

When it comes to configuring the Polestar 2, it is much like the Tesla equivalent, as there are only a handful of options to choose from, which makes the decision process straightforward.

As standard, the Polestar 2 comes with the following options:

  • 2 electric motors that produce up to 300 kW (402 hp) of power, 660 Nm of torque and get the car up to 62mph in 4.7s
  • A 78 kWh battery pack rated to run for 292 miles on a single charge (WLTP test cycle)
  • 19″ 5-V Spoke Black Diamond Cut alloys
  • Panorama glass roof with projected Polestar symbol
  • Pixel LED headlights with proximity lights
  • Frameless exterior mirrors with autodim and folding function
  • Electronically adjustable front seats with lumbar support
  • Front and rear heated seats
  • Heated wiper blades and steering wheel
  • Weave Tech (Charcoal or Slate) vegan seats and recycled wood interior trim
  • 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system
  • 15W wireless charging pad
  • 4 USB-C connectors (two front and two back)
  • Infotainment powered by Android Automotive OS
  • Pilot Assist
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • 360° cameras

Elsewhere, the Polestar 2 comes with a 3-year warranty (or 60,000 miles, whoever comes first) for faulty materials or manufacturing issues. It also has an 8-year (or 100,000 miles) battery warranty and even a 12-year corrosion warranty – handy for those who live in Norway.

The car comes in a black colour, which Polestar has coined as ‘Void’. If you’d like it in Snow (white), Magnesium (light grey), Moon (bronze), Midnight (blue) or the pictured Thunder (dark grey) it’ll cost £900.

Polestar 2

The 19″ 5-V Spoke Black Diamond Cut alloys can be upgraded to 20″ 4-V Spoke Black Diamond Cut alloys for £900, too. That is, however, if you don’t opt for the Performance Pack that comes with 20″ 4-Y Spoke Black Polished forged alloys as standard. This pack also adds manually-adjustable Öhlins Dual Flow valves dampers, 4-piston front-mounted Brembo brakes, gold valve caps and seat belts and a high-gloss black roof segment. The pack costs £5,000 – we’ll get onto if it’s worth its asking price later down in this review.

If you’d like a semi-electric tow bar installed, it’ll cost £1,000. It’ll give you a max towing capacity of 1500 kg, where the max towing for an unbraked trailer is 750 kg.

Polestar 2 electric tailgate

As for the interior, it’s refreshing to see Polestar has used vegan materials and recycled wood to complete the finish. If, however, you prefer Nappa leather, it’s available in a cream colour as a £4,000 option.

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Polestar 2 exterior review

As one might note, there’s very little option to customise the vehicle’s appearance, but there’s good reason – it looks absolutely spectacular. Aesthetically, we think the Polestar 2 is among the best-looking vehicles on the road; let alone when it’s pitted against some of its all-electric rivals.

The entire vehicle, to us, looks like a cross between a modern Volvo saloon and an American muscle car. The front is reminiscent of the Volvo S60, where the cut-off front bumper and T-shaped Pixel LED headlights give the vehicle a modern yet sporty vibe. The same could be said about the front bumper, which has a slight lip giving the car a more aggressive stance on the road.

This design philosophy also extends toward the side of the car, where the 19″ or pictured 20″ alloys add an even sportier look. Plastic wheel arches and sideskirts run across the vehicle, but don’t detract from the vehicle’s design. The manufacturer has even thought about the side mirrors, which have got a frameless design.

At the rear, it’s as if the Polestar design team has taken inspiration from a Dodge Charger but given it a modern twist. The taillights protrude from the car’s chassis and run across the entirety of the boot in a stylish fashion. It’s got a muscular look and one that sets itself apart from its EV counterparts, namely the Tesla Model 3, which has been described by many to have a fish-like design.

The Polestar 2 is also attractive from above, where it has a large panoramic glass roof with a black tint. However, there’s no retractable sunshade within the cabin, which could pose a problem for those living in hotter climates. On the plus side, the automaker has squeezed in a projection of the Polestar logo on the roof. It can’t be seen by the front occupants, but makes for a classy look from above or for those sitting in the rear.

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There is, however, a design element that we find quite odd: there’s a removable sticker located on each of the front doors, something that comes plastered on every new purchase or lease. It’s baffling as to why the manufacturer has chosen to keep this sticker on its vehicle, as it detracts from the car’s otherwise flawless design.

Polestar 2 sticker

While the stickers are removable, the car’s remote cannot be changed; at least, not in a physical format. The small wireless rectangular-shaped device feels flimsy and cheap. It certainly doesn’t look like a key that one would associate with a £50 grand car. In fact, we’d go as far as saying we’d not expect a car that costs a fifth of its price to come with such a cheap-feeling remote.

Thankfully, you’ll soon be able to use your smartphone to unlock the vehicle. Through Polestar’s ‘Digital Key’ app, you’ll be able to perform locking and unlocking functions; as one can do with the automaker’s flagship vehicle, the Polestar 1.

Another potential annoyance for aspiring customers is the removal of a rear boot release button. While this function can be completed via a button on the physical remote, through a button found by the driver’s side, or via a Kick Function, it might leave a few ostracized.

There were a few instances where we found ourselves ‘locked out’ of the rear: if you have the front doors open and the vehicle turned on, you’ll be unable to access the boot via the Kick Function. Instead, you’ll need to use the remote or the button located within the cabin to release the boot. One can only assume this was done to prevent people from unintentionally (or forcefully) opening the car’s boot without the owner’s permission.

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Polestar 2 interior and Android Automotive review

Transitioning inside the cabin, one can see many similarities to Volvo cars, as the Polestar 2 has a Scandinavian-inspired design. Take for example the centre console, it’s symmetrical, minimalistic and has a stylish gear selector that has an illuminated Polestar logo; it’s not overly complicated nor void of any physical controls either, making for an intuitive experience.

While the centre console dominates the front of the cabin, it does blend with the rest of the vehicle’s muscular exterior design and makes room for the 11.15″ display that’s planted at the centre of the dashboard.

The infotainment system gives you the ability to adjust the climate controls, tinker with the vehicle’s driving settings and also integrates Android Automotive. Indeed, the Polestar 2 is the first car to fully utilise Google’s services, where it natively supports Google Maps, Google Play and Google Assistant, the latter is arguably the best virtual assistant any company has to offer – you can ask it any question and it’ll pick up on your voice (and accent) and provide an answer from Google Search.

Polestar 2 Automotive OS

Its integration isn’t like Android Auto, which you can find on many other vehicles but rather serves a purpose in performing hands-free operations. For example, you can alter the fan speed or climate controls by saying: “Hey Google, turn the fan up to max” or “Hey Google, turn up the temperature by one” – it works flawlessly and in real-time.

These features might seem a bit trivial, but one can’t ignore its excellent integration with Google Maps. Apart from being one of the best navigation apps in the world, the vehicle also feeds battery data to the infotainment system; this allows you to better plan your journeys and even gives routing suggestions should the car’s battery level fall below a certain threshold – for example, it can add a stop at charge point that’s along the route.

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It also calculates the amount of battery consumption should you undertake a certain route. In our example, we had 76% remaining charge and with our 13-mile trip, Google Maps indicated our estimate time of arrival and the remaining charge we would have upon reaching our destination – in this instant, 70%.

To even better the experience, Google Maps also integrates itself with the instrument cluster. Again, unlike its Android Auto compatriots, it doesn’t simply show an arrow but also displays a fully-fledged horizontal iteration of Google Maps through the 12.3″ display.

Should you prefer not to use Google Maps, one can opt for an advanced or basic overview of the vehicle’s key information. While it isn’t customisable, it’s extremely well laid out and serves its purpose.

The main takeaway here is that Android Automotive OS is the best infotainment system we’ve ever come across. It integrates everything that we need and also promises to deliver over-the-air (OTA) updates for a lifetime, keeping it looking fresh and modern. It’s extremely fluid and has a beautifully laid-out menu that’s seamlessly been integrated with Polestar’s design language.

The only issue, however, is that if you don’t like Google’s services nor want it to track your whereabouts, you won’t have the option to disable them. One can remove the “Hey Google” voice wake-up command, but that’s about it. Buying a Polestar 2, is similar to using one of Google’s services, which some people might not like to buy into.

On that subject, Apple CarPlay wasn’t supported at the time of testing, however, is set to come out later in 2021. As such, current Polestar 2 owners who use an iPhone will only have the ability to connect to the infotainment system over Bluetooth, where they can synchronise their contacts and use it to wirelessly playback music.

Here, the vehicle supports both the SBC and AAC codecs, with the latter offering superior wireless transmission quality over the former codec; a welcome sign for Apple users too, as iPhones, iPads and iPods natively use the AAC codec. Audio wise, the Polestar 2 houses a 13-speaker 600-watt Harman Kardon system as standard, which to our ears, is the best audio system one can get in a sub-£50,000 all-electric vehicle. If you’d like to hear how it performs, watch our detailed review on YouTube.

To control your media, one can do it via the multitouch 11.15″ display or through a set of media keys found on the right-hand side of the steering wheel. Here, you’ll also find cruise control buttons on the left-hand side.

In terms of connectivity, there are two USB Type-C ports found at the front and two that reside at the back. At the front of the cabin, you’ll also find a wireless charging pad for smartphones, which can deliver up to 15 Watts of power; though, we did find it to work intermittently with our Samsung Galaxy S10+.

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Polestar 2 storage review

Moving onto storage, the Polestar 2 has a few places to store valuables around the cabin. There is a slit on either side of the centre console, which allows you to store loose change or a smartphone.

Within the armrest located by the centre console, you’ll also find a small compartment. However, this will only be large enough to store a medium-sized wallet; a purse will have to be placed in the glove compartment or within the front doors, where one can also fit a 500ml bottle. The rear doors are a little more restricted and will fit a smartphone or a wallet/small-sized purse.

There are two cupholder spaces by the centre console too: one in plain sight, the other is found within the armrest. Here, the armrest has a sliding function that allows for those with longer arms to sit comfortably. However, we did find that if you have a strong arm it’ll slide without much resistance as there’s no locking mechanism to keep it in place.

As mentioned further up, accessing the boot can be hard for those who are used to a traditional release button, but getting used to the Kick Function doesn’t take much practice and makes for an intuitive hands-free experience. As you can imagine, the Polestar 2’s boot is actuated electronically.

In terms of boot capacity, there’s 405 litres, where this figure also take into account a 41-litre underfloor storage compartment. Pop the seats down and you get a flat loading bay with 1,095 litres of usable space – 1,054 without the underfloor part.

Here’s how it stacks up to its competitors: Nissan Leaf (435/1,161 litres); Hyundai Ioniq Electric (357 /1,417 litres); VW ID.3 (385/1,267 litres); Renault Zoe (338/1,225 litres); Vauxhall Corsa-e (267/1,076 litres); VW e-up! (251/951 litres); Seat Mii Electric (251/923 litres); Mini Electric (211/731); Honda e (171/571 litres); Smart fortwo coupé (260/350 litres).

While the Polestar 2’s rear boot isn’t as big as its rivals, it does offer a practical hatchback design that makes it easier to access over the likes of the Tesla Model 3. It also has a vertical divider that props up to prevent luggage or smaller weekly shops – where there are fewer grocery bags – from flying around. Lashing points, hangers and a 12V socket also make for a bettered experience when transporting goods.

There’s also a 35-litre front boot (frunk) compartment that offers just enough space for a set of charging cables. We did find that accessing the frunk is a little unintuitive. To do so, you need to pull a lever found at the front of the cabin; much like opening the engine compartment of an ICE-based vehicle. Closing it isn’t easy either, as you’ll need to apply substantial force to ensure it closes properly. It’s also very loud when slammed shut, which isn’t ideal if you store the charging cables within the frunk and regularly charge at night – it might disturb your neighbours.

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Polestar 2 comfort review

While closing the frunk isn’t the most comforting sound, you’ll be pleased to know that the Polestar 2’s cabin is well insulated. At a standstill, there’s very little exterior noise that can be heard, although, this changes when you hit the road as tyre noise creeps in, namely when going at speed.

Speaking of which, we did find it odd that the sound system dips its playback audio volume when the car is brought to snail speed. As soon as you lift off the brake pedal or make a getaway at the lights, the audio system automatically ramps up. We couldn’t find an option to disable this behaviour, where it detracts from the overall Harman Kardon experience. We suspect that this might be due to safety reasons, as it allows you to hear your surroundings.

Onto the seats, they’re a little firm but do still provide a comfortable experience. The front two are fully electronically adjustable and better still, can be reclined all the way back for you to sleep on or to gaze at the stars through the panoramic glass roof.

It’s also rare to see touch-activated interior lighting; a small feature that makes interaction more intuitive. What isn’t as instinctive, however, is the limitation of movement with the rear windows – they stop two-thirds down.

Elsewhere, the Polestar 2 has a pressure sensor that’s located within the driver’s seat – a feature we found present in the VW ID.3 – this is used to make driving a breeze, where there’s no start/stop button. While this does aid single-use driving, it does pose a problem for those who regularly transport family or friends. If, for example, the driver is to leave the vehicle, and occupants choose to remain seated at the rear, they’ll be treated to no infotainment system nor climate controls – not ideal if you have kids and want to quickly pop to the newsagents.

In terms of seating, the Polestar 2 will cater for up to five occupants, and should you not use the rear middle seat, it can be brought down to act as an armrest. Here, you’ll also find two cupholder spaces.

Polestar 2 rear window

As for legroom, it’s plentiful both at the front and at the rear of the cabin whereby up to 6-foot 4-inches (193cm) individuals can stretch their legs. The same couldn’t be said about headroom, which is limited at the rear. Such individuals will have to slouch or sit a little more uncomfortably. Getting in and out of the front of the vehicle could also pose a problem for those with longer legs or those who are of a larger build. This comes after the dashboard design makes for a somewhat sharp edge that protrudes at its extremities.

On the plus side, the vehicle’s driving height is perfect. The driver’s seat isn’t propped up and can be brought down to racing-car levels – a nod to Polestar’s history of racing in touring car championships.

Visibility is also excellent throughout the cabin, where even the wing mirrors have a smaller footprint due to having a borderless design. The mirrors also play a role when parking the vehicle, as both can be tilted downwards; most manufacturers have the option for the passenger-side mirror, only.

The aid of 360-degree cameras, and the inclusion of front and rear parking sensors also make it easier to fit into a tight parking space. The vivid 11.15″ infotainment system displays this information and makes it easy to glance at your surroundings.

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Polestar 2 performance review

Indeed, the Polestar 2 has excellent visibility and a fantastic riding height. But what about its suspension? Our vehicle had the Performance Pack, which adds Öhlins Dual Flow valve dampers – naturally, you’d think they can be adjusted through the infotainment system, but that’s not the case with the Polestar 2. Should you wish to tailor the dampers, you’ll need to get your hands dirty and adjust all four manually; a task you’d not expect to do in a modern vehicle.

Nevertheless, we suspect most won’t need or want a stiffened suspension as we feel its best suited for track use only. For everyday commutes or even spirited country road driving, we’d suggest leaving the dampers at their standard level or indeed, not opting for the £5,000 Performance Pack at all. The Polestar 2’s suspension still won’t be as soft as the one found on the Tesla Model 3 or VW ID.3, but still results in a great all-round experience.

Polestar 2 rims

With the dampers set to their default level, we found ourselves extremely impressed by the vehicle’s handling characteristics, namely around country roads. The Polestar 2, which operates on an all-wheel-drive system, doesn’t suffer from body roll, gives you plenty of confidence while cornering, and with its 51% front and 49% rear weight distribution, results in an excellent driving experience.

One can also easily stiffen up the steering at the touch of a button. There are three modes to choose from: Light, Standard and Firm. Each of them does exactly what it says and immediately affects the driver’s feel.

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Braking is similarly fantastic, although, we had the 4-piston front-mounted Brembo brakes installed on our vehicle, as it’s part of the Performance Pack. We do find it odd, however, that the vehicle didn’t have Brembo brakes at the back.

Polestar 2 car

Speaking of performance, the car has two identical motors, one per axle that combined output 300 kW (408 hp) of power and 660 Nm of torque. Top speed is limited to 127mph. In our 0-60mph tests using Racelogic’s Vbox Sport, we found the Polestar 2 regularly managed a time of 4.68 seconds; an impressive number that doesn’t require a set ‘Ludicrous Mode’ or ‘Launch Control’ to be enabled, or even require you to have a cooldown period.

Of course, doing this regularly will have an impact on the overall driving range – as is the case with any fully electric or petrol/diesel vehicle. If you don’t regularly launch the vehicle, you might still be disappointed by the vehicle’s all-electric range. Here, the manufacturer claims its 78 kWh battery pack will achieve 292 miles on the WLTP test cycle, but in our mixed driving tests, we found this figure sat closer to the 200-mile mark. If one were to drive conservatively within inner-city routes and with the climate controls disabled you might be able to reach squeeze up to 250 miles of range.

Polestar 2 charge

Your mileage may vary, but in the very same tests, we found the £29,990 VW ID.3 with its smaller 58 kWh battery pack, achieved a far more impressive 230 miles. Likewise, the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe both manage 200 miles, and the larger-sized Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric extract a staggering 240-260 miles from their 64 kWh battery packs.

While we’re yet to put the Tesla Model 3 Long Range through its paces, the £46,990 model has a claimed WLTP rating of 360 miles, which should yield a far superior result. Ultimately, the Polestar 2 is outclassed in range by its Tesla rival and matched by far cheaper alternatives from Volkwagen, Nissan and Renault; let alone if you look at larger-sized SUVs that cost less than £38,500.

Polestar 2 plug car

On a more positive note, the regenerative braking modes make for an excellent experience. There are three to choose from: Off, Low and Standard. The latter option is the most aggressive, where it’ll allow you to effectively drive with the accelerator pedal only. The level of braking in this mode is harsh and might be odd for new EV drivers, but thankfully one can easily adjust the regenerative braking level through the infotainment system.

As for recharging, the Polestar 2 supports up to 150 kW of input, allowing you to go from 0-80% charge in 40 minutes. Opt for a 50 kW rapid charger and this figure goes up to 80 minutes. If you don’t have access to a CCS port and only have a wallbox or public charger with a Type 2 output, it’ll take up to 11 hours to charge from empty to full on a 7 kW input. The car also supports a 3-phase 11 kW input, which brings this time down to 7 hours.

It’s great to see a multitude of charging options, but it’s yet again beaten in this department by its rival, Tesla, who offers up to a 250 kW input if you find a V3 Supercharging station.

Another department where Tesla matches the Polestar 2 is in its safety credentials. Both vehicles managed to achieve a five-star rating in Euro NCAP’s testing methodology. Here, the Polestar 2 scored 92% in Adult Occupancy, 89% in Child Occupancy, 80% in Vulnerable Road User testing and 86% in Safety Assist systems. By comparison, the Model 3 achieved 96%, 86%, 74% and 94%, respectively.

While we can’t affirm to these crash tests, we did find ourselves impressed by the number of safety features that come as standard: Adaptive Cruise Control; Blind Spot Information System with steering support; Cross Traffic Alert with brake support; Rear Collision Warning and mitigation; Collision avoidance and mitigation by braking and steering; Run off road mitigation; Forward collision warning; Driver Alert system; Road Sign Information and Lane Keeping Aid. The latter was particularly impressive on both rural and motorway roads, where it would keep the vehicle planted at the centre of the lane, without suffering from this bouncing effect that plagues some other vehicles on the market.

Polestar 2 rear

You can’t quite take your hands off the wheel, however, as the Polestar 2 doesn’t have the same level of autonomous driving technology as its Tesla counterpart. Truthfully, in the UK, most won’t benefit from this feature anyway, as it’s best suited for longer-distance motorway driving, which seems more applicable in the States.

Our biggest complaint when it comes to its safety features is the lack of a Head Up Display (HUD) – a feature we adore seeing on Volvo vehicles and would have liked to have seen on the Polestar 2; after all, the technology is there from the manufacturer, it just hasn’t been implemented.

Polestar 2 review

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TotallyEV’s verdict on the Polestar 2

The Polestar 2 ticks a lot of boxes: it’s supremely stylish, offers a plethora of features, is fun to drive with a fantastic driver’s feel and has a class-leading infotainment system that utilises Google’s services.

There is one underlining issue, however: its all-electric driving range. At the current asking price of £46,900, there are better alternatives out there from a multitude of manufacturers; its closest rival is the Tesla Model 3, which offers a very likened experience at £40,490 for the Standard Range Plus and should you wish to spend closer to the £50k mark, you can get the more rapid (0-60mph in 4.2s) and Long Range (360 miles) variant for £46,990.

While the Polestar 2 is an excellent all-rounder, it is, ultimately too expensive to get our wholehearted recommendation. Of course, these are our thoughts on the car, so we’d love to hear yours through the comments section below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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