YPSILANTI, Mich. – For some of us, it’s easy to get excited about new electric vehicles, even if they’re not overly fancy, fast, or groundbreaking. We can easily forgive a Bolt for its hum-drum interior, the Kona Electric for its quirk, or the Model 3 for its panel vents. So when a new electric car comes along that’s completely fresh inside and out, with a stylish look, graciously easy-to-use technology, and excellent driving dynamics, it puts those other electric cars that we thought we liked in a new light.
The exterior appearance does not resonate with everyone’s personal taste, but it is a successful performance anyway. The body is large and angular, which no doubt appears muscular, with a slender chest atop the high girdle. There is no frills here – no chrome, no cool fender flares, obnoxious spoilers, diffusers, splitters or lines for the sake of lines. Even the graphics are very understated, with a body-colored Polestar logo on the nose and trunk. The world “Polestar” appears in fine print in the headlamp module, and on tiny (removable) stickers on the underside of the front doors, which also show battery capacity and power (in kilowatts). If you’re into Swedish minimalism in a sweltering mood, close squinted eyes with the Polestar 2 and let it soak up.
Our tester looks slick and smart on the inside. We are not only immediately in love with the design, but also with the material choices. An option of nappa leather is available, but the vegan interior would be what we would choose. High-quality “Weavetech” fabric adorns the seats, of course, but the thick strip that stretches across the dashboard behind the 11-inch infotainment touchscreen is what keeps us in the eye. Presenting a material in such a way is a bold choice, but with the help of the matching recycled black ash finish, the Polestar 2 gets it right. We don’t see much of the 13 Harman Kardon speakers, most of them hidden behind dust. The bright gold seat belts contrast with the otherwise Stygian cabin. The gigantic shadowless tinted glass roof was hard to notice from the outside, but it’s not to be missed if you’re inside. It puts us all in the mood to drive fast.
As we drive up the road and sneak along the railroad tracks like a stray cat on the prowl, the electric pulse from the turn signal makes our own heartbeat speed up. We quietly sneak out of town to find an open piece of winding road. The throttle feels natural in the city – not muffled, but you can tell it serves as a dam behind which a fury of electrons is waiting to be released. We start our corner on a familiar road and roll on the right pedal. The Continental SportContact6 rubber bites the pavement, giving only the faintest meows, and we plow our foot to the ground at the end of our turn.
Our guts meet our spines and our eyeballs just start to feel like they’re floating in our heads, while the Polestar 2’s dual electric motors motivate all four wheels with a demanding whine. We experience most of the 408 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque. With no shifts, there is no restraint in power until power diminishes at higher revs. Polestar claims a 0-60 miles per hour time of 4.45 seconds, but unless you’re really counting it feels faster, especially when your goggles fly off your crown. We are a dark haze, human and machine, a sinister dyad cutting a path between green fields under a blue and white sky.
The Polestar quickly sorts itself as an electric performance machine. It’s an aquavit-infused answer to the traditional muscular sedan, but without exhaust emissions. It uses two 204 horsepower electric motors – one on each axle – giving it all-wheel drive and 487 pound-feet of direct torque. The liquid-cooled battery pack offers a usable capacity of 75 kilowatt hours (actual capacity is 78 kWh), giving an expected EPA range in the middle of 200 miles. Our tester has the Performance package, a $ 5,000 option with four-piston Brembo calipers and drilled discs, 20-inch lightweight alloy wheels wrapped in the aforementioned Continental rubber, and manually adjustable Öhlins dampers.
Acceleration tears are a great warm-up, but the more curvy the road, the more fun this car is. With all-wheel drive, 51/49 front / rear weight distribution, a low center of gravity and effective torque vectoring based on braking, the Polestar 2 pulls itself through an aggressive corner with minimal understeer and just the right amount of audible communication from the tires. With its Öhlins dampers in the middle of their 22 hardness settings, it usually complies, but a little on the hard side if you hit a bump in the middle of the corner.
There are no pre-programmed driving modes, but there are a number of settings that can be adjusted within the infotainment system. The electric power steering has three positions – we were in favor of firm. You can disable stability control. Then there are two EV-specific settings. The ‘One pedal drive’ setting can be turned to normal – basically allowing you to do most rides without touching the brake pedal – low for less regeneration feel, or off if you’d rather walk away like a boring old combustion engine car. Finally, you can turn the creep on or off to make it move slowly forward when your foot is not on the brake or not.
Notably, the Polestar 2 is the first car to implement Google’s Android Automotive operating system. The result is an infotainment user interface that is robust, streamlined, connected and much easier to use than Volvo’s Sensus system. Your author, an Android novice, was quickly enamored with it. It uses Google Maps navigation, Google Play to access third party apps and Google Assistant for voice commands. The latter is particularly impressive and recognizes commands spoken in natural language much better than Apple’s Siri or most OEM systems. Not that we ever got bored driving the Polestar, but if we did we could spend hours asking Google about just about anything. Die-hard Apple users can enjoy wireless CarPlay when it is added via a wireless update early next year.
The digital dashboard puts the most important information right in front of you on a clear screen, reducing any hurt feelings from the omission of a head-up display (and we feel perfectly happy not in a Tesla Model 3). ). The Polestar 2 borrows its Pilot Assist suite of advanced Volvo driver assistance systems. This includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Keeping Assist, features that worked well on our non-rush hour highway journeys. We didn’t have to put the numerous active or passive safety features to the test, but it is certain that the Polestar 2 inherits technology from Volvo’s decades as a leader in safety. Finally, the Polestar allows you to use your phone as a key, a small favor to our overflowing pockets.
The Polestar 2 starts at a base price of $ 61,200 (including a destination of $ 1,300) for the Launch Edition, the only edition for the first model year. This also applies to the Pilot (driver assist) and Plus (luxury) packages. The Performance package costs an additional $ 5,000. All but the “Void” black exterior color costs an additional $ 1,200, and the nappa leather interior costs $ 4,000. If you want to upgrade from 19- to 20-inch wheels without the Performance package, that’s a $ 1,200 option. It qualifies for the full $ 7,500 EV tax credit in the United States.
The first US-bound Polestar 2s are on boats going to ports, with deliveries starting in late September. After spending a few hours practicing harmless dark magic with this all-electric, no-nonsense phantom, we wish only one was destined for our garage. Simply put, it fulfills the important needs – performance, design, and technology – without putting unsolicited functions down our throats. It’s Swedish minimalism at its best, both in form and function. The only thing the Polestar 2 makes us want for more is the seat.